During my 25+ year career as an independent financial planner, many clients wanted me to investigate “opportunities”, then to recommend action. That process is called due diligence. DD is very time intensive, often made even more difficult by financial and legal shenanigans. Two pieces of advice I gave my clients usually worked best: “Ask yourself ‘what emotions are they appealing to’, and how does what they say or write comport with their stated aims?” Specifically, for example, if their materials say “we are unbiased” and their pitch is “double your money in a month…without risk”, but they only recommend products that pay them a commission, and their pitch appeals to greed (significant short term gains with no effort), not much due diligence is required, just get running shoes.
On December 6, I read a “letter” from “We, the undersigned legal scholars”, who write that they “have concluded that President Trump engaged in impeachable conduct.” They further write “there is overwhelming evidence that President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election, for his personal and political benefit, at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress.” Who were they? How many were they? When did they reach their conclusion? In answer to the first two questions, they were 604 self described “legal scholars”, from hundreds of colleges. The answer to the third question is much harder to come by. A link to Protectdemocracy.org is provided in the letter, published on Medium.com, which is largely a forum for writers to showcase their work. The Protectdemocracy.org website writes “The evidence shows that the President attempted to corrupt the 2020 election by using his official power to withhold critical military aid in order to pressure the Ukrainian president into announcing investigations that would benefit Trump for his personal and political benefit.” I will return to the “overwhelming evidence” and the theme “attempted to corrupt”, as well as the claim that they knew what Trump’s motives were for withholding “critical military aid”.
The six “threats” to democracy listed on that website are: “politicizing independent institutions”, “spreading disinformation”, “executive power grabs”, “quashing dissent”, “corrupting elections” and “delegitimizing communities”. I followed the links for “executive power grabs” and “corrupting elections”, the two main criticisms of Trump. What did I find? They each led to “news items” about those offenses. Every news item was about Republicans or Trump. Could it be that since 2017, only republicans tried to grab power and corrupt elections? You might answer, “well the organization formed in 2017”, but they had charts going back to 2003, purporting to show that the public has continually lost faith in the central government. Here’s what that organization says about itself: “Protect Democracy was founded in early 2017 by a group of former high-level executive branch officials who served in the White House Counsel’s Office and upper-echelons of the Department of Justice and have unique knowledge of the norms that have constrained presidential power for decades and when those in power may be tempted to violate them.” Well, then they are well positioned to also write about Obama’s “executive power grabs”. But nary a mention….They do congratulate themselves for “materially impacted the national debate over whether Trump obstructed justice by organizing a letter from more than 1,000 former federal prosecutors asserting that any other American would have been prosecuted for engaging in the acts described in the Mueller Report.”
That website features a headline. BREAKING: 500+ Legal Scholars Conclude Trump Committed Impeachable Conduct. It’s dated December 6, 2019. When did they actually conclude that Trump “Committed Impeachable Conduct”? I want you to consider how difficult and time consuming it would be to get even two lawyers, i.e. legal scholars, to agree on anything and then put together a written document that they would broadcast to the world. Now consider how much more difficult it would be if 604 lawyers from all over the country had to sign on to that. When did the Ukraine testimony—the actual fount of the “overwhelming evidence”—occur?