If There’s No Crime…

In the latest issue of Time, the attorney Robert Ray argues that President Trump should not be impeached and convicted on the grounds that Trump committed no crime. This is already the basis of some Republicans’ defense of Trump. Ray’s argument rests on two bases. First, that the “quid pro quo” offered by various Trump appointees and subordinates was not a “corrupt arrangement” under the law because the law requires a specific benefit and because an investigation of the Bidens by Ukraine would have provided only a “nebulous” benefit. Second, that because the Office of Management and Budget had no authority to permanently withhold the aid appropriated and authorized for Ukraine and because the aid was finally released [after newspaper reports of withholding surfaced] no harm was done. Therefore, there was no crime.

The first contention is an incredibly ingenuous argument, and one that a great number of convicted criminals would like to be able to use. “Because I didn’t know what I might get, it wasn’t a crime.” And law, in fact, recognizes this problem because we have penalties for attempted crimes that were never completed. In addition, even Trump’s attempt to ask for such a favor has damaged the future credibility of the United States as well as pointed out that Trump will do anything for his personal gain, regardless of the impact on the U.S. national interest, and suborning the national interest to personal interest is in fact a form of treason.

The second base ignores the fact that the White House did in fact freeze the aid. The fact that it didn’t have the authority to do so is immaterial to the fact that the freeze was ordered. Also, there’s no basis to assert that no harm was done… or could have been done. Ukraine may well have been able to use that aid against the Russians, for which that aid was intended. Even the slowing of that aid harmed Ukraine and benefited Russia, which, again, is an act against the national interest.

Then Ray goes on to argue that, in any case, it was only a case of bad judgment. In the case of most criminals, it usually is. Trump’s no different, but because he’s a white Republican [for the moment] male, the white male Republican Senate may well use a different [and far more lenient] standard for him.

Think about it.

6 thoughts on “If There’s No Crime…”

  1. R. Hamilton says:

    If he’d asked a foreign government to review a canceled investigation of Republican corruption related to that country, that would have been hailed as a breakthrough; but because it’s a political adversary, it’s somehow off-limits. Got it.

    Sorry, crooks are crooks even if there’s the appearance of a conflict of interest; and leftists in particular are crooks as soon as they take the oath of office to uphold the Constitution (perjury), since they never had any intention of doing that (because the Constitution specifies a federal government with limited enumerated powers, _not_ one authorized to meet all needs, regulate all conduct, take over commercial activity, give said leftists vast powers, etc).

    1. This is a warning. Any more language claiming that someone is a crook because they don’t meet your definition of what is legal will be removed. This blog is going by what established law has determined. Any other “legal assertions” qualify as false news. Someone is not a crook when they use the law, whether we like it or not. By your definition, every Republican currently in government is also a crook. What they’ve done through the law is legal, much as I hate it. It may or may not be good. That’s life in a representative democratic republic.

      You’re free to complain about what any political figure has done. You’re not free here to make legally discredited statements and assert that your version of the Constitution is correct. The Supreme Court is the final authority on law in the U.S., not you and not me. On this blog, you can complain about their rulings; you cannot say that they’re not in accord with the Constitution… unless, of course, the Supreme Court subsequently declares so.

  2. R. Hamilton says:

    Accepting that the host may set the bounds, and stipulating that an oath of office is historically at most politically enforcable and that leftist officeholders are not inherently illegal, indulging the left’s liberty to pursue their agenda except in rare and specific matters in a small way, is a mistake we’ll all (even other leftists) pay for with loss of many liberties, and other losses as well.

    So henceforth I’ll strive to say that they’re arguably _incompatible_ with their oath and limited government, rather than illegal. And of course my personal views should not be thought to claim any authority whatsoever.

    Having made my almost-apology:

    Whatever the majority of justices say may be legal, but not necessarily right. Everyone agrees now that Scott v Sandford was wrong (though it was amendments rather than the Court that fixed that). Marbury v Madison rules, but is not held in universal acclaim. IMO, most expansions of federal powers, even if held to be legal, were a mistake. I love NASA, but I don’t think the government should fund it.

    While distinct from the product of legislatures and courts, the left challenges laws of physics like conservation of mass/energy and thermodynamics (and the economic equivalents) – magic “all needs met for all” is as impossible as perpetual motion machines, and if they don’t tell you that they’d have to tax even the middle class painfully to deliver, they’re leaving that part out; not to mention basic human nature: the Soviet expression “they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work” comes to mind.

    But the other point remains: there was undoubtedly improper entanglement between foreign governments and US political entities in 2016, and before and since, for that matter…and neither party avoided that; the Steele dossier (by some reports, with origins in the Republican primary) depended on material sourced from the Russians (who meddled on behalf of _both_ sides to maximize polarization; there is solid evidence of that). There are legitimate efforts ongoing (neither political nor micromanaged by Trump nor highly visible) to prevent a repeat.

    So why should it be only off-limits to ask for followup when a political opponent is involved? Why might that not be simply one more part of looking wherever dirt is to be found, whoever’s dirt it might be? And for that matter, aside from appealing to a unity that the other side in their “Trump derangement syndrome” effectively opposes, why should one political side commit unilateral disarmament by keeping it clean, while the other side is trying to turn 3rd-hand hearsay into something significant?

    1. Grey says:

      My goodness, do we really need to go through this?

      The issue was not that he demanded an investigation – were it only so simple. The issue was the congress allocated several hundred million dollars in military aid to Ukraine. It is illegal to prevent that aid from issuing – I.e., the president does not have the power to prevent it. Moreover, Trump is claimed to have demanded that the Ukrainian president announce an investigation into Biden’s son before Trump would release the aid.

      Ergo, Trump faces charges of bribery and extortion (and possibly other federal crimes, but most on the right just seem to focus on the Constitution and so for their sake, bribery is one of the specifically enumerated grounds for impeachment in the Constitution).

      Bonus Fun With Laws: It is probably not bribery to offer a meeting with the president in exchange for doing something – even if the something is a sham investigation into a US political opponent. This is why Amb. Sondland is tiptoeing around in his statements and testimony about his involvement in Ukraine being dangling “meetings with Trump” in exchange for the investigation and not the military aid. If the former, he skates; if the latter, potentially prison.

    2. Hanna says:

      “Having made my almost-apology:”

      The constant BS and sheer arrogance even in the face of hard evidence of wrongdoing, as well as unquestionable and incontestable guilt.

      Yep. That’s the modern GOP for you.

  3. Wine Guy says:

    The letter of the law and the spirit of the law may be two different things, but sophistry always leaves a sour taste in my mouth, no matter which way the speaker leans.

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