Things That Matter

Democrats End Months Of Caution, Announce Formal Impeachment Inquiry Of President Trump

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.

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The startling news comes in the wake of his admission that Trump spoke to the president of Ukraine to get information on Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son and their dealings with Ukraine. President Trump also admitted to withholding military funds before the call was made.

“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.

While some Democrats and Trump opposers have been calling for Trump’s impeachment for quite some time, Democratic presidential candidates have been more vocal about it in the past couple of months. It seemed like Rep. Pelosi was waiting for the right time to move forward.

Rep. Pelosi’s announcement today is a departure from the cautious tone the leading Democrat has publicly held.

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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.”

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“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.

Credit: @Castro4Congress / Twitter

Initially, when news first broke about a whistleblower having first-hand knowledge that President Trump spoke to Ukraine about wanting knowledge against Biden for the purpose of his presidential election, it wasn’t a big deal. 

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. 

Credit: @brianstelter / Twitter

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.

READ: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Calls For Donald Trump’s Impeachment After Mueller’s First Public Remarks

Here’s What The Candidates Had To Say About The Billionaires And Their Responsibilities To Pay Taxes

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Here’s What The Candidates Had To Say About The Billionaires And Their Responsibilities To Pay Taxes

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Democrats have officially wrapped their third round of Democratic debates. Last night, 12 candidates for the Democratic nomination went head to head on the debate stage in Ohio. The biggest topics of the night were President Trump’s sudden withdrawal of troops in Syria leaving the Kurds vulnerable to Turkey’s attacks and what to do with billionaires. There were some clear winners and losers from the debate. Here is your quick breakdown from the candidates trying to be the Democratic nominee for president.

Elizabeth Warren delivered a powerful message on the inequalities of the abortion debate.

“I think there are a number of options. I think as Mayor Buttigieg said, there are many different ways that people are talking about different options and I think we may have to talk about them,” Sen. Warren said when asked if she’d add justices to the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights. “But, on Roe v. Wade, can we just pause for a minute here. I lived in an America where abortion was illegal and rich women still got abortions because they could travel. They could go to places where it was legal. What we’re talking about now, is that the people who are denied access to abortion are the poor, are the young, are 14-year-olds who were molested by a family member. We now have support across this country. Three out of 4 Americans believe in the rule of Roe v. Wade. When you’ve got three out of four Americans supporting it, we should be able to get that passed through Congress. We should not leave this up to the Supreme Court. We should do it through democracy because we can.”

The U.S. has seen a series of laws passed on the state level aiming to limit access to abortion. The laws have attempted to shutter Planned Parenthood clinics, which offer many more services than abortions, and Alabama’s law sought to put physicians in prison for 99 years for performing abortions. Louisiana has a law that is being heard by the Supreme Court this session that could force all but one doctor in the state to stop performing abortions.

Julián Castro spoke out about increasing police brutality and deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

“I grew up in neighborhoods where it wasn’t uncommon to hear gunshots at night,” former HUD Secretary Castro said when asked about preventing handgun homicides. “I can remember ducking into the backseat of a car when I was a freshman in high school across the street from my school, my public school because folks were shooting at each other.”

Castro continued by speaking about a topic that has been frequently discussed among the candidates, government buybacks of guns. Castro pointed out that he doesn’t like the idea of a mandatory buyback program since some people have not been able to define it. Furthermore, Castro states that if authorities are not going door-to-door then it isn’t going to be effective.

According to a Pew Research Center study conducted using data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 39,773 people died from gun-related incidents in the U.S. in 2017. The deaths came from suicides, murder, law enforcement, accidents, and undetermined circumstances.

Castro also made a point to name the latest victim of deadly police violence.

Atatiana Jefferson was home in Fort Worth, Texas with her nephew playing video games when neighbors called the police to check up on Jefferson. The officer who killed Jefferson, Aaron Y. Dean, resigned before he could be fired, according to The New York Times and has been charged with murder in the death. It is also reported that there have been six police-involved killings in the Fort Worth area this year.

Beto O’Rourke doubled down on his plan to create a mandatory buyback program of assault rifles.

If someone does not turn in an AR-15 or an AK-47, one of these weapons of war, or brings it out in public and brandishes it in an attempt to intimidate, which we saw when we were at Kent State [University] recently, then that weapon will be taken from them,” former Congressman O’Rourke told the audience when asked about finding the weapons and taking them away. “If they persist, there will be other consequences from law enforcement. But the expectation is that Americans will follow the law.”

Bernie Sanders, fresh from a health scare, let the billionaires have it.

“When you have a half-million Americans sleeping out on the streets today; when you have 87 million people uninsured or under-insured; when you have hundreds of thousands of kids who cannot afford to go to college and millions struggling with the oppressive burden of student debt,” Sanders said. “Then you also have three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of American society, that is a moral and economic outrage and that truth is we cannot afford to continue this level of income and wealth inequality and we cannot afford a billionaire class whose greed and corruption has been at war for 45 years.”

The night was filled with other candidates bringing up issues of the opiate crisis, Russian meddling in American democracy, the need to bring dignity back to jobs, and Biden was confronted about the Ukrainian scandal his son is involved in.

READ: From Gun Reform To Immigration, Here Are The Highlights Of Last Night’s #DemDebate

Ecuador Was In Chaos After Massive Protests But The Government Has Reached A Deal With These Indigenous Activists

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Ecuador Was In Chaos After Massive Protests But The Government Has Reached A Deal With These Indigenous Activists

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Ecuador’s government announced a round of talks with leaders of the Indigenous groups who have been mobilizing against the government in a move to end the violence and chaos that has racked the nation for more than a week.

President Moreno announced he would withdraw the country from a deal reached with the IMF that many said would cause the greatest harms to the country’s most vulnerable populations.

In a major address, President Lenin Moreno announced he had struck a deal with indigenous leaders to cancel a disputed austerity package.

The news comes after nearly two weeks of protests that have paralyzed the economy and left seven dead.

Under the new agreement, President Moreno will withdraw the International Monetary Fund-backed package, known as Decree 883, that included a sharp rise in fuel costs. Indigenous leaders, in turn, will call on their followers to end protests and street blockades.

“Comrades, this deal is a compromise on both sides,” Moreno said. “The indigenous mobilization will end and Decree 883 will be lifted.”

The two sides will work together to develop a package of measures to cut government spending, increase revenue and reduce Ecuador’s growing budget deficits and public debt.

Ecuador’s Indigenous groups celebrated the announcement as a major victory.

“I’m so happy I don’t know what to say. I don’t have words, I’m so emotional. At least God touched the president’s heart,” said protester Rosa Matango in an interview with The Guardian. “I am happy as a mother, happy for our future. We indigenous people fought and lost so many brothers, but we’ll keep going forward.”

Caravans of cars roamed the streets early on Monday honking in celebration, passengers shouting, banging pots and waving Ecuadorian flags.

“The moment of peace, of agreement, has come for Ecuador,” said Arnaud Peral, the United Nations’ resident coordinator in Ecuador and one of the mediators of the nationally televised talks. “This deal is an extraordinary step.”

Wearing the feathered headdress and face paint of the Achuar people of the Amazon rainforest, the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations, Jaime Vargas, thanked President Moreno and demanded improved long-term conditions for Indigenous Ecuadorians.

“We want peace for our brothers and sisters in this country,” Vargas said. “We don’t want more repression.”

The protests started when the President affirmed his support for an IMF-backed agreement, known as Decree 883.

The move sparked nationwide protests as prices rose overnight by about a 25% for gas and double for diesel. A state of emergency was imposed on Thursday. Truck and taxi drivers forced a partial shutdown of Quito’s airport and roadblocks have paralyzed major roads across the country.

Images from Quito showed protesters hurling gas bombs and stones, ransacking and vandalizing public buildings as well as clashing with the police in running battles late into the night.

Some protests became so violent that the government was actually forced to flee the capital of Quito for the coastal city of Guayaquil.

All of this was in response to Decree 883 which would have ended fuel subsidies that many of the country’s poorest citizens have come to rely on.

Other indigenous demands included higher taxes on the wealthy and the firing of the interior and defence ministers over their handling of the protests.

In a shift from the heated language of the last 10 days of protests, each side at the negotiations praised the other’s willingness to talk as they outlined their positions in the first hour before a short break.

“From our heart, we declare that we, the peoples and nations, have risen up in search of liberty,” Vargas told The Guardian. “We recognize the bravery of the men and women who rose up.”