Editorial: WOTUS rule change restores federalism

The usual suspects in the self-styled environmental groups predictably collapsed into palpitating conniptions this past week when the Trump administration announced its final rule rolling back the Obama-era rule that overreachingly defined the waters of the United States (WOTUS) covered by the Clean Water Act of 1972 as every stream, ditch, wetland or muddy hoof print that might ever eventually spill a few drops of water into any rivulet.

Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, wailed, “This sickening gift to polluters will allow wetlands, streams and rivers across a vast stretch of America to be obliterated with pollution. People and wildlife need clean water to thrive. Destroying half of our nation’s streams and wetlands will be one of Trump’s ugliest legacies. We’ll absolutely be fighting it in court.”

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic candidate for president, fired off a Twitter rant, “Government works great for giant corporations that want to dump chemicals & toxic waste into streams & wetlands. It’s just not working for families that want to be able to drink water without being poisoned. This is corruption, plain and simple.”

But Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, while announcing the rule change at a conference of the National Association of Home Builders in Las Vegas, pointed out, “All states have their own protections for waters within their borders, and many regulate more broadly than the federal government. … Our new rule recognizes this relationship and strikes the proper balance between Washington, D.C., and the states. And it clearly details which waters are subject to federal control under the Clean Water Act and, importantly, which waters falls solely under the states’ jurisdiction.”

The new rule — prepared by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers — is to take effect in 60 days, though litigation challenging it is a certainty.

The Obama administration’s 2015 definition of WOTUS covered about half of the nation’s wetlands and many streams that flowed only after heavy rainfall and required farmers and developers to seek expensive and time-consuming permits before turning so much as a shovel of dirt.

The Clean Water Act made it unlawful to discharge any pollutant that could eventually reach navigable waters unless a permit was first obtained. The 2015 WOTUS definition, for example, barred a Minnesota company from mining peat on a wetland 120 miles from the Red River.

Nevada and a dozen other states in 2015 obtained an injunction from a federal judge blocking enforcement of the sweeping WOTUS rule. Then-Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt said of the injunction, “This important order, at a minimum, delays implementation of an unwise, unjustifiable and burdensome rule, and protects Nevada’s landowners, farmers and developers from job losses and increased energy prices, until the final rule can be comprehensively fought in court.” The EPA decided the injunction applied only to those 13 states.

The rule change has been in the works since shortly after President Trump took office.

In a speech to the American Farm Bureau two weeks ago Trump talked about the rule change, saying, “And, today, I’m proud to announce that I am taking yet another step to protect the water rights of American farmers and ranchers. Under the previous administration, the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a new Water Supply rule that would give the federal government vast and unlimited power to restrict farmers’ access to water. That’s not a good thing. Is anybody happy with being restricted to water if you have a farm? Please stand up if you are happy about that. Because this authority rightfully belongs to the states, not the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”

The nation’s waters are not being turned over to corporations for dumping chemicals and toxins. The power to regulate and protect the water is simply being returned to the states, which under the principles of federalism, is where they rightfully belong.

In fact, Trump’s executive order of February 2017 that started the rule change process is titled: “Presidential Executive Order on Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule.”

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Newspaper column: The fight for free speech never ends

Ten years ago this month the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the free speech portion of the First Amendment, declaring in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that a federal law prohibiting people from spending their own money to make their political opinions known could not pass constitutional muster. The decision has been under constant attack by Democrats ever since.

The 5-4 ruling overturned a portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law under which the FEC barred the airing of a movie produced by Citizens United that was critical of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primary.

The late Justice Antonin Scalia succinctly wrote: “The (First) Amendment is written in terms of ‘speech,’ not speakers. Its text offers no foothold for excluding any category of speaker, from single individuals to partnerships of individuals, to unincorporated associations of individuals, to incorporated associations of individuals — and the dissent offers no evidence about the original meaning of the text to support any such exclusion. We are therefore simply left with the question whether the speech at issue in this case is ‘speech’ covered by the First Amendment. No one says otherwise.”

But Democrats have wheeled out a proposal to amend the Bill of Rights to exclude certain speech because it is paid for by people with money. It is wrongly called the Democracy for All Amendment.

Every Democratic member of the U.S. Senate — including Nevada Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen — has signed on as sponsors. The amendment would allow Congress and the states to “distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.”

Sen. Cortez Masto put out a press release this past summer saying the amendment is intended to get big money out of politics. “Citizens United opened the floodgates for big money in politics by wrongly allowing corporations and special interests to buy undue influence in American elections,” Nevada’s senior senator wrote. “It’s time the effects of this disastrous ruling were reversed. A constitutional amendment putting the democratic process back in the hands of voters will help ensure that our government represents the will of Americans, not just the wealthy few.”

Pay no attention to the fact spending alone does not necessarily determine the outcome of an election. President Trump was outspent two-to-one by the aforementioned Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Rosen over the weekend sent out an email noting the anniversary of Citizens United and saying, “It’s pretty simple: we’ve got to get big money out of politics. That’s why I’m supporting a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United once and for all. … Our elections should be decided by the voters — but because of Citizens United, billionaires and corporate interests can spend as much money as they want to elect politicians to do their bidding.”

Oddly enough, the amendment concludes by stating, “Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.’’

Who do they think own the “press” in the United States? Billionaires and corporations, that’s who.

In fact, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in Citizens United, singled out the media exemption that was written into McCain-Feingold. Kennedy wrote, “The media exemption discloses further difficulties with the law now under consideration. There is no precedent supporting laws that attempt to distinguish between corporations which are deemed to be exempt as media corporations and those which are not. ‘We have consistently rejected the proposition that the institutional press has any constitutional privilege beyond that of other speakers.’”

Justice Kennedy concluded, “The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”

Earlier this past year the House Democrats got into the act by putting forward the 600-page H.R. 1, dubiously dubbed “For the People Act,” which, along with other things, would require increased disclosure of donors and online advertisers. It is co-sponsored by all three of Nevada’s Democratic representatives — Dina Titus, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford.

Citizens United actually left in place certain financial disclosure requirements under McCain-Feingold. In fact, this prompted Justice Clarence Thomas to write a dissent in which he observed that disclosure requirements have spawned a cottage industry that uses donor information to intimidate, retaliate, threaten and boycott individuals and businesses with whom they disagree.

The Founders frequently engaged in anonymous speech and protected it with the First Amendment. The Federalist Papers were penned under pseudonyms.

The fight for free speech never ends.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Editorial: Why the NEPA rules needed streamlining

While Democrats in Congress were having palpitations and forecasting climate catastrophe as a result of the Trump administration’s streamlining of rules governing the review of federally funded infrastructure projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970, Nevada’s lone Republican representative in Congress took the time to review the rules and finds the changes long overdue.

President Trump announced earlier this month that environmental reviews of such things as roads, bridges, pipelines and power transmission lines were taking far too long and were too burdensome. The average review was taking four-and-a-half years and ran nearly 700 pages, one of the longest was for a 12-mile expansion of Interstate 70 in Denver. That took 13 years and exceeded 16,000 pages, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The new rules prepared by the Council on Environmental Quality limit major projects to two years and 300 pages or a year and 75 pages for smaller environmental assessments. More difficult cases could be extended with approval of federal officials.

Rep. Mark Amodei (AP pix)

Nevada Republican Congressman Mark Amodei, who represents Northern Nevada, concluded that the process had been weaponized by those with a political agenda rather than a legitimate concern for natural resources and the environment.

“If the answer for something needs to be no, then fine, say no and say why and let people get to the courts or not, whatever they want, but using the due process — and I use that phrase loosely — the administrative process of NEPA to de facto kill things through basically, ‘It’s going to take you a decade and we’re hoping that you shrivel up and die,’ was not intended by anybody,” Amodei said in a recent interview. “Those procedures have been weaponized to the point that there’s nothing really to do with the resources or the facts on the ground.”

Amodei noted as an example of this weaponization the prolonged debates and litigation over the habitat of the greater sage grouse in Nevada and other Western states — especially attempts to block mining permits.

“If it’s about your political agenda that’s one thing, but if it’s really about the resources, we went through a lot of that on the sage hen stuff. If it is really about fragmentation and loss of habitat, then let’s talk about that,” the congressman said. “Talk about how we fix that, but if it’s just really about you just hate mining companies. While we’ve permitted in the last 20 years 150,000 acres of mining in the Great Basin, woodland fire has consumed, I don’t know, somewhere around 8 (million) or 10 million acres. If you really care about sage hens you ought to be talking about fuels management. While you may have permitted 150,000 acres of mining, they’ve also rehabbed habitat for mule deer and stream zones for fish.”

Amodei concedes there is a need for reviews, saying he knows there was a time when rivers caught fire. That was the low point, he said, and was why President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency.

He noted that when he came into office eight years ago mining permits were constantly being challenged, but the big mining companies had the resources and staff to fight and win.

“Listen, nobody’s afraid of the truth but it shouldn’t be something where it is really not about the truth but it is about how long we can draw out getting to that,” he said. “I interact with a lot of the federal land managers around the state on a regular basis in my oversight capacity and I can tell you this, it is my opinion and I’m not criticizing any of them. Frankly, those agencies give a lot of thought to the probability or possibility that they are going to get litigated. These folks who have abused the NEPA process count that as money in the bank: ‘We’re gonna sue you,’” noting this is why a deadline is necessary.

Amodei again pointed out that there is nothing in the rules saying the federal land agencies can’t say no to a project that would truly be demonstrably harmful. “So somebody puts an application in where it’s like, hey, this is in the middle of the last known habitat of the desert pup fish and you propose to fill in the spring and obliterate the whole of the species forever. If the answer to that is supposed to be no, say no,” he said.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

 

Newspaper column: NEPA rules changes will benefit economy and environment

President Donald Trump announced this past week that his Council on Environmental Quality is streamlining the rules for major infrastructure projects — such as roads, bridges, pipelines and power transmission lines — required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970, aiming to cut the approval time for such projects in half.

The council published the changes in the Federal Register on Friday, setting in motion a 60-day comment period. The changes are widely expected to be challenged in the courts by the usual self-styled environmental groups.

Businesses and labor unions hailed the proposal as long overdue, but environmental groups assailed it, saying the changes would contribute to climate change.

In an opinion piece penned for The Hill — Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions — argued that the changes would actually benefit the environment.

“Consistent with its environmental mission, modernizing NEPA will accelerate projects that improve the efficiency of our transportation and distribution systems, thereby reducing traffic congestion and associated emissions,” Donohue and McGarvey write. “It will also spur investment in renewable energy sources and transmission infrastructure, much of which is subject to delays by current NEPA procedures. And timelier implementation of conservation projects will help mitigate environmental impacts, such as damaging floods and wildfires.”

In recent years, major projects have taken an average of four-and-a-half years to be approved. The council aims to cut that to two years. A number of projects have taken far longer to be approved. An airport runway expansion in Taos, N.M., took 20 years. A highway and bridge project in Michigan to cut traffic congestion and, therefore, carbon emissions took 16 years. A Maryland public transit project stretched out for 14 years.

Trump announces changes to NEPA rules. (AP pix)

“We want to build new roads, bridges, tunnels, highways bigger, better, faster,” Trump was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying at a White House press conference, where he was flanked by business and union leaders. “These endless delays waste money, keep projects from breaking ground and deny jobs to our nation’s incredible workers.”

The Journal noted that business groups claim lengthy NEPA reviews are partly to blame for a nearly $1 trillion backlog in transportation projects alone.

Democratic House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva of Arizona said in a press release, “Polluting industries need more public oversight, not less, and supporting this approach means ignoring real-world consequences in favor of Trump administration fairy tales. The courts have been crystal clear that NEPA requires considering climate impacts, so this is just another inevitably doomed effort by this administration to try to illegally rewrite the rules it doesn’t like.”

Nevada Democratic Rep. Susie Lee sent out a Twitter comment saying, “We’ve seen what happens if these major projects don’t have environmental impact reviews. Damaged ecosystems, increased pollution, and increased health risks. We can’t go backwards on this.”

Nevada Republican Congressman Mark Amodei said Friday, “Since we’re only about 24 hours out from the release of the proposed changes, we’ll have more for you next week, but so far the concepts look good.”

Nevada Democratic Rep. Dina Titus tweeted, “While horrific fires create a crisis in Australia, President Trump still tries to deny climate change. It is inexcusable for the Trump Administration to put the President’s corporate allies ahead of our health and safety.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the administration of blocking any federal efforts to confront climate change. “These new guidelines undermine critical building requirements that ensure that our communities are able to withstand the growing threat posed by the climate crisis,” she was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

Even the liberal Los Angeles Times editorial board, in an editorial condemning the NEPA rule changes, conceded, “In truth, NEPA probably does need a tune-up. The current regulations date back to 1978 and have been amended only once since, in 1986. It’s reasonable to assume that all those years of experience have exposed flaws and shortcomings that could be addressed to improve and expedite the environmental review process. But the Trump administration, with its open denial of climate change and its industry-friendly policies aimed at expanding the production of fossil fuels, is not to be trusted with such a task.”

The streamlining of the bureaucracy will both contribute to economic growth and add infrastructure that will actually cut pollution in most cases. The naysayers are basing their projections of climate crisis on speculation and models that have yet to predict anything accurately.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Newspaper column: Trump is reshaping the federal judiciary — for the better

Thanks, Harry, because you exercised the “nuclear option” in 2013, ending the requirement that judges had to be confirmed by at least 60 senators instead of a simple majority, President Donald Trump has secured the appointments of about twice as many federal judges as each of his three predecessors — and most of them have been conservatives sworn to protect the fundamental liberties spelled out in the Constitution.

Of the 50 circuit court judges nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate, only 17 managed to garner the previously mandated 60 Senate votes. Among those was former Nevada Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke, who was confirmed by a vote of 51-44 with both of Nevada’s Democratic senators choosing politics over principles and voting “nay.”

In November 2013, then-Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada exercised the nuclear option, calling for changing the Senate rules by a simple majority vote. It passed, 52-48 with three Democrats voting against changing the rules.

President Barack Obama praised the action saying Republicans were blocking his nominees based on politics alone, not on the merits of the nominee, according to a Politico account at the time.

Then-Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky tried to recess the Senate for the day to block the vote. “The solution to this problem is an election,” he said. “The solution to this problem is at the ballot box. We look forward to having a great election on 2014.”

Republicans regained the majority in the Senate in 2014. In 2017, now-Majority Leader McConnell further changed the rules to allow confirmation of Supreme Court justices by a simple majority. Neil Gorsuch was confirmed by a 54-45 vote, and Brett Kavanaugh by 50-48.

In addition, the Senate has confirmed 133 of Trump’s federal district court nominees. While most of those garnered more than 60 recorded votes, many were confirmed by a voice vote.

In an editorial praising the caliber of the Trump judicial nominees, The Wall Street Journal noted, “The Trump-McConnell judiciary may be Harry’s finest achievement.”

The editorial noted that when Trump took office, Democratic appointees made up a majority on nine of the 13 circuit courts. Trump’s 2019 appointments flipped the majorities in the 2nd, 3rd and 11th Circuit Courts, meaning seven circuits now have a majority of Republican appointees.

In addition, the longtime uber-liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, to which VanDyke was appointed, now consists of 16 Democratic appointees and 13 Republican appointees. “Expect fewer headlines featuring nationwide injunctions out of San Francisco,” the editorial opined.

The Journal editorial predicts, “The new wave of conservative judges is more likely to protect such core liberties as religious freedom, political speech and assembly, gun and property rights. Many will also be more alert to violations of the Constitution’s separation of powers, including regulatory abuses. Yet there are varying opinions on criminal law, executive authority, and the scope of judicial restraint, among other issues.”

Reid is nothing if not consistent. In a recent op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune, Reid complained, “Senate Republicans have hijacked our Supreme Court. They stole a seat that should have been filled by President Obama in 2016 and they rushed to confirm Brett Kavanaugh last year despite ample evidence that he lied to Congress. The result is the Supreme Court is now a ticking time bomb, set to blow up any meaningful progressive reforms for decades to come.”

He concedes his own role in the outcome, saying, “Changing the rules to confirm Obama’s highly qualified judges was the right and necessary thing to do. If we had not done it, Donald Trump would have inherited more judicial vacancies than he already did, and then even more of his right-wing ideologues would be on the bench today eviscerating rights Americans have long held dear.”

Like the Second Amendment right to gun ownership? Or the First Amendment rights of free speech and exercise of religion? The rights delineated in the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments?

A recent Washington Examiner editorial also notes what Reid has unintentionally wrought and concludes, “During his run for the presidency, Trump regularly and energetically promised to make a priority of putting well-credentialed conservatives of excellent character and scholarship on the federal bench. It is a promise he has kept, much to his credit and for the country’s greater good.”

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Newspaper column: Congress continues its spending spree

Just days before Christmas, Congress played Santa Claus, doling out billions in pork to those who have been nice to them and sending the bill to our grandchildren. Talk about taxation without representation.

The two spending bills totaling $1.4 trillion and covering more than 2,300 pages were debated for just 90 minutes in the Senate but passed with huge bipartisan support in both chambers. While Republicans got funding for a border wall and the Pentagon, Democrats wrangled billions for domestic programs.

There was more money for Head Start and early childhood education — which has failed to show any longterm education improvements — more money for the Environmental Protection Agency, extension of the Export-Import Bank corporate welfare, a bailout for miners’ bankrupt pensions and health care funds, repeal of all the taxes meant to fund ObamaCare, more disaster relief for farm states, money for gun violence research, tax breaks for biodiesel, distilleries, race-horse and Nascar owners and renewable energy.

The bills did manage to forestall a “shutdown” of the federal government during the holidays, unlike last year’s 35-day federal worker paid vacation.

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — responsible federal budget, now there’s an oxymoron — the additional $500 billion in spending over the next decade combined with an earlier $1.7 trillion lifting of discretionary spending caps will add $2.2 trillion to the national debt in 10 years. This will increase the debt as a percentage of gross domestic product from 79 percent to 97 percent.

But don’t try to blame the deficit on President Trump’s tax cuts. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Congressional Budget Office “says tax receipts grew 4% last fiscal year, through September, and 3% in the first two months this year. Economic growth is feeding the Treasury. But spending is growing much faster: 8% last fiscal year, more than four times the inflation rate, and 6% in October and November this year.” With more of the same to come.

Nevada’s delegation joined in the spending spree, though Democratic Rep. Dina Titus of Las Vegas voted “nay” on the bill that included funding for the border wall. “I could not vote in good conscience to reward this Administration with over a billion dollars in border wall funding after they’ve stolen money from our troops to build an ineffective barrier,” Titus said in a press release. “We must stand up stronger to Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.”

On the other hand Nevada’s lone Republican in the delegation, Rep. Mark Amodei boasted of the fact one of the bills included border wall funding. “Look at what we can actually accomplish when we make it a priority,” Amodei’s press release stated. “In terms of the reforms, funding priorities, and responsible spending reductions included in these bills, Nevadans can certainly claim a number of victories. More specifically, these packages will increase funding for Department of Interior (DOI) operations including wildland fire management, Lake Tahoe restoration efforts, hazardous fuels reductions, watershed restoration, and the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program.”

Titus did make a point of the fact the spending bill she did vote for contained no funding for revitalization of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

Democratic Nevada Sen. Jacky Rosen also mentioned the lack of Yucca Mountain funding. “I’m glad to see both Democrats and Republicans come to the table with a bipartisan deal that does not fund Yucca Mountain, keeps the government open, and invests in Nevada’s health care, workforce, education, and infrastructure,” Rosen said in a press release. “This deal does a lot to help Nevada’s hardworking families by repealing three costly health care taxes and includes my provision to invest in telehealth programs, making health care more affordable and accessible.”

Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford made much of the fact one spending bill increases the pay for members of the military. “Our military service members are the greatest asset to our national defense and it is an honor today to vote to approve funding that includes crucial improvements for their everyday lives and the lives of their families and loved ones,” a Horsford press release said.

Remember who will be paying in the coming decades for all that spending now.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

The more things change the more they stay the same. This a Gary Varvel editorial cartoon from 2013:

This is a Gary Varvel editorial cartoon from a couple of weeks ago:

Newspaper column: Articles of impeachment are flimsy ploys

This past week Donald Trump became only the third president to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. Neither of the other two were convicted by the Senate — Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999 — and neither will Trump, because Republicans hold a majority of Senate seats and there is no way to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority to remove Trump from office.

Not a single House Republican voted in favor of either article of impeachment, because they were flimsy to the point of being wisps in the Democratically driven wind. Even a couple of Democrats rejected them.

Both “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” are so nebulous that they can be defined as disagreeing with someone or anyone.

“Through their depraved actions today, crazy Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats have branded themselves with an eternal mark of shame, and it really is, it’s a disgrace,” Trump correctly informed a rally in Battle Creek, Mich., shortly after the vote, according to the Washington Examiner. “They think the Washington swamp should be able to veto the results of an election. That’s what they think. There’s never been a time like this.”

What constituted “abuse of power” was Trump suggesting in a July telephone conversation with the newly elected president of the Ukraine that someone should investigate past dealings by 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. “So, if you can look into it …” Trump said, according to the transcript. This was not a request to “dig dirt” on a potential political opponent as so many in the press have described it, but rather a suggestion that an investigation might be warranted. Trump was accused of withholding military aid to coerce the investigation.

Since Trump has been investigated by countless government bureaucracies since he raised his hand to take the oath of office, might that be construed as abuse of power and an attempt to influence the next election?

As for “obstruction of Congress,” The Wall Street Journal notes that this amounts to nothing more than Trump going to court to protect the powers of his office from politically motivated snooping, something many presidents have done, including Clinton and Barack Obama. Democrats didn’t give the courts a chance to rule on what the law is.

Nevada’s Democratic representatives — Dina Titus, Steven Horsford and Susie Lee — all voted for both articles of impeachment. In a statement Titus said of Trump, “He tried to rig the 2020 elections by soliciting foreign interference, and then engaged in an unprecedented cover-up once he got caught. No president can be permitted to abuse the power of the office for personal, political gain, nor try to hide his misdeeds by demanding that his subordinates withhold key documents and refuse to testify before Congress.”

Republican Congressman Mark Amodei, who represents northern Nevada voted “nay” on both articles. Amodei noted in a statement explaining his votes, “What happened after the phone call is also essentially uncontested. Ukrainian aid was slowed for several weeks but provided by mid-September. There was a meeting between President Trump and President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy. There is no evidence that the Ukrainian Government has investigated the Bidens and therefore, no announcements regarding the same.”

As for obstructing Congress, Amodei listed a litany of refusals by the Obama administration to cooperate with requests from Congress — everything from Fast & Furious gun dealings with drug cartels to the Iran Nuclear Deal to Obamacare subsidies to Solyndra and Benghazi.

Regarding the attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, Amodei quoted the White House counsel’s explanation for refusing to answer questions from Congress, “If the President were to answer your questions, his response would suggest that Congress has the unilateral power to demand answers from the President about his official acts.” Which is what Congress just tried to do with Trump.

The congressman concluded that he didn’t believe Obama should have been impeached for obstructing Congress and neither should Trump.

This entire process has been an affront to American voters, who should remember how their current representatives abused the system for the sake of political power come the November election.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.