Daily Bread for 11.21.19

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will see scattered morning showers with a high of fifty-three.  Sunrise is 6:54 AM and sunset 4:26 PM, for 9h 31m 46s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 31.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred eighth day.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority meets at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1953: “the Natural History Museum in London announces that the ‘Piltdown Man’ skull, initially believed to be one of the most important fossilized hominid skulls ever found, is a hoax.”

Recommended for reading in full:

Benjamin Wittes writes Gordon Sondland Accuses the President of Bribery:

Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution makes the president subject to impeachment and removal for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Normally, we debate impeachment in terms of the last phrase—the mysterious catch-all, “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But today, Amb. Gordon Sondland, testifying before the House in the ongoing impeachment inquiry, offered a crystal clear account of how President Trump engaged in bribery.

The meaning of the term “bribery” in the impeachment clauses is not coextensive with the meaning of the same word in the criminal code. The impeachment clause predates the federal criminal code, and its contours are decided more by the common law of impeachment than by the terms of specific criminal laws. So I’m not invoking 18 U.S.C. § 201 to evaluate whether Trump committed a crime.

That said, the bribery statute offers a reasonable working definition of what it means to bribe a public official: “Whoever … directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official … to influence any official act” has committed the offense.

What’s more, the statute also offers a reasonable working definition of what it means for a public official to demand a bribe: “Whoever … being a public official … directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally … in return for … being influenced in the performance of any official act” also has committed the offense.


Remember the words of the statute: Whoever, being a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands anything of value personally in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act has engaged in the crime of bribery.

This exchange [between Rep. Schiff and Amb. Sondland during testimony yesterday] seems to me unambiguously to describe a corrupt demand for something personally valuable (investigations of political opponents) in return for being influenced in the performance of two official acts (granting a White House meeting and releasing hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance).

See Ben Berwick & Justin Florence, The Bad Arguments That Trump Didn’t Commit Bribery (responding to Trump’s defenders’ efforts to rebut the powerful case that Trump committed impeachable bribery).

Amy Goldstein reports Top Trump health official spent $3 million on contractors who helped boost her visibility:

Marked “privileged, pre-decisional, deliberative,” the eight-page proposal, emailed to [Seema] Verma’s deputy chief of staff, was part of an unusual campaign carried out by high-paid contractors Verma brought on at a cost to taxpayers of more than $3 million.

This work over 19 months that provided “strategic communication” services by a network of politically connected contractors and subcontractors, first reported by Politico, came as Verma spoke about the importance of fostering individual responsibility and self-reliance among the nation’s needy.

House Republicans Are Choosing not Run for Reelection:

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