RICO Investigations: Could Trump Be Gone Before 20/20 Elections?

Prologue: Congress is the branch of our federal government that can hold impeachment hearings.  The Southern District of New York is  a federal court  that can investigate under RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Organization Act of 1970. RICO laid out “predicate” crimes of a corrupt organization involved in a conspiracy.  There were violent crimes such as murder, kidnapping, arson and robbery as well as obstruction of justice, fraud, money laundering and abetting illegal immigration.  Does the latter group sound familiar to you? In 1985, the Southern District, known as SDNY brought charges against the city’s five leading Mafia families.  Rudy Giuliani was the head of the Southern District at that time.

Michael Cohen Testimony:  Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, testified under oath in an open session on Wednesday, February 27 at the House Oversight Committee. He described what sounded like bank fraud, charity fraud and tax fraud, as well as suggestions of insurance fraud, obstruction of justice and suborning perjury. When asked by the committee members,  he gave names of members of the Trump organization who had been involved in crimes he had discussed.

Cohen had been labeled a “rat” by the president last year when he agreed to cooperate with investigators; “rats” are seen in mob and crime language as turning against the boss. They give evidence to the state about how the mob works.  In short, they cooperate by telling the truth, hoping to receive reduced sentences for their crimes.

Mr. Cohen said, “Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization was to protect Mr. Trump.  Every day most of us knew we were going to lie about something. That became the norm. “  He continued,  “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates. Mr. Trump doesn’t give orders.  He speaks in code. And I understand that code.”

Current RICO investigations into the Trump Organization:  In December, there were seventeen  investigations into Trump Organization businesses. RICO allows federal prosecutors to place ten years of illegal activity into a single set of charges.  That would cover Michael Cohen’s ten years as his lawyer.

This could lead to charges that include family members who serve as advisors in the White House:  Donald Trump Jr. , Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in law. Donald Trump could be named as a co-indicted conspirator. This would raise the thorny question: Can a sitting president be indicted?

In addition, the charges could be made public for Congress and the public to consider as part of Impeachment hearings or re-election.

Finally, It is important to note that the RICO investigations have nothing to do with The Mueller Investigation into Russian Meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Latest events:  The chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler,   demanded documents from the Trump Organization and the executive branch on Monday, March 4.  This would bring 81 members of Trump’s world in the White House and beyond to meet with the committee. The New York Times front page story, “A Path to Impeachment is Hinted in Demands.”  Nadler detailed a new investigation into possible obstruction of justice, corruption, and abuse of power by President Trump and his administration.

Nadler issued a statement, saying “ We will act quickly, assess the evidence and follow the facts where they lead with full transparency with the American people. This is a critical time for our nation, and we have the responsibility to investigate these matters and hold hearings for the public to have all the facts.”

Donald Trump was speaking to reporters at the White House and was asked about the new investigation by the Judiciary Committee. He said he would cooperate and repeated that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia. “It’s a political hoax,” he said. “There’s no collusion. There’s no anything.”

Of course, The House Judiciary Committee will not be focusing on the Russia connection.  They will probe into every nook and cranny of the entire Trump Organization, the holdings and financial history including Donald J. Trump’s tax returns. They will finally be revealed after all these years of his evasion saying “After the audit.”

The committee members will search for obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power by President Trump and his administration during his campaign and while he has been in office.

Epilogue: The American people will watch TV, read  newspapers and learn the truth — in contrast to over ten thousand lies that Donald Trump has told since he became president.  If the findings of the Judiciary Committee lead to Impeachment in The House of Representatives, so be it .  They will certainly be of value to the Southern District of New York as they pursue RICO investigations.

Donald J. Trump could be gone from office before the 20/20 elections by indictment, resignation or impeachment/conviction .

Take your pick!

……………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson

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Trump Rejects Intelligence Testimony as “Wrong!”

On Tuesday, January 27,  Dan Coats, the national intelligence chief,  Gina Haspel , the C.I.A. director, and Christopher Wray, the F.B.I. director met with the Senate Intelligence Committee to present the  annual assessment of global threats to the nation.  Coats represents the sixteen intelligence agencies staffed around the world. They warned of traditional enemies, Russia,  China, and ISIS with specific threats to United States  security.

The next day, Donald Trump reacted angrily with an early morning post on Twitter:  “Perhaps the Intelligence people should go back to school! “  Later ,he wrote, “The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naïve when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!”

The “Worldwide Threat Assessment” is usually received without comment by the president. This time, it was apparent that Donald Trump took it as a rebuke of his foreign policy. In short, he took it  “personally”.

Their testimony did contradict the president’s assessment of two of the major threats: North Korea and ISIS.  They said that Kim Jong -un in North Korea was unlikely to give up their nuclear arsenal, even after Trump has claimed that his first meeting was successful and was planning a second meeting with Kim in late February.  They  saw ISIS remaining as  a serious threat, although Trump had said they would “soon be destroyed”. They also said that Iran currently was not building a nuclear bomb. Finally, they described Trump’s trade policies and “unilateralism” as straining the United States alliances.

The reaction of former intelligence officials and current members of Congress was swift and negative.  Douglas Wise, a career C.I. A. official, said, “This is a consequence of narcissism, but it is a strong and inappropriate public political pressure to get the intelligence community leadership aligned with his political goals.  Adam Schiff, Democrat of California and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a Trump critic, said, “  If you’re going to ignore that information, it means you going to make poor decisions. It means the country is fundamentally less safe.” Representative Mike Gallagher , Republican, Wisconsin, also defended the agencies, saying, “They are doing a very difficult job, and they are actually trying to advance the president’s priorities.”

In his tweets on Wednesday,  Trump wrote that the relationship with North Korea was “the best it has ever been with U.S.,  no testing, getting remains, hostages returned. Decent chance of Denuclearization….”   He added that under his predecessor, President Barack Obama, “The relationship was horrendous and very bad things were about to happen.”

The basic question has been raised, “Where does the president get his foreign policy ideas from?”  Insiders at the White House report that he spends many morning hours of  “executive time”  watching Fox News daily . He listens to the  hard line experts and retired generals who agree with his “America First” view of the world. At the White House, he has John Bolton, a long time Fox commentator nearby. Bolton , who  served for George W. Bush, was hired by Trump as national security advisor.  He was given direct access to the president without going through Chief of Staff John Kelly.   Trump also has Stephen Miller close by, his speech writer who crafted “American Carnage” for his  inauguration and his delayed SOTU address on February 5.

The Press, labeled by Trump as “the enemy of the people” , and the American public who read newspapers and watch cable television all know that the president does not read the PDBs… President’s Daily Briefs.  White House aides have said on the record that he prefers pictures or maps rather than written material.  The writer of “The Art of The Deal “ Tony Schwartz has said  that Donald Trump does not read books and has an attention span of five to ten minutes.

Donald Trump does read certain articles in the “failed “ New York Times . He also sat for an interview with the publisher, A.G. Sulzberger and two White House correspondents, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman.  They met in the Oval Office where Trump sat behind the Resolute Desk,  and they sat across from him.   A verbatim record of their lengthy interview was published on February 2, 2019. It was very revealing of the inner Donald Trump who appeared to long for a “good story” from the paper. At the end of the interview, he said, “ I came from Jamaica Queens,  Jamaica Estates….. and I became President of The United States. I’m entitled to a great story—just one—from my newspaper.”

………………………………Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

Trump Accepts Government Shutdown Deal Minus Wall Money

Prologue:   From Wednesday, January 23 to Saturday, January 26, crucial events caught up with Donald Trump.  He had been in a power struggle over his State of The Union address scheduled for January 29.  Speaker Pelosi had written and asked him to postpone it for “security reasons” until after the government reopened.  Democratic leaders had also said they would give him substantial dollars, $5.7 billion for “border security” not a wall.

On Wednesday, the president wrote back that he had checked with The Secret Service and they had no such “security concerns.”   Hours later, she wrote that she would not pass a resolution authorizing him to come until the government reopened.  Trump knew nothing about a “concurrent resolution” where the House and the Senate could vote unanimously to do just that.  If he wanted to give a SOTU  from The White House or in written form as she had suggested, he was free to do that.  Of course, he would not have the traditional setting with dramatic entry to applause , standing ovations from Republicans and the Supreme Court in the front  row.  Trump pledged to do “something in the alternative, possibly a rally”.

Meanwhile the House passed a series of spending bills aimed at reopening the government.  Speaker Pelosi urged the Democratic Caucus in a closed door meeting to stay united and not start to negotiate separately with the president.  Federal workers at the Hart Senate Office Building protested the shutdown.

The president said  to reporters at the White House on Wednesday, “Nancy Pelosi, or Nancy as I call her doesn’t want to hear the truth.”  When he tried to undercut her during their December Oval Office meeting, she replied, “Don’t characterize the strength I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats” .  It went viral in seconds across the nation and the world.

Thursday, January 24:  Cable news carried live interviews with the 800,000 plus federal workers furloughed without pay.  This included the United States Coastguard and civilian Army, Marine  and Navy veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Men and women told of not being able to meet grocery bills, mortgage and car payments.  The accounts were very personal and powerful.

Congressmen  and women as well as Senators were besieged by unending telephone calls and visits from their constituents blasting the president and them for keeping the government closed.  Air traffic controllers were being interviewed and reported they were working sixty hour weeks and feared dangerous results from fatigue.  They warned of a catastrophe if an airplane crash occurred.

Newspapers and Cable television were interviewing the families of the furloughed government workers, telling of their hardships.  There were millions of people directly affected when one counts their nuclear and extended families.

National polls showed that the most of the American people blamed Trump and the Republicans for the Shutdown.  In addition, the president’s  job approval rating  had fallen into the mid and lower 30’s, down 8 points since the Shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc Connell realized Speaker Pelosi would not cave and decided to finally do something. He scheduled two votes for two plans on Thursday  to end the stalemate. One was  the president’s plan and the other was the Democratic version. He wanted   to show the president that he didn’t have enough votes to prevail.  Both bills failed to get the required sixty votes; the Democratic bill came closer.

The president told Mike Pence and Jared Kushner to give him options to reopen the government.  They came back with four:  A three week spending bill with a down payment for the wall and further negotiations.  A “clean”  short term spending bill that included no such money.  A “clean” short term spending bill with a bi-partisan House- Senate conference committee to negotiate border security; or A declaration of a national emergency which would give the president authority to use money on his own for the rest of the year.

Friday, January 25:  On Friday morning,  Trump  seemed  set to make an emergency declaration. But when he told McConnell and Kushner , they both argued against doing it. Trump finally backed away and agreed to the short term reopening without wall money.  He told aides it would result in a bad news cycle for several days, but it was the right thing to do and eventually would bring him a long-term victory.  He scheduled an announcement in the afternoon and appeared in the Rose Garden with White House aides lined on the sides and reporters ready and eager to hear his announcement.  When he began, it sounded as if he was declaring victory ….”I am proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown.”

Trump then said he was reopening the government since so many people were suffering, the first time he referred to them over the 35 days.   He had accepted the third option Pence and Kushner had offered.  He gave the Democrats and Republicans three weeks to form a bi-partisan committee and come up with the money for the wall.  February 15 was the deadline.  Or he would declare an Emergency and shut the government again.

Ann Coulter immediately attacked Trump, writing on Twitter, “Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush.  As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp to serve as President of the United  States.”  Conservative papers ran banner headlines: The Daily Caller: “Trump Caves” and The Washington Examiner, “Trump Blinks”.

Saturday, January 26:  New York Times:  Trump Accepts Deal With No Wall Money”.   Two lead columns: “Government Will Reopen as Two Sides Talk.”  And “A Stinging Defeat for the President”, analysis by Peter Baker, Chief White House Reporter.   The sub heading: “Pelosi, Powerful Woman Who Answers to Herself , Has Trump Flummoxed.”

………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson

Government Shutdown, Day 31:President Trump v. Speaker Pelosi!

 

Prologue: President Trump began his recurrent tirade against “illegal immigrants” when he first descended the escalator in Trump Tower in 2015 describing them as  “rapists and murderers”.  During his campaign rallies, he always included the promise of a concrete wall stretching for two thousand miles across the Mexican border to keep out the “thousands of men, women and children” walking up from Central America.  He emphasized the “criminals” among them.  Before the midterm elections he exaggerated “the caravans approaching as thousands who would flood the country and menace the citizens In the border states.”

When the midterms brought the Blue Wave of Democrats flipping Republican seats in the House of Representatives,  Trump stopped talking about the  “caravans of dangerous people” getting closer.  Television coverage of mothers and children being tear gassed at an entrance point showed brutality at the border.  The separation policy of taking children from their parents and holding them in cages in Texas   brought an intense response from Democratic members of Congress, and newspaper  and  TV   reporters.  The White House was under siege.

White House Meeting, December 12:  The president,  Pelosi, Speaker of The House and Schumer, Minority Leader of the Senate were to meet in the Oval Office to discuss “The Wall” and the  impending government shutdown.  Trump invited the  Press to attend against the wishes of Pelosi and Schumer.

What followed was a fifteen minute televised exchange rather than a negotiating session between an experienced Congressional leader and the president who is rarely challenged in public –especially by a woman.  She called him “Mr. President” and he called her “Nancy”.  Chuck Schumer took part and his comments goaded the president to declare, “I would be proud to shut down the government for border security.”  The meeting ended with no resolution of the differences between the two sides.  Trump’s threat to “shut down the government” had gone viral.

Government Shutdown:  At midnight Friday, December 28, the United States Government was shut down by order of President Trump.  800,000 government employees were either furloughed or working without pay.  The number ran into the millions with their nuclear and extended families. Congress was closed and the Democrats would not take their new offices until January 3rd. Trump demanded that Congress approve 5 billion $ as a down payment on his border wall.

On January 3, Democrats took control of The House of Representatives and Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker.  “We will vote swiftly to reopen government and show that Democrats will govern responsibly in stark contrast to this chaotic White House”,   Pelosi said in a statement.  The Democrats were seeking the cooperation of the Senate to affect this change.  Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader of the Republican controlled Senate would not bring to a vote the previous motion that had passed 98 to 2 to do that. He said the president would veto it. Therefore, he would not act.

In the weeks that followed,  government workers without their paychecks faced mortgage payments, car payments, food needs and ongoing stressful days .

Power Plays:  On Wednesday, January 16, Speaker Pelosi asked president Trump to delay his State of The Union address on January 29 citing “security concerns during the government shutdown”.  She wrote, “I suggest that we work together to find another suitable date for this address or for you to consider delivering your address in writing to the Congress  on January 29.”

Her move was political theater since the State of the Union brings the three branches of government together in the Congressional Meeting Hall.  The Supreme Court Members are present along with the Senate and House members.  The President speaks with the Vice President sitting behind him.  Applause rings out as soon as the president enters and continues throughout his speech.  For Trump, the Republicans would applaud as the Democrats would not.  For Trump, it was exactly the chance to do his best orating and boasting before millions of Americans watching on television.

For twenty four hours,  Trump did not send out a torrent of tweets from the White House although there were leaks that he was furious.  Then, Trump  struck back.  Pelosi was scheduled to lead a Congressional Delegation, ‘codel’ to visit United States troops in Afghanistan on January 17. The purpose was to bring comfort and thank the troops for their service as many codels do.  And to reassure NATO in Brussels that the United States would not pull out. It had not been announced publicly for security purposes as most codel trips are planned.

Trump canceled her military flight and wrote a letter to her.  “In light of 800,000 great Americans not receiving pay, I’m sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is entirely appropriate.  I also feel that it would be better if you are in Washington negotiating with me joining the strong border security movement to end the shutdown.” He added that she still had “the option of flying commercial.”

The members of Congress going on the codel were already in the bus ready to go to the airport when his letter arrived.  Reporters suggested to Pelosi that Trump’s cancellation of the trip was in retaliation for postponing the State of the Union. She replied, “ I can’t believe that anyone would be that petty.”  Later the Secret Service clarified that flying commercial was out of the question as “too dangerous.”

Saturday, January 19:  Trump spoke briefly to the nation from the White House , offering to give the Dreamers of DACA  a three year extension in the U.S. in exchange for 5.7 billion dollars to fund The Wall. Pelosi and Schumer both turned it down.  Pelosi insisted that the Government Shutdown be ended before negotiations could begin.  Schumer said the deal was “hostage taking” and agreed negotiations must come first.

By the next day, it was clear that Trump’s base as well as Ann Coulter and other high profile supporters were enraged by his offer of “Amnesty” to the Dreamers.   They voiced their dismay at his betrayal.  Senator Mc Connell finally said he would call for a vote on the president’s proposal.   He had never agreed to call a vote on the 98 to 2 previous proposal to avoid the shutdown.

Polls show that the American public holds the president responsible for the Shutdown.  His approval ratings are down in the thirties.  The latest Quinipac poll of voters for 2020 show 57 percent saying they would NOT vote for Trump.

The government shutdown is the longest on record. Every day, the television news shows Americans in long lines at food banks and on gas lines.  If Trump refuses to budge,  his chances of winning a second term in 2020 may become dimmer by the day.

………………………………………………….Joyce S. Anderson

A Tribute to Jim Mattis: The Last of Trump’s “Generals”

Prologue:The president used to call them “My Generals”. He expected loyalty to him personally, and never really understood that they pledged loyalty to The Constitution when they took the oath of office.

Jim Mattis was a retired four-star Marine General in the United States Army when he agreed to serve as Donald Trump’s Defense Secretary. He lasted for two years while other generals left during the first tumultuous months of Trump’s administration.

Lieutenant General Michael Flynn was the first general, a close confidant during the campaign who lasted only days as national security adviser.  He was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and pled guilty to lying to the F.B.I . Flynn was followed by General H.R. Mc Master who also left the national security adviser position when his advice was not followed by the president.  Four-star General John Kelly of the Marine Corp became chief of staff after previous men had left. He served through difficult months until he saw several new appointees  could  by-pass him and go directly to the president.

Jim Mattis made a difference during his years of service in the Trump administration: He worked in skillful ways to prevent dangerous and impulsive presidential decisions.  Early on, he persuaded the president not to pull out of NATO.  Then he assured European leaders that the United States would remain committed to the defense of Europe. He offered the same assurances to our allies in Asia.

When Trump was saber=rattling with North Korea, he considered ordering an evacuation of military families from South Korea. Mattis understood this could be considered as a forerunner to an American attack and softened the order which was never carried out.

Trump also decided there should be a ban on all current transgender military persons remaining in the armed forces and no future enlistments.  Secretary Mattis instructed the Head of United States Armed Forces not to follow this directive. It was never put into effect.

When the president returned from seeing the huge military parade in Paris celebrating  Bastille Day, he announced the United States would hold a similar parade down Pennsylvania Avenue on Veterans Day.  There was widespread opposition from Congress as to the cost as well as criticism of the appropriateness of such a parade  from the public and the media.  Mattis ‘slow walked’ the parade  idea with the Pentagon bureaucracy.

Mattis resigns after Trump retreats from Syria:  On Thursday, December 20, 2018,  Jim Mattis went to the White House with his letter of resignation already written.  He tried first to convince the president to reverse his decision which he had announced on Wednesday over the objections of his senior advisers.  Trump did not budge. When Mattis returned to the Pentagon, he asked aides to print out 50 copies of his resignation letter and distribute them around the building.

Before he read the letter,  Trump said, “Mr. Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations.”  He also said Mattis would leave at the end of February and promised to name a replacement shortly.  Then he read the letter!

Mattis began,  “Dear Mr.President, I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside the men and women of the department in defense of our citizens and our ideals. “ …….The third paragraph: “ One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nations is inextricably linked to our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining our alliances and showing respect to these allies.”……..paragraph five: “ My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by our alliances.”  … … next paragraph, “Because you have the right to have a Secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.  The end date for my tenure is February 28th, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as for me to make sure department’s interested are properly articulated and protected.”……..Final paragraph “I pledge my full efforts to a smooth transition that insures the needs and interests of the 2.5 million Service Members and 733,679 DOD civilians receive undistracted attention at all times so they can fulfill their critical round the clock mission to protect the American people. I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.”  ………………………………….

……………………………………..Jim H. Mattis

Epilogue:  Two hours after Mattis left the White House,  Trump stood in the Oval office and dictated a tweet saying Mattis served “with distinction” and was retiring at the end of February.  Then he spent hours watching former military analysts and government members praise  Mattis  on television.

On Friday, December 21, the full text of Mattis’ letter was printed in The New York Times.  Praise for him flowed from all quarters of the military and our allies abroad. Senator Mark Warner, top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee reflected the overall agreement that “Mattis was an island of stability amidst the chaos of the Trump administration.”

By Saturday morning, Donald Trump reversed himself and announced that Jim Mattis would leave the Defense Department by January l. 2019. His final words were that Mattis leaving was “essentially a firing.”   The president had acted as usual on impulse and out of anger at the content of the letter.

Jim Mattis , known as “the last adult in the room”, left his post with dignity and  his sterling reputation intact.

………………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson

Will Chief Justice John Roberts Move to The Center of The Supreme Court?

Prologue:  John Roberts was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2005 after Chief Justice William Rehnquist died.  During the thirteen years he has served, most of his votes were with the Conservative bloc on the Court: Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and  Anthony Kennedy.  When Scalia died, President Barack Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit Court.  Senator Mitch Mc Connell,  Republican Majority leader refused to allow him to meet with the Judiciary Committee or be voted upon by the full Senate.  The position remained vacant for over a year.  During that time, the Chief Justice did not choose to speak about the impasse in the High Court with four Liberals and four Conservatives, and that McConnell was impeding the proper functioning of the Supreme Court under The Constitution.

During the entire first two years of Donald J. Trump’s administration, John Roberts spoke out only once in 2016 , saying: “ We don’t work as Democrats or Republicans” .  He returned to this theme that the court is not tied to partisan politics when Donald Trump responded to an administration loss in a lower court by criticizing the judge, Jon S. Tigar, calling him “an Obama judge”.  Chief Justice Roberts rebuked the president with a sharp public statement:  “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges,  Bush judges or Clinton judges.  What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those who are appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should be thankful for.”

That was the first time since Trump ran for president that Roberts commented upon his many insults and derogatory remarks about Federal Judges.

During his years as Chief Justice, Roberts has voted usually with the Conservatives.  His views are with them on voting rights, campaign finance, racial discrimination and religion.  Very important five vote majorities included: Heller, 2008 Second Amendment decision that established the individual right to own guns; Citizens United , the 2010  campaign finance decision expanding the role of money in politics; and Shelby County v.  Holder, 2013 voting rights decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act.

The only time he cast the decisive vote with the Liberals was on the crucial  issue of saving the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, for the American people.  This was Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement and conservatives never forgave Roberts.  He was denounced as a “traitor”.  Liberals of course, hailed him as a statesman.   During his campaign for president, Trump called Roberts “an absolute disaster.” In June, Roberts did write the majority opinion for Trump’s biggest court victory, limiting travel from predominantly Muslim countries.

Signs that Roberts may move to the Center of the High Court:

During December, Roberts voted with the liberals ,Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to deny review in two cases on efforts to stop payments to Planned Parenthood . This drew sharp criticism from three conservative justices.  On December 23, Roberts joined the four liberal members again to  reject a request from the Trump administration that could overturn years of asylum policy on immigration .  The Trump administration has also sent petitions and applications to bypass the usual procedures in  Census and Climate Change cases.  Roberts built coalitions of justices to deny the requests, often over the dissents of two or three of the conservative members. Brett Kavanaugh since he became a justice has voted consistently with Roberts except for his vote on the asylum case.

Two block buster cases lie ahead; DACA  Appeals Court ruling saying, Trump must continue the program that protects hundreds of thousands of Dreamers against deportation.  And Trump administration plan to bar transgender people from service in the United States Military.  It is not clear at this time whether the Court will deal with these cases.  It takes four votes to add a case to the docket. If it is argued, where will  Roberts be on final voting?

Sara Benesh, a political scientist at The University of Wisconsin, has said, Chief Justice Roberts has favored moving the law in small steps. She wrote, “Moderation, not just in terms of ideological moderation, but also humility, is kind of his thing. He seems to write limited opinions. He doesn’t reach any further than he has to.  He clearly distinguishes between what he is doing as a judge and what he might believe in terms of policy.”

The Chief Justice has spoken about spending quiet nights at the court looking at the portraits of his sixteen predecessors. He told C-Span in 2010, “They’re probably looking down at me with bemusement or amazement. From time to time, I find it a useful reminder of the role of the court and the role of the chief justice.”

……………………………………………………………………………Joyce S. Anderson

Nancy Pelosi: Former and Next Speaker of The United States House of Representives

Prologue: When Barack Obama was elected President of The United States in 2008,  Nancy Pelosi was chosen by  vote to become Speaker of The House.  She was the first woman ever to occupy the position that is second in line to the presidency.  Pelosi played a crucial role in Obama’s first term in office. Their greatest achievement was the successful passage of the Affordable Care Act( ACA) ,known to many as Obamacare.  They worked together as a team to “bring health care to the American people” as she has often said.

Nancy Pelosi, representing the San Francisco, California district, has been the Democratic Minority Leader since the Republicans took over the House in the 2010 Midterms.  She continued in that position when Obama served his second term from 2012 to 2016.  Pelosi has also been a formidable fund raiser for House Democratic members across the country during every election campaign.  She looks younger than her 78 years, trim in her fashionable suits and heels.  She was on the cover of The New York Times Magazine section several weeks ago, wearing a red suit matched by red pumps.  Her energy level is legendary on The Hill.

Raised in a political family, where her father and brother each served as Mayor of Baltimore , Maryland, Pelosi learned about politics and power from an early age. She is a formidable speaker with a quick wit as well as amazing depth of knowledge and experience.  No political opponent fazes her as Donald Trump learned on Tuesday, December 12 at a meeting with her and Senator Chuck Schumer at the White House.

Meeting becomes a public feud:  The purpose of the meeting had been to discuss the president’s long promised border wall and to avoid a year end government shutdown.  The president had invited reporters to be present. Pelosi and Schumer urged him to change to a private session after the initial pleasantries had been exchanged.  Trump insisted they remain.  Donald Trump and Mike Pence sat in chairs facing Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on couches in the Oval Office.

What followed was a fifteen minute televised exchange rather than a negotiating session between an experienced congressional leader and  the  president who is rarely challenged in public — especially by a woman.   At the start, she referred to a possible “Trump shutdown” and he took the bait, saying that Senate Republicans could easily pass funding for the wall.  Then, she said, “Okay.  Then do it, then do it.”  Next, he interrupted her and  she interrupted him with a clear repeat  of “Mr. Presidents”.  He wagged his finger, calling her “Nancy” and suggested  she was “in a situation when it’s not easy for her to talk right now.” Pelosi responded in a calm voice, “Mr. President, please don’t characterize the strength I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats who just won a big victory.”

Chuck Schumer also took part in the back and forth. His comments  goaded Trump into  declaring, “I would be proud to shut down the government for border security.”  Throughout, Mike Pence never entered the conversation.  He sat silently and did not appear to shift in his position, causing a reporter later to describe him as “a potted plant.”   Pelosi and Schumer repeated their wish for a private talk without the press, but Trump countered with, “It’s not bad. Nancy, it’s called Transparency.”  Pelosi shot right back, “It’s not transparency when we are stipulating to a set of facts, and when we want to have a debate with you about saying we confront some of those facts without saying to the public this isn’t true.”

As the meeting continued, Pelosi appeared to be trying to explain how legislation works.  Leaning forward and waving his hands, Trump  cut her off, “No, We don’t have the votes, Nancy, because in the Senate we need 60 votes.”  She replied, “The fact is that you could bring it up in the House. You set the tone. Legislating is what we do.  You bring it up.  You make your case. But there are no votes in the House, majority votes for a wall,  no matter where you start.”  At that point, Trump appeared exasperated and called an end to the presence of reporters and the television coverage.

Pelosi emerged from the White House looking triumphant in sunglasses and a swingy red coat.  She returned to the Capitol to meet with Democratic colleagues behind closed doors.  One aide in the room said later, “ She called the wall debate a manhood thing for him” . She also compared what happened to “a tinkle contest with a skunk” adding “I was trying to be the mom.”

Cable news showed live excerpts from the meeting through the evening and next day.   Members of Congress were quoted: “ I think she gave as good as she got,” said Senator Lindsay Graham, Republican of South Carolina,  a close ally of the president.   Eric Swalwell, Democratic Representative of California ,  raised the coming vote for speaker, “I think she sealed the deal.”

Sealing the deal:  On Wednesday, the day after her triumphant meeting with Trump in the Oval Office,  Pelosi announced she had reached an agreement with dissident Democrats. She would limit herself to four years as speaker,  “a bridge to the next generation of House Leaders.”   After she released her statement, seven of the leading holdouts released a joint statement, thanking her and saying they would support her for speaker.

Nancy Pelosi had demonstrated once more that she is the most formidable member of Congress.  There are perilous times ahead in the next two years of the Donald Trump administration.  She will use her skills to guide the Congress and the millions of American people to better and safer days ahead.

……………………………………………………………………………..   Joyce S. Anderson