TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Espionage, Not Treason

With all of the news relating to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, some terms have been loosely thrown around.

A number of talking heads have been referring to the investigation of the Russian matter as “treason.” That is not correct. Treason is defined as “the practice of spying or using spies, typically by governments to obtain political and military information.”

Under Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution of the United States, treason can be committed only during times of war!

Espionage, on the other hand, is defined as “the practice of spying or of using spies, typically by governments to obtain political and or military information.” It consists among other things, of infiltration; eavesdropping; surveillance, reconnaissance, intelligence and undercover work.

Rep. Devon Nunes, R-Calif., who served on the House Committee on the Judiciary, was supposed to be disqualified from anything Russian. Remember him? He’s the man who last year went to the White House in the middle of the night, got materials to slime the Russian investigation, and then — dimwit that he is —returned the materials to the White House … and was caught doing it.

Then we have retired Gen. John F. Kelly, the man with supposedly perfect credentials, who is the chief of staff to 45. Kelly was brought in to potty-train 45 and bring order to the executive office. He has failed miserably.

I initially considered Kelly a good choice to keep the undisciplined president under control, but he hasn’t. In fact by now, 45 seems to have potty-trained Kelly.

The real world understands that the president has no right to tell the FBI, CIA or Justice Department how to do their jobs. He especially has a duty not to interfere with their investigations.

Yet Kelly contacted the Justice Department and FBI and made it clear that the president wanted certain individuals removed. The president also said he wanted that infamous memo prepared by Nunes’ staff released — after the legal divisions of the agencies said that such a release could jeopardize security and endanger sources of information.

I’m watching the destruction of our values on a scale I could never have imagined. Those who are interfering with a lawful investigation that is in the best interests of this country are, in my opinion, guilty of espionage. Putin loves them. Because he does, we should not.

There is no one who can control this lying, name-calling, childish president. But I can tell you one thing, as I’ve been saying ever since 45 lost the popular vote in 2016: The investigation will continue. The president will be required to testify. Though the Trey Gowdys and Nuneses will, with their gang of scofflaws, continue to block the truth … and the final arbiter will be the courts.

In case you haven’t noticed, 45’s record with the courts since becoming president is dismal. It’s just about as bad as his record in business.

Remember, the original investigation was to determine whether there was Russian interference in our election. That has been determined to be fact beyond the shadow of a doubt. Counsel is simply following the trail.

You can take this to the bank: Special Counsel Mueller will complete his investigation. Either the president will suffer, or he will not. A lot of folks who should never have been brought into government have already been exposed, and there will be more to come. Hold onto your seats. The battle is just starting. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — The Right To Be Silent

In this country, we have the right to remain silent. But there are times where we also have the duty to speak out. We now live in a time when to remain silent is an act of cowardice, racism and bigotry.

I’m not going to dignify this POTUS by quoting his recent disgusting statement referencing the entire African continent. He was, of course, talking about banning folks from those countries whose people just happen to be black! It’s not unlike his constant attacks on Mexico, whose people happen to be brown. Of course, he also has little positive to say about China, which has the largest population on Earth, which happen to be yellow.

Have you noticed that the only time the president takes on someone face to face, it’s when he has a microphone in his tiny hands … and it’s either a female reporter or a female member of Congress. Since he moved into the Oval Office, have you seen him say one critical thing to a male, mano a mano? Perhaps in the case of men, I might have missed a moment or two of bravery. But I doubt it.

The next time you see POTUS speaking to the press, watch his posture. When he is seated and on the defensive, he crosses his arms, literally hugging himself. When he’s in that posture while being questioned, he really lashes out. In this defensive position, he even can summon up the guts to insult some media males.

When he is standing at a podium and controls the mic, he doesn’t hug himself. Instead, he gestures from right to left, left to right, until you can predict which direction he’ll opt. He learned that on “The Apprentice”! Actually, his behavior suggests he didn’t really learn much of anything from his hit TV show— but you can bet the farm that the participants on that show recognized his dictatorial style long before the public did.

We don’t get to make any more excuses for the state of our country. Before we voted for him, we were told what this man had done to the small businesses that contracted to do work for him. We were told that, as a landlord, the court stepped in to rescind his ban on renting to blacks. We were told all about his sexual improprieties. We knew fidelity was not his strong point, as evidenced by his multiple marriages. We knew all this and more … but still elected him.

I am always amused by those who claim they voted for POTUS rather than Hillary Clinton, referring to her as a “crook” and every demeaning comment imaginable. When you ask them for a concrete example of her sins, they either go silent or refer to a phony scandal like Benghazi. Sen. Tom Cotton led a panel that cost our country millions of dollars “investigating” the charges. He and his attack dogs came up with absolutely nothing because there was nothing there.

Previously I referred to some of POTUS’ shortcomings. Here are some more: his attack on the United States Supreme Court; his attacks on federal district and appellate courts; and his attack on one judge in particular who he stated should be disqualified because he was of Mexican heritage. (That judge was born and raised right here in the U.S. Even if he had not been, I’d say, “So what!”)

If our veterans, teachers, child-care centers and middle-income people are going to be hurt as much by his tax bill as experts have estimated, the term “absolute liar” will stick to him forever.

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OK, I’ve just been reminded of something completely different — how lucky I am to be alive. When I worked in my law firm, my wife was my bookkeeper. When I occasionally left before she did, I’m told I always asked her on my way out the door, “What’s for dinner?” The staff — many of whom are still our friends today — would have a good laugh, asking her why she put up with me.

I wonder to this day how she did it. I’m a lucky man. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — I Beg Your Pardon!

Every presidency ought to have a theme song. For POTUS 45 and his cohorts, it should be “I Beg Your Pardon.”

There’s a lot of loose talk about what a president can and cannot do in the area of pardons, so I did a little research on the subject. My results are drawn from multiple sources, all qualified. If I were to annotate each source, I’d exceed my column’s length parameters, so … trust me on this.

Shortly before President Nixon resigned from office in 1974, the Office of Legal Counsel within the Department of Justice issued an opinion in which they cautioned that “no one may be a judge in his own case.” This is also a principle of so-called “natural law,” meaning that the president cannot pardon himself.

In the case of a self-pardon, ultimately the U.S/ Supreme Court would have to come to its own conclusion on whether the courts should accept such a pardon as constitutionally valid. There would really be no option but to reach an independent judgment on that question and not simply defer to the judgment made by the president.

A president cannot use the pardon power to immunize himself from impeachment or from prosecution by one or more of the 50 states. Were a president to pardon himself, this would surely trigger prosecution within the states (e.g. for fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and so on). Because a pardon would be admissible as evidence of guilt, this would not be a wise decision.

Based on this reasoning, the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel wrote in 1974 “Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself.”

Days later, President Nixon chose to extricate himself from scandal — not by self-pardon but rather by resignation from office. President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon after he had resigned. Logic would say this should put an end to the discussion— but it does not.

It can be suggested that President Ford’s pardon of Nixon did end his own political future, as he was defeated in his run for a full term in the first election after Nixon’s resignation.

Impeachment may seem like an adequate deterrent. But because removal from office requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate, presidents normally don’t need to worry about it. It’s possible that a judge would rule that even if a self-pardon would relieve the president of liability for a crime, the act of self-pardoning is itself a crime, obstruction of justice and would independently create criminal liability.

There are two or more potential checks on the pardoning power. First, the Constitution specifically rules out the possibility of pardoning someone for impeachable offenses. Congress could certainly regard an “abuse” of the pardoning power as an impeachable offense, in and of itself, even if one concludes such a pardon would be regarded as legally valid.

Of course, presidents can deceive themselves into thinking that their bad acts are justified for the common good. But the point of the power to pardon is to bestow mercy on another, not to enrich oneself.

President 45’s interest on the scope of the president’s power to pardon demonstrates that he is conscious of guilt. Only if 45 believes that he may be guilty of a crime would he be interested in pardoning himself. This is not the behavior of an innocent man. The same would hold true when he seeks pardon authority for his children and others in his administration.

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One has to wonder when this man actually sleeps. He has meetings all day … when he’s not playing golf … and tweets all night. He who complained about President Obama’s vacations, golf and use of Air Force One for vacation travel has in the first short months of his term exceeded Obama’s whole four years in office.

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Our Denier in Chief does not believe in climate change — notwithstanding the countless educated voices that affirm its existence. That denial allows 45 to write executive orders (which he refers to as “bills,” though they are not) to allow Big Oil to dump waste into our clean waters and allows them to try to intimidate the Native nations, a war that in the long run the Natives will win.

We don’t know if 45 and his gang sleep with the Russians, if he is indebted to the Russians or if the Russians have tapes of El Dumbo doing naughty things. With the exception of the naughty things, 45 could put to rest many of the allegations flying around him and his administration quite easily. All he would have to do is release all of his tax returns.

President 45 and the echo chambers that surround him are the only ones who still claim he is a sharp businessman. His many trips to the bankruptcy courts suggest otherwise, as do the thousands of current lawsuits filed against him and his corporations.

Donald J. Trump holds his own interests and those of his family as his primary concerns. Yet he was elected to be the voice of the American People. The lies he told to get elected— now confirmed as lies — seem to have had little impact on his base.

It makes no difference to me what your political views are; we all have our own. What matters most is that I simply cannot tolerate a serial liar in any capacity or position. We’ve had presidents with flaws, as all of us do — but 45 is in a category all his own. While I wish all of our presidents success, in his case, it simply won’t happen.

Keep watching Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He’s the key to putting this national shame in proper perspective.

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Last but not least, you may have missed the administration’s ballyhooed “Made in America” push a week or so ago. Right up front was Ivanka Trump … all of whose products are manufactured in foreign countries by underpaid employees.

We, the American people of all parties, might be willing to grant our own pardon to 45 and his entire kleptomaniac klan … if they will only just resign and move in with their Russian friends. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Inhumane Sanctions Reflect A Cold, Callous Heart

The word “humanity” is often tossed around, but I wonder if the term is understood. Definitions abound. Here’s how Merriam-Webster explains it: A) the quality or state of being human; B) the quality or state of being kind to other people or to animals.

Another word that also seems to be understood is “sanctions.” Again, the dictionary’s definition: A) a threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule; B) a penalty, punishment or deterrent.

Take North Korea, for example. Sanctions in place right now deprive them of coal and food products, as well as other items essential to life, in response to their constant violation of human rights and their military threats.

Their leaders live like kings. When their president is offended by citizens, he simply has them killed.

The United States has thousands of troops stationed in South Korea. They’ve remained there since we bombed the hell out of the North from 1950 to 1953 and finally forced a truce, which holds to this day.

Why should the North feel comfortable with our troops next door … and particularly since we have placed anti-ballistic missiles in South Korea?

The North Korean people face winters as bad as any the free world experiences, and coal is essential for heat. Whenever sanctions are applied, it hurts the civilians. That is simply inhumane. Yet we applaud the act of withholding coal.

We have enough nuclear deterrent to destroy the entire world if we wish. So why do we maintain thousands of troops in South Korea 64 years after signing the truce?

All administrations say they are there to “preserve the peace.” But at the same time, they claim that if the North moves, the North will use nuclear weapons. The last thing we need is to have our men and women on the ground where the fear is nuclear. Their presence will not for one second deter an admitted mad man. (We sure don’t need two mad leaders in this world, but that’s what we seem to have right now.)

America’s current dictator wants China to do his dirty work for him and is surprised that there is nothing in it for the Chinese, even if they could control the North. China is not our ally, but neither is it an enemy. China is growing; while you can call them inhuman or inhumane if you wish, at least they have signed onto the Paris Accords and are working extremely hard to clean the environment. Only one world leader ignores climate change, and that is 45.

Is it humane for us to punish civilians … not just in North Korea but also in the Mideast, including but not limited to Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq? By agreement, we are supposed to exit Iraq, and the same holds true in the near future for Afghanistan. The Russians left Afghanistan knowing nothing would stop the occupants from feuding, as they have since time began. Then we took over.

We killed the leader of Iraq, not knowing at the time that his method of governing was what kept the country together, albeit not in a democratic way. The price has been, and is now being paid by the Iraqis.

The Afghans and Iraqi no longer desire our presence. The cost to the U.S. is far up into the billions, not counting thousands of men and women killed and wounded in action, including those grappling with continuing mental problems resulting from those wars.

When we talk about sanctions, we should consider them in the same sentence as the word “humanity.” In the world today, using them is dead wrong.

Here at home, we have leaders falsely claiming to be concerned about humane treatment of our citizens as they seek to abolish the Affordable Care Act. Though it does definitely need improving, that certainly won’t happen under their UN-affordable Care Act that essentially exists to give substantial tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans. Those breaks would come at the expense of health care for the elderly, the young, families, the disabled, low-income individuals and military veterans … everyone except the wealthy. That’s just plain wrong.

What 45 and the Republicans in Congress propose and support is absolutely IN-humane. Their proposal places sanctions on those who can least respond by proposing the deletion and replacement of the ACA — which may not be perfect, but has greatly improved the picture for tens of millions of Americans.

This is the United States of America, not the Soviet Republic of the United States. It’s time for our legislators at all levels to throw off their party labels and start representing the American people — all of us. In the current environment, we cannot afford to be simply Republican or Democratic. We must first be American. That means we must look out for each other, not line a small number of rich people’s pockets.

I’m 78 years young. In my wildest nightmare, I could never have envisioned the cold-blooded, forget-about-people administration we now have. This can be laid at the feet of POTUS 45. Make a list of his pre-election promises and another of those he has broken or where he has flat-out lied. You’d better have lots of computer memory and a ton of paper if you go to print them out.

Simply stated, this administration is being inhumane … and it is we the people who are under its sanctions. Amen

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — The ‘Little Engine That Could’ Takes A Dive

Once upon a time, I had a fishing boat with a little 9.9 hp Johnson outboard motor. You could drive all day and all night and wouldn’t use a cup of gas. The kids learned to water ski behind it and loved to go wave-jumping in it. The only thing we didn’t do was fish … until one of my grandchildren got the bug.

Well, one sunny but very windswept day, one of the youngsters decided to go wave-hopping in it. The Little Engine that Could powered them over the waves and deep into the swells. A few hours later, said youngster and his friend showed up at the cabin, forlorn, sad and extremely tired. I came out and started talking to them. As we conversed, I asked where the boat was.

The answer was not funny at the time, though it certainly is now as I look back. It seems they had a mechanical problem on the far side of the lake and instead of calling on their cell phones for help, they walked all the way to the cottage. If I’d thought about it for a second, I’d have known that there was a reason there was no call, but I didn’t think.

It seems that as the little fishing boat with the little motor jumped the waves, drove through the swells and flew through the air with the greatest of ease —  the little 9.9 “engine that could” had fallen off.

Now, that explanation woke me up. We piled on the pontoon to drive to the site to tow the boat back and, incidentally, to prowl the deep, looking for the wayward motor.

The damned waves were so large we just about lost some passengers, so we gave up the hunt, put a line on the fishing boat and headed back. Those who had been in it when the motor fell off wanted to ride back in the fishing boat. They probably regret that decision to this day. That little boat bobbed, bounced, swayed, turned and tossed all the way back. It was like sitting in a mixer. It’s a tribute to the young men that they didn’t leave their innards in the boat —  although I did not check their shorts.

Once the lake calmed down, we spent an hour or two on different days looking through the clear water trying to spot Mr. Johnson … but no luck.

This past weekend, my wife, my daughter Lisa and I spent time cleaning up the beach, cutting and trimming the lawn, and doing all of the essential chores before relaxing.

Now comes the rub. I have the nicest neighbors in the world, both at the lake and at my home in Fargo. My next-door lake neighbor, Brad Klose, husband of the Lady Sheila Klose, asked my wife if I had noticed that he put our replacement 9.9 motor on our boat. I looked out and, sure enough, the 9.9 hp Johnson was in fact on the boat. I walked over and profusely thanked him for installing it, while at the same time wondering how in hell he got into the locked garage to do that.

While organizing my tools in the garage, I noted he had forgotten to put the gas can in the boat. Then I walked down. From the shore, the motor looked weathered and ancient. I thought, “The bugger — he found and installed our old motor.”

I asked him whether that was our old motor. Brad simply smiled and said, “No.” I went back to arranging my tools.

A few hours later, my wife glanced into the corner of the garage, and there, on the floor, was my replacement engine.

I ran out and asked Brad how and where he found my old motor, the one he’d installed on the boat. He simply smiled and said it was not the old motor, then told me to take a closer look. I did … and that goof, with some assistance from parties, had stenciled and painted “Johnson 9.9” on a cardboard box and stuck a piece of wood through the box representing the steering mechanism. From a distance, it really looked real.

Brad may think he really pulled this off, but payback is in the works. This is what makes living fun and takes one’s mind off the bad happenings of the world.

But no article of mine would be complete without some reference to POTUS 45. The attorney general isn’t competent to give him legal advice, and his personal attorney is dumber than a box of rocks. I use the terms “incompetent” and “dumb” because, with a client like 45, there must be some controls —  and there aren’t.

With a case pending before the Supreme Court on his travel ban, 45 —  the dolt —  tweets an insult to the Muslim mayor of London at a time when terrorists have just killed citizens of his city. Trump simply can’t keep his mouth shut! The Putin lover has not considered that his tweets simply fuel the case for terminating his Muslim travel ban and reinforce the belief the ban was against a specific religion.

I think it’s malpractice for an attorney to represent 45 if he will not adhere to legal advice and simply “shut up.”

When he recently shoved another world leader out of his way at the NATO summit, stuck out his chin and struck a Mussolini pose, his true colors came through.

Like all Americans, I wanted our president to succeed. He is not my president, though I never thought I would say that about the leader of our country. But since he doesn’t give a whit about the average American, there’s no reason to support him.

When he ran for president, 45 made all kinds of promises and claims. Decent, hard-working people believed him and voted for him, and that’s fine. I think it’s fair to say no one thought he’d try to run the country like his business, as a one-man show making all the decisions himself and listening to no one. This country is too large and diverse to have dictatorial type management.

He has removed and not replaced all U.S. attorneys; he removed but has not replaced our diplomats; and he has not replaced or even started to consider the numerous government employees he either terminated or who would have left when any new administration came in.

The president simply has no clue how to run this country. I pray and hope that the courts, as they always have, will resolve the problem of his lack of leadership —  sooner rather than later.

In closing, ask yourself this question. The president wanted a 90-day ban on admitting people from seven Muslim-majority nations, and the courts put a stay on his order. The 90 days have now elapsed, and he’s still asking for the ban. He wanted those 90 days to see if the bad folks would infiltrate and attack us. They haven’t. He doesn’t like losing, yet he’s never won since being elected (except for placing his nominee on the Supreme Court).

As I wrap this up, I’m listening to Vice President Pence on the news singing the praises of 45. Wow. Until just now, I must have missed all the accomplishments he’s claiming. Guess I’ll have to study up more, because I do love watching the news. It is what keeps this country safe. Amen.