Long before the public release of the Mueller report, Democrats knew that impeachment create a trove of political uncertainties and explosions. Still, freshman members of Congress including Freshman New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez say that the contents of the newly released report call for Congress to investigate whether Trump made attempts obstruct justice.
The Democratic congresswoman says that Mueller’s report has left a new priority “on our doorstep.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who had not made impeaching Trump a priority amongst her proposals for her Green New resolution and Medicare for All on her campaign, says Mueller’s report is a call to Congress. In a response to the 448-page long report, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that “While I understand the political reality of the Senate + election considerations, upon reading this DoJ report, which explicitly names Congress in determining obstruction, I cannot see a reason for us to abdicate from our constitutionally mandated responsibility to investigate.”
As a result, Ocasio-Cortez says she will sign Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s impeachment resolution which she introduced last month.
“Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President. It is our job as outlined in Article 1, Sec 2, Clause 5 of the US Constitution,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “As such, I’ll be signing onto [Rep. Rashida Tlaib]’s impeachment resolution.”
In the report conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the ways in which the president attempted to block the investigation into the Russian government’s role in his 2016 presidential campaign are outlined in full.
While Mueller detailed some pretty damning information, he did not outrightly say that Trump had committed obstruction of justice and wrote that he would let the decision of raising any charges to Congress.
In his report, Mueller writes “With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has the authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.”
Tlaib’s resolution and the issue of impeachment is unlikely to gain traction with the Democratic leadership, who are more interested in defeating Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Instead, they are attempting to hear directly from Mueller. “As we continue to review the report,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement, “one thing is clear: Attorney General Barr presented a conclusion that the president did not obstruct justice while Mueller’s report appears to undercut that finding.”
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In 2005, the DNA Fingerprint Act updated a former law‚ the DNA Identification Act of 1994, which denied authorities to obtain DNA from “arrestees who have not been charged in an indictment or information with a crime, and DNA samples that are voluntarily submitted solely for elimination purposes, from being included in the National DNA Index System.” In other words, the DNA Fingerprint Act was revised to protect the privacy rights of immigrants. In 2010, the DNA Fingerprint Act was again revised because of then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who said government agencies didn’t have the resources back then to gather DNA from “migrants in custody who weren’t facing criminal charges or those pending deportation proceedings,” so another clause was put in place for them. Now, in another move in the attack on migrants, the Trump Administration wants to change that.
The Trump Administration is continuing forward with its push to collect DNA samples from every migrant person that enters the U.S.
According to the New York Times, “a homeland security official said in a call with reporters on Wednesday that the exemption [put in place in 2010] was outdated, and that it was time to eliminate it.” That statement means the government now has resources to sort through and gather DNA, which it didn’t have in 2010. But that assumption is a stark contradiction since border agents, and immigration officials are severely understaffed.
Immigration advocates are calling foul on this tactic by the Trump Administration who continues to criminalize migrants who are seeking asylum. Once their DNA is in the system, they will forever be recorded as felons.
“That kind of mass collection alters the purpose of DNA collection from one of criminal investigation basically to population surveillance, which is basically contrary to our basic notions of a free, trusting, autonomous society,” Vera Eidelman, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, told The New York Times.
The government began collecting DNA from migrants starting this summer.
At some point, this summer border agents began collecting DNA from migrants in order to verify whether or not they were related to the people they were traveling with. Agents were trying to prove whether family units entering the country together were actually related or traveling under false information. The DNA they gathered at the point was just to show family DNA.
“This was really an investigative tool in attacking the fraudulent family phenomenon,” an ICE official said to CNN about the operation that began this summer. “We’re interested in using this as a tactical law enforcement tool, one of many, to be deployed when looking at a potential fraudulent family scenario.”
This new type of DNA that the administration is aiming to get would provide more extensive information and also would not be shared with other law enforcement agencies.
The problem here lies with privacy concerns. For example, if an immigration official gathers DNA information from a migrant who entered the country illegally only to be given asylum later — because the court process takes a very long time — that person, who has the option of becoming a U.S. citizen at some point now has a criminal stain on their record for the rest of their life.
Writer Kelly Hayes wrote an extensive Twitter thread that exposes the extensive damage and intrusion this form of DNA gathering will have for years to come.
“A DNA registry for migrants,” Hayes tweeted. “Imagine the ugly possibilities of having a marginalized group of people that large cataloged according to their DNA, and that catalog being in the hands of the state. I know folks are focused on Ukraine, but this is a whole thing. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people, including children. With evolving technologies, the potential surveillance applications of a massive DNA registry are ominous AF.”
It’s unclear when this DNA collection will officially begin, even though the New York Times reports that Homeland Security officials have already said they have the right to get DNA from migrants. However, the Supreme Court has already ruled undocumented people have rights just as U.S. citizens do.
“Though the Supreme Court has found that the constitutional right to privacy applies to everyone within the United States, regardless of their immigration status, a more restrictive interpretation of the Fourth Amendment has been applied within a 100-mile zone of the border, where suspicionless searches are allowed, even of American citizens,” the Times reports. And yet we already know some attorneys are trying to fight that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to undocumented people.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has officially announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The announcement comes after a whistleblower filed a complaint about Trump asking the Ukranian government to investigate presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son. Hunter Biden joined the board of Ukraine’s largest private gas company Burisma. The Obama administration supported an investigation into Hunter to confirm no conflicting interest with the vice president’s official business in the country. Now, Trump asked the Ukranian government to launch an investigation into the businesses dealings and it has been alleged that Trump threatened to withhold funds from Ukraine if they did not. Trump has denied the allegations but it was enough for Speaker Pelosi to announce an official investigation. Here’s what we know so far.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry for Trump today.
“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Rep. Pelosi told the press, according to The New York Times.
Rep. Pelosi’s announcement today is a departure from the cautious tone the leading Democrat has publicly held.
In March, Rep. Pelosi told The Washington Post the wasn’t “for impeachment. Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it. No. I don’t think he is. I mean, ethically unfit. Intellectually unfit. Curiosity wise unfit. No, I don’t think he’s fit to be president of the United States.” She then scolded herself for “coming across too negatively.”
All along, the House Judiciary Committee has collected articles of impeachment on President Trump. The only way to impeach a president is to have the proper articles of impeachment — which is the evidence that shows the president has engaged in wrongdoings that go above executive privilege. The steps now would be to collect the articles of impeachment and bring them to a vote before the House of Representatives. A committee can be set up to vet the articles, however, that is not necessary. If the House votes in a majority on one article, that is essentially an indictment that the president has committed an impeachable offense.
The Trump Administration is, so far, playing it cool by saying this latest call for impeachment is “nothing new.”
“The Democrats continue to weaponize politics when they should be working on behalf of their constituents, which is nothing new,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, according to CNN. “President Trump is working hard on behalf of our country here in NYC while they continue to scream the word impeachment. Nothing new here.”
The complaint filed by the whistleblower about Trump’s conversation with Ukraine’s president is a very important revelation in these proceedings.
We’ve heard a myriad of things against Trump, but without proof, it doesn’t lead to much. So, when the whistleblower said there was a call, and then Trump admitted to it, that changed everything. Trump tweets scandalous things all the time. He says outrages things all the time, but saying and doing is two different things. Having proof is also important. Now that the public knows there’s a recording, and that Trump admitted to the call, those on Capitol Hill have demanded the transcript of the call and Trump is apparently going to release it soon.
If there’s proof that Trump asked a foreign government to interfere in the next presidential election, he will be impeached. That would be the best-case scenario. There’s still an impeachment process, and Republicans hold the key because they’re the majority in the Senate.
While the transcripts could be important in these proceedings, what should be released sooner is the formal complaint by the whistleblower. There is skepticism that the Trump administration would release an undoctored version of the transcript. Releasing the whistleblower’s full complaint would offer a more honest and transparent account of the call.
So now what? Now we wait. The first hurdle is getting 235 Democrats in the House to support the inquiry. That is likely to happen.
After that, here’s how the process will move along, according to the New York Times:
“When the full House votes on articles of impeachment, if at least one gets a majority vote, the president is impeached — which is essentially the equivalent of being indicted.”
“Next, the proceedings move to the Senate, which is to hold a trial overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.”
“A team of lawmakers from the House, known as managers, play the role of prosecutors. The president has defense lawyers, and the Senate serves as the jury.”
“If at least two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed, and the vice president takes over as president.”
What many political pundits and critics are concerned of is the willingness of the Senate to move forward if an article for impeachment is approved by the House. While the Constitution states that after the House passes an article that the Senate will hold a trial to finalize the impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stonewalled any legislation passed by the House. Notably, Sen. McConnell blocked President Obama from filling a Supreme Court vacancy and he would be able to block an impeachment, which many expect him to do. Only time will tell if the Senate will follow through with their obligation to uphold the constitution and protect our democracy.