Category Archives: Constitution and Government

A Word of Peace to Those Who Are Angry and Afraid

By Jim Edsall

Please be assured that the majority of people who voted for Donald Trump mean well.

Most simply want a better job, or better wages, and believe that it will only come from a growing economy. 95 million Americans are currently out of the work force. Nearly 50 million are on food stamps. Unemployment among African-Americans ages 16-24 is nearly 20%. GDP has not been over 3% for a single year in the last eight years. Trump’s economic plan seeks to create growth by lowering the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15% in order to draw manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. He is for an incremental increase in the minimum wage. Like Bernie Sanders, he is strongly opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that would ship even more jobs overseas. His first priority is rebuilding America’s infrastructure, and he is already negotiating with Congress for that spending bill. Increased economic growth would be good for everyone.

We want health insurance premiums to stop rising. A $300.00 ObamaCare subsidy does little good if your premium has gone from $600.00 up to $900.00. My premium is now $1100.00 per month for just my wife and myself. Trump wants to repeal and replace ObamaCare, keeping the best parts of it including no cancellation for pre-existing conditions, and letting young adults up to age 26 remain on their parent’s coverage, while also working to decrease costs by allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines. And, he is for federal block grants to the states so they can expand Medicaid and other health care programs.

We are concerned about national security. ISIS has promised to infiltrate the Syrian refugees seeking entry into the U.S. At first, Trump called for a complete ban on new Muslim immigrants “until we know what the hell is going on.” That was extreme, but he backed off of that in favor of “intensive vetting”, meaning you don’t get to come in unless we can do a thorough background check.

Trump at first said he would deport all who have entered the U.S. illegally, but has since backed off that position. He says first we will secure the border with a combination of an actual wall and virtual wall, and deport those who have committed other crimes in addition to being here illegally, and then have a national conversation about the remaining undocumented immigrants, possibly implementing a guest worker program for those who register to work and pay taxes.

Early in the campaign, Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” This was unkind, and far too broad brush. But, tragically it is true that many undocumented immigrants have committed crimes while in the U.S.  As reported on July 8, 2015 by CNN:  121 murders between 2010 and 2014, and over 73,000 in prison for serious crimes. We need to do a better job of enforcing the border.

Many African-Americans heard Trump’s comments and concluded that he is a racist. Yet, African-Americans who worked for him have attested to his fairness. And, Trump has strongly advocated for school choice for African-American families so their children will not be trapped in poor inner city schools. He also supports economic empowerment zones, providing tax breaks to help build minority businesses.

Many gay Americans decided that Trump must also be anti-gay. Yet, Trump invited Peter Thiel, the founder and CEO of PayPal, who is gay, to speak at the Republican National Convention where he received a standing ovation. At the convention, Trump decried the massacre at The Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and personally asked the LGBTQ community for their support.

Some fear that Trump will be a war monger, a danger with his finger on the nuclear trigger. They said the same thing about Ronald Reagan in 1980. But, Trump opposes foreign entanglements unless it is a matter of vital national interest. He plans to rebuild the military, promoting a policy of “peace through strength” as did Reagan, who won the Cold War without firing a single shot.

To those who are initially opposed to Trump, distrust him, and want to plan how to stop him if he attempts to become an imperial president, first let me say I am glad you are now interested in how to control a president who acts outside his constitutional bounds. President Obama repeatedly circumvented Congress unconstitutionally — declaring the Senate in recess so he could appoint members to the National Labor Relations Board, changing ObamaCare more than thirty times, and issuing executive orders suspending deportation of 6 million undocumented immigrants without Congressional authority. You will be glad to know that the system worked to hold him back. The federal courts set aside President Obama’s actions each time he was taken to court by the Congress or the States.

The same would be true with Trump. If he acts outside his constitutional authority, the Congress and the States can sue him in federal court. And there are legislative remedies. If he tries to pass unreasonable legislation, the Democratic minority in the Senate can filibuster when they have at least 41 Senators. Members in both houses of Congress can work together to pass bills that they believe will implement better policies, and they can override a presidential veto if they have a two-thirds majority. Lastly, they can bring articles of impeachment if he actually commits “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

That said, I believe it is grossly unfair to already decide that such actions will be needed. Trump was not my first choice. So often, I shook my head during the campaign. But, I believe the American people should attempt to unify behind the duly elected president, as President Obama and Hillary Clinton have called for us to do. Trump has humbly asked his opponents for advice and help, and has called for unity. I believe we should give him our prayers, our help, and our support.

As the Good Book says, “First let us pray for kings and all who are in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” (1 Timothy 2). And remember that our true hope is in Jesus, who will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). 

Jim Edsall

November 15, 2016 

P.S. Many of us were voting more for Mike Pence than for Donald Trump. At least some good judgement was shown by Trump in making Pence the head of his transition team, replacing Chris Christie. There is good reason to hope that Pence will help Trump find highly qualified people of good character to work in the government. Trump also showed good judgement in hiring Kellyanne Conway, who just became the first female campaign manager of a successful presidential campaign, breaking that glass ceiling. I hope that the rest of the article shows that through his outreach to African-Americans and gay people, which I believe to be genuine, Trump may not be the racist homophobe he has been portrayed to be. And, he may not be a xenophobe for wanting to better secure the border. His goals of improving the economy for everyone, making health care more affordable, and actually rebuilding our infrastructure (he is a construction guy) all suggest some good character as well. There seems to be reason for hope in all of this. If he miserably fails us, I believe there are enough members of good character in both parties who will use the judicial and legislative means available to keep him in check, and even remove him from office if they must.

I believe our prayers for him and for our nation will make all the difference. As Proverbs 21:1 tells us, the Lord can turn the heart of a king as a river. May the Lord bless our nation, and direct Trump to do His good will, in Jesus’s Name. Amen.

WHY NOT HILLARY

By Jim Edsall

You care about loving your neighbor and improving your country. You are a good person. You want to be part of electing the first woman President. I want to be part of that, too. But, I can’t vote for Hillary Clinton. You believe she shares your social, economic, and political concerns, so you assume she is a good person, too. You need to know her record …

Private Email Server

Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State for the first four years of Barack Obama’s presidency. During that time, she used a personal email address on a private email server kept in the basement at her home in Chappaqua, NY. She refused to use a government email server and .gov email address despite “very specific guidance” from the White House. She insisted on using her private Blackberry for all email communications, even while overseas in nations potentially hostile to the United States.

She at first denied having sent or received any emails that were classified. Then she changed her story, contending that none of the emails she sent or received were “marked classified.” She deleted nearly 32,000 of her emails before turning over her private server to the FBI — roughly half of all emails she had sent and received — claiming they were all personal in nature, regarding yoga classes, vacations, and her daughter’s wedding.

The FBI conducted an investigation to determine whether her use of a private email system, and her deletion of emails, were violations of federal law. FBI Director James Comey announced the following findings:

  • Hillary Clinton had been “extremely careless” in using a private email address and server;
  • She had used questionable judgment in using a private email system;
  • Several thousand work-related emails had not been turned over to the State Department, despite her claims that all such emails had been submitted;
  • At least 110 emails contained classified information at the time she sent or received them;
  • A small number of her emails sent and received on the private system were marked classified;
  • As a government employee entrusted with classified information, she should have been able to recognize when email content was classified, with or without markings;
  • Hostile foreign governments likely gained access to her email account; and
  • She would be subject to disciplinary action if she were still a government employee.

Gross Negligence

Comey chose not to indict Hillary Clinton on criminal charges, saying he did not find “intentional misconduct or indications of disloyalty to the United States or efforts to obstruct justice.” However, intent is not required for criminal liability in the mishandling of government records. Section 793 of Title 18, “Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information,” states, Whoever, being entrusted with information relating to the national defense … through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody … or destroyed shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”

The legal definition of gross negligence is “extreme carelessness.” Comey declared that Hillary Clinton had been extremely careless in using a private email server and Blackberry, risking exposure of classified information to our nation’s enemies, and that she had deleted classified emails. This qualifies as gross negligence, meeting the requirement for indictment.

Not being indicted does not make her innocent. In fact, by using a private server, and by deleting tens of thousands of emails, Hillary Clinton appears to have violated at least three federal laws including the Federal Records Act, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which require government employees to preserve a complete record of all correspondences involving official business while in government service.

Unauthorized Retention and Deletion of Classified Emails

Section 1924 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, “Unauthorized retention and removal of classified documents or material,” states, “Whoever, being an officer … of the United States, and, by virtue of their office … becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified information of the United States, knowingly … retain[s] such documents or materials at an unauthorized location shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.”

Hillary Clinton stored classified emails on an unauthorized private email server in her basement. The private tech company she hired, Platte River Networks, kept the backup server in their office bathroom.

Section 2071 of Title 18, “Concealment, removal or mutilation generally,” states, “Whoever, having the custody of any such record [or]… document … willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.”

If Hillary Clinton knowingly deleted or authorized the deletion of classified emails this disqualifies her from holding any federal office, including the presidency. Her tech company, Platte River Networks, deleted classified emails even after the Congressional committee investigating Benghazi had subpoenaed them.

James Comey opted against indictment just days after his superior at the Department of Justice, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, met with Hillary Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, on her plane in Phoenix, AZ. When this meeting was discovered, Lynch admitted that it had “cast a shadow” over the investigation, but claimed that the meeting was merely to discuss personal matters such as golf and grandchildren. Borrowing words once used by Ms. Clinton — believing that requires “the willing suspension of disbelief.”

On the Campaign Trail

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has continued to claim that she did not send or receive any emails that were classified, or marked classified, despite this being directly contradicted by the FBI. On the July 31, 2016 edition of Fox News Sunday, Clinton bizarrely claimed that Director Comey had called her public statements about her emails “truthful.” PolitFact.com rated this statement “pants on fire”, and the Washington Post rated it “four Pinocchios”, their worst scores. She later said that she had “short circuited” in giving that answer, but then promptly began making the same false claims again.

The Clinton Foundation and the State Department

Prior to her term as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and her husband, Bill Clinton established the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative, a charitable organization which the Washington Post recently called a “$2 billion global empire.” While she served as Secretary of State, Middle Eastern nations donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. Saudi Arabia alone contributed nearly $25 million. In January 2013, a Russian company, Uranium One, gained the rights to 20% of U.S. uranium production after its founders gave over $2 million in contributions to the Clinton Foundation. Just prior to that deal being approved by the State Department, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000.00 for a speech to a Russian investment bank that was promoting Uranium One stock. In fact, Bill Clinton has received over $26 million in speaking fees from countries and companies that have donated to the Clinton Foundation.

Emails obtained from the records of Secretary Clinton’s assistants, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, show that they assisted Clinton Foundation donor Gilbert Chagoury, a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire, with contacting the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon in order to expedite a business deal. They also assisted an unnamed Clinton Foundation donor in the process of seeking a government job. And, they frequently arranged meetings between Secretary Clinton and Clinton Foundation donors, including the crown prince of Bahrain who had contributed $32 million. In fact, more than half of all non-government individuals who received personal meetings with Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State had made or pledged financial contributions to the Clinton Foundation.

This has all the appearances of “pay for play”, the purchase and sale of priority access. While this may not be illegal, it is far from ethical. The wealthy should not have greater access to government officials simply because they can pay for it.

The overlap of Clinton Foundation and State Department business created a dangerous conflict of interest, giving foreign governments and other financial contributors a degree of influence that potentially compromised America’s national interests.

Hillary Clinton’s defenders say there is no clear quid pro quo between the Clinton State Department and contributors to the Clinton Foundation, that there is “a lot of smoke but no fire.” They claim that there have been no special favors granted, only access. They contend that Secretary Clinton met with thousands of people during her four years as Secretary of State, so her meeting with 85 Clinton Foundation contributors is insignificant. But, priority access to the Secretary of State is itself a special favor. It was her job as Secretary of State to meet with thousands of people on behalf of the United States. Giving priority access to persons from outside of government who contributed or pledged financial contributions to the Clinton Foundation was a misuse of power.

The Trustworthiness Question — Wall Street

Since completing her term as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has received hundreds of thousands of dollars for speeches given to Wall Street banks and securities firms.  She was paid $225,000.00 by Goldman Sachs for one 20-minute speech. She has refused to release the transcripts of those speeches. People on both sides of the political spectrum are concerned about the degree of influence that has been secured by those special interests.

The Trustworthiness Question — Trans-Pacific Partnership

Hillary Clinton issued 45 public statements in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a trade deal that would compromise United States sovereignty and shift thousands of jobs overseas — before reversing her position, which she did only after being criticized by Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. She now claims to oppose it. It remains to be seen whether American workers will trust her not to reverse her position again.

The Honesty Question – Benghazi

On September 11, 2012, the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by terrorists. Four Americans were killed including Ambassador Chris Stevens, whose requests for increased security forces had repeatedly been denied. While the attack was still underway, the State Department released an official communique stating that the attack was spontaneous and had been inspired by an anti-Islamic internet video. However, on the night of the attack Hillary Clinton emailed her daughter, Chelsea, saying that embassy had been attacked by an “al-Qaeda like group.” Within 24 hours of the attack, she had told the President of Libya and the Egyptian Prime Minister that a terrorist group, Ansar al-Sharia, had claimed responsibility. According to the parents of Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods, three days later, when their sons’ bodies were returned to the United States, Hillary Clinton told them at Andrews Air Force Base that the internet video was to blame, despite her knowledge to the contrary. Clinton justified this before Congress, saying “some people were still blaming the video.” Yes, cynically some still were — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, and other members of the Obama Administration, who, like Secretary Clinton, were trying to preserve the narrative that “al Qaeda was on the run,” that Libya was stable after the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi, and that the Clinton State Department had not carelessly risked the lives of the Americans at Benghazi just two months before the 2012 presidential election.

Bill Clinton’s Accusers

 At least four women have alleged that former President Bill Clinton sexually abused them, and that Hillary Clinton responded by attempting to destroy their reputations. Paula Jones claimed that Bill Clinton had exposed himself to her. At trial, he denied under oath having sexual relations with Monica Lewinski, a White House intern, until she produced the blue dress soiled with his semen. He was then convicted of perjury for lying under oath. Kathleen Willey claims that Bill Clinton repeatedly pressured her to have sex with him, kissing her against her will, despite her resisting because she was married. Juanita Broderick claims that he raped her twice. When Hillary found out about the accusers, according to Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post, she coordinated a group of surrogates to stomp out the “bimbo eruptions.” Bill Clinton’s lead campaign strategist, James Carville, said of the accusers, “If you drag a dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.”  Hillary declared that the sexual harassment claims were part of a “vast right wing conspiracy,” until Monica Lewinsky produced the infamous blue dress. She recently declared that all women who allege sexual abuse “have a right to be believed.” Apparently, she only means those who don’t threaten her husband’s political career, or hers.

Conclusion

Through the FBI email investigation, and subsequent email releases, the American people have learned that Hillary Clinton endangered national security by sending, receiving, and storing classified information on an unauthorized private email system, and then deleted much of her email record in apparent violation of federal law. Many of the emails recovered under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that special access was given to Clinton Foundation financial contributors while she served as Secretary of State. And she has repeatedly lied to the American people about it. She has taken massive fees from Wall Street banks while claiming to be the champion of the people.  She promoted TPP, a job killing trade bill, and now claims to oppose it. She has disparaged the women who claim her husband abused them.

If you can’t vote for Donald Trump, please prayerfully consider voting for Jill Stein, or write in Elizabeth Warren. We can’t reward Hillary Clinton with highest office in the land when she has so thoroughly proven she does not deserve it.

*  *  *

 About the author. Jim Edsall is an attorney in Banner Elk, NC. He graduated cum laude in 1996 from Regent University Law School in Virginia, where he received the Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in Public Laws as the top student in Constitutional Law, Common Law, International Law, and Legislation, served as class president, and was an editor of the Law Review.

For source references, see the extended version of this article below, entitled, “Hillary Clinton – Honest and Trustworthy? Why the Polls Say No.”

Bending the Law Until It Breaks – Part 2. Hillary Clinton – Honest and Trustworthy? Why The Polls Say No

By Jim Edsall

On Monday, September 6, 2016, CNN released a national poll showing Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton 45% to 43%, confirming that her post-convention bounce has evaporated. The poll’s internal numbers show Trump’s support increasing among Republicans as he stays on message and avoids making negative news. But, Trump’s most significant gains have been in the category of who is more “honest and trustworthy.” Trump now rates at 50%, while Hillary Clinton has fallen to 35%.[1] This parallels a devastating New York Times/CBS News poll from July 2016 showing that 67% of Americans believe Hillary Clinton is not honest and trustworthy.[2] Her numbers are historically low for one main reason — people are reacting to the findings by the FBI that Hillary Clinton placed national security information on a private email system and then was not honest about it. The fact that she was not indicted is not seen as exoneration. It is viewed as special treatment for a powerful political insider. And, new information is being released almost daily regarding the content of the emails, which show that wealthy donors to the Clinton Foundation received priority access to the Clinton State Department.

Private Email Server

Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State for the first four years of Barack Obama’s presidency. During that time, she used a personal email address on a private email server kept in the basement at her home in Chappaqua, NY. She refused to use a government email server and .gov email address despite “very specific guidance” from the White House.[3] She insisted on using her private Blackberry for all email communications, even while overseas in nations potentially hostile to the United States.[4]

The existence of her private email server was only discovered when the State Department reported it in 2014 to the House Select Committee investigating the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.[5] She at first denied having sent or received any emails that were classified. Then she changed her story, contending that none of the emails she sent or received were “marked classified.” She had deleted nearly 32,000 of her emails before Continue reading

Bending the Law Until It Breaks – Part 1. Barack Obama Disregards the Constitution and the Law

By Jim Edsall

On August 2, 2016, President Obama declared Republican nominee Donald Trump “unfit to serve as President.” He called into question Trump’s temperament, preparedness, and knowledge of “our constitutional traditions and the rule of law.” Trump will certainly have to convince the voters regarding his temperament and preparedness. That was fair game. But, there was palpable irony in the President’s condescension regarding the Constitution and the law. During his presidency Barack Obama has egregiously disregarded both the Constitution and the law, and Hillary Clinton has expressed a desire to do the same, and worse.

The U.S. Constitution is renowned for its system of checks and balances between three branches of government – Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. It requires the Congress and the President to work together to make the nation’s laws. The Supreme Court decides whether those laws are Constitutional. This was designed to prevent the concentration of power in one branch of government, or one person. Post-Revolutionary War Americans did not want another king, and they saw to that in the drafting of the Constitution.

The President’s chief duty under Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution, is to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” In taking the oath of office, a president swears to faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States and to the best of their ability “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Over the past seven-and-a-half years, President Obama has sought to expand executive powers far beyond those granted in the Constitution, and has failed to faithfully execute the laws. He has issued executive orders unilaterally changing the laws, circumventing the constitutional role of the Congress. His defenders say that he has issued fewer executive orders than many of his predecessors, but the number[1] is not the chief concern – his executive orders have all too often been unconstitutional. He has refused to enforce laws, and on his watch one federal agency unfairly targeted his political opponents, while another issued regulations that infringed on the jurisdiction of the States. This is a dangerous abuse of power.

Even if you believe that Barack Obama is advancing social, economic, racial, and environmental justice, and want Hillary Clinton to do the same, the ends do not justify the means when they endanger our system of government, and our freedom. 

The President Circumvents Congress — ObamaCare  

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as “ObamaCare”, was signed into law in March 2010. Since that date, the Obama Administration has made over thirty changes to the law without the consent of the Congress, including Continue reading