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No, Stace, Impeachment Is Not a Coup; Federal Court Agrees

Senator Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton) keeps trying to tell me that the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump are a “coup“. A federal judge ruled today that, far from a “coup”, the House investigation of the most incompetent occupant of the White House ever is an entirely legal, Constitutional proceeding entitled to receive secret grand jury materials and subpoena witnesses:

Chief District Judge Beryl Howell signed an opinion that rejected the Justice Department’s argument that it must preserve the secrecy of grand jury and other material and denied Republicans’ case that House Democrats’ inquiry is invalid.

“The need for continued secrecy is minimal and thus easily outweighed by [the House committee’s] compelling need for the material,” Howell wrote.

She continued: “Tipping the scale even further toward disclosure is the public’s interest in a diligent and thorough investigation into, and in a final determination about, potentially impeachable conduct by the president described in the Mueller report” [Philip Ewing, “Judge Orders DOJ to Hand Over Mueller Material, Validates Impeachment Probe,” NPR, 2019.10.25].

Judge Howell didn’t say anything about a “coup”, but she did call some of the White House’s arguments against disclosing records to the House a “farce” and said White House stonewalling actually encouraged her to rule in favor of the House:

The White House’s stated policy of non-cooperation with the impeachment inquiry weighs heavily in favor of disclosure. Congress’s need to access grand jury material relevant to potential impeachable conduct by a President is heightened when the Executive Branch willfully obstructs channels for accessing other relevant evidence [Judge Beryl Howell, In re Application of the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, for an Order Authorizing the Release of Certain Grand Jury Materials, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 2019.10.25, p. 71].

Like a said, not a coup.


  1. Porter Lansing 2019-10-25 19:04

    The Mueller testimony material WILL be redacted, so we’ll just wait and see what we learn.

  2. Owen 2019-10-25 20:40

    Let’s start with the definition of a coup. ” a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.”
    That’s not happening here. What is happening is what our Constitution says to do if the President has possibly done something wrong. Trump has been accused of delaying military aid to Ukraine until the President of Ukraine “found” criminal wrongdoing by Joe Biden and his son Hunter. This is illegal and worth investigating. That’s what the House has been doing. There is nothing secretive about what’s going on. There are 47 Republicans that get to ask questions and have the same time as Democrats. In A few weeks all of this goes public with open hearings.
    Republicans are hypocrites. Trump and his Republican friends have fought tooth and nail not to let the un-redacted Mueller go to congress and the public. Trump has told people to not testify.
    So the Republican claims of the House not being open are garbage.

  3. Porter Lansing 2019-10-25 20:51

    Oops. I read it wrong or it was written weird. The sentence I read said, HOR to receive redacted Mueller material. It means the material from the original Mueller report that had been redacted not new material from Mueller which will be redacted.
    So, this is big and another bit of information.

  4. Debbo 2019-10-25 21:08

    These hyperbolic statements about a “coup” make the speakers look silly.

    It’s very disappointing to me that 25-30% of the US population continues to support the racist, misogynist, ignorant, incompetent, insane, lying criminal in the White House. It’s even worse that some defend him so eagerly and earnestly. I wonder what’s wrong with them that they accept his shameful behavior?

  5. Kal Lis 2019-10-25 21:20

    Soon South Dakota’s Trumpists will start publically calling non-Trumpists “human scum” just like the dear leader.

    They talk like a cult and act like a cult.

  6. jerry 2019-10-25 22:41

    43 separate alleged sexual assaults, why isn’t Chubby in court for the allegation of rape? The real coup is how justice has been ignored to protect the privileged from answering to their charges. Those 43 women have a right to be heard in the court of law, or does that matter anymore. If my memory serves, Nelson has laid claim that what he did in the military was to uncover sexual assault in the military. That makes it clear that Nelson’s party above sexual predator abuse, has tainted his views. Maybe Nelson does not consider 43 separate sexual abuse claims a clear and present danger.

    “While Donald Trump faces an impeachment investigation for the apparent use of U.S. military aid as leverage for extorting foreign election assistance, we must also keep in mind that Donald is also an alleged rapist and lifelong sexual predator. A new investigative book, All The President’s Women, describes 43 separate alleged sexual assaults by Trump. This is in addition to previously alleged sexual assaults, sexual harassment, and rape.”

  7. Roger Cornelius 2019-10-25 22:44

    Stace got the memo. Earlier in the week Trump called upon his party to get more vigilant in supporting him. Following that lecture House republicans stormed the Hearing room and acted as though they accomplished something.
    The very next day Trump called members of his own party “human scum” for not showing more support. Perhaps Stace doesn’t want to be called human scum by his “president”.
    “coup” has no place in American politics, our political system that has survived centuries never uses the term.
    If Stace, Trump, et al want us to be a third world country, by all means let’s use the term.
    In my reading of world history, a coup is easier implement than an impeachment.

  8. Debbo 2019-10-26 00:03

    Phil Reeker, a career diplomat, will be testifying Saturday, 11/26, and the trumpelstilskins are not gonna like what he has to say. He’s expected to corroborate the truth of what Taylor said about Fried Face, Jue-Lee-ahh-kne, Barr-el and the rest of the criminal gang. Reeker, like Taylor, is a nonpartisan career guy.

    Glub, glub. The dirty GOP circles the drain.

  9. Debbo 2019-10-26 00:22

    MotorMouth gave a speech at Benedict College Friday. It’s an HBCU, but only a select 10 students were allowed to attend. We know the president has very tender feelings and they can be hurt so easily! The poor little boy.

    “Columbia, South Carolina, Mayor Stephen Benjamin told CNN that out of the more than 200 invitees to the President’s speech, only about 10 were actual students from the college. The others, Benjamin said, were ‘brought in’ from somewhere else. More than 2,100 attend the school, according to its website.

    “Benedict College spokeswoman Kymm Hunter later told reporters that only seven students ultimately attended the speech.”

  10. Adam 2019-10-26 01:34

    disagreeing = disloyalty = coup


  11. David Newquist 2019-10-26 04:21

    The GOP thinks all legal proceedings that address corruption are chicken coups.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-26 06:57

    “sudden, violent, and illegal”—those are three nice, simple criteria, Owen. Count on Reitzels to offer clear explanations of terms related to government. Those terms describe how Trumpists like to act, but not the process the House is conducting with great deliberation… and now judicial validation.

    “seizure of power from a government”—that’s also a useful statement. This isn’t the Bolsheviks storming the Hermitage. This isn’t Yanayev, Pavlov, Kryuchkov, et al. locking Gorbachev in his dacha and declaring themselves in charge of the USSR. This is the Legislative Branch exercising constitutional powers that, if carried to their logical, moral, and evidence-based conclusion, would result not in the seizure of power by those conducting impeachment but by the impeached Executive’s loyal second-in-command. (Now if impeachment worked and then Speaker Pelosi shot President Pence in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue and took his keys, that would be a coup.)

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-26 07:02

    Kal Lis mentions cults…. Cult leaders regularly abuse language to manipulate their followers. Trump cries coup and cultists like Stace repeat that falsehood to give followers an out from the facts. Instead of facing the obvious fact that their leader is corrupt, immoral, and self-serving, followers like Stace can use words like coup to convince themselves that they are part of a special group, unjustly persecuted by everyone else and thus justified in responding to opposition with unrestrained force.

    Make no mistake: when Trumpists say coup, they aren’t talking about what’s happening now; they are laying the false moral groundwork in their hearts to justify what they want to do the next time someone they don’t like, someone who doesn’t affirm their racism, sexism, and ignorance, is in power.

  14. Porter Lansing 2019-10-26 08:47

    This false victimhood Trump is wearing and shallow thinkers like Sen. Stace Nelson – Fulton (R) are eating like sour chislic is getting older every day. Is portraying yourself as abused your only defense? Go back to kicking your dogs and yelling at your wives and kids. America’s real Patriots are moving on … and I don’t mean the cheating, deflated balls of Tom Brady.

  15. Dana P 2019-10-26 08:59

    A sitting lawmaker, again, spouting things that just aren’t true. Not factual. That is damn scary.

    I’ll have to do a google search and see all of those times that Stace objected to the ‘coup’ that was happening during the Obama administration. Ooops! The hypocrisy of it all is really disgusting.

    Mr Nelson likes to portray himself as knowing the law, in and out……but, when the rubber meets the road, all he relies on are talking points and conspiracy theories. (since Stace is obviously a frequent watcher of Fox News, he should watch some of the segments done by Judge Napolitano. Hint, hint – Stace)

    No wonder unconstitutional laws keep getting passed in Pierre. There are no serious thinking politicians running the show.

  16. Loren 2019-10-26 11:33

    Right, Stace, the Democrats are involved in a “coup” using the rules established under John Boehner and a Republican majority House. Fight dirty, don’t they? !@#%^&*

  17. mike from iowa 2019-10-26 16:09

    Debbo, I had read where the majority of students were told to stay in their dorms. Nine students were invited. Seven showed up and the other two, if I remember correctly, had LaCrosse practice.

  18. Debbo 2019-10-26 16:35

    Mike, no protests could be allowed to protect Wimpy’s delicate feelings. Everybody, except devoted trumpelstilskins, knows no HBCU students want Rancid Racist sullying their campus.

  19. Jake 2019-10-26 17:46

    Important item:!!! Once lately on MSNBC and just now above by Loren do I see the one truth that REALLY sticks when thought about: The Democrats are following to the gnat’s ass the impeachment rules of the House put in place by Repubs considering impeachment of Obama back when. Tough as they are on the minority party, this minority party wants to blat about how few (only 47) Repubs know what’s goin’ down! Remember Trey Gowdy blathering about how closed hearings were the only kind he wanted or trusted while looking into Hillary’s “sins”?!

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-27 08:52

    Here’s the kind of argument-losing violence Stace and similar Christianists are pre-rationalizing for themselves and their radical followers:

    Rick Wiles, the senior pastor at Flowing Streams Church in Florida, made the remarks on his right-wing TruNews program Tuesday evening. He claimed that cowboys, mountain men and “guys that know how to do violence” would start attacking and “hunting down” Democrats.

    “If they take him [Trump] out, there’s gonna be violence in America,” the religious leader said. “That’s all there is to it,” he asserted.

    “However he leaves, there’s gonna be violence in America,” Wiles went on. “I believe there are people in this country, veterans, there are cowboys, mountain men, I mean guys that know how to fight,” he said, “and they’re going to make a decision that people who did this to Donald Trump are not gonna get away with it.”

    …”And they’re gonna hunt them down,” the pastor said.

    “The Trump supporters are going to hunt them down,” he added. “It’s going to happen and this country is going to be plunged into darkness and they brought it upon themselves because they won’t back off” [Jason Lemon, “Pastor Warns If Trump Is Removed from Office, ‘Guys That Know How to Fight’ Will Hunt Down Democrats,” Newsweek, 2019.10.23].

    Note the violent bully’s denial of his personal responsibility, asserting that his victims deserve the violence, that they brought the violence on themselves.

  21. mike from iowa 2019-10-27 11:35

    WAPO has a story, behind paywall, that tells the kind of non-impeachment related questions wingnuts on the committees ask witnesses. They appear to have their own separate investigation going.

  22. Senator Stace Nelson (R-Fulton) 2019-10-27 12:51

    Democrats are operating outside the historic precedents of POTUS impeachment proceedings AFTER 3-4 impeachment votes in which the House overwhelmingly voted against impeachment proceedings against Donald J. trump. Democrats are violating Constitutional due process rights of Donald J. Trump. Ironically, your own post indicts Democrats actions in this case “The need for continued secrecy is minimal and thus easily outweighed by [the House committee’s] compelling need for the material,” Howell wrote.

    She continued: “Tipping the scale even further toward disclosure is the public’s interest in a diligent and thorough investigation into, and in a final determination about, potentially impeachable conduct by the president described in the Mueller report” [Philip Ewing, “Judge Orders DOJ to Hand Over Mueller Material, Validates Impeachment Probe,” NPR, 2019.10.25].”

    Read that and apply that to the secret meetings Democrats are holding. Also remember that Democrats have been screeching for Donald J. Trump to be impeached since before he was sworn in. You folks are tone deaf consumer d with your hatred of your former Democrat colleague who turned his back on your party and has done everything within his power to reverse the Obama administration.

    Democrats have become the tone death party of hate and impeach Trump at all costs, no matter the facts; rabid proabortion; population control; gun confiscation; black outs, needles and poop in the streets; ANTIFA fascist supporting; illegal aliens over Americans; etc., etc, ad nauseam.. and the little echo chamber of rabid Leftists on here are the best examples of why South Dakotans are fleeing the Democrat Party and why your party is as financially bankrupt as it is viewed morally..

    But please.. continue unabated. Clearly you folks’ Democrat Party organizational plans are flourishing..

  23. jerry 2019-10-27 13:09

    I see Nelson just returned from church healing and fellowship. Yikes!!

  24. grudznick 2019-10-27 13:14

    grudznick is with Mr. Nelson when it comes to being against gun confiscation, blackouts, needles and poop in the streets. I am especially against poop in the streets (however your own back yard is yours to poop in, I believe in pooping everybody’s right to poop in their own yard.)

    We will yet see if Mr. Nelson becomes even more ineffectual in the legislatures this year and slips below Mr. Kloucek, or maintains his status as the second least effective in the legislatures, ever.

  25. Robin Friday 2019-10-27 13:40

    What makes anyone think Trump would choose to use the word “coup” correctly, or that he even knows the meaning of the word? To Donald, words only mean what he wants them to mean, and what he says they mean, to hell with the rest of humanity.

  26. mike from iowa 2019-10-27 13:41

    Judge wasn’t telling Dems they need less secrecy, she told DOJ her reasons they need to turn over Mueller grand jury evidence unredacted.

    Dems also know if they were forced to divulge every bit of testimony Drumpf and his windbags would be doing their absolute best to try this impeachment in the court of public opinion. And then they’d claim victimhood and ask for a mistrial because they released all the info themselves.

    Pay close attention, Nelson, and then you can see for yourself how a competent investigation into wingnut crooks and crimes is handled.

  27. Robin Friday 2019-10-27 13:51

    When the judge said “the need for continued secrecy is minimal”, she was talking about the administration’s need for secrecy on the Mueller documents. Otherwise, why did she rule that it had to be released. You may misunderstand the way it was written, but clearly she said “hand them over”.

  28. Robin Friday 2019-10-27 13:57

    And it sounds like that misguided and injudicious pastor is fomenting and propagating over-the-top violence and should be advised that his words are not only not well-chosen, but malicious and malevolent and dangerous to all.

  29. bearcreekbat 2019-10-27 14:54

    Nelson seems to have his facts wrong. First, I have seen reference to only one House vote to defeat an impeachment resolution (perhaps I missed something that Nelson can point out?). There were two votes to “table” resolutions of impeachment, which, “In the United States, to “table” usually means to postpone or suspend consideration of a pending motion.”

    The first two apparently occurred on December 6, 2017 (“tabled” rather than defeated) and January 19, 2018 (defeated), both prior to the release of the Mueller report and the mid-term elections. The third resolution, which also was apparently tabled, was on July 17, 2019 (“tabled”).

    Meanwhile, considerable new information has surfaced since the January 2018 House vote defeating the resolution to impeach, including, but not limited to:

    – Inspector general of the GSA issues report declaring that the president may have violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution

    – Michael Cohen testifies before two different House Committees, making several allegations against Trump

    – The Mueller Report is completed and released to Congress and the public.

    Additional new information has also surfaced after the July 24, 2019, resolution was tabled, including, but not limited to:”

    – Mueller testified before the House

    – The President has continually attempted to block testimony by members of the Executive branch, and otherwise obstruct with the House proceedings

    – A whistlebower reported the President’s attempt to extort the Ukraine by withholding allocated aid for political gain, and the allegations have been independently confirmed by several of the President’s statements and independent witnesses

    Ultimately, Nelson’ prior comments have often refered to his vast experience in the criminal justice system. Here the House functions as a de facto Grand Jury, since it has no power to convict nor remove a President under the Constitution. Thus it seems odd that Nelson’s comments fail to mention several details from his vast experience in the criminal justice system, which presumably includes working with grand juries, including:

    The refusal of a Grand Jury to issue an indictment neither ends all further efforts to indict, nor prevents the grand jury from considering new information not presented to it earlier. Thus it does not prevent prosecutors from gathering new information in private that might support an indictment, nor proceeding on new facts based on events coming after the original denial to indict.

    . . . even if a grand jury doesn’t indict, the prosecutor can return to the same grand jury and present additional evidence, get a new grand jury, or even file criminal charges regardless.,even%20file%20criminal%20charges%20regardless.

    Futher, as noted above, under the Constitution the House, like a Grand Jury, can neither convict nor remove a President, but is authorized, similar to a Grand Jury, only to decide whether there is cause for a trial on whatever factual allegations the House determine have sufficient evidentiary support.

    Thus, given the above undisputed facts, first, it seems unclear what point Nelson is trying to make by pointing out prior House rulings on earlier impeachment resolutions. After the election, the House members changed substantially, and I don’t see the difference between that and a prosecutor that “gets a new grand jury.” Likewise, new facts have developed and existing events have been explored further.

    And second, just as with a Grand Jury where the target has no right to notice or any opportunity to participate, it seems unclear what language in the Constitution, or prior decisions of the SCOTUS, Nelson relies on for the claim that a President is entitled to some greater level of “due process” than a Grand Jury target.

    Third, the reference to “secret meetings” seems odd, since the public has been made fully aware of each hearing, and members of both parties, which likely include one or more of the President’s allies, are members of each investigative committee and presumably are permitted to fully participate in each investigative hearing.

    Perhaps most telling are Nelson’s last comments, which imply the complete lack of Constituional and factual support for his claims, since these comments address all sorts of unrelated “hot button” talking points and name calling.

    In any event, let’s see if Nelson has commented in good faith and will identify the facts or legal support that correct my conclusion on the above three points

  30. Adam 2019-10-27 16:58

    Stace is just an anti-liberal double standard pusher – here. He can do good work, when he tries, but his hate of all things ‘left’ makes him a very unbalanced individual.

  31. Debbo 2019-10-27 18:29

    This …

    “Democrats have become the tone death party of hate and impeach Trump at all costs, no matter the facts; rabid proabortion; population control; gun confiscation; black outs, needles and poop in the streets; ANTIFA fascist supporting; illegal aliens over Americans; etc., etc, ad nauseam.. and the little echo chamber of rabid Leftists on here are the best examples of why South Dakotans are fleeing the Democrat Party and why your party is as financially bankrupt as it is viewed morally..”

    … as others have stated, has nothing to do with the issues discussed here. It’s just Nelson writing a silly rant that really means nothing.

    I too wait to hear his thoughtful and considered response to BCB’s comment.

  32. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-27 19:23

    “Operating outside historical precedents”?! I don’t see that phrase in the Constitution. You’re going to hurt yourself stretching like that, Stace.

    If operating outside historical precedents really calls into question the legitimacy of elected officials, then are Trump’s violations of historical precedent impeachable?

  33. jerry 2019-10-27 22:29

    The disgraced Chubby got the “Lock him up” from the crowd at the World Series. True that. Some of us veterans still believe in duty, honor country like Ambassador Taylor, who guys like Nelson want to crucify for telling the truth. I will let Jake Tapper speak truth to power.

  34. Dana P 2019-10-28 16:04

    “violating constitutional due process rights of Donald J Trump……”

    Oh boy, where do we start. Stace, when you want to spout things like this, at least pretend that you know what you are talking about.

    Like BCB says, with great detail — the facts of what is and isn’t going on right now, isn’t anywhere close to what Stace is describing. It is scary that Stace claims (always brags about it to all of us) how much knowledge he has about the criminal justice system and the constitution. All he proves by his long and very incorrect post —- he doesn’t even have


  35. Dana P 2019-10-28 16:48

    Republicans are in those ‘secret meetings that Democrats are holding’, Stace. They are committee members and have every right to ask questions. You must have accidentally on purpose forgot that fact.

    Here is the latest fact checker out……Totally backing up BCB’s statement and destroying Sen Graham’s and Stace Nelson’s ridiculous assertions.

  36. Dicta 2019-10-28 17:08

    Either Mr. Nelson didn’t really look for evidence to support his claims and made them after perusing an opinion piece or he is making declarations in bad faith and hopes nobody fact checks him. Either way, it is unbecoming of a current legislator to spread misinformation in this manner. Thankfully, his influence in South Dakota politics is about the same as mine, so he will continue to tilt at windmills and little else.

  37. Debbo 2019-10-28 18:16

    Per NPR:

    “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in a letter to Democrats on Monday that the House will vote to formalize the procedures in the ongoing impeachment inquiry of President Trump.

    “The resolution will outline the terms for public hearings, the disclosure of deposition transcripts, procedures to transfer evidence to the House Judiciary Committee and due process rights for Trump.

    “Senior Democratic aides said the resolution will be released on Wednesday, with a House vote on Thursday.”

  38. clara hart 2019-11-04 11:51

    Every time POTUS gets involved in some legal matter he chooses to discuss it with his base and the public. Why is that? I thought it is the role of his lawyers to answer the questions if asked by reports?

    I do not find that professional. The word “COUP” is not a word that is used loosely in most countries. How many people on this discussion experienced or was in a country that was under “COUP”? Please do not use the words that some average Americans may not understand. This creates unnecessary fear and hate towards members of a different political affiliation. Senator State, be the leader you espouse to be. I am so disappointed in your choice of words and argument regarding the Impeachment process under the Democrats and yet you said nothing when Secretary Clinton’s investigation was held under closed doors as per Senator T. Gawdy. Why is that? Are you afraid that you may be thrown out of the party? How about telling the truth before the party?

  39. Porter Lansing 2019-11-18 19:39

    Impeachment This Week … Impeachment investigators are exploring whether President Trump lied in his written answers to Robert Mueller. If confirmed as true, it will be basis for yet another article of impeachment.
    – Trump wants to testify at the hearings, but only through written text. It’s just a way to stall; a common tactic in the over 3,500 times he’s been sued. It’ll be live or nothing. Pelosi’s much smarter and more street than Don the Con and’s always several steps ahead of him.
    Tuesday’s Lineup …
    Morning – Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Nat’l Security Council’s top Ukraine expert.
    Afternoon – Kurt Volker The former special envoy to Ukraine and Tim Morrison; the former top Russia and Europe expert on the National Security Council.

  40. leslie 2019-11-18 21:31

    Today’s RMS reporting-The real coup of the US government occurred right here in SD, at the Spring reek Methodist Church Camp in front of 30 jr high school young Republicans and GOP Rep Dusty Johnson/USD Frat President.

    Nice, Republicans!! Stace, Stace… comments?

    @ about 7:00

  41. Debbo 2019-11-19 13:57

    The Daily Beast, via Yahoo! News, reports how closely Faux Noize coordinates with its boss, Demented Donny:

    “David Hale, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said in his closed-door impeachment testimony that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Fox News host Sean Hannity last spring to ask about the smear campaign launched against former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, according to a transcript that was made public Monday night.”

    The Secretary of State is calling Sean Vice-Liar-in-Chief Hannity to orchestrate the deministration’s smear campaign against dedicated career civil servant Marie Yovanovitch.

    That’s how those anti-democratic, anti-USA, anti-constituton traitors do, or undo, the once greatest nation.

  42. georguann Leight 2020-08-08 20:13



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