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Daily Archives: January 12, 2021

Impeachable Speech

Katherine Shaw, Impeachable Speech, 70 Emory L. J.1 (2020). Available at:

“Rhetoric is both an important source of presidential power and a key tool of presidential governance. For at least a century, the bully pulpit has amplified presidential power and authority, with significant consequences for the separation of powers and the constitutional order more broadly. Although the power of presidential rhetoric is a familiar feature of the contemporary legal and political landscape, far less understood are the constraints upon presidential rhetoric that exist within our system. Impeachment, of course, is one of the most important constitutional constraints on the president. And so, in the wake of the fourth major presidential impeachment effort in our history, it is worth pausing to examine the relationship between presidential rhetoric and Congress’s power of impeachment. Although presidential rhetoric was largely sidelined in the 2019–2020 impeachment of President Donald Trump, presidential speech actually played a significant role in every other major presidential impeachment effort in our history. Prior to President Trump, three presidents had faced serious impeachment threats: Andrew Johnson, in 1868; Richard Nixon, in 1974; and Bill Clinton, in 1998 and early 1999. In each of these episodes, the debate around impeachment encompassed, among other things, public presidential rhetoric—lies and misrepresentations; statements that took aim at Congress or undermined the rule of law. In the case of Andrew Johnson, presidential rhetoric formed the basis of one of the articles of impeachment approved by the House of Representatives. In the case of Richard Nixon, the first article of impeachment approved by the House Judiciary Committee—though never considered by the full House—made extensive reference to the president’s public statements. And one of the possible offenses identified in Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s impeachment referral focused on Bill Clinton’s lies to the American people; an impeachment article tracking that recommendation was initially debated by the House Judiciary Committee, but the language regarding public speech was removed before the committee vote. These aspects of impeachment history have largely escaped scholarly notice, and they may prove instructive as both Congress and the public debate impeachment, as well as other possible constraints on presidential rhetoric and presidential power, in 2020 and beyond.”

Compiling the Criminal Charges Following the Capitol Riot

LawFare: “On Jan. 6, a violent mob entered the United States Capitol Building during the congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, forcing lawmakers and congressional staff to flee to safe locations. The rioters arrived at the Capitol Building following a rally on the National Mall where speakers and demonstrated urged Congress to not certify… Continue Reading

The Tyranny of the Pandemic Office

The New Republic: “I read Anderson’s book Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk About It) at the beginning of the pandemic. Over the last few months, I kept returning to it as the physical workplace, the book’s primary topic of interest, mutated and then, for many white-collar workers, effectively… Continue Reading

Can Anything Be Done to Rein In the President’s Speech?

The Atlantic – Trump’s words are dangerous, and society must find ways big and small to push back. August 2, 2020 Kate Shaw Professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. “This president doesn’t speak like other presidents, that much is clear. Since taking office in January 2017, President Donald Trump has used the… Continue Reading

Questions to Guide an Investigation of the Capitol Attack

Just Security: “The invasion of the United States Capitol was an entirely predictable event, which makes the wholesale security collapse all the more unconscionable. Threats on social media grew more frequent and specific after President Donald Trump called on his supporters to gather in Washington, D.C., and push Congress to overturn the election results. Somehow… Continue Reading

Blob Opera

Google Arts and Culture – play for voices with the help of machine learning:”Blob Opera is a machine learning experiment by David Li in collaboration with Google Arts and Culture. This experiment pays tribute to and explores the original musical instrument: the voice. Play four opera voices in real time. No singing skills required! We… Continue Reading

Subjects: AI

Federal Criminal Law: January 6, 2021, Unrest at the Capitol

CRS Legal Sidebar via LC: Federal Criminal Law: January 6, 2021, Unrest at the Capitol: “On January 6, 2021,a crowd gathered on the U.S. Capitol grounds, breached police barriers, entered the Capitol building, occupied portions of the building for an extended period of time, and clashed with law enforcement, resulting in at least five deaths,dozens… Continue Reading

The Day Democracy Was Attacked

Marc Elias – “Washington, D.C. is no stranger to protests. The Lincoln Memorial, just across the Mall from the U.S. Capitol, is the most famous backdrop for speeches about how we make our country “more perfect.” It is where Martin Luther King Jr. told the nation about his dream. When crowds are drawn to the… Continue Reading

House Judiciary Committee Report on the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump

The House Judiciary Democrats released their report on[January 12, 2021 supporting impeachment. House Judiciary Committee Report on the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump to accompany H. Res. 755 [76 pages]. “Mr. NADLER, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the following REPORT together with DISSENTING VIEWS [To accompany H. Res. 755]. The Committee on the… Continue Reading

The U.S. Capitol Police: Brief Background

CRS Insight via LC – The U.S. Capitol Police: Brief Background, January 12, 2021: “U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) is a department within the legislative branch with security, protection, and administrative responsibilities. The USCP is responsible for law enforcement and security within the Capitol Complex, including the U.S. Capitol building, the Capitol Visitor Center, Capitol grounds,… Continue Reading

Parler Users Breached Deep Inside U.S. Capitol Building, GPS Data Shows

Gizmodo: “At least several users of the far-right social network Parler appear to be among the horde of rioters that managed to penetrate deep inside the U.S. Capitol building and into areas normally restricted to the public, according to GPS metadata linked to videos posted to the platform the day of the insurrection in Washington.… Continue Reading

Joint Chiefs remind military of duty to support and defend Constitution “The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking officers in each branch of the military, sent a remarkable memo to all members of the armed forces on Tuesday reminding them of their duty to uphold the Constitution and reaffirming that President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20. “The American people have trusted the… Continue Reading