The President engaged in this effort to intimidate these public servants to prevent them from cooperating with Congress’ impeachment inquiry. He issued threats, openly discussed possible retaliation, made insinuations about their character and patriotism, and subjected them to mockery and derision—when they deserved the opposite. The President’s attacks were broadcast to millions of Americans—including witnesses’ families, friends, and coworkers.
It is a federal crime to intimidate or seek to intimidate any witness appearing before Congress. This prohibition applies to anyone who knowingly “uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades” another person in order to “influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding.” Violations of this law can carry a criminal sentence of up to 20 years in prison.|
The report called out specific ways he intimidated witnesses before during and after the most recent hearings. What it doesn't include is his history of doing this during the Mueller investigation. I want witness tampering to be part of his impeachment because he needs to be punished for it. As the report says:
The President’s campaign of intimidation risks discouraging witnesses from coming forward voluntarily, complying with mandatory subpoenas for documents and testimony, and disclosing potentially incriminating evidence in this inquiry and future Congressional investigations.
Impeachment isn't just a technical legal process. It's a political process. And it's an on-going media event.
The logic of the law rules the courtroom. For the politic part of impeachment the public needs more. The public needed to see the damage to individuals from his attacks on them. They needed to hear how he put himself first, instead of the country.
The public needed to hear people describing how Trump demanded favors and tribute for his own personal benefit. People know Presidents use the power of the office to threaten countries. But it was different in this case because the power was used just to benefit Trump.
People saw and heard the competence and sincerity of the professionals testifying. They also saw and heard Trump's craven, baseless attacks on Amb. Yovanovitch and Lt. Colonel Vindman.
These attacks disgusted people of almost all political stripes. Even Fox News thought Trump’s tweets strayed dangerously close to witness intimidation.(link)
Chairman Schiff stopped the hearing to read Trump's tweet and address it because he knew it was important. I'm glad he did. It allowed the country to see how intimidation impacts people. People can imagine themselves in this position. Many deal with some level of intimidation in their daily lives.
Monday also brought a story of Trump's attacks on former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. link
My heart drops to my stomach when I realize he has tweeted about me again. “It’s almost impossible to describe” what it’s like, she told me. “It's like being punched in the gut. My heart drops to my stomach when I realize he has tweeted about me again. The president of the United States is calling me names to the entire world. He’s demeaning me and my career. It’s sickening.”
Trump used Page's story to attack her via Twitter.
When Lisa Page, the lover of Peter Strzok, talks about being “crushed”, and how innocent she is, ask her to read Peter’s “Insurance Policy” text, to her, just in case Hillary loses. Also, why were the lovers text messages scrubbed after he left Mueller. Where are they Lisa?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2019
I read under that tweet people continuing to attack Page. They used the tweet as an opportunity to reinforce their false information about what she did. When the IG report comes out and clears her, will they stop repeating that misinformation? The main stream media repeated it because it's "news." But even if they debunk it they are still repeating it. What is to be done?
This weekend I watched The Irishman. It showed the intimidation tactics used by the mob. I watched men--it was always men--threaten and kill people. The killing sent a message to others. "This guy disrespected someone higher up. This is the price he paid. Don't disrespect us or you will pay the same price."
I tire of constantly bringing Trump and his cronies into every experience, but I saw Trump World in the Mob World as portrayed in the movie. (It's based on the book, I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa )
Now I could draw the parallels between how the mob rigged the Presidential election to get JFK in power and how Russian helped Trump, but that's an uneven parallel. The point I want to make is this: Trump's part of a mob. His lawyers are mob lawyers, including Bill Barr.
Fox News is Mob Media. They are the mobsters who repeat the slurs and attacks on people who go against The Boss. They spread the intimidation and fear to keep others in line.
Who is Trump's mob boss? Look at who he shows respect to. We don't know exactly who has the most leverage over Trump but his actions point to a combination of Putin and Russian oligarchs. To extend the analogy they are the men "Downtown."
How Do We Fight Mobs?
The Irishmen showed us the story from the mob's point of view. It was interesting, but I really don't want to root for the men who kill others because someone didn't show enough respect to The Bosses or hurt their profits. In the movie Scorsese freezes the scene at certain points to identify real-life characters and how and when they were killed. It's jarring, but it made a point about how the mob punishes people.
He also showed how our society punishes people for breaking certain laws. Some characters went to prison after the FBI built a case against them. Incarceration. They felt the pain of the loss of freedom. (Of course it's better than being shot in the head.)
In the end Scorsese attempted to show how families punish people who do terrible things. Especially when they commit crimes in the service of people on the way to increasing their personal profit vs people who commit crimes in the service of a greater cause for other people. The loss of affection from his family was very real and painful for De Niro's character.
I focus on witness intimidation because it is signature mob move. It has its own lingo and history of success. We all know the phrase, "Nice family you have there, it would be a shame if anything happened to them." It was almost exactly what someone said to Stormy Daniels.
“A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,'” she said. “And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone.” Time Who directed that threat to her? Individual One ordered it.
Reminder: Michael Cohen is in prison. Cohen committed crimes following the directions of his boss. He lost his freedom for that decision.
As a society we aren't going to go out and shoot people in the head, like the mob, so we use other tools. I look forward to Trump losing his freedom.
How Trump's Mob Media Helps Him
Trump knows the various forms of secret leverage Putin and the Russian oligarchs have over him, and I'm not just just talking about the Pee Tape. Trump has likely made many off the record, non-recorded agreements with Putin that we don't know about. But some leverage they have over Trump can be exposed. For example, multiple people within the IRS and his accounting firm KNOW who Trump owes money to, but they can't reveal it legally.
This is the reason the Trump Mob wants to frighten whistle-blowers so much. The Trump Mob WANTS potential witnesses to "get the message" not to go against The Bosses. Trump talks about people being killed for "spying" His junior mobsters like Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan and their aides, pick up on the intimidation theme and they keep trying to get the whistleblower's name out in public. From the report.
In more than 100 public statements about the whistleblower over a period of just two months, the President publicly questioned the whistleblower’s motives, disputed the accuracy of the whistleblower’s account, and encouraged others to reveal the whistleblower’s identity. Most chillingly, the President issued a threat against the whistleblower and those who provided information to the whistleblower regarding the President’s misconduct, suggesting that they could face the death penalty for treason.
Violent threats are powerful, but Trump and his mob also know how to threaten people's jobs, careers, reputations and income. Those threats are especially powerful in a white-collar world. For all his bragging talk Trump wouldn't really hold the gun to shoot someone, but he'll use his Twitter account to kill their reputation and bury them with massive lawsuits.
The charges about witness intimidation are directed toward Trump for his impeachment, but we should also remember that people who are NOT the President and commit similar crimes can and should be charged.
Reminder: Roger Stone was convicted of witness tampering and will lose his freedom.
If Trump's mob lawyers efforts to block evidence fail, he will look to the mob lawyer at the head of the DOJ. Barr is working hard to figure out how Trump's crimes are not really crimes. Part of that is a technical legal issue. But Trump's mob lawyers also have to develop the narratives that excuse his actions. A big part of it involves persuasion of the public who don't know the law. This is where the Fox Mob News comes in. If Fox can't help downplay the actual crimes they work on the "everyone does it" line. Or they focus on people on the left and accuse them of the crimes that Trump commits. We have seen all of these methods. But as I pointed out above, even the people from Fox News didn't like Trump's attacks on witnesses, especially when they are in the military, like Lt. Col. Vindman.
Fighting Fox Mob Media is hard. One way to do it is to point out the success of prosecutions of people like Roger Stone and others in Trump's orbit who have committed mob like crimes. The public understands how threats and intimidation works. They also like to see when bullies get their comeuppance.