It’s tempting this Monday morning to focus our attention on the killing of ISIS leader Baghdadi, or the predictably vulgar, self-absorbed and unpresidential comments by Trump, or the looming criminal investigation of the Mueller investigators by corrupt AG William Barr. But some of these, if not all of them, were designed to distract us from the truly disgraceful Ukraine scandal that continued to mushroom last week.

Republicans have been unable to defend the substance of Trump’s Ukraine scandal. After all, Trump’s phone transcript of the Ukraine call was essentially an admission of guilt.  Instead, Trump enablers have been attacking the impeachment process, bum-rushing the deposition room, whining about transparency, and claiming that for the impeachment process to be legitimate, it must be authorized by a House vote.

On Friday, many of these issues were addressed in a ruling by a federal judge.  Judge Beryl Howell responded to a request by the House Judiciary Committee to release the grand jury testimony of the Mueller report in service of the impeachment inquiry.  In her decision Judge Howell destroyed Republican complaints about the legitimacy of the impeachment inquiry and authorized release of the Mueller testimony.  Here is the fascinating core of her 75 page decision (minus her citations):

DOJ and Representative Collins state that the “impeachments of Presidents Clinton and Andrew Johnson were investigated in multiple phases with each phase authorized by the House’s adoption of resolutions.” Even were this statement accurate, which it is not, the manner in which the House has chosen to conduct impeachment inquiries encompasses more than past Presidents and no sound legal or constitutional reason has been presented to distinguish the House’s exercise of impeachment authority for a President from the exercise of such authority more generally. Indisputably, the House has initiated impeachment inquiries of federal judges without a House resolution “authorizing” the inquiry. Even in cases of presidential impeachment, a House resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry. In the case of President Johnson, a resolution “authoriz[ing]” HJC “to inquire into the official conduct of Andrew Johnson” was passed after HJC “was already considering the subject.” In the case of President Nixon, HJC started its investigation well before the House passed a resolution authorizing an impeachment inquiry. In the case of President Clinton, the D.C. Circuit authorized the disclosure of grand jury materials to Congress on July 7, 1998, even though no impeachment resolution had yet been adopted and was not adopted by the House until four months later. While close scrutiny of the historical record undercuts that justification for the “House resolution” test proposed by Representative Collins, the more significant flaw with this proposal is as follows: while this test may address political legitimacy concerns, which are best resolved in the political arena, no governing law requires this test—not the Constitution, not House Rules, and not Rule 6(e), and so imposing this test would be an impermissible intrusion on the House’s constitutional authority both to “determine the rules of its proceedings” under the Rulemaking Clause, U.S. CONST., Art. I, § 5, cl. 2, and to exercise “the sole power of Impeachment” under the Impeachment Clause…

In other words, the impeachment process used by the House is lawful and proper.  Furthermore, other impeachments proceeded without first receiving a House authorization or resolution first.

So when Republicans make grandiose claims about the process (“unlike any other,” “against precedent,” “so unfair!”) they are lying and trying to fool gullible voters.

The more we learn about Trump’s shadow campaign to influence Ukraine for his own personal benefit, the more sleazy and unAmerican it looks.  And we haven’t even heard any public testimony yet.  When that happens, expect public opinion to sway even further against the worst president ever.  It’s already so bad that when Trump visited the World Series Game 5 last night and his picture showed on the giant screen, the crowd erupted in boos.  The next inning, pockets of the crowd chanted “lock him up!”  It was an epic humiliation.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

REMINDER – There’s a fundraiser for Democratic candidate for Dutchess County Executive Joe Ruggiero at Tomas Tapas in Wappingers Falls tomorrow at 6:30pm.

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