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Mon Nov 18, 2019, 08:07 PM

Worse than Watergate (and Ukraine)

Trumpís Retribution Against the Washington Post Owner Is His Gravest Abuse of Power

By Jonathan Chait

The saga of President Trumpís reprisals against Amazon has lurked on the margin of the news, largely overshadowed by the Ukraine scandal. Late Thursday night, Amazon revealed it had filed a protest in federal court of a Pentagon decision to deny it a $10 billion cloud-computing contract, the most recent piecemeal iteration of a saga that attracted precious little media attention even before the Ukraine scandal obscured it.

Yet the story here is almost certainly a massive scandal, probably more significant than the Ukraine scandal that spurred impeachment proceedings. Trump improperly used government policy to punish the owner of an independent newspaper as retribution for critical coverage. It resembles the Ukraine scandal because it is a flagrant abuse of power, and has been hiding in plain sight for months (as the Ukraine scandal did, until a whistle-blower report leaked in September). The scale of the abuse, though, is far more serious, because it is a concrete manifestation of Trumpís authoritarian ambitions.

Coverage of this story has implicitly extended Trump the benefit of the doubt by treating his hatred of Amazonís owner and the Defense Departmentís decision to spurn Amazon as presumably disconnected. There is not yet any smoking gun proof that Trump interfered improperly. It is possible, however unlikely, that the Pentagon acted completely at armís length from any political consideration, and the result just happened to comport with Trumpís desire to punish Jeff Bezos.

But even the appearance of impropriety ought to amount to a far larger scandal than it has been treated so far. The external evidence alone is incredibly damning, sufficient on its own to constitute an impeachable offense. ...

[much more]

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/11/trump-amazon-bezos-defense-cloud-washington-post-pentagon-scandal.html

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Response to LessAspin (Original post)

Tue Nov 19, 2019, 12:19 PM

1. Very difficult to prove.

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Response to Nitram (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 19, 2019, 04:42 PM

2. Why? Amazon had the clearly superior bid according to every report I read.

Trump is on record with myriad expressions of malice against WaPo and its owner because they did not provide fawning coverage.

If this results in litigation, there will be discovery. Seems to me depos and document productions will produce a lot of evidence supporting the allegation that the bid was denied based on malice/bias.

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Response to SunSeeker (Reply #2)

Tue Nov 19, 2019, 04:46 PM

3. Unless there is something in writing that the reason the decision was made was due to

prejudice against Amazon, or a witness statement of an oral statement of the same, there is no proof. Yes, a circumstantial case might be made, but that it is very hard to get a jury to convict on that basis. That's why the transcript and witness statements regarding Trump's quid pro quo it's such a big deal.

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Response to Nitram (Reply #3)

Tue Nov 19, 2019, 05:29 PM

4. In a civil case you only need a preponderance of evidence.

And "beyond a reasonable doubt" does not apply to impeachment either.

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Response to SunSeeker (Reply #4)

Tue Nov 19, 2019, 10:18 PM

5. Theoretically, yes. But that often isn't found to be enough to convict tin the real world. It

depends on the judge and other factors.

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