Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

Impeachment takes dramatic turn

Now we know what the U.S. House Intelligence Committee has compiled.

It says the president of the United States, Donald Trump, abused the immense power of his office to seek a political favor from a foreign government. It speaks to extended phone conversations between the president’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, with Ukrainian government officials. It offers evidence that Giuliani was conducting a covert foreign policy operation.

Some talking heads are suggesting there might be more evidence to gather. They are saying the impeachment process might take even longer than planned.

I am one American who is beginning to suffer from a bit of impeachment fatigue. I do not need to be persuaded any further of the president’s culpability. I want the Intelligence Committee to hand this off to the Judiciary Committee; I want the Judiciary Committee to conduct its hearings. I want Judiciary to approve articles of impeachment. I want the Senate to put Trump on trial. I want enough senators to vote to convict Trump and remove him from office post haste.

I am confident that all but the last event will occur.

No minds are likely to be changed. Trump’s stranglehold on the Republican Party is unlike anything I’ve seen while witnessing these impeachment proceedings. We went through this in 1973-74 and again in 1998-1999. Some Republicans voted to approve articles of impeachment against President Nixon in 1974. Some Democrats did the same when the House impeached President Clinton in 1998.

This time, it’s strictly partisan. By “strictly partisan” I mean precisely that: Republicans and Democrats are dug in. They aren’t moving. Republicans are standing by their man; Democrats want him kicked out of office.

So, let’s get on with this, shall we?

Trying to understand why it’s different now … with Trump

I don’t understand many things. They fly over my head and I am left just to scratch it and say, “Huh?”

One of those items concerns the pending impeachment of Donald Trump. Congressional Republicans are digging in against the impeachment; congressional Democrats are just as fervent in their belief that Trump has committed an impeachable act … or three.

I keep circling back to the most recent presidential impeachment, which occurred in 1998. Bill Clinton got impeached by the House of Representatives, which then was led by the GOP. Republicans had been looking for a reason to file articles of impeachment against the Democratic president almost from the moment he took office in 1993.

Then they found that reason: He lied to a grand jury about an affair he was having with a White House intern. The president took an oath to tell the truth; he violated that oath; the GOP said “aha!” … there’s your impeachable offense.

So the House impeached him. Why? Because he was too embarrassed to admit to messing around with a much-younger woman.

It had not a thing to do with his governance. It affected not a single policy decision. There were no matters of state or statecraft involved. He allowed a young woman to, um, pleasure him and then lied about it before a duly constituted grand jury.

One of the House impeachment “managers,” a young congressman named Lindsey Graham, bellowed righteously that an impeachment was necessary to restore the dignity of the office, which the president had besmirched with his conduct.

That congressman is now a senator and will be one of 100 jurors who will decide the fate of a fellow Republican, Donald Trump. His attitude now? He’s not interested in seeing any of the classified testimony from the witnesses who talked to the House Intelligence Committee. He’s made up his mind. The impeachment inquiry is a “joke,” he said.

Case closed. He don’t need to hear no stinking evidence. 

Therein rests the source of my confusion. Republicans who wanted to pry into the nitty gritty of a president’s personal life now sound as if they are disinterested in knowing the details into how another president might have compromised national security over a political favor he sought from a foreign government.

Which is the worse allegation? I would place my money on the possibility that my president offered a bribe to a foreign leader, which the U.S. Constitution spells out — by name — as a crime against the state.

I just don’t get it.

Impeachment seeks to overturn election? Damn right! So what?

The most tiresome mantra coming from Donald J. Trump’s defenders is the one that suggests that the pending impeachment of the president by the House of Representatives is a “ploy” to overturn the results of the 2016 election.

To which I say: Yeah? So … what?

Of course it would “overturn” those election results. That’s what impeachments are intended to do, despite contentions from those who speak nobly of “defending the Constitution.”

Donald Trump has committed what I believe are impeachable offenses. He sought foreign government assistance to further his personal political future. He sought to sic that foreign government onto an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, intending to damage the political fortunes of a potential 2020 presidential campaign rival. He has obstructed justice. Trump has abused his power.

Impeachment must be the recourse that the House must follow.

Is it the aim of the impeachers to sully Trump’s reputation, to seek his ouster? Sure it is. When the House impeaches Trump, the Senate will put the president on trial. The Senate likely won’t boot him out, given the high bar set in in the Constitution to convict a president of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Then the president must campaign for re-election with the impeachment cloud dangling over his noggin. I hope he loses because of it. He doesn’t deserve to be president and shouldn’t have been elected — in my view — to the office in the first place.

Yes, I want the 2016 election results overturned by the election. It is not one bit different from what the GOP sought to do in 1998 when House members impeached President Clinton, who two years had won re-election with a smashing victory. And, let us not forget that President Nixon faced impeachment in 1974 by a heavily Democratic House just after being re-elected in 1972 in a historic landslide.

So what if this impeachment intends to “overturn the election”? It’s the potential natural consequence of what is about to transpire in the House of Representatives.

In the infamous words of acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney: Get over it!

This impeachment debate is getting personal … and graphic

I just performed a rare — for me, at least — social media act.

I severed a social media relationship based on something this individual posted. I don’t like admitting it, but I am doing so now.

Here’s my side of the story.

The impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s conduct as president has drawn some amazing commentary on both sides of the great divide among Americans. It has stormed onto social media in ways I did not expect.

This evening on Facebook, I got a message from someone I know — although not well — that made me wretch. It contained an encrypted picture that had a note that it contained a graphic image; I had to click on a link to view it, so I did.

It turned my stomach. It showed a terrible image of what was described as a U.S. envoy being tortured; juxtaposed with that image was a picture of former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch with a caption that said she had her “feelings hurt” by Donald Trump.

I put the encryption back on the picture and then “unfriended” the person who posted it from my Facebook network.

Yes, this is the kind of anger that the Donald Trump Era of Politics has brought us. I do not like it. Not in the least.

Although I have to say that the debate over Donald Trump’s fitness to serve as president and the inquiry into whether he should be impeached is revealing a lot about people I thought I knew. I am finding that some of my many acquaintances harbor some pretty nasty tendencies, such as the picture that one of those individuals posted on a social media platform.

I have lived through two serious presidential crises. The first one involved President Nixon and the Watergate scandal; the second one concerned President Clinton and the White House intern scandal. Nixon was on the way to getting impeached, but he resigned the presidency; the House impeached Clinton but he was acquitted by the Senate at trial.

In neither of those crises do I remember the intensity being exhibited by partisans on both sides of that divide. However, the image I looked at today — yes, I saw the warning, but looked anyway — goes so far beyond the pale that I parted company with someone who I thought was better than that.

I am afraid this tumult is going to damage a lot more relationships.

Inquiry hearing is producing a mix of anger and frustration

Watching this impeachment inquiry unfold in real time in public view fills me with a combination of anger and frustration.

I have been more or less glued to my TV in the study in our home. Today’s testimony has been just as gripping as it has been on previous days. The “best,” if you want to call it that, may still to come later in the week.

The House’s impeachment inquiry has angered me at multiple levels.

I’ll set forth my own bias up front. I believe Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses. The anger I feel comes from the testimony of witnesses who have said many things: that Trump placed an investigation by a foreign government into Joe Biden as his top priority; that he wasn’t really concerned about Ukrainian “corruption”; that he abused the immense power of his office to obtain a personal political favor from a foreign government; that those who heard him seek that favor thought it was “wrong.”

It infuriates me that the president of the United States would have so little regard for our national security that he would do such a thing.

My anger runs headlong into the frustration I am feeling that other Americans do not share my anger. They are Donald Trump’s “base” of supporters, many of whom have accepted that Trump’s behavior is “wrong,” but that it is not impeachable. This sentiment comes from those who 20 years ago said that a previous president’s lying to a grand jury about an affair he was having with a White House intern not only was wrong, but that it was impeachable.

I am not going to excuse the perjury that President Clinton committed while testifying before that earlier grand jury. I merely am expressing my frustration that the nature and context of that untruth somehow measures up to the level of what we are discussing today. That a president who lies about fooling around rises to the level of another president who has been accused of jeopardizing our national security and by seeking a foreign government’s probe into a U.S. citizen.

It might be, too, that my anger and frustration perhaps are born of the same emotion.

Whatever the case, I remain transfixed by what is unfolding. No one should take joy in what we’re seeing. Republicans surely are not kicking up their heels. Neither are Democrats, despite what those on the other side might be thinking or saying.

I’m just hoping I can keep my emotions in check as this impeachment inquiry slogs on.

Did the POTUS lie to Mueller, too?

Oh, my! The hits just keep on comin’ with regard to Donald J. Trump.

The House of Representatives, which is up to its collective eyeballs in an impeachment inquiry into the president of the United States, is now looking into whether Trump lied in his written responses to Robert Mueller III, the former special counsel hired by the Justice Department to look into The Russia Thing.

Let me ponder this for a moment.

So, do you think the serial liar in chief, the man who cannot tell the truth under any circumstances, might have deceived Mueller, who sought answers into allegations that the Trump 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system?

That doesn’t require much rumination, at least for me. I believe it is entirely possible that Trump lied to Mueller.

What is unclear to me, though, is whether Mueller received some sort of pledge from Trump — or made him take an oath — to be truthful when he answered questions in writing.

If he did, and then the president lied to him, well … I believe they call that “perjury.” I also recall that Republicans in Congress used perjury as their justification for indicting President Bill Clinton in 1998, who lied to a grand jury about whether he had “sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” 

We all know how the House is likely to react if it finds evidence of lying to Mueller. What we don’t know is whether the House will be equally vocal if it determines that Trump told Mueller the “truth and whole truth” when he responded to the special counsel’s questions. Fairness would require the House to declare that Trump told the truth if that’s what it learns.

But seriously … Trump’s record of lying makes it extremely difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Jobless rate is great … but it doesn’t negate misbehavior by POTUS

One of the dodges employed by Donald Trump’s apologists who are fighting against the impeachment tide that is splashing against the president is the strength of the national economy.

Indeed, so does the president speak to that issue.

Unemployment is at a 50-year low, Trump and The Gang tell us. They ask: “Why impeach a president who is doing such a great job on the economy?”

Here’s my answer: Because the issues relating to the president’s probable impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives have nothing to do with his performance as president, or the strength of the national economy.

The issues of grave concern center on whether the president has violated his oath of office or, as has been alleged, broken federal law.

It is the very same separation of these matters that drove Republicans to march toward impeaching President Clinton in 1998. They didn’t give a rat’s rear end about the nation’s economic health two decades ago. Did it matter to them that the federal budget was balanced on President Clinton’s watch? No. They said, with some justification, that the president perjured himself before a grand jury; he broke the law, they said and, therefore, had committed an impeachable offense.

I thought then that the impeachment was a waste of time, given that Clinton’s lie had to do with a relationship he was having with a woman who was not his wife. That relationship didn’t have a thing to do with the duties of his office.

The issues driving the pending impeachment of Donald Trump have everything to do with his conduct as president of the United States. They also have nothing to do with the jobless rate, or the growth rate of private-sector employment, or trade policy, or immigration policy or anything else on the president’s list of issues with which he must grapple.

Let’s just try to keep these matters in some perspective, shall we? The economy is doing well under Donald Trump’s watch. It’s a big deal, to be sure. It’s a tiny, infinitesimal deal, however, when we ponder this matter of impeachment.

Is it possible Trump would resign … a la Richard Nixon?

I feel like sharing with you a political fantasy that keeps creeping into the recesses of my noggin.

Right off the top: I cannot stop wondering if there’s a chance that Donald J. Trump would resign the presidency, the way Richard Nixon did on Aug. 9, 1974.

President Nixon’s resignation speech spoke of the distraction a prolonged impeachment hearing in the House and a Senate trial would become. He said resigning was “abhorrent” to him. The president added that he couldn’t in good conscience concentrate on keeping his job at the risk of letting more critical matters of governance go unattended.

So, he quit.

To be fair, the president didn’t mention in that televised speech that Senate Republicans had told him he was toast when the matter would go to trial.

Twenty-four years later, another president was impeached. Bill Clinton didn’t quit. He fought it, but was able to compartmentalize the impeachment apart from the task of governing.

Donald Trump isn’t wired that way. He is being consumed by the impeachment. He fires off a constant stream of Twitter messages blasting the House impeachment inquiry, and the patriots who have told House committee members that, by golly, the president did seek a quid pro quo, a personal political favor from a foreign government.

Resigning, of course, would belie what Trump has said all along, that he didn’t do anything wrong when he had that “perfect” phone call with the Ukrainian president.

Nor is Trump inclined to put country ahead of his personal political fortunes. I mean, he had no public service exposure prior to running for the presidency in 2016, so the idea of serving others is totally foreign to this guy.

Plus, I guess I should add that the prospect of the Senate convicting him of any crime against the nation is even more remote than it was in 1999 when it cleared President Clinton.

However, I cannot stop hoping that Donald Trump would find it within himself to simply walk away. Sure, that would mean we’d get Mike Pence as president. The vice president also might be tainted by the dirt that has been kicked up around the president, which I suppose is grist for yet another story at another time.

I am not sure I have the stomach for the impeachment that is racing closer to finality. If only the president of the United States was as queasy as many of the people he promised to serve … and could finally put the nation’s interest ahead of his own.

If only he’d just quit.

Isn’t this ‘obstruction of justice’?

I must be missing something, or perhaps I am slow on the uptake.

The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to Capitol Hill to take his testimony behind closed doors; it’s part of the House impeachment inquiry into whether Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses.

Mulvaney was a no-show. He defied a lawful subpoena from the legislative branch of government.

Now, where I come from, that would be considered an obstruction of justice. Congress is doing its legally sanctioned duty to ask an executive branch staffer for information into a legally constituted inquiry into whether the president of the United States should be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Republicans involved in this inquiry are giving the White House a pass on stiffing Congress. That’s hardly what they said in 1998 when the House was conducting an inquiry into whether to impeach President Clinton. Two decades ago GOP House members and their Senate colleagues said that subpoenas issued by Congress had the force of law and that anyone who gets a summons must appear before Congress.

What’s changed? How is this different?

Oh, wait! I got it! The president is a Republican. Therefore, he isn’t held to the same standard of accountability as his Democratic predecessor.

The House impeached Clinton on charges that included an obstruction count. Has the White House chief of staff delivered another evidentiary dirt ball that will land on Donald Trump?

Let’s put an end to the ‘coup’ garbage

So help me, I am about to go bonkers, nuts, batty if I keep hearing critics of the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry refer to it as a “coup d’état” that seeks to “overthrow” the government run by Donald John Trump.

Let us slam on the brakes!

The House of Reps is embarking on a process that likely will result in the impeachment of the president of the United States. The House will vote Thursday on a measure that will effectively codify that effort, putting all its members on the record: Do you support the inquiry or oppose it?

I should add that the Constitution does not require such a vote. The House, led by Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has decided to do the right thing. It has relented to Republican demands that they have such a vote, not that it has assuaged GOP criticism of the process; Republicans have merely switched targets, changed the subject, “moved the goal posts.”

This “coup” crap has to stop!

So should this nonsense we keep hearing from Republicans about “overturning the results of the 2016 election.” The latest presidential election will stand forever as a victory by Trump over Hillary Rodham Clinton. The House impeached President Clinton in 1998, but it did not negate the reality of his 1996 re-election victory. Nor did President Nixon’s near-impeachment in 1974 overturn the results of his 1972 landslide re-election.

Donald Trump’s impeachment, when it occurs, will have been done in accordance with what the Constitution provides in Article I, which declares that the House has the “sole” authority to impeach a president. The absence of ground rules in the Constitution gives the House considerable latitude. The House is operating well within the authority it owns.

However, absent a credible defense against what has been alleged against Donald Trump, the president’s GOP allies in Congress and in conservative media have decided to attack the “process.” They are criticizing Democrats, if you can believe this, for doing precisely what the Constitution allows them to do.

Then the argument plows straight into the demagoguery associated with phony and dubious claims of a “coup d’état” against the president.

This is nonsense. It is — to borrow a Trump phrase — pure bullsh**!

Let the drama play out.