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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) is introducing a resolution demanding that the GOP-controlled Senate exclude anyone running for president from participating in Trump’s increasingly likely impeachment trial. This is the latest in a series of stunts by Trump and his congressional GOP defenders aimed at distracting from Trump’s conduct.

Smith’s resolution urges the Senate to change its rules “to require a sitting United States Senator actively seeking election to the Presidency of the United States to recuse himself of herself” from the impeachment trial for any first-term incumbent president. Such a move would exclude Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and the millions they represent from having a say on whether to remove the president for high crimes and misdemeanors.

With a Democratic House majority, the resolution is unlikely to make it to the floor — much less be adopted. But it comes on the heals of an array of other stunts and bizarre arguments made by Trump and his GOP defenders in recent weeks.

These have included:

The Pelosi explusion resolution
On Oct. 8, Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) broke with House norms to file a resolution to expel Speaker Nancy Pelosi for announcing an impeachment inquiry. The resolution is unlikely to emerge from committee and to date has just two co-sponsors.

The Schiff censure resolution
On Oct. 22, angry that House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff had paraphrased a partial transcript of Donald Trump’s infamous July phone call with the Ukrainian president, House Republicans forced a vote on an effort to censure him. Their efforts were halted in just 35 minutes by the Democratic majority.

The SCIF invasion
On Oct. 23, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) led a mob of House Republicans in an attempt to break into the secure room, the “SCIF,” where the House impeachment inquiry committees were holding a closed deposition. Several brought in cellphones, which experts warned could imperil national security. They eventually left for votes, but not after they had delayed the day’s depositions significantly.

The Vindman smear
On Oct. 28 and 29, Trump and his conservative media defenders, accused Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient and the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, of disloyalty.
Trump attacked him as a “never Trumper”, which Trump has said makes people “human scum,” while former Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Fox News host Laura Ingraham suggested he was secretly loyal to the Ukraine. Vindman, who testified about his concern that Trump’s actions endangered national security, emigrated from the Soviet Union when he was a three-year-old. Even House Republican Conference chair Liz Cheney called these smears “shameful.”

The SCOTUS should block impeachment argument
On Dec. 2, Trump argued that since the “Radical Left has NO CASE” against him, the impeachment process — spelled out clearly in the Constitution “Shouldn’t even be allowed!” “Can we go to Supreme Court to stop?” he asked. Legal experts say no, he cannot.

The demand for Adam Schiff’s phone records
On Dec. 4, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, urging him to use his subpoena power to obtain the phone records for Rep. Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and the attorney for the anonymous whistleblower.

Rep. Smith is perhaps best known for interrupting Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA) during a January floor speech to tell him to go back to Puerto Rico. Cardenas is the descendent of Mexican immigrants, though Smith’s office claimed the comment referred to Democratic legislators’ recent Puerto Rican conference.

Smith also made headlines in 2017 when he asked why the Affordable Care Act included a tax on tanning beds but no tax on the sun.

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  • 1.Why did Trump choose to hide certain specific files and not others at Mar-a-Lago? What were the criteria that Trump used to keep some files concealed and not others? Who selected those files? Did Trump consult or direct anyone in his selection of secret files? Trump was notorious for being too impatient to read his briefing papers, even after they had been drastically shortened and simplified. Is there the slightest evidence that he spirited these papers away so that he could consult or study them? Who besides Trump knew of the presence of the files he had concealed at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
  • The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified.” If Pat Cipollone, the White House legal counsel, did not “generate the paperwork,” was he or anyone on his staff aware at all of the declassifications? The White House Staff Secretary Derek Lyons resigned his post in December 2020. Did his successor, who held the position for a month, while Trump was consumed with plotting his coup, ever review the material found in Trump’s concealed files for declassification? Or did Patel review the material? Can Patel name any individual who properly reviewed the supposed declassification?
  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 7.Did Trump destroy any of the files? If so, when? Did those files contain incriminating information? Did he destroy any files after he received the June subpoena?
  • 8.Were any of the secrets of our allies compromised? Has the U.S. government provided an inventory of breaches or potential breaches to our allies?
  • 9.Does the resort maintain a copying machine near the classified documents that Trump hid? Were any of the documents copied or scanned? Are Trump’s documents at Mar-a-Lago originals or copies? Were any copies shown or given to anyone?
  • 10.Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb has revealed that a video surveillance system covers the places where Trump hid the files at Mar-a-Lago, and that the system is connected to a system at his other residences at the Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey and Trump Tower in New York City. According to Bobb, Trump and members of his family observed the FBI search and seizure of his files at Mar-a-Lago, “actually able to see the whole thing” through their surveillance system. Who has that surveillance system recorded entering the rooms where the files were kept?

Kevin Bacon, right, in "The Following"

The aftermath of the August 8, 2022 search of the Mar-a-Lago club, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, isn’t the first showdown between the FBI and a cult leader.

The Following, a 2013 Fox Pictures series, played out in similar fashion. Three seasons was enough for the producers and it’s been nine years since our introduction to Joe Carroll, English professor-novelist-serial killer, so there’s a spoiler risk -- but not enough to prevent the comparison.

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