Donald Trump's Six-Page Letter to Nancy Pelosi Understood.
I thought it might be useful, as well as entertaining, to dissect Donald Trump's childish, temper tantrum, 6-page screed against Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi specifically. It is full of lies and false statements - those need to be pointed out and exposed. That is what I intend to do.
Trump starts out innocently enough with:
"Dear Madam Speaker:
I write to express my strongest and most powerful protest against the partisan impeachment crusade being pursued by the Democrats in the House of Representatives."
The Text, Annotated
The first false statement (I don't call it a lie because Trump is such a poor student of American history)
Trump Writes: "This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers, unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history."
The Truth: By definition, this cannot be unconstitutional because the Constitution invests in the House the "SOLE" power to impeach the President, period! If the House wants to impeach, the Constitution gives it the power to do so.
Further, it is not "unprecedented" either. President's Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton were investigated for impeachment, but only Johnson and Clinton were actually impeached. Nixon resigned rather than be impeached.
Trump Writes: "The Articles of Impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence. They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever."
The Truth: By virtue of having been given the sole power to impeach. Consequently, they have the sole power to pass Articles of Impeachment; they do not need any standard, interpretation, or jurisprudence. They only need to follow the rules the House develops for itself, period.
Further, impeachment is a political process and does not require any statutory crime be committed; that is just Donald Trump's ignorance showing through. The offense, however, must rise to a "high crime and misdemeanor" which is defined by the House and precedence. As the Judiciary Committee reported, embedded in the Abuse of Power article are actual statutory crimes. They mention at least two, bribery and wire fraud. But it is Trump's violation of the oath of office in soliciting an investigation into a political opponent in return for releasing aid he had already approved, then held up, as well as not giving a promised and valuable meeting with Trump in the White House.
Article II is Obstruction of Congress by ignoring every lawful impeachment subpoena issued by the House. By definition, that is unlawful.
Trump Writes: "By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution"
The Truth: Since the House is given the sole power of impeachment, it is by definition "valid". In protecting America from a domestic enemy, Speaker Pelosi is upholding her oath of office as well as following the dictates of the Constitution.
Trump Writes: "You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election nullification scheme, yet your spiteful actions display unfettered contempt for America’s founding and your egregious conduct threatens to destroy that which our Founders pledged their very lives to build."
The Truth: Trump is by all definitions a Demagogue — a tyrannical mass leader who preys on our prejudices. They set up the electoral college specifically to make it very hard to elect somebody like Trump - of course the college no longer works as our founders had planned. Our founders talked and wrote about their fear the "masses" would
Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist Paper Number 68, said the Electors were supposed to stop a candidate with “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from becoming President. The Electors were supposed to be “men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.” Unfortunately, the elector system devolved into exactly what our Founders did not want.
So, rather than "unfettered contempt for America’s founding". Speaker Pelosi is doing exactly what the Founders want her to do when a president goes rogue - get rid of a very dangerous occupant of the White House.
Article 1 - Abuse of Power
Trump Writes: "You know that I had a totally innocent conversation with the President of Ukraine. I then had a second conversation that has been misquoted, mischaracterized, and fraudulently misrepresented. "
The Truth: While the April call was innocent, it was devoid of any mention of the corruption which was part of the talking points Trump was given AND is supposedly of great concern to Trump.
Trump is simply lying about the July call. Each 1st person witness to the call testified they were very upset at the tone of the call; they were so upset that they went and reported it to counsel. The whistleblower, who had both 1st and 2nd hand knowledge, made many claims about the call. All, or almost all, have been corroborated.
Trump Writes: "I said to President Zelenskyy: would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it."
The Truth: Just prior to this statement, Zelenskyy asked Trump for military assistance. It is this request to which the "though" is referring. Paraphrasing Trump's response would be "before I give you that assistance, I want you to do us a favor, though."
Trump has made a big deal, including in this letter, of the use of the word "us". He want's you to believe he is referring to America. If you listen to his rallies, you will hear him use the royal "we" when clearly referring to himself. I listened to one riff where he did it three times, almost in a row. This idea is cemented when you read further into the summary of the call where Trump only mentions investigations that are personal to him, not America.
Trump Writes: "You are turning a policy disagreement between two branches of government into an impeachable offense it is no more legitimate than the Executive Branch charging members of Congress with crimes for the lawful exercise of legislative power."
The Truth: I am not sure to what "policy" Trump is referring to. The issue is whether Trump unlawfully asked a foreign government to help him with his 2020 election. It would seem Trump is trying to deflect here.
Trump Writes: "You know full well that Vice President Biden used his office and $1 billion dollars of US aid money to coerce Ukraine into ring the prosecutor who was digging into the company paying his son millions of dollars."
The Truth: This is of course one of Trump's flat out lies. While it is true that Biden was executing official American policy, it is true that Biden did threaten to hold up aid to coerce Ukraine to fire a corrupt prosecutor. What is the lie? The prosecutor was not digging into Burisma.
Trump Writes: "Zelenskyy has repeatedly declared that I did nothing wrong, and that there was No Pressure. He further emphasized that it was a “good phone call,” “I don’t feel pressure”, and explicitly stressed that “nobody pushed me.”
"Never once did Ukraine complain about pressure being applied, not once!"
The Truth: There are several approaches to debunking this claim. First, Zelenskyy’s response that Trump refer's to is utterly logical – and acceptable, especially at home. He knows that his country is receiving foreign assistance. He has been told by Volker, Sondland, and others that he had better be grateful for it and say things that Trump wants to hear if he is going to get his aid and White House meeting. Why would he do anything else if he wants U.S. support? Being in a war with Russia since 2014, Ukraine needs all the support it can get. Therefore, Zelenskyy must not criticize the hand that feeds it. This is something Senate Republicans know all to well.
According to a Ukrainian leak to the press, on May 7, 2019, Zelenskyy had with some of his advisors where they discussed the pressure Trump as putting on them to get involved in our 2020 election on Trump's behalf. The report said "the group spent most of the three-hour discussion talking about how to navigate the insistence from Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for a probe and how to avoid becoming entangled in the American elections, according to three people familiar with the details of the meeting." There was testimony from American diplomats to this effect as well. So please don't tell me Zelenskyy didn't feel pressure.
Trump Writes: "Ambassador Sondland testified that I told him: No quid pro quo. I want nothing. I want nothing. I want President Zelenskyy to do the right thing, do what he ran on.”
The Truth: Yes, Trump is correct in that Sondland did report that is what Trump told him. But what Ambassador Sondland also testified to was that Trump only told him this once the term had come up in the news after the whistleblower story broke. What Sondland testified to as well, and more importantly, was that what Trump had done on the July 25th call and later was in fact a "quid pro quo".
Article 2 - Obstruction of Congress
Trump Writes: "House Democrats are trying to impeach the duly elected President of the United States for asserting Constitutionally based privileges that have been asserted on a bipartisan basis by administrations of both political parties throughout our Nation’s history. "
The Truth: Of course this is a false assessment of the facts. In fact, Trump is claiming something he calls "blanket immunity" meaning the executive branch has no obligation to provide Congress any witnesses or documents that it needs to conduct its oversight duties established by the Constitution. He is just wrong in asserting other presidents have done this before - they have not!
Yes, presidents assert executive privilege on a case-by-case basis. Congress can either negotiate with the president, which as what happens most often, OR go to court. They also have the option of holding the person not providing documents or testimony in contempt of Congress. The problem with this last course is that the Justice Department must prosecute the case and in the era Trump, there is no longer an independent DOJ; Barr will simply refuse to prosecute.
On the few occasions Congress has gone to court, they have almost always won. The courts, up through the Supreme Court, have held Congress has the lawful right to subpoena testimony and documents. If Donald Trump wants to establish a new concept of so-called "blanket immunity", he must go to court to press his case - and he has not. Congress has no obligation to go to court to enforce their subpoenas. By disobeying a legal subpoena, Trump is breaking the law of the land and is abusing his power as president.
It is true Congress could go to court to enforce their subpoenas, as Trump supporters have wanted. But, since Trump is already acting in an unlawful manner on such a massive scale, the other legal remedy for that is impeachment.
Trump Writes: "‘I can’t emphasize this enough. . .if you impeach a president, if you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power."
The Truth: Trump's logic here is non-existent. The House is not "making a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts". Obviously, Trump has not gone to court to plead his case. Instead, he is obstructing now and asking for permission later (except he hasn't asked for permission yet). Impeaching a president is the sole responsibility of the House and so long as there is probably cause for doing so, it, by definition, is not an abuse of their power.
Trump Writes: "Everyone, you included, knows what is really happening. Your chosen candidate lost the election in 2016, in an Electoral College landslide (306-227), and you and your party have never recovered from this defeat. "
The Truth: Yes, Hillary Clinton lost, and most of the world was shocked and horrified at what had happened. But was it a landslide? Well, it is sort of like his largest ever inaugural crowd - a lie. Just as a matter of record all presidential wins except eight were by larger electoral margins; Trump ranked 46th out of 58 elections.
Worse, not only losing the popular vote by a few million, in the states that counted, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, he won by less than 90,000 votes or about 0.5%. Without a doubt, Clinton's campaign strategy and her "unlikability" put Trump within striking distance. But it is hard to argue that the Russians didn't push him over the edge. Consider, from the Mueller report,
- The massive campaign Putin orchestrated to convince voters to either 1) not vote for Hillary or 2) vote for Trump.
- Paul Manafort passed on to the Russians private polling data showing where the Russians need to focus their effort
- The Russians did focus on those three states along with Minnesota, which Clinton barely won.
Trump Writes: "You are unwilling and unable to accept the verdict issued at the ballot box during the great Election of 2016. So you have spent three straight years attempting to overturn the will of the American people and nullify their votes. You View democracy as your enemy!
The Truth: This is a common lie and deflection from Trump and his supporters. The fact is most everybody has accepted that Trump met the technical qualifications of becoming president. )It is true many people sought psychiatric help to deal with the stress and fear it engendered.) Many question how he got there, but that is beside the point. What is important is that just because most of America thinks a mistake was made, it doesn't take the House off the hook for holding Trump responsible for his actions - that is simply following the dictates of our Constitution. Democracy is the enemy of autocracy. Speaker Pelosi exercised democratic principles in impeaching Donald Trump.
Trump Writes: "Speaker Pelosi, you admitted just last week at a public forum that your party’s impeachment effort has been going on for “two and a half years,” long before you ever heard about a phone call with Ukraine. "
The Truth: What Trump is referring to is an attempt by one or two Democrats from early on submitting a call for impeachment; each was resoundingly rejected by the other Democrats. Speaker Pelosi actually opposed impeachment, even given the overwhelming evidence of Obstruction of Justice contained in the Mueller report. What she did do, before and after she became Speaker one year ago, was attempt to hold Trump accountable for his terrible actions where the Republicans would not.
Trump Writes: "Congressman Adam Schiff cheated and lied all the way up to the present day, even going so far as to fraudulently make up, out of thin air, my conversation with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine and read this fantasy language to Congress as though it were said by me. His shameless lies and deceptions, dating all the way back to the Russia Hoax, is one of the main reasons we are here today."
The Truth: Adam Schiff made it clear what he said at the beginning of one the hearings that what he was about to say was a parody of Trump's July 25th call. It is this parody to which Trump is referring. The rest is simple deflection.
Trump Writes: "You and your party are desperate to distract from America’s extraordinary economy, incredible jobs boom, record stock market, soaring confidence, and flourishing citizens. Your party simply cannot compete with our record: 7 million new jobs; the lowest-ever unemployment for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans; a rebuilt military; a completely reformed VA with Choice and Accountability for our great veterans; more than 170 new federal judges and two Supreme Court Justices; historic tax and regulation cuts; the elimination of the individual mandate; the first decline in prescription drug prices in half a century; the first new branch of the United States Military since 1947, the Space Force; strong protection of the Second Amendment; criminal justice reform; a defeated ISIS caliphate and the killing of the world’s number one terrorist leader, al-Baghdadi; the replacement of the disastrous NAFTA trade deal with the wonderful USMCA (Mexico and Canada); a breakthrough Phase One trade deal with China; massive new trade deals with Japan and South Korea; withdrawal from the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal; cancellation of the unfair and costly Paris Climate Accord; becoming the world’s top energy producer; recognition of Israel’s capital, opening the American Embassy in Jerusalem, and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights; a colossal reduction in illegal border crossings, the ending of Catch-and-Release, and the building of the Southern Border Wall, and that is just the beginning, there is so much more."
The Truth: Once you come up for air, let me address this point by point.
- President Obama did much better on the number of jobs front. Trump continued the good work.
- Trump is correct about the low unemployment - which followed the trend that President Obama set.
- Trump added more funds to the military, he did not and has not rebuilt it.
- Trump made modest improvements to the VA; he did not "revamp it".
- It is true he has turned our courts decidedly to the Right to better reflect what it looked like in the 1800s
- The tax cut is not historic, nor did it do what was promised. The cut in regulations have done great harm to the environment
- Obama defeated the Caliphate but Trump did kill ISIS' leader. ISIS is growing again after Trump tossed our allies to the curb and gave Syria to the Russians.
- USMCA is a small improvement over NAFTA. The breakthrough was when Speaker Nancy Pelosi forced through changes needed to bring the unions, for the very first time, on-board.
- Without know more about Phase 1, the only thing it will achieve, if signed, is to back up his tariff war to where the Chinese will start buy things they once use to and to delay or lower tariffs back to former levels. Granted, both are good things but just an example of Trump's poor deal-making skills.
- Prescription drug prices are on the increase, not a decline as Trump states.
- The Space Force is one of Trump's few good achievements
- The trade deals with South Korea and Japan were neither "massive" nor much, if any, improvement on what existed. In South Korea's case, it looks like Trump gave up ground.
- Breaking our promise with the Iran Nuclear deal has clearly made the world less safe and showed America cannot keep its promises
- Breaking our promise with the Paris Climate Accord has clearly made the world less safe and showed America cannot keep its promises
- America became the world's top energy producer under Obama, not Trump
- Trump has made the two-state solution with Israel impossible now.
- The "colossal reduction" in border crossings came only after a massive rise in border crossings during his administration.
- The ending of the Catch-and-Release program resulted in a humanitarian crisis where babies were ripped from their mother's arms. He has not built a Southern Wall, nor will he.
- There is no more
Trump Writes: "There is nothing I would rather do than stop referring to your party as the Do-Nothing Democrats. Unfortunately, I don’t know that you will ever give me a chance to do so. After three years of unfair and unwarranted investigations, 45 million dollars spent, 18 angry Democrat prosecutors, the entire force of the FBI, headed by leadership now proven to be totally incompetent and corrupt ... "
The Truth: In fact, Trump should have never started calling the House Democrats "Do-Nothing Democrats". Instead, that criticism should be leveled at the Senate Republicans. The House as passed over 400 bills, many of them very important such as the USMCA authorization, and sent them to the Senate for action. For the vast majority of those pieces of legislation, Mitch McConnell has chosen to sit on them.
The investigations into Trump were warranted because of his and his campaigns actions. The recently released DOJ IG report from Michael Horowitz affirms this. Hardly being 18 angry Democrats, the Mueller investigation was started by Trump firing FBI Director Comey to obstruct his investigation into the Russian interference. AG Sessions had to recuse himself because of his involvement in that scheme. The Trump-appointed Republican Deputy Director appointed the Republican former head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, to lead an independent investigation. The team Mueller picked included Democrats, Republicans, and independents, all of whom were professional and showed, according to various investigations, no bias in their work. Mueller reported out several things:
- The Russians massively interfered with the 2016 election in opposition to Hillary Clinton and in active support of Donald Trump. Trump is letting them do it today on his behalf.
- Mueller offered numerous examples of what we call "collusion" where people, including Trump, in Trump's campaign actively solicited, aided, and abetted the Russians in their campaign.
- Mueller found that the evidence he was able to gather was not sufficient that this help and solicitation crossed the line into criminal conspiracy. (I am not sure why Mueller didn't indict Paul Manafort on criminal conspiracy. It seemed all of the elements of proof were met for him, while not for the others such as Trump Jr.)
- Mueller found that Trump obstructed justice. But, because of a DOJ opinion, he was not allowed to indict the sitting President. Consequently, he left that to the House. While the House did not impeach him for the obstruction of justice, Trump committed further crimes for which they did impeach him.
Trump's smear of the entire FBI is totally self-serving. While the FBI leadership did make errors and the lower level staff made several mistakes (and one apparently falsified information), all investigations found there was no bias involved in pursuing Trump and his campaign.
Trump Writes: "You are the ones interfering in America’s elections. You are the ones subverting America’s Democracy. You are the ones Obstructing Justice. "
The Truth: This is pure projection, of course. The Constitution give the Congress oversight responsibilities over the executive branch and the sole power to impeach if they find probable cause that an executive branch official violated their oath of office. The House did this with Trump.
Trump Writes: "Before the Impeachment Hoax, it was the Russian Witch Hunt. Against all evidence, and regardless of the truth, you and your deputies claimed that my campaign colluded with the Russians, a grave, malicious, and slanderous lie, a falsehood like no other. You forced our Nation through turmoil and torment over a wholly fabricated story, illegally purchased from a foreign spy by Hillary Clinton and the DNC in order to assault our democracy. Yet, when the monstrous lie was debunked and this Democrat conspiracy dissolved into dust, you did not apologize."
The Truth: There was plenty of evidence of Trump and his campaigns wrong doing - as Mueller reported - and no evidence that the Clinton Campaign, the DNC, or the House Democrats "colluded" with the Russians at any point in time. This is one of Trump's masterful lies. Steele was no longer a "spy" for the British intelligence, but an independent contractor. Neither Clinton nor the DNC hired Steele. They legally hired a domestic company, the same one the Republicans hired before them and for the same reason. It was this company who hired Steele in their legal pursuit of information on Trump.
The Mueller report was never "debunked".
Trump Writes: "If you truly cared about freedom and liberty for our Nation, then you would be devoting your vast investigative resources to exposing the full truth concerning the horrifying abuses of power before, during, and after the 2016 election, including the use of spies against my campaign, the submission of false evidence to a FISA court, and the concealment of exculpatory evidence in order to frame the innocent. "
The Truth: The Mueller report and both Horowitz reports contradicts most of this trope. The only apparent truth in what Trump wrote is that their "might" have been some exculpatory evidence that was suppressed. The scope or importance of this is unknown. The rest was debunked by the same reports.
Trump Writes: "Any member of Congress who votes in support of impeachment, against every shred of truth, fact, evidence, and legal principle” is showing how deeply they revile the voters and how truly they detest America’s Constitutional order. "
The Truth: Because Trump doesn't understand the Constitution and "Oaths of Office", he doesn't understand the members are upholding both. The only evidence the House was able to produce (because of Trump's blanket stonewalling) points toward his guilt. They don't "revile" the voters. Instead, they are doing what the voters, especially the 2018 voters, sent them to Congress to do.
Trump Writes: "Worse still, I have been deprived of basic Constitutional Due Process from the beginning of this impeachment scam right up until the present. I have been denied the most fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution, including the right to present evidence, to have my own counsel present, to confront accusers, and to call and cross-examine witnesses, like the so-called whistleblower who started this entire hoax with a false report of the phone call that bears no relationship to the actual phone call that was made."
The Truth: Trump forgets that investigations are done to develop "probably cause" (or the lack thereof) that an, in this case, impeachable act has been committed. It is only at trial where the rights he speaks of have force. The House is effectively a Grand Jury where the defense is generally not allowed. Grand Juries are held in secret and the text of their deliberations are rarely released.
In the House's case, while initial fact finding was held behind closed doors, as is normal and appropriate, all of the testimony was subsequently released. Republicans, Trump's defense team (although they are supposed to be impartial), was there and participated every step of the way. They were allowed to make it a circus as much as they wanted, but what they were not allowed to do was expose the whistleblower. (Who, by the way, became irrelevant after most of what he reported was corroborated.) In the end, Trump was offered, and declined, to have his own counsel at the Judiciary Committee proceedings.
The remaining few paragraphs were more of the same self-pitying projection and untruths, so I will leave it at this.
Keep in mind, this petulant letter was from the President of the United States to the Speaker of the House, the third in line in progression. It lays bare Donald Trump's temperament, his unstable mental state, his self-righteousness. As several health care professionals who have felt a "call to duty" to try to communicate to the world many of the dangerous aspects of Trump's behavior have said - he is dangerously mentally ill.
Depending on which of 30 or more different essays you read, they are point to a consistent theme - Donald Trump has a severe form of Narcissistic Personality Disorder with many signs of psychopathy. While many previous presidents have presented some mental disabilities, such as depression for Abraham Lincoln and manic-depression for John Adams, none have been dangerously so.
Donald Trump is and this letter shows it.
© 2019 Scott Belford