Aljazeera: What are US articles of impeachment, and what happens next?

House Speaker Pelosi says she has instructed the House Judiciary panel to draft articles of impeachment against Trump.

Trump attends the NATO leaders summit in Watford, UK [File: Toby Melville/Reuters]

Trump attends the NATO leaders summit in Watford, UK

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday asked the House Judiciary Committee to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump over his effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

The announcement came after weeks of public hearings in the House Intelligence Committee, a 300-page report and divisive rhetoric highlighting the political divide that has come to define the impeachment process.

More:

With Democrats moving forward with impeachment charges, here’s a quick guide to how impeachment works, what happens next.

1. What is impeachment?

The founders of the United States included impeachment in the US Constitution as an option for removal of presidents by Congress.

They agreed that presidents could be removed if found guilty by Congress of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.

2. What are articles of impeachment?

The sole authority under the Constitution to bring articles of impeachment is vested in the House of Representatives where proceedings can begin in the Judiciary Committee. If the House approves articles of impeachment, or formal charges, he or she would then be subject to trial in the US Senate.

In the context of Trump, Democrats first pursued a two-month inquiry, led by the House Intelligence Committee, which submitted a 300-page report about its findings earlier this week.

Democrats have accused Trump of abusing his power of office.

“The facts are uncontested,” Pelosi said on Thursday. “The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and (a) critical Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.”

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi makes a statement at the Capitol in Washington

The inquiry is centred on a July phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential frontrunner, and his son Hunter, who served on a board of a Ukrainian gas company. Trump also wanted an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 elections.

At the time of the call, the Trump administration was withholding nearly $400m in military aid from Ukraine.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, calling the impeachment inquiry a hoax.

It’s unclear what articles of impeachment will be presented, but Pelosi’s comments on Tuesday offered a framework for what they may look like. They could also include obstruction of Congress and Justice, Democrats have said. The White House has stonewalled requests from the House for testimony and documents.

3. What happens next?

The House Judiciary Committee has announced it will hold a hearing on Monday that will include presentations on the evidence form the impeachment inquiry.

It’s unclear how long the process will take, but many expect the full House to vote by the end of the year on formal impeachment charges. Impeachment in the 435-member House must be approved with a simple majority.

Before then, however, the House Judiciary Committee will draw up and vote on articles of impeachment.

If the House votes to impeach, the matter moves to the Senate, where a trial is held. The chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the trial.

A two-thirds majority vote is required in the 100-member Senate to convict and remove a president from office.

The Senate is made up of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democrats. At this point, no Republicans have indicated they will vote against the president should a trial take place.

4. Who would become president if Trump was removed?

A Senate conviction that removed Trump from office would automatically elevate Vice President Mike Pence to become president, completing Trump’s term, which ends on January 20, 2021.

 

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

Plowshares Sentencing Pending: Write the Judge

Plowshares Sentencing Pending, Write the Judge

November 20, 2019

Dear Robert,

Now is the time to write letters to Judge Lisa Godbey Wood regarding her sentencing of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. We are collecting letters, especially from those who know the defendants, testifying to their character and the good work that they are doing in their communities which will not be done if they are serving long terms in prison. These letters are not the forum to criticize the law, the legal process or government policies.  Rather it is the place to point out positive things about the defendants that should mitigate a harsh sentence.
Letters should be sent to defense attorney Bill Quigley at the address below. He  will compile them and distribute to various defendants’ attorneys for delivery to Judge Wood.  The attorneys suggest it would be helpful to get these done by Thanksgiving or the week after in order to get processed and delivered. Sentencing may be in January or possibly February.
The best letters are simple, polite, and tell good things about the person you are writing in support of.
The suggested format is as follows:
 
Date
Sender’s Name
Sender’s Address
 
Judge Lisa Godbey Wood
c/o Bill Quigley
Loyola University New Orleans Law Clinic
Campus Box 902
7214 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70118
 
Regarding Sentencing of: Mark Colville [or] Clare Grady [or] Martha Hennessy [or] Fr. Steve Kelly SJ [or] Elizabeth McAlister [or] Patrick O’Neill [or] Carmen Trotta  (or all seven of the Kings Bay Plowshares)
                     
Dear Judge Wood,
 
  Suggested outline for the letter:
    – Explain who you are.
    – Explain who you are writing about, how you know them, and what good they do for their
      community.
    – Explain why the Judge should not send them to jail.
    – Thank the Judge for reading your letter.
 
Valediction,
Signature
For more ideas and details for your letters, you are welcome to see the defendants’ biographies here.
Thank you for your attentiveness to the trial, your support for the defendants and their families, and your focus on the issue of the abolition of nuclear weapons.
As Fr. Steve Kelly says, “The nuclear weapons won’t go away by themselves.” We do this work together.
In solidarity,
 
The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 Support Team
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As Comcast Lobbyist Hosts Biden’s First Fundraiser, Campaign Boasts of Support from “Top 1%”

APR 26, 2019

H3 biden fundraiser comcast lobbyist philadelphia david cohen

In other campaign news, Biden marked his first day on the campaign trail by attending a $2,800-per-person fundraiser in Philadelphia at the home of Comcast’s top lobbyist, David Cohen. Attendees included Daniel Hilferty, chief executive of Independence Blue Cross, the largest health insurer in the Philadelphia area. Senator Bernie Sanders criticized Biden for holding a fundraiser in the home of a corporate lobbyist. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who co-hosted the Biden fundraiser, appeared on CNN this morning, and said the fundraiser attracted the top 1%.

Ed Rendell: “For 90% of the people who attended last night’s fundraiser, they’re contributing against their own financial interest. They will do better with a Republican president, because they’re in the top 1%. So they’ll do better with a Republican president. It will probably cost them money if Joe Biden wins, because I think he’ll bring some sense to the tax cut and he’ll probably raise rates on the top 1%. So, all these people gave money even though it was against their own financial interest.”

Free “Endless Wars” sticker from moveon.org

Click here or on the image below to get your free “Endless Wars” sticker now.

Two weeks ago, Congress took the historic bipartisan step of reasserting its constitutional war powers to end U.S. participation in the illegal, inhumane, Saudi-led war in Yemen—a war that has killed 85,000 children and is pushing millions to the brink of starvation.

Microsoft employees have demanded the company back out of a deal to provide HoloLens to US Military

A visitor tries a virtual reality (VR) headset Microsoft HoloLens during the Virtuality Paris 2018 show, 8 February 2018HoloLens allows the user to see digital images over real-world backgrounds

At least 50 Microsoft employees have demanded the company back out of a deal with the US military to provide augmented reality technology.

In particular, the group has said the firm’s headset, HoloLens, must not be used to “help people kill”.

In November, Microsoft agreed a $479m (£367m) deal to develop a platform that would involve soldiers using about 100,000 headsets.

“We always appreciate feedback from employees and have many avenues for employee voices to be heard,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

A letter sent around Microsoft on Friday and seen by the BBC has been backed by employees across multiple departments.

“Microsoft must stop in its activities to empower the US Army’s ability to cause harm and violence,” it reads.

“We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used.”

HoloLens, first released to developers in March 2016, allows the wearer to see digital images laid over the real world. Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella is expected to announced HoloLens 2 at an event in Barcelona on Sunday, ahead of the Mobile World Congress trade show.

Military concern

The letter demands Microsoft cancel the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) contract, stop developing “any and all” weapons technologies, and draft a public policy statement on the matter.

It also calls for an “independent, external ethics review board” that would oversee compliance with that policy.

The letter was circulated internally at Microsoft on Friday
Image captionThe letter was circulated internally at Microsoft on Friday

It is not the first time that Microsoft employees have spoken out against the firm’s work with government entities.

In June, with the Trump administration mired in controversy over family separations on the US-Mexico border, staff demanded the firm cease providing services to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

Mr Nadella eventually denounced the White House’s actions and said Microsoft’s technology was only being used for standard office-related tasks.

‘War profiteers’

With this latest employee rebellion, Microsoft will not have such an easy defence. According to the contract, the goal is to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”.

Microsoft is understood to have outbid rival augmented reality developers, such as Magic Leap.

Microsoft’s president and top lawyer Brad Smith has said employees who are not happy with the nature of the firm’s military work would be allowed to work in other departments. However, in the latest letter, employees said that suggestion was flawed.

“Microsoft fails to inform its engineers on the intent of the software they are building.

“There are many engineers who contributed to HoloLens before this contract even existed, believing it would be used to help architects and engineers build buildings and cars, to help teach people how to perform surgery or play the piano, to push the boundaries of gaming, and to connect with the Mars Rover (RIP).

“These engineers have now lost their ability to make decisions about what they work on, instead finding themselves implicated as war profiteers.”

Microsoft is not the only company to face internal anger over military work. Last year, Google did not renew a contract to work with the US on Project Maven, an artificial intelligence program in development with the Pentagon.

However, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said his firm would enthusiastically work with the military.

“This is a great country – it needs to be defended,” he said during an on-stage interview.

___

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Key senator vows to probe discussions about removing Trump

Senator Lindsey GrahamSenator Lindsey Graham said he was “stunned” by the latest comments by Andrew McCabe

The chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee has vowed to get to the bottom of allegations that discussions were held in 2017 on removing President Donald Trump from office.

Senator Lindsey Graham pledged to issue subpoenas “if that’s what it takes”.

Ex-acting FBI chief Andrew McCabe has said deputy US attorney general Rod Rosenstein discussed the numbers needed to invoke the 25th Amendment.

Mr Rosenstein has in the past denied discussing invoking the clause.

The amendment provides for the removal of a president if deemed unfit.

How have these allegations arisen again?

They are certainly not new.

They have returned to the spotlight on Sunday, with Mr McCabe appearing on the 60 Minutes show on CBS in the US.

In comments released ahead of the airing of the show, he details what he says Mr Rosenstein discussed as regards the 25th Amendment.

Mr McCabe says: “The discussion of the 25th Amendment was simply [that] Rod raised the issue and discussed it with me in the context of thinking about how many other cabinet officials might support such an effort.

Andrew McCabeAndrew McCabe was fired as deputy director in March last year

“The deputy attorney general was definitely very concerned about the president, about his capacity and about his intent at that point in time.”

He restates his allegation that Mr Rosenstein had considered wearing a wire in meetings with Mr Trump.

Mr McCabe took over the FBI in 2017 after Mr Trump fired James Comey amid tension over the investigation into alleged collusion between his campaign team and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Mr McCabe was himself fired as deputy director in March last year just two days before he was due to retire. He has now written a book on his time in the post.

On the Russia inquiry, Mr McCabe says he was “very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion that were I removed quickly and reassigned or fired that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace”.

How did Senator Graham respond?

The Republican was interviewed on CBS on Sunday morning, after some of Mr McCabe’s comments were released early.

“It’s stunning to me that one of the chief law enforcement officers of the land would go on national television and say, oh by the way I remember a conversation with the deputy attorney general about trying to find if we could replace the president under the 25th Amendment,” Mr Graham said.

“I think everybody in the country needs to know if it happened. I’m going to do everything I can to get to the bottom of Department of Justice [and] FBI behaviour toward President Trump and his campaign.”

He pledged to hold a hearing to determine “who’s telling the truth”.

What has Mr Rosenstein previously said?

Last September he strongly denied discussing invoking the constitutional clause to oust President Trump.

US Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Rosenstein previously said there was “no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment”

America’s second most senior law official said the allegation was “inaccurate and factually incorrect”.

He said: “Let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

A source told the BBC that the comment that Mr Rosenstein was thinking of secretly recording Mr Trump was sarcastic.

In January, US media reported that Mr Rosenstein was planning to quit, although no timeframe had been set.

What is the 25th Amendment?

It provides for the removal of a president if he is deemed unfit for office. Duties are transferred to the vice-president.

Activating the relevant section of the 25th Amendment would require the approval of eight of the 15 members of Mr Trump’s cabinet, the vice-president and two-thirds majorities in Congress.

Ronald Reagan and George W Bush used the amendment to temporarily transfer power when they were medically anaesthetised.

Bill Cosby issues statement from prison saying he has ‘no remorse’ and is a ‘political prisoner’ like MLK, Gandhi and Mandela

Bill Cosby, in jail, calls himself a ‘political prisoner’ and expresses no remorse

Bill Cosby has a unique perspective of his time in prison so far: He’s calling it “amazing.” He’s also making it clear that he’s unremorseful and calls himself a “political prisoner” not unlike Martin Luther King Jr.

The disgraced TV star, serving three to 10 years for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, allowed his spokesman to talk about his day-to-day serving time at SCI Phoenix, a maximum-security prison in Collegeville, Pa., which is about 20 miles outside Philadelphia. The comedian, 81, is now with the general population, but has his own room and has prisoners who serve as his helpers, due to his age and being legally blind.

“Despite the circumstances, this is an amazing experience” for the millionaire entertainer, Cosby publicist and crisis manager Andrew V. Wyatt told NBC 10 Philadelphia in a two-part interview that aired this week.

Wyatt also said Cosby was unapologetic. “When I visit him, it’s nothing sad about it,” he said. “He’s not sad. He’s not remorseful because he did nothing wrong.”

Bill Cosby says he will “never have remorse.”

Cosby issued a statement Wednesday to confirm that he indeed is not remorseful. In it, he paints himself as a “political prisoner” among the likes of King, Gandhi and Mandela.

“Here’s why I have ‘no’ remorse and will never have remorse,” said Cosby, who maintain that his 2004 encounter with Constand, with whom he settled with a civil lawsuit, was consensual. “I was given a deal; I settled out of court for $3.8 million; I waived my 5th amendment rights; I was declared Not Guilty in 2005 by the Commonwealth — never charged. However, a low-life District Attorney and a corrupt Judge needed me Guilty now. Not for justice, but for their political aspirations. They say, Mr. Cosby, you must attend these classes. Why? One word. Entrapment!”

The statement continued, “My political beliefs, my actions of trying to humanize all races, genders, and religions landed me in this place surrounded by barb wire fencing, a room made of steel and iron. So, I now have a temporary residence that resembles the quarters of some of the Greatest Political Prisoners — Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Randal Robinson, and Dr. Benjamin Chavis. I stand upright as a Political Prisoner and I Smile. The Truth is Strong!”

In his interview, Wyatt painted Cosby as a man doing the best he can under the circumstances. He said the star has lost weight, waking up at 3 a.m. to do calisthenics and he gave up coffee. He said The Cosby Show star rinses off his prison food in a cup of water before every meal to reduce his salt intake. And if he needs any extras in prison, he certainly has the cash in his commissary account. Wyatt said that Cosby’s many fans from around the world have sent him money to spend in jail. He added that Cosby is “mentally strong” and had long prepared himself for being in prison because he felt the district attorney was out to get him.

As reported, his wife of more than 50 years, Camille, hasn’t visited him and doesn’t plan to. Same with their daughters. That was Cosby’s idea, said Wyatt. However, Cosby does speak to Camille three times a day for three minutes a call — the maximum amount of time he can spend on the phone.

Wyatt said he visits Cosby every other week — and the star’s attorneys visit as well.