In a significant development for Israeli accountability, Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), seeks to launch an investigation into war crimes committed in Palestine. But she has established an unnecessary and politically suspect condition to slow down the process.
Following a five-year preliminary examination, Bensouda found a reasonable basis to mount an investigation of “the situation in Palestine.” She is “satisfied that (i) war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip . . . (ii) potential cases arising from the situation would be admissible; and (iii) there are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.”
In my decades as a criminal defense attorney, I have never seen a trial where the jurors admit they aren’t impartial, coordinate the trial process with the defendant and then, as promised, find the defendant not guilty. And yet, that is exactly what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell aims to do.
Negating any semblance of conducting a fair trial, McConnell has brazenly declared his intention to violate the senators’ oath of impartiality and deny the right to call witnesses to testify at the Senate trial on the articles of impeachment.
On Friday the 13th of December, the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. After a 14-hour hearing, the committee voted 23-17, along party lines, to recommend to the House of Representatives that Trump be impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Article I: Abuse of Power
Article I charges: “Using the high powers of his office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government” in the 2020 presidential election. Trump’s “scheme or course of conduct” involved soliciting the Ukrainian government “to publicly announce investigations” into political opponent Joe Biden and “a discredited theory promoted by Russia that Ukraine – rather than Russia – interfered” in the 2016 presidential election.
Once again, the United States is complicit in an illegal coup d’état in Latin America, this time in Bolivia. On November 10, a right-wing, anti-Indigenous group seized power after the Bolivian military’s removal of President Evo Morales, who had declared victory in the October 20 presidential election.
The United States’ fingerprints are all over the coup. Advisers from the U.S. Southern Command have been stationed on Bolivia’s border with Argentina, Ivanka Trump made a surprising visit to an Argentine province near the Bolivian border in September, the pro-U.S. Organization of American States (OAS) cast unfounded doubt on Morales’s election victory, and the U.S.’s National Endowment for Democracy provided suspicious grants to Bolivia.
Thumbing his nose at the Geneva Convention, the Rome Statute, the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly and the International Court of Justice, Donald Trump decided that Israel’s unlawful construction of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territory is lawful. This policy change is part of Trump’s pattern of seeking to legalize illegal Israeli practices. It panders to Israel at the expense of the Palestinians while aiming to burnish Trump’s bona fides with his Christian Zionist base. Christian Broadcasting Network quoted Jack Graham, pastor of the megachurch Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, as saying that the Trump administration “once again has demonstrated why evangelical Christians have been unwavering in their support.”
“The timing of this was not tied to anything that had to do with domestic politics anywhere in Israel or otherwise,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed, denying that the change in policy was designed to benefit Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who’s locked in a tight battle for political survival.
As former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified in the House impeachment inquiry to evidence of abuse of power by Donald Trump, he tweeted insulting allegations against her in real time. Trump’s tweets defensively attempted to justify his decision to abruptly pull the veteran diplomat out of Ukraine two months before her scheduled departure date. His decision to recall Yovanovitch was part of Trump’s pattern of corrupt behavior of tying foreign policy decisions in Ukraine to his own political interests.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine,” Trump tweeted. Yovanovitch testified that she found his tweets “very intimidating.” This is evidence of witness tampering which could provide the basis for an article of impeachment against Trump for obstruction of justice.
After the arguments before the Supreme Court in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) case, it is difficult to predict the outcome. Justices often play devil’s advocate when questioning the lawyers, so reading the tea leaves about how a case will ultimately be decided can be a dicey proposition. But the justices’ questions appeared to indicate that right-wing Justices Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh favor affirming Donald Trump’s termination of DACA, and liberal Justices Kagan, Ginsburg and Sotomayor want to uphold DACA. Justice Thomas, who almost never asks a question during arguments, invariably sides with the right-wingers. Chief Justice Roberts, who generally takes the conservative position, and Justice Breyer, who more often votes with the liberals, were harder to read. Roberts, who appeared to lean toward the government’s position, will likely cast the deciding vote.
On November 12, the justices heard arguments in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, a case that is testing whether Trump’s rescission of DACA was lawful.
We’re headed for a separation of powers showdown between Congress and the president that will ultimately end up in the Supreme Court.
The Constitution gives Congress the “sole Power of Impeachment.” Yet President Donald Trump has ordered all of his current and former senior advisers to defy congressional subpoenas to testify in the impeachment inquiry. Trump is claiming the subpoenaed witnesses have “absolute immunity” against civil or criminal liability for refusal to provide testimony. However, “absolute immunity” is a creation of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. No court, statute or constitution has ever recognized it.
Some subpoenaed witnesses have obeyed Trump’s command and refused to testify. But others have defied him and testified before the committees of the House of Representatives gathering evidence during the impeachment process.
The seven Catholic peace activists who were convicted on October 24 for their symbolic protest against nuclear weapons at the Kings Bay Naval Base are now facing a two-to-three-month wait to hear their prison sentences. They could face more than 20 years in prison.
“Our own lives are uncertain regarding the possible length of prison sentences,” defendant Martha Hennessy told Truthout in an exclusive interview. “But we rejoice in the fact that more scrutiny is being directed at the purpose of the Kings Bay Naval Base in southern Georgia.”
The Kings Bay Naval Base is home to nuclear armed submarines with two dozen ballistic Trident D5 missiles, each of which is 30 times more powerful than the atomic bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The seven peace activists — Martha Hennessy, Mark Colville, Clare Grady, Jesuit Fr. Stephen Kelly, Patrick O’Neill, Carmen Trotta and Elizabeth McAlister, who are collectively known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 — were convicted by a Georgia federal jury of conspiracy, destruction of property on a naval station, depredation of government property, and trespass after entering the base on April 4, 2018.
Nearly two weeks have passed since Turkey launched its ground and air attack on Rojava, the autonomous region of northeast Syria, following Trump’s sudden removal of 1,000 U.S. troops from the area.
While the United States and Turkey reached a “ceasefire” agreement on October 17, there are ongoing reports of violations of the deal. A U.S. official told CNN that Turkish-backed forces broke the ceasefire on its first day, saying that they were either acting beyond the scope of Turkish control or Turkey “didn’t care what they did.” Two U.S. officials said the ceasefire “is not holding.”