The Second Impeachment Trial Of President Donald J. Trump

Barely a week has passed since Republicans voted to acquit Donald J. Trump after his historic second impeachment — and on the somewhat flimsy basis that you couldn’t impeach or convict a former president, which, of course, you absolutely can — and already there is a massive Wikipedia page devoted to sifting through every small detail of the case. Why was Trump impeached a second time?

For months, he lied to constituents by claiming he had won the 2020 election and that Biden only claimed victory because of millions of illegal votes. Of course, he had said he would do exactly this before Election Day even occurred.

It was still surprising to some people when Trump’s frenzied followers marched on the Washington D.C. Capitol with clear intention to harm senators or even the vice president. Trump showed little remorse, and reports actually suggest he was happy to see his followers out in force. This has led to friction between him and the former vice president but, more importantly, it also led to a whirlwind impeachment.

Theoretically, the trial could have occurred before Trump left office, but Republican Senator Mitch McConnell nixed plans to call the Senate back from recess — and then famously voted to acquit based on the conditions he himself had created.

Interestingly, McConnell still had something to say: “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen. There’s no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people that stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president… He didn’t get away with anything yet. Yet.”

Trump was asked to testify, but refused. The letter to the president also pointed out that presidents and former presidents had testified before — including Bill Clinton — and that there are no laws on the books to prevent this. Trump’s lawyers called the request a “public relations stunt.”

Five people ultimately died during the Capitol insurrection, including one police officer who was assaulted with a fire extinguisher, one rioter who was shot trying to reach the building, another who allegedly died of a heart attack after accidentally tazing himself in the testicles, and two more police officers who committed suicide following the day’s events. Trump might still be culpable for all of this, but Republicans still decided to acquit him of abusing his power while in office — which, legally, he’s been doing the entire time, potentially breaking dozens if not hundreds of laws.

Ultimately, 48 Democrats, two Independents, and seven Republicans voted to convict the former president. 43 Republicans voted not guilty. This was the expected outcome, but much of the country still watched in horror that someone so blatantly guilty of the outlined crimes could get away with them.

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The Salem Witch Trials

When we say the “biggest trials of the century,” keep in mind we didn’t say which century. Every generation of people have their own historical horror stories, and we like to unpack the most interesting ones. What could be more interesting than a literal witch hunt? We’ll discuss why witchcraft has always been on the mind of the Christian faith and what the unfortunate young women of Salem did to seal their fate.

What do you expect to see when you buy tickets to a magic show? More than likely, you know you’ll see masterful illusions and slight of hand. You don’t expect to see more fantastical instances of magic ripped straight from television shows like Game of Thrones. But early Christians believed in magic — and they believed that witches were responsible for conjuring the devil.

The Bible itself sows the seeds that would blossom into hate later. Deuteronomy 18:11-12 said that those who would “[cast] spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” Another passage from Exodus says that those who partake in witchcraft should be put to death.

There are numerous other theories as to why the belief in witchcraft became so strong. Although the very belief in witchcraft was outlawed by Christian authorities in the Early Middle Ages, eventually things changed. They changed so much, in fact, that by the end of the Middle Ages and well into the next era, tens of thousands of people (mostly women) were accused of witchcraft or practicing magic, and sentenced to die. 

In 1692, several girls accused many local women of witchcraft — suggesting that because of these women, they had been possessed. The first cases were heard in June of that year, when the first woman was sentenced to die by hanging. Over one hundred people were accused of witchcraft in the following months, and at least 18 were tried and convicted and sentenced to die. 

Of course, like all things in the real world that seem too fantastical to be true, the hysteria was likely based on medical ignorance. Earlier the same year, 9-year-old Elizabeth Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams began showing strange symptoms. They would explode into fits and screams. A local doctor decided they had been bewitched. It wasn’t like they had a slip and fall attorney to argue on their behalf or suggest that perhaps they were pretending or should be diagnosed with some other strange disease.

Soon, other girls began to show the same symptoms. Many of these girls accused a slave, Tituba, an older woman named Sarah Osborn, and a homeless woman named Sarah Good of doing the deed.

Strangely, Tituba confessed to the inevitable interrogation. Historians believe it most likely that she wanted to avoid the end-of-life punishments usually doled out to witches by informing on others. Each subsequent batch of women involved a confession and informant, which is why so many were named. 

Surprisingly, those involved in putting forth the Salem Witch trials seemed genuinely appalled by their actions. Restitution was paid to the surviving family members by 1711. We haven’t even managed to pay restitution to African Americans for enslaving them for centuries, so maybe we could learn something! 

The Biggest Divorce Cases Of The Century

We all know the financial benefits of a strong marriage. But what about the financial destruction that can follow a rich person’s divorce? The higher you climb, the further you have to fall. This is true of anyone, but nowhere is it more apparent than in the biggest divorce cases of the century. Some of these people you will have heard about (primarily because they’re celebrities), while others will have managed to stay in relative obscurity (primarily because money allows you to disappear). 

French Billionaire Alec Wildenstein’s wife was awarded an awe-inspiring $2.5 billion in one lump sum — plus another $100 million annually for 13 years, totaling $3.8 billion for the entire divorce. Did you ever think that hating someone could be so lucrative? Wildenstein was on fire in the media because of the couple’s excessive spending habits. He like to breed racehorses and dealt in fine art.

When Rupert Murdoch divorce Anna Maria Torv, he didn’t wait long to remarry Wendi Deng. In fact, he only waited 17 days. When you know, you know — right? Murdoch and Deng split in 2013 after 13 years of marriage, and Deng received $1.8 billion after the settlement. Wow.

Speaking of Murdoch, he paid $1.7 billion to his second wife. They had been together for 32 years. Can you imagine being a divorce attorney Orlando and handling that kind of celebrity case? You could pop the champagne and retire the second the check cleared.

Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone called it quits to the tune of $1.2 billion in 2009. You might know Bernie as the CEO of Formula One racing. Or you might not. 

Adnan and Soraya Khashoggi divorced in 1974, when the $850 million Soraya received was worth even more. It took five years and one hell of a lawsuit for her to receive the check, though, because Adnan wasn’t about to part with his hard-earned (probably not) fortune willingly. By the way, Adnan was a renowned arms dealer from Saudi Arabia. 

Steve Wynn and Elaine Pascal have had somewhat of a whirlwind romance — more than once. They married in 1963, then divorced in 1986, then were remarried five years later, then divorced again in 2010. Elaine currently owns about half of Wynn Resorts company stock and has $740 million from the second divorce. Anyone want to take bets to see if they’ll have another go of it? Third time’s the charm!

Back in the 70s, a man named Craig McCaw built a company called McCaw Cellular. He divorced his wife Wendy Petrak after 24 years of marriage only to sell the company a few years later. When the divorce occurred, she received $460 million — a paltry sum compared to the $11 billion he received from the sale of McCaw. If only she had held out another couple of years!

Mel Gibson divorced his wife Robyn in 2006 and was forced to pay her $425 million — which was a nice even number because he had made $850 million. 

What Is The Longest Criminal Trial In The United States?

The United States guarantees defendants the right to a fair and speedy trial — on paper, but not always in practice. This is none more obvious than in the McMartin preschool trial, which resembled the hysteria of the Salem Witch trials in modern-day fashion. During the ‘80s and ‘90s, there was hysteria over possible Satanic ritual abuse (and this was long before QAnon even existed!). 

Just so you know we’re not joking, accusations included seeing witches fly, being abused by Chuck Norris, being abused in secret tunnels, or having been taken and abused in a hot-air balloon. There were allegations of car-wash orgies, being flushed down toilets, and a game called “naked movie star.”

These allegations were made against members of a Manhattan Beach family who operated their own preschool. A number of people were eventually charged with a combined hundreds of counts of abuse. 

But the “popularity” of the impending trial was how long it took, and how many resources were spent. The first accusations were made in 1983, but it took another year for the investigation to begin — and that took an additional four years. The trials took another three years after that until charges were dropped in 1990.

Part of the reason it took so long was the fact that the first trial was deadlocked. The judge had no choice but to move for a retrial, which itself resulted in another deadlock. All charges against those who had not been successfully prosecuted were therefore dropped. Ray Buckey had spent five years of his life in prison — but was never convicted.

Years later, one of the children who had made the whimsical allegations said: “Never did anyone do anything to me, and I never saw them doing anything. I said a lot of things that didn’t happen. I lied. … Anytime I would give them an answer that they didn’t like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for. … I felt uncomfortable and a little ashamed that I was being dishonest.”

One Of The Biggest Workplace Discrimination Cases Of The Decade

Workplace discrimination cases can be difficult to win. This is because most courts view them as likely frivolous lawsuits — and certainly nothing that would rise to the level of a criminal case. But imagine working for a state correctional system. Imagine enduring what you must from the prisoners themselves, but also systemic racism perpetrated by your colleagues. Imagine constant harassment and retaliation when you try to do something about it.

Do you have a case?

A jury court decided the answer was yes when they awarded Probation Officer Lisa Griffey a shocking $11.4 million after her claims were brought before the judge. 

According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (or the EEOC) workplace discrimination is not defined by “[p]etty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious).” It is defined by an environment that is “intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.” Only when the latter definition is met — and then proved in court — do you have a case. And that kind of behavior can be difficult to document. More than likely, the other party will vigorously dispute it.

In order to prevent this behavior, the EEOC urges all employers to clearly communicate legal obligations and workplace regulations. This includes: establishing a process through which employees can anonymously lodge complaints, providing effective training that meets legal standards, reviewing inappropriate behavior as soon as it arises, fostering confidence and trust in employees, and encouraging reports of inappropriate behavior. 

This type of process in the corrections facility might have prevented the massive jury verdict.  

Griffey described the workplace as one in which there was a “culture of racism.” She said she was routinely called racist slurs. When she tried to report the behavior, a “harassment counselor” made sure it went away. She then opted to transfer to a different office where the harassment continued in earnest. 

Because of the reports, Griffey’s husband was also subject to retaliation when someone made false charges against him. He was forced to retire. Because these allegations were apparently proved in court, both Griffey and her husband received separate awards from the jury.

This verdict represented one of the biggest payouts in a long time, but remember: this occurred in late 2019. While the behavior Griffey endured might seem like an occurrence from decades ago, it’s still happening all around the country.

Recently, the United States Department of Justice had lodged a formal lawsuit against Yale University, which it said made it nearly impossible for Caucasian and Asian-American students to enroll successfully. 

Colleges — especially Ivy League schools — have long used a system that allows easier enrollment for students whose parents also attended. They also factor in where a student grew up and life experiences, which are often reflected in college essays. It isn’t unusual because colleges try to foster a diverse environment for education. But the lawsuit against Yale was eventually dismissed. 

Now, the Asian American Coalition for Education would like to know why. They allege that the dismissal was without merit, and that restrictive policies like the aforementioned should be abolished to favor students with the greatest potential.

Will The Trial Of Joe Biden Become The Biggest Of The Century?

Mid-October was a tumultuous moment in the spotlight for both the Trump and Biden presidential campaigns. The New York Post — a sensational tabloid — dropped a piece on Biden’s supposed connection to the Burisma Ukraine scandal, to which the Trump administration has been trying and failing to connect Biden ever since impeachment rocked the White House. But those ideas were largely dismissed as absurd, conspiratorial nonsense. They were quickly debunked by members of Trump’s own administration.

But that certainly did not stop Fox News from asking why the host of Biden’s town hall-style meeting failed to ask about the Post’s allegations. Why ask a candidate about rumors that were never true? There was no information provided by the Post to indicate any veracity to its reports, and, as expected, the tabloid refused to provide the laptop and its supposed email treasure trove to forensics teams. 

Fox also lambasted the host of Trump’s town hall-style meeting for back and forth arguments — which the host used to separate fact from fiction. The facts are the facts, but for the most part every statement out of Trump’s mouth was fiction. Biden does not lie or misconstrue the truth nearly as often as Trump and his cronies, which is probably why his administration never caught the same heat as the Trump administration. 

These accusations were probably only aimed at accomplishing one thing: changing the corruption narrative plaguing President Trump to one plaguing Biden instead. They wanted Biden to spend more time on defense instead of promoting programs aimed at civil rights or environmental awareness during a hurricane season that has costed states many billions of dollars in hurricane damage claims. The number of named storms set records.

Although the accusations were not borne of truth, that didn’t stop the major networks from running away with them. Thankfully, fact-checkers quickly went to work.

During the same town hall, Trump repeated the false statement that the Obama administration had spied on his campaign and “got caught,” although those lies had already been debunked by federal investigations. Trump had previously said he was upset with United States Attorney General Bill Barr because he refused to indict Biden or Obama on charges — which, of course, he cannot do because there were no crimes committed. 

Trump also regurgitated lies about coronavirus, namely that it was almost behind us, that 85 percent of mask wearers get the virus, and that Dr. Anthony Fauci had said that Americans should not wear masks before reversing course — which, while true, removed the context. Fauci knew that there was a mask shortage and that, while effective, they would be more useful in the hands of healthcare providers. When the shortage ended, Fauci told Americans to buy masks.

Biden had previously said that he would not stand in the way of prosecution against Trump, although most legal scholars seemed to believe it could never happen. If Trump were to lose the election, surely he would resign so that Pence could pardon him for any crimes committed. We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but the outlook is grim on trials for Biden and Trump both.

 

Fraudulent Bankruptcy Dealings Erupt Because Of COVID: Whose Trial Will Make The Biggest Waves?

Most people probably don’t even know that bankruptcy fraud exists — but with the rise in coronavirus-related bankruptcies, these crimes are becoming even more commonplace in 2020. This type of fraud generally occurs when someone filing for bankruptcy attempts to hide or diminish their own assets in order to keep them once the bankruptcy is complete. Usually this means falsifying data on notarized or other legally binding agreements and documents.

The sheer number of people in the United States facing financial ruin because of coronavirus means that more are getting away with bankruptcy fraud. That’s a shame, because any business bankruptcy attorney worth their salt can protect those assets anyway. Many legal analysts are wondering which big company will get nailed for bankruptcy fraud this year or next — and whether or not those inevitable trials stand to become some of the biggest this century.

One of the more high-profile cases may have already been overlooked by most people because our eyes are so firmly glued to the presidential election. Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski told a federal bankruptcy court earlier this year that Uber should pay Google a whopping $179 million settlement instead of him. 

The argument stems from the fact that Levandowski once worked for Google before joining Uber. He also worked as an engineer for Google, most notably on its self-driving endeavors. Levandowski had a self-driving startup named Otto, which Uber purchased for hundreds of millions. The goal of that purchase was to keep Levandowski as an Uber asset for a long time to come to keep him from Google. But of course that didn’t happen. He was pushed away from both companies during legal proceedings.

When Levandowski went over to Uber, Google sued the company because it believed that Levandowski had stolen much of what he worked on just before he left. During much of the trial that followed, Levandowski pleaded the fifth — because of course he had something to hide. 

According to Uber, the company was lied to by Levandowski — who repeatedly told higher ups that he had not stolen a thing. 

Uber’s subsequent legal filing read: “If Uber had known that Levandowski had deliberately downloaded Google confidential trade secrets to use those secrets while at Uber, then Uber would not have completed the Otto acquisition and would not have entered into the indemnification agreement.”

Levandowski says that Uber should pay the settlement, and Uber says that Levandowski should have to pay. What happens next could spill over into a bankruptcy fraud case if Levandowski loses all the money he made during these transactions and federal officials find that he lied. He filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy because of the settlement, and has an estimated value of $50 to $100 million — which is a long way away from the $179 he was ordered to pay. He has additional liabilities totalling up to $500 million, complicating his bankruptcy case even further. 

Will The Trial Of Donald Trump Become The Biggest Of The Century?

You’ve probably all heard the conjecture: If Donald Trump loses the 2020 election, he could be subject to criminal charges — possibly related to tax fraud, tax evasion, or dozens of other shady acts committed while in office. This could be the reason why he’s trying to sow doubt about the legitimacy of the mail-in vote (even though he uses it himself). He wants to throw away everything after Election Day so that the courts will side with him and keep him safe in office for another four years.

It’s not difficult to forecast a landslide Biden win right now. He’s up by double digits. Trump is taking other Republicans down with him, and Fivethirtyeight’s forecast even suggests that if he loses the presidential race, then the opportunity for Democrats to slide in additional House and Senate seats increases as well. 

Here’s the problem: there’s a remarkably easy — and legal — path for Trump to not only “steal” the American election without winning either the popular vote or electoral college, but also to escape criminal prosecution in the event he loses. We’ll ignore the first scenario for now, but what that means is that Trump might not be trying to win as hard as some people think.

For now, let’s take on the second scenario: Trump loses by a wide margin and must leave office without any great turmoil erupting in his wake. If you were president and knew you could be prosecuted, what would you do? Well, history has already provided us with an example — and that’s why even Trump wouldn’t be stupid enough to let himself go to jail when he could do one simple thing: resign. Just like Nixon did.

In the days after such a resignation, Pence would undoubtedly take the oath of office. One of his first acts as president would be to pardon Trump for any and all crimes committed before or during his tenure as president. It’s as easy as that!

Massive Child Predator Investigation Still Underway in Germany

We sometimes forget that not all news comes from America. That’s certainly true when you look at sex trafficking and patterns of networked sexual abuse worldwide. One such network was uncovered only last year — and it’s focal point was a strange spot in Cologne, Germany. Local authorities were on the premises to conduct a routine search when they found something sinister on site: child pornography.

It was from that discovery that an investigation of tens of thousands of persons of interest began using hundreds of detectives. Two men were recently sentenced to more than a decade in prison for sexual abuse of minors and the distribution of child pornography. But they won’t be the last incarcerated in what just might become one of the biggest trials of the century.

The videos uncovered depicted scenes not only of sexual abuse, but extreme acts of violence perpetrated against these children. The abuse of several victims began when they were only mere months in age.

One officer said, “I think images and videos like these are always going to leave their mark on those who watch them — even experienced investigators.” Lisa Wagner is a mother herself, and became a police officer to help watch over everyone else’s children, too. But sometimes evil hides in plain sight, as was the case in Cologne. Neighbors described the arrestees as normal. 

Dozens of children involved in the predator network have been located and placed into new homes with new guardians. 87 cases in particular stand out to authorities.  Cologne State Prosecutor Markus Hartmann said, “This is not about individual cases: behind each instance of abuse lies a web of communication structures that, according to our current evaluation, aids, abets and encourages abuse.”

The real trick is finding a way not only to arrest those responsible, but also to keep them behind bars — and then mitigate future damages against children. How can law enforcement possibly target conduct that largely occurs online when Internet privacy laws and VPN software helps mask the trafficking? There are no easy answers, and legislators have been struggling with this question for decades.

Earlier this year in July, the European Commission devised a strategy to protect children, one in five of whom will be the subject of child abuse. 

In Germany, some of those incarcerated individuals might be placed in “preventative detention” once they serve their time. In other words, they will never really be released.

Borders are another obstacle to catching child predators, but thankfully the internationally community is mostly cooperative and resolute in the face of this challenge. Hartmann said, “We have had cases in Europe in which we were able to coordinate operations with our respective international partners in hours.”

And that means in the future, child predators might be caught easier and faster — which means fewer victims overall. Still, the trauma these victims will endure lasts a lifetime. It does not end with the abuse, or when the abuser is finally caught and incarcerated. So the struggle continues.

TRUMP ACQUITTED: But Mitt Romney Breaks Ranks With Republicans To Convict

The impeachment trial of the century has turned out the way everyone expected. Straight down party lines. Every Democrat voted to convict President Donald Trump on abuse of power. Surprisingly, however, one brave Republican senator decided to break from the rank and file and side with Democrats: Mitt Romney. Not so surprisingly, Senate Republicans quickly moved to censure him.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert said, “Sometimes we don’t like his style, but it’s hard to overlook the successes that he’s had.” Herbert voted against censuring Romney. Of course, the idea that we can censure someone simply for voting their conscience is objectionable to say the least. What happened to the idea of a country before a political party?

Romney said of the decision to convict Trump: “This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life. I have gone through a process of very thorough analysis and searching, and I have prayed through this process. But I don’t pretend that God told me what to do.” 

“The president did in fact pressure a foreign government to corrupt our election process,” he said. “And really, corrupting an election process in a democratic republic is about as abusive and egregious an act against the Constitution — and one’s oath — that I can imagine. It’s what autocrats do.”

Much of the argument over whether or not Trump’s actions were impeachable came down to interpretation over the Constitutional phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t actually mean crimes the way we traditionally think of them. When the Founding Fathers wrote this into the Constitution, it was meant to describe a public officer who had broken the trust of the people. Which is exactly what the discussion should have been about.

But as they so often do, Republicans twisted the discussion with misinformation and conspiracy theories regarding Obama doing the exact same thing when he was in office or the government of Ukraine trying to get Hillary elected. Neither are true, but that’s how Trump got away with ripping the Constitution to shreds, time and time again.

Romney admitted that he had read Alexander Hamilton’s thoughts on impeachment (and the meaning of high crimes and misdemeanors) in Federalist No. 65. This was how Romney determined that the president was guilty of the crime and should be removed from office immediately. His Republican colleagues instead decided to put party first, and protect the president — thereby increasing their own chances for reelection in a country whose Republicans strongly support him.