Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

Is lying an impeachable offense? Maybe

The discussion about the investigation into the “Russia thing” has taken a fascinating new turn, thanks to none other than an independent counsel whose probe into Bill Clinton resulted in the former president’s impeachment.

Kenneth Starr said this morning that special counsel Robert Mueller ought to consider the impact of Donald Trump’s apparent lie about firing Mueller.

Speaking on ABC News’s “This Week” talk show, Starr noted that Trump’s repeated statements that he has never considered firing Mueller are exactly counter to what the New York Times and other media are reporting: that Trump actually decided to fire Mueller but backed off when the White House counsel threatened to quit.

How does Starr’s credibility on this matter stack up? In 1998, he said that President Clinton’s public denials about an affair with Monica Lewinsky formed one of the bases for his eventual impeachment.

Do you get it? If Trump has lied to the public about whether he wanted to fire Mueller and the news accounts prove to be accurate, are there, um, grounds for impeachment?

Starr said the president has broad authority to fire anyone. “He can ask for Mueller to be fired for any reason,” Starr said on “This Week.” “The president’s power is extremely broad, as long as he’s not engaged in discrimination or accepting bribes.”

But would his decision to fire Mueller — if it’s true — be because of an intent to block an investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians who hacked into our national electoral system? If so, does that constitute an obstruction of justice?

Let me think. Oh yeah! President Clinton was impeached, too, for obstruction of justice.

And the drama continues to mount.

This former GOP rep has, um, ‘evolved’

Joe Scarborough has gone through an interesting evolution since when he was a young member of Congress from Florida.

He was a conservative Republican who once voted to impeach President Clinton. Then he left public office in 2001 and has pursued a career as a cable news host and commentator.

Now he is one of Donald J. Trump’s most reviled critics. He has left the Republican Party; he’s engaged to be married to his MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host, Mika Brzezinski.

He is now speaking more, um, candidly about the president and, to my mind, is speaking more truthfully about many of the nonsensical things that fly out of the president’s mouth.

He said this week that had Democratic presidents, such as Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, “slandered” the FBI the way Trump has done, conservatives would mount a virtual all-out rebellion against either of them. They would give Obama or Clinton “holy hell” for saying the things Trump has said.

He now accuses the GOP of being “accomplices with their silence” about the president’s harsh criticism of the FBI.

Indeed, there once was a time when Americans hardly ever heard Republicans say things out loud that one could construe as critical of law enforcement. Indeed, the GOP was often considered to be the “law and order” party.

Those days are gone. The roles seem reversed, with Democrats now standing solidly behind the FBI as it seeks to do its job.

So, too, is Joe Scarborough, the one-time Republican who’s had enough of his former political party and its leader, the president of the United States.

Welcome to the club, Joe.

Deficit hawks have turned chicken

What has happened to the deficit hawks who used to dominate the Republican Party?

They have become chicken hawks, or just plain chicken.

Congressional Republicans used to rant, rail and express rage over budget deficits. Ronald Reagan derived a lot political advantage in 1980 by ridiculing the $40 billion budget deficit run up annually during the Carter administration.

Fast-forward to the present day.

Republicans are going to enact a tax cut that will blow up the deficit. It will add $1 trillion — or so — to the deficit over the next decade. That’s $100 billion annually.

But here’s the ironic aspect of this deficit business.

A Democratic president, Bill Clinton, managed to craft a budget that produced a surplus by the end of his presidency. He had help from Republicans in Congress, but the point is that the president and the GOP congressional leadership managed to cooperate and work together for a common good.

Another Democrat, Barack Obama, also managed to take huge bites out of a trillion-dollar-plus annual budget deficit. By the time President Obama left office, the budget deficit had been slashed by about two-thirds annually.

There were tax increases along with targeted budget cuts.

Did the GOP members of Congress give the president any credit? Nope. Didn’t happen. They instead changed the subject by targeting the Affordable Care Act, concocting reports of “dismal failure.”

But here we are today. A new president has taken over. He has sought desperately to achieve some kind of legislative “victory.” Republicans in both congressional chambers are poised to give it to him.

At what cost? Oh, yes. The deficit is set to grow once again. The one-time Party of Fiscal Responsibility has changed it stripes.

Oh, yeah, there’s also the Clinton matter

I feel the need to launch a bit of a preemptive strike at those who are inclined to take issue with an earlier item I posted on High Plains Blogger.

It wonders whether Donald John Trump should consider resigning the presidency in the wake of resignations of three key members of Congress: Democratic Sen. Al Franken, Democratic Rep. John Conyers and Republican Rep. Trent Franks — all of whom quit over allegations of sexual harassment and sexual abuse.

As long as we’re insisting on resignation …

Critics of this blog might be inclined to remind me that President Bill Clinton should have quit, too, when allegations surfaced about women with whom he had sexual relations. One woman accused him of rape; another accused him of sexual harassment; yet another was revealed to have engaged in some dalliance with the president while she was working as a White House intern.

I’ll answer any such response this way: President Clinton went through a serious round of “due process.”

The House of Representatives impeached him for lying to a grand jury about his relationship with the White House intern. Republicans who ran the House at the time were looking for a reason to impeach Clinton; the president gave them one by lying under oath.

Then came the trial in the Senate, presided over by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Senators heard the evidence, heard the rebuttal to the evidence and then acquitted the president on all the charges brought by the House.

Due process, man. That is what transpired in 1998.  We haven’t been through anything of the sort as it regards the current president.

So, please spare me the “Clinton should have quit, too” mantra. He went through hell by being impeached. He paid a price. Whether it was a sufficient price for what he did depends on whether you agree or disagree with the Senate verdict.

I happen to agree with it.

Sessions vs. Dowd over ‘obstruction of justice’?

Donald Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, says the president “cannot obstruct justice” because the law exempts him from doing so.

Dowd said: The “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer … and has every right to express his view of any case.”

Are you clear on that? Me, neither.

Oh, but now we have this tidbit regarding the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions. Nearly two decades ago, when President Bill Clinton was being tried in the U.S. Senate after the House impeached him, Sessions — then a Republican senator from Alabama — said this while making the case to remove the president from office:

“The facts are disturbing and compelling on the president’s intent to obstruct justice.”

There’s more.

“The chief law officer of the land, whose oath of office calls on him to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, crossed the line and failed to defend the law, and, in fact, attacked the law and the rights of a fellow citizen.”

Dadgum, man! Who’s right? The president’s personal lawyer or the attorney general?

Dowd is reaching way beyond his — and the president’s — grasp, in my view, in contending that Trump is immune from the obstruction of justice complaint, were it to come from the special counsel probing the Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election.

I disagree with what Sessions said in 1999 about President Clinton, but his statements on the record during that trial put him squarely at odds with what Trump’s personal lawyer is trying to peddle today. If an earlier president can be charged with obstruction of justice, then surely so can the current president face such a charge if one comes forward from the special counsel’s office.

This all begs the question from yours truly: What kind of legal mumbo jumbo is Trump’s lawyer trying to peddle?

Is this a nation of laws … or what?

If I understand Donald John Trump’s lawyer’s rationale correctly about whether the president can “obstruct justice,” I believe I have heard him suggest something quite dangerous and insidious.

John Dowd says the president’s role as chief of the executive branch of the federal government means he “cannot obstruct justice.” The president enjoys protection in Article II of the U.S. Constitution that others don’t get, according to Dowd.

He came to Trump’s defense after the guilty plea came from former national security adviser Michael Flynn over whether Flynn lied to the FBI about meetings with Russian operatives.

What I believe Dowd has said is that Donald Trump, as president, is above the law. He can do or say whatever the hell he wants without facing any criminal penalty, according to Dowd.

Let’s review quickly: President Nixon faced obstruction charges in 1974 when the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against; President Clinton was impeached in 1998 on a number of allegations, including obstruction of justice.

I believe Trump’s lawyer is, um, wrong!

I also believe John Dowd might be talking himself into some serious trouble, right along with his highly visible legal client.

Bill Clinton paid the price for his misbehavior

We’re talking these days about sexual predation, abuse, assault, harassment. Men do behave badly at times. A number of men in powerful positions have been accused of that bad behavior.

I feel the need to set the record straight on one powerful man who once was in the news because of his misdeeds.

Republicans keep harping on former President Bill Clinton’s misbehavior while he was in the White House. They use that historical context to “defend” the actions of one currently prominent GOP politician, U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, who’s been accused of sexual abuse involving underage girls.

These Republicans, some of whom are friends of mine — and even a family member — wonder why President Clinton got a pass when he was messing around with Monica Lewinsky, a young White House intern in the late 1990s.

I must remind them: President Clinton got impeached. The House of Representatives — led by its GOP majority — impeached the president because he lied under oath to a federal grand jury that was snooping around, looking for something to stick to the president. The special counsel, Kenneth Starr, uncovered the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship, summoned the president to testify to the grand jury, asked him whether he had an sexual relationship with Lewinsky.

Clinton said “no.” That was untrue. Thus, the House had its grounds for impeachment: perjury. The president was humiliated. His wife became, shall we say, quite angry with him.

Did the president get off scot-free? Hardly. He paid a huge political price in the moment.

The U.S. Senate put him on trial. Senators acquitted him. Thus, the president was allowed to serve out the remainder of his second term in office.

Yes, there were other allegations. Clinton did settle with one of the accusers. He was stripped of his law license in Arkansas.

There’s no doubt that the former president has reclaimed his political standing. Time does have a way of putting some matters into different contexts.

However, the notion that Bill Clinton did not pay a price for his misbehavior is a canard those who still despise him are using to divert attention from the issue of the moment, which involves the conduct of the current crop of high-powered men.

Bill Clinton should have quit? No … way!

Kirsten Gillibrand has ’em talking among Democratic Party officials and loyalists.

The U.S. senator from New York has said that President Bill Clinton should have resigned his office when it became known he was fooling around with a young female White House intern.

I could not possibly disagree more with Sen. Gillibrand.

She has been swept up in this “Me Too” movement spawned by the rash of sexual abuse/harassment/assault allegations that are swirling though the entertainment industry and the political world.

And of course we have Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, who’s been accused of sexual misconduct with underage girls.

Back to President Clinton.

The president got impeached because he lied to a grand jury about the relationship he had with the intern. Republican House members said the lie rose to the level of an impeachable offense. So the House impeached him; the president stood trial on obstruction charges and was acquitted by the Senate.

Should he have quit … over that? It sounds to me as if Sen. Gillibrand is being swept up in a moment of frenzy.

Do I need to remind the senator that the intern was an adult when she was fooling around with the president? The relationship, while it was sickening, was a consensual one. The intern has gone on with her life. The president finished his two terms in office and has become a beloved figure among Democrats across the country.

Gillibrand’s statement has ’em talking within the Democratic Party. Fine. Let ’em talk, squawk and wail about whether the former president should have quit.

It was an embarrassing episode for the president and for the presidency. No one seriously doubts any of that. It also proved embarrassing for Republicans who were looking for any reason to impeach a detested Democratic president — who delivered it to them when he lied under oath to a federal grand jury.

The president paid plenty in the moment for his indiscretion and his effort to cover it up. That’s enough. President Clinton need not have resigned over it.

Impeachment talk heats up prematurely

I’ve made no secret of my loathing of Donald John Trump Sr.

I still believe he is unfit for the office of president of the United States. Furthermore, I believe he has disgraced his high office and has embarrassed the nation he was elected to govern.

Do I believe he should be removed from that office? Yes, either by election or by some other extraordinary means, such as impeachment.

However, the talk of impeachment that reportedly is getting hotter by the week — if not by the day — is a good bit premature.

Some congressional Democrats aren’t waiting for the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to finish his job. They want Trump’s scalp now. One Democrat, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, believes that Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville, Va., riot in which the president equated white supremacists with those who protested against them is enough of a reason to impeach the president.

Hey, folks. Impeaching the president is the most politically dangerous thing the House of Representatives can do. I get that the House doesn’t need any official findings to launch an impeachment. President Clinton was impeached because he messed around with a young female White House intern; House Republicans said the real reason was that he lied under oath to a grand jury about it.

I maintain — as I have all along — that House members need to wait for Mueller’s investigation into the “Russia thing” runs its course, even if it lasts well into the 2018 congressional election season. Mueller already has indicted three members of Trump’s campaign team, including its former chairman Paul Manafort. There appears to be much more to follow.

So, with that, let’s cool the impeachment talk while the special counsel goes about his arduous task of cobbling together a highly complicated finding of fact.

As The Hill reported: It is not, obviously, off the table at some time in the future, but is premature at this point in time,” Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, told reporters last month.

If something emerges that rises to the level of an “impeachable offense,” I happen to believe Robert Mueller and his crack legal team will hand it to Congress.

Waiting for a ‘Me Too’-themed political campaign

In the bad old days, when President Clinton was being impeached over his relationship with the White House intern, we saw a rash of political campaign themes aimed at extolling candidates’ marital fidelity.

As if someone should actually boast about honoring a sacred oath he took to love his wife “for as long as we both shall live.”

But it happened. I found it disgusting at the time to see these individuals making their devotion to their families a political talking point.

That was then.

This latest incarnation of moral misbehavior has produced a plethora of allegations against politicians and various celebrities from all walks of life. It’s called the “Me Too” campaign, with women coming forward to accuse men in high places of sexual harassment and, in some cases, of sexual assault.

I’m not predicting it will happen, but I won’t be at all surprised to see a new spate of political ads from men running for public office who will say that they know how to behave in the company of women. They well might couch their slogans in ways that seek to ensure that voters understand that they’ve never done anything they would regret as it regards women.

My reaction is likely to mirror how I felt when politicians in the late 1990s sought to capitalize on the president’s misbehavior. It sickened me then.

I don’t look forward to seeing what I fear might occur in this age of “Me Too” politics.