Tues: 1/14: The “imminent threat” has always been to himself. Call your legislators!

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

-Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride.

We thought that the Soliemani assassination was a suspiciously well-timed and bloody wag-the-dog from Trump’s impeachment, but it’s worse than that. News stories say that he may have felt pressured to kill the Iranian general to curry favor with some of his future jurors in the Senate. “High crimes and misdemeanors” is an apt phrase for a president willing to starting a war to save himself. But using military force without proof of imminent attack is more than abuse of presidential power – it’s actually illegal and should rightfully be added to the articles against him. His trial is no longer just about whether he extorted a foreign country to smear a political rival. Over 200 people from seven countries have died as collateral damage from those Jan. 3rd drone strikes. This struggle to hold on to his ill-gotten seat has turned into a bloodsport and we will not accept a sham trial.

Events since the original two impeachment articles were approved:

  • Just Security issued a report on Trump’s direct involvement in the illegal withholding of funding from Ukraine, naming a full range of potential witnesses.
  • John Bolton, former national security advisor, and the “first-person witness” the GOP has stated they want, has volunteered to testify, though Trump plans to block him his appearance, claiming executive privilege to “protect the office.”
  • Lev Parnas, a Soviet-born associate of Rudy Giuliani, has just submitted the contents of his cellphones, including audio and video recordings, to the House Intelligence Committee.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported on Trump’s possible influence from senate supporter and potential impeachment jurors to strike against Gen. Soliemani, a possible war crime.

Make these calls.

Minimum script for Representatives: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep. [___] to support the following things.

  • New Impeachment articles: Ask Speaker Nancy Pelosi to expand the House impeachment investigation by issuing subpoenas to new witnesses to Trump’s involvement in the Ukraine scandal named in the Just Security report, the evidence just submitted by Lev Parnas, and to those witnesses of Trump’s possible collusion to strike Iran in exchange for exoneration in the Senate.
  • Taking back war powers: Take back the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) NOW by approving:
    • H.R.1274 – “Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force” through both houses (Rep-check here – Call Brownley and Carbajal)
    • H.R.2456 – “To repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.” (Rep-check here – Call Brownley and Carbajal)
    • H.R.5543 – “No War against Iran Act.” (Rep-check here – Call Brownley and Carbajal)

Minimum script for Senators: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Senator [___] to support:

  • Impeachment: Demand a thorough impeachment trial, including witnesses detailed in the Just Security report, such as John Bolton and others with useful information such as Lev Parnas, AND publicly encourage their GOP neighbors to remember their original oath of office and to do the right thing as fellow Americans.
  • Taking back war powers: Take back the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) NOW by approving:
    • SJ Res 63 (Sen-check here – Harris has now signed, Feinstein hasn’t)
    • S.3159 – “No War against Iran Act.” (Sen-check here. Neither of our senators have signed)
    • Rep. Slotkin’s War Powers resolution to terminate hostilities in or against Iran – H.Con.Res.83 

Rep. Julia Brownley: email, (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email. (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: emailDC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Deeper Dive

Four people died alongside General Soleimani in Iraq, fifty more were crushed in the crowds of his funeral, and an unnerved Iranian military shot down a passenger plane, adding 176 more lives. Collateral damage to kill one man and distract one impeachment trial: 230 deaths.

The administration has struggled to produce a coherent “imminent threat” explanation as to why Soleimani’s assassination was necessary now, at the eve of Trump’s  impeachment trial, versus seven months ago, when this trap was supposedly devised, waiting for a most-likely fictional “red line” of one American death to snap shut. The official explanation has dissolved into nonsense, with VP Pence falsifying a 9/11 linkup and the rest of the administration bouncing between the strike being retaliatory (ILLEGAL) and prophylactic protection against an “imminent” threat (LEGAL if truly “imminent”). But after Rep. Slotkins’s war powers resolution was approved in the House, (cosigners included Brownley, not Carbajal) the story changed again, with Trump claiming, contrary to the facts shared at the classified briefing for legislators, that Soliemani and his allies “were looking to blow up our embassy” in Iraq, which grew immediately to encompass “multiple U.S. embassies.” Trump, obviously bored from trying to keep his stories straight, tweeted Sunday that “whether or not the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was ‘imminent’ or not… doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past!” (ILLEGAL!)

The truth of what pushed this plan into action had nothing to do with “imminent threat” to American soldiers, or even payback for one death. Reported by the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate.

The New York Times reported a similar story, stating that Trump had said in a phone call that “he had been pressured to take a harder line on Iran by some Republican senators whose support he needs now more than ever amid an impeachment battle.” If this reporting is true, it’s hard to overstate how explosive it would be that the president of the United States nearly started a war in order to appease a handful of Republican senators before the articles of  impeachment arrive in the Senate.

(intelligencer) “This would not mean Trump ordered the strike entirely, or even primarily, in order to placate Senate Republicans. But it does constitute an admission that domestic political considerations influenced his decision. That would, of course, constitute a grave dereliction of duty. Trump is so cynical he wouldn’t even recognize that making foreign policy decisions influenced by impeachment is the kind of thing he shouldn’t say out loud. Of course, using his foreign policy authority for domestic political gain is the offense Trump is being impeached for. It would be characteristically Trumpian to compound the offense as part of his efforts to avoid accountability for it…The Journal’s sourcing for this claim is vague. It’s possible Trump didn’t mean what he said, or that the associates who heard his comments misread them. But the straightforward read of this piece of reporting is that Trump has confessed to a grave and even impeachable abuse of his power as commander-in-chief.


  • The common misconception about “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” (Atlantic)
  • Trump keeps lying about Iran, but the truth is bad enough. (Wapo)
  • New details about Soleimani killing further undercut Trump’s lies. (Wapo)
  • The Soleimani strike defied the U.S. Constitution (atlantic)
  • Lawful self-defense vs. revenge strikes: scrutinizing Iran and U.S. uses of force under international law. (just security)

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