Majority of Americans back impeachment inquiry: Polls

Stephanie Grisham appointed new White House spokeswoman

The White House says the impeachment inquiry into President Trump is “baseless” and “unconstitutional.” Most Americans disagree.

Four new national polls released in the past two days show at least 50 percent of respondents support the House probe, which was triggered by a whistleblower’s complaint against Trump over his repeated requests for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

And all four surveys found more Americans back the impeachment inquiry than do not.

• An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found 55 percent of Americans believe that Trump’s actions “are a serious matter and merit an impeachment inquiry,” compared with 39 percent who do not. (Six percent were not sure.) What’s more, nearly a quarter of those polled (24 percent) say there is already enough evidence for Congress to impeach Trump and remove him from office.

• A Quinnipiac poll found 53 percent of registered voters support the impeachment inquiry, compared with 43 percent who do not. (Four percent were undecided.) The same survey found voters virtually split on Trump’s removal from office, with 45 percent saying he should be impeached and removed and 49 percent opposing the idea — a divide that falls within the poll’s margin of error.

• A Washington Post-Schar School poll found 58 percent of Americans endorse the decision by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to begin a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump, compared with 38 percent who do not. The same survey showed nearly half (49 percent) of the respondents believe the president should be removed from office, while 44 percent do not. The remaining 7 percent say they are undecided about his fate.

• A Politico/Morning Consult poll found 50 percent of registered voters would support removing Trump from office, while 43 percent oppose the idea. Again, 7 percent of voters were undecided. Oddly, the survey found a higher percentage of respondents “strongly” supporting Trump’s removal (40 percent) than “strongly” supporting the inquiry itself (38 percent).

 

The latest polls were conducted following a flurry of developments in the impeachment probe. Last week, it was reported that Trump also pressured Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for information in an effort to discredit former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. Then, while speaking to reporters on the White House lawn, Trump called on China to investigate the Bidens.

The new surveys come on the heels of a half-dozen others that not only showed growing support for the impeachment inquiry but also support for the president’s removal from office.

Early Tuesday, the State Department blocked Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union and a central player in the Ukraine controversy, from testifying before House committees probing impeachment. Defending the move on Twitter, Trump called the Democrat-led panels a “totally compromised kangaroo court.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said he would consider it “additional strong evidence of obstruction.”

The White House then sent an eight-page letter to Pelosi calling the impeachment inquiry unconstitutional, setting up a legal showdown between Trump and Congress.

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Does Amber Guyger’s Murder Conviction Signal A Change In Police Accountability?

Image result for Botham Jean’s mother, Allison Jean, and his father, Bertram Jean, raise their hands with their family attorneys Daryl Washington, Benjamin Crump and Lee Merritt after Guyger’s murder conviction was delivered on Oct. 1, 2019.

The former Dallas police officer was the latest in a string of officers convicted in cases that involved the murder of unarmed Black people.

Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger’s guilty verdict and swift sentencing in the killing of an unarmed Black man was met with surprise from pundits all over the country. Some didn’t expect Guyger to face any repercussions at all.

“I, for one, was not expecting a white police officer to be convicted on the more serious charge for killing a black man, however bizarre the circumstances,” wrote CNN’s Jill Filipovic after Guyger was found guilty of murder on Tuesday.

Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Hers is actually the latest in a string of high-profile cases in which a white officer who killed a Black person was found guilty. In 2018, former Texas officer Roy D. Oliver II was found guilty of murdering 15-year-old Jordan Edwards; Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke pleaded guilty to killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014; earlier this year, a Florida jury convicted officer Nouman Raja for killing 31-year-old Corey Jones.

But experts say the peculiarities of Guyger’s case make it difficult to determine whether her conviction for murder is a sign of greater police accountability going forward, or a mere aberration.

With her new Bible in hand, former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger leaves the 204th District Court for jail after receivin
With her new Bible in hand, former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger leaves the 204th District Court for jail after receiving a hug from Botham Jean’s brother Brandt Jean in Dallas on Oct. 2.

Data compiled by FiveThirtyEight shows that allegations of police misconduct rarely result in charges for the officers involved, making the jury’s finding on Tuesday ― in which an officer accused of wrongdoing was not only charged but actually convicted ― seem to some like a welcome departure from the norm. But for several reasons, Guyger’s case was hardly a typical case of officer misconduct.

Firstly, Guyger ― unlike many officers accused of misconduct ― was off-duty when she shot Botham Jean. During the trial, Guyger and her defense team claimed the officer mistakenly entered Jean’s apartment thinking it was her own and shot him out of fear. But those claims were widely panned in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, and legal experts said it was too unbelievable to withstand scrutiny in court.

“Jurors and judges are often sympathetic to officers because they think, ‘Even if they made a mistake, they were just trying to do their job,’” said Paul Butler, a Georgetown Law professor and author of the book “Chokehold: Policing Black Men.”

“But here, since the officer wasn’t on-duty, the jury or judge wouldn’t have that sympathy,” Butler told HuffPost.

Jean also wasn’t suspected of a crime, which earned Guyger a level of derision that other self-proclaimed authority figures who have killed unarmed Black people were able to avoid. To emphasize how minimal a threat Jean posed when he was killed, the prosecution even noted that he had been shot dead while eating ice cream.

“A lot of jurors would be able to put themselves in the place of Mr. Jean in a way that they wouldn’t to a person who is the more typical victim of police violence, which is a suspect in a case,” Butler said.

To that point, another reason Guyger’s trial diverged from standard cases of police misconduct is that her victim exhibited several characteristics that garnered widespread sympathy beyond the Black community. Jean was an avowed Christian, a talented singer and gainfully employed at an accounting firm.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents Jean’s family, said Jean’s stellar reputation played a role in the outcome of this case.

“Botham Jean was a near-perfect person of color, so this jury had to make history in America today,” Crump told reporters after Guyger’s guilty verdict was announced. “But it shouldn’t take all that for unarmed Black and brown people to get justice,” he added.

But Butler told HuffPost that there was cause for optimism in the Guyger case, even if the specifics make it impossible to declare the conviction part of some trend of accountability.

Namely, he said the diverse jury in Guyger’s case, which reportedly included 10 nonwhite jurors out of the 12, may have played a role in the conviction. In courthouses across the country, the jury selection process has been seen as a method to weed out Black and brown potential jurors whose understanding of race ― and whose interpretation of the law ― may differ greatly from their white counterparts’.

Butler said many jurisdictions, including Dallas County, where Guyger was convicted, have taken steps that effectively diversify the jury pool by including people who have a driver’s license or state ID, rather than merely selecting from the voter registration rolls as is typical.

“When jurisdictions expand the jury pool to actually reflect the community, that results in more diverse juries,” he said.

Broadly speaking, various social justice movements have brought more attention to cases in which police officers have shot unarmed Black people. Accepting as a caveat that Guyger wasn’t on-duty when she killed Jean, her case existed in an environment that has seen social justice advocates pressure the legal system to mete out justice without regard for whether the offender is an officer or not.

In 2014, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch was widely criticized for failing to convince a grand jury to indict former St. Louis police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed an unarmed teenager named Michael Brown in the city of Ferguson. That scrutiny lingers to this day, Butler said, arguing this pressure may have played a role in charges being brought against Guyger in the first place. 

While prosecutors ― many of whom are elected officials ― may be reluctant to bring charges against officers accused of wrongdoing for political purposes, they are at least aware of a constituency that will hold them accountable if charges aren’t brought.

“In jurisdictions that have large minority populations, prosecutors are starting to understand that their constituents want police officers who commit crimes to be prosecuted like anyone else who’s committed a crime,” Butler said.

Newly Revealed Trump Administration Texts On Ukraine Appear To Show Clear Quid Pro Quos

Image result for trump + pence

Trump’s call with the leader of Ukraine has prompted an impeachment inquiry as Democrats condemn what they call brazen efforts to extract political favors.

Newly released text messages sent by senior Trump administration officials appear to show clear instances of the White House brazenly pressuring Ukraine for political favors in exchange for cooperation from the U.S. government.

The texts were released late Thursday by the chairs of three House committees, who wrote in a letter to colleagues that they had “grave concerns” after speaking with State Department officials as part of the chamber’s unfolding impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with the leader of Ukraine. The three chairs wrote that the shocking texts were “only a subset of the full body of materials” that had been obtained, the entirety of which they planned to release in the coming days.

The text message were largely sent by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt Volker, who was until last month the State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine, to Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In one instance that appears to be an overt quid pro quo, Volker texted Yermak just hours before the two presidents were set to speak. In the message, Volker said the White House would work to “nail down the date for [a] visit to Washington” but only on the assumption that “President Z convinces trump he will investigate/‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016.”

Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky has become the flashpoint for a Democratic impeachment inquiry after a reconstruction of the call showed multiple instances of Trump pressuring his counterpart to investigate a prime political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.

In the texts, Yermak later wrote that the call  “went well” and that Trump and Zelensky had agreed on a visit to the U.S. Later in August, however, Yermak pressed Volker to nail down the date, saying that once it was locked in, Ukrainian officials would outline their “vision for the reboot of US-Ukraine relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling in investigations.”

Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, for five years, ending in early 2019.

Yermak also texted Volker at the end of August expressing concern about a report Trump was withholding military aid to Ukraine. Trump canceled a planned visit to Poland to meet Zelensky a day later.

The text messages also show concern among some Trump administration officials. In multiple instances, Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, expressed worry that the White House was withholding military aid until any investigations into Biden were launched.

“Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Taylor asked Sondland on Sept. 1. Sondland later replied “call me,” and it’s unclear what the pair discussed.

But the issue came up again a week later: “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor texted Sondland on Sept. 9, saying diplomacy had moved into his “nightmare scenario.”

Sondland later rejects that characterization, saying Trump had “been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”

The texts were attached to a letter condemning Trump’s effort to minimize his call with Ukraine. It was signed by Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee; Eliot Engel (N.Y.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Elijah Cummings (Md.), who chairs the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

The lawmakers expressed worry about the White House effort to delegitimize the impeachment inquiry, saying the Trump administration was “engaging in a campaign of misinformation and misdirection in an attempt to normalize the act of soliciting foreign powers to interfere in our election.”

Trump has vehemently rejected claims that he did anything improper, referring to the inquiry as a “coup.” On Thursday, the president publicly urged China to investigate the Bidens just moments after saying that “if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.”

In the letter, the chairmen urged their colleagues to reject such claims, calling them “unethical, unpatriotic and wrong.”

“We hope every Member of the House will join us in condemning in the strongest terms the President’s now open defiance of our core values as American citizens to guard against foreign interference in our democratic process,” they wrote.

No one will ride to the rescue of Black America except Black Americans

Image result for vernon a williams
 

The only way future generations will succeed is if African Americans at every level firmly embrace the philosophy of giving back. Black Americans confident that in the final frame of our story the cavalry will ride in to save us are sadly mistaken. Don’t wait without a plan, for government, the Supreme Court, the church, or corporate America.

If African Americans are to survive, thrive and mobilize, it will be on their own volition.

There has rarely been a time of fractionalization more pointed than we see today. The psychology of our struggle has always, in part, relied on those outside the race to empathize and yield to their better angels. We have counted on the prospect of building alliances with good people to overcome obstacles.

Often, we give far too much credit for the roles played by others in our plight. Revered as he may have been, it is common knowledge that if Abraham Lincoln could have brought peace to a war-torn nation WITHOUT “freeing the slaves,” he would have done it.

Honest Abe was a reluctant hero at best and a pragmatist guided by circumstance at worst. His goal was to provide an exit from the plantation and an end to the tyranny of an institution that split the United States down the middle. There were no grand provisions for uneducated, poor masses suddenly on their own.

Lincoln did not intend to imply that a freed slave was the equal of a white American.

This week I attended two programs that help make the larger point. One was a “pinning ceremony” for first-year students at Indiana University Bloomington.

Members of the Class of ’23 were welcomed to the campus and assured that as they matriculate through the often daunting course of higher education, that their support system would be strongly comprised of Black faculty, staff, students and alumni.

It was a ritual to assure our rising stars that their peers and elders would do all within their power to help them pursue their dream.

The second of the two programs that I attended this week centered on the legacy of the great Madame C.J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire in the U.S. Through a collaboration with Eli Lilly, the Indiana University Foundation and IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis), a $15 million renovation of the historical Madame C.J. Walker Center and Theater is nearing completion for a 2020 reopening.

This ceremony reminded us of those Black Americans on whose shoulders we stand, and the incredible level of intellect, moral turpitude, spiritual strength, resourcefulness https://www.theopinionpoll.comand courage these social pioneers embodied. Without modern conveniences, communication, transportation or capital, their genius was unprecedented.

Madame Walker died more than 100 years ago but because of her landmark namesake on Indiana Avenue, the unfathomable empire she created lives in perpetuity. She didn’t just make the money and run. She built a neighborhood, enhanced other entrepreneurs and modeled the lifestyle and commitment required for Black people to excel in a society far more antagonistic than we can even imagine.

So, examining the Walker legacy was a reiteration of the need for foundation and our recognition of her genius reveals a template for growth, perseverance, progress and success in a new millennium.

At the same time engagement with youthful students reinforces the necessity of Black America never to yield to the temptation to rest on its laurels. There are professional achievers in Chicago, Gary, Indianapolis, D.C., the A-T-L and beyond, that rival the prowess of Madam Walker. But are we sufficiently investing that capital.

A billionaire who paid off college loan debts of Morehouse College students recently turned right around a few weeks later and retired college debts of their parents. Many affluent celebrities are donating to – some under the radar – the education and well-being of African American children.

But the numbers need to increase. And the number and scope of people willing to give of their talent, time or treasure to enhance the next generation needs to be broadened and fortified. Young and middle-aged professionals, while you are undoubtedly busy on your career path, carve out time to mentor. Those at or near retirement can set up endowments or tutor or just maintain a presence in the company of fledgling generations of scholars.

This is an appeal to examine yourself. If you cannot identify how you are pouring into the lives of young people, begin examining possibilities. If you already are, see how much more you can do. The Bible speaks of the need being great but the laborers few. That is too often our reality. And if you didn’t already know, there won’t be too many Supreme Court decisions that bolster our quest as a people any time soon.

Our destiny lies in our own hands.

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Booker seeks $1.7 million infusion to stay in Democratic White House race

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker will drop out of the running for his party's 2020 White House nomination unless he can raise $1.7 million over the next 10 days for his struggling campaign, his campaign said on Saturday.

The mounting scale of rival campaigns and the prospect of higher thresholds for participating in future Democratic debates have forced Booker's campaign to an "inflection point" where it must grow quickly or have no "legitimate long-term path forward," according to campaign manager Addisu Demissie.

"If we're not able to build the campaign organization, which means raise the money that we need to win the nomination, Cory's not going to continue running and consuming resources that are better used on focusing on beating Donald Trump," Demissie told reporters in a conference call.

The announcement came as the large, racially diverse Democratic presidential field shows signs of eroding, with fundraising largely dominated by four candidates: former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana.

Booker, a black U.S. senator from Newark, New Jersey, whose support in national opinion polls stands in the low single digits, needs to raise $1.7 million by the time the financial quarter ends on Sept. 30, according to a campaign memo sent to supporters and posted online on Saturday.

On Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ended his 2020 presidential campaign, leaving 19 other Democrats including Booker to vie for the chance to take on Republican Trump.

Booker and his rival Democratic candidates were due to speak later on Saturday at the Polk County Democrats' annual Steak Fry in Iowa, which will hold its presidential caucus on Feb. 3.

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Demissie denied suggestions that Saturday's announcement was simply a campaign ploy to spur fundraising, telling reporters that the funds would be invested in campaign operations in October and November to better ensure success in next year's early voting states and Super Tuesday primaries.

Demissie dismissed Booker's weak poll numbers, predicting that the Democrat's efforts in early voting states would quickly change the dynamics once voters start casting ballots next year, if he could raise the funds necessary to stay in the race.

"The final field that is going to be offered to the Democratic Party come February, March and April and beyond, is being determined right now, here, in September," he said. 

 

 

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