Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

Pence’s values might come back to, um, haunt him

Vice President Mike Pence is considered generally to be a goodie-two-shoes. He’s a straight arrow, a man of impeccable moral rectitude.

He once wrote in the 1990s that presidents of the United States who are unfaithful to their spouses and lie to Americans should be removed from office post haste.

Interesting, eh? You bet it is!

Because now the vice president works in an administration led by serial philanderer and a pathological liar.

CNN reports: Pence made the argument in two columns in the late 1990s, where he wrote that then-President Bill Clinton’s admission of an affair with a White House intern and prior lies to the public about the matter, possibly under oath, meant Clinton should be removed from office.

There’s more from CNN: Dismissing the idea that the president is “just the like the rest of us,” Pence wrote, “If you and I fall into bad moral habits, we can harm our families, our employers and our friends. The President of the United States can incinerate the planet. Seriously, the very idea that we ought to have at or less than the same moral demands placed on the Chief Executive that we place on our next door neighbor is ludicrous and dangerous.

“Throughout our history, we have seen the presidency as the repository of all of our highest hopes and ideals and values. To demand less is to do an injustice to the blood that bought our freedoms.”
To my way of thinking, Donald Trump has devalued the presidency to levels I have not seen in all my years watching the office and the men who have occupied it.
What say you, Mr. Vice President, about the man in charge?

Hey, did POTUS break a law?

History may be about to repeat itself. I put the emphasis on “may be,” as in “maybe.”

The FBI seized papers and other material from former Donald Trump lawyer/friend Michael Cohen and then discovered a recorded evidence that he and Trump discussed payments to a former Playboy model who has contended she and Trump had an yearlong affair before Trump became president.

How is history repeating itself?

Follow the bouncing ball  …

The U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Bill Clinton in 1998 for committing perjury to a federal grand jury, which asked him about an affair the president was having with a White House intern; Clinton lied when he denied the relationship.

The House then learned about that infamous blue dress. The Republican majority then had its cause for impeachment: The president took an oath to follow the law; he didn’t when he lied to the grand jury. Thus, the impeachment.

Special counsel Robert Mueller now has all the evidence seized in that FBI raid of Cohen’s office. He recorded conversations with the president over the payment to the Playboy model, Karen McDougal.

Did the president, then, possibly violate campaign finance laws when he paid off the model, perhaps to keep her quiet, just as he paid the hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels? Did he break the law by failing to disclose the payment as required by law of those who are running for president?

Is there another law broken here? Are there, um, grounds for impeachment? It might sound specious to those who think the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt.” Then again, there were those on the other side who said the same thing about the Kenneth Starr examination into President Clinton’s behavior.

To be sure, the GOP majority in the House isn’t likely to go along with an impeachment resolution. Democrats most certainly would, which then makes the upcoming congressional election all the more critical. Do you get my drift? Of course you do!

Conviction, quite clearly, is another matter — as the GOP found out in 1998 and as Democrats could learn in, say, 2019.

Yes, presidents can be investigated and indicted

Having offered admittedly muted praise for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, I now want to challenge an assertion he has made about whether presidents can be indicted.

He has changed his mind on that one. Kavanaugh once worked for Kenneth Starr while Starr was investigating President Clinton, who eventually got impeached for lying to a grand jury and for — that’s right — obstruction of justice.

Kavanaugh was up to his armpits in assisting the counsel’s task of finding criminality in a president’s behavior.

Then he switched gears. Kavanaugh has since written that presidents have too much to do, too much on their plate to be distracted by potentially criminal investigations. Let me think. Is he providing cover for, oh, the guy who nominated him to the Supreme Court?

Here’s my point.

Of course presidents can be investigated. They aren’t above the law. They must be held to the same standard as their constituents, which is the entire country.

President Clinton was able to perform his presidential duties while he was under investigation and, indeed, while he was being impeached by the House of Representatives and tried by the Senate.

The same is true for President Nixon, who was under investigation for myriad offenses relating to Watergate. The House Judiciary Committee passed articles of impeachment and then the president resigned. Was he able to do his job while all of this was occurring? Of course he was!

My strong hunch is that the Senate Judiciary Committee that will consider Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination will ask him directly and pointedly about what he thought while working for Kenneth Starr and what he thinks these days now that Donald Trump wants him to serve on the highest court in the land.

I hope someone on the panel asks him: What made you change your mind, Judge?

Hillary talked for hours; now it’s Trump’s turn

Evan McMullin, who ran for president as an independent in 2016, poses an interesting thought via Twitter.

McMullin wrote: Hillary Clinton testified to the House Benghazi Committee in public for 11 hours and won’t even sit with the special counsel for a minute. Now, why is that?

He might have posed his question rhetorically, but I think I can answer it for him.

I believe it’s because Donald Trump doesn’t want to get trapped into lying under oath, which I believe is entirely possible, if not probable.

You should recall that the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Bill Clinton in 1998 for lying to a grand jury. He took an oath to tell the truth. He didn’t. The House used perjury as the basis for its impeachment.

Special counsel Robert Mueller might want to summon the president to talk about whether his 2016 campaign colluded with Russians who interfered in our election. Trump, in my view, cannot tell the truth. He is not wired for truthfulness.

It’s dangerous for him to talk to a meticulous lawyer, such as Mueller.

Yes, POTUS can ‘obstruct justice’

I am not a lawyer, but you know that already.

However, I know enough about history to understand this basic truth: Presidents of the United States can “obstruct justice.” Indeed, two of them — Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon — were accused of obstructing justice. One of them got impeached partly on that accusation; the other came within a whisker of being impeached before he resigned the presidency.

Thus, I am baffled in the extreme by lawyers serving the current president who says he cannot obstruct justice because, well, he’s the president. They are saying in effect that Donald J. Trump is above the law.

I beg to differ. I offer a strenuous objection to the notion that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, cannot determine that Trump obstructed justice in the hunt for the truth behind “the Russia thing.”

I don’t quite understand the logic being offered by Trump’s legal team that suggests Mueller cannot accuse the president of obstructing justice. Trump himself has acknowledged on network television that he fired FBI Director James Comey because of “the Russia thing”; then he told Russian visitors to the Oval Office that his dismissal of Comey had relieved him of pressure from the Russia probe and whether the Russian government meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

To my way of thinking, that constitutes at the very least circumstantial evidence of obstruction, but I know that Mueller’s team doesn’t operate on circumstance; it needs hard evidence. Whether it comes up with anything actionable remains to be seen.

As the nation watches this investigation lurch toward some conclusion, many of us are conflicted about the argument being offered that the president can do anything he wants — because he is the president.

Richard Nixon famously told David Frost that very thing, that the president cannot break the law simply by virtue of his office. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee eventually saw it quite differently when it approved articles of impeachment against the president.

I am pretty sure the law hasn’t changed since the 1970s. The current president took the same oath to follow the law that all of his predecessors took. The law in my view allows for presidents to be accused of obstructing justice.

Where’s the outrage from the right?

Let’s flash back for just a moment.

In 2016, former President Bill Clinton encountered Attorney General Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac. Clinton boarded Lynch’s airplane and supposedly talked about this and that, grandkids and assorted family matters. Clinton said they didn’t discuss anything pertaining to the e-mail matter; Lynch confirmed Clinton’s account of the encounter.

The Justice Department at the time was investigating the ex-president’s wife and her use of a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state. Oh, yes! Hillary Rodham Clinton also was running for president.

The right wing became unglued. Clinton sought to influence an on-going investigation, Republican operatives howled.

Should the ex-president have boarded the AG’s plane? No. The optics of it looked bad and President Clinton should have known better.

But then …

Just this week, a Republican politician, Donald J. Trump, “demanded” that DOJ investigate and investigation into Russian meddling in our 2016 election. He has leveled an accusation that the FBI spied on his campaign for “political purposes.”

So, the question is this: Where is the outrage over a sitting president interfering in an active Department of Justice investigation?

Trump’s demand seeks to undermine the DOJ, the FBI and the probe being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in our electoral process.

No outrage? No calls for yet another probe?

Weird.

Evangelicals continue their stunning hypocrisy

The Rev. Franklin Graham speaks for a lot of evangelical Christians. Thus, I’ll presume for a moment that those who follow him buy into the nonsense he espouses about Donald J. Trump Sr.

Oh, the hypocrisy of this preacher. It’s stunning to the max.

Graham recently told The Associated Press that Trump’s extramarital affairs are no one’s business. He said voters knew what they were getting when they elected him president in 2016. Back off, Graham implores us, because Trump’s marital infidelity is old news and has nothing to do with the here and now.

Why, he messed around with Stormy Daniels a dozen years before he became president, said Graham. He hasn’t messed around since then. OK, then. That makes it all right. It’s all good, right Rev. Graham?

How does that square with what Graham said about Barack H. Obama, Trump’s immediate predecessor as president?

Let’s see. He questioned President Obama’s faith because he was born to a Muslim father, a man the president barely knew. The president is a practicing Christian and has over the years declared his love of and devotion to Jesus Christ multiple times.

Oh, and then there’s this: Barack and Michelle Obama have been involved in a loving and faithful marriage for more than two decades, which is decidedly more in keeping with Biblical principles than the life that Donald Trump has led throughout much of his adult life.

So, the Rev. Graham gives Donald Trump a pass on his hideous moral indiscretions, but doesn’t extend the same Christian grace to, say, former President Bill Clinton. Graham wrote this in 1998 of President Clinton: If he will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same thing to the American public?

So help me, this so-called “man of God” possesses an amazing reservoir of hypocrisy.

The carousel keeps spinning in Trump World

My head is spinning. I’m suffering from motion sickness. I might throw up.

Ty Cobb has left Donald J. Trump’s legal team. The president reportedly has hired a new personal legal eagle: Emmet Flood who — and this is rich — served on President Bill Clinton’s team that defended him against impeachment in 1998.

We have Rudy Giuliani on the team. Rudy is the former New York mayor, former federal prosecutor, former presidential candidate, current Trump cheerleader. Giuliani’s task reportedly is to persuade special counsel Robert Mueller to bring his Russia investigation to a speedy close. Good luck with that, Mr. Mayor.

John Dowd bailed from the president’s legal team. Why? His client, Donald Trump, wasn’t listening to any legal advice he was getting. Why serve someone who doesn’t heed the best legal advice he can find?

The Hill reported: “Emmet Flood will be joining the White House staff to represent the president and the administration against the Russia witch hunt,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “Ty Cobb, a friend of the president, who has done a terrific job, will be retiring at the end of the month.”

I find it interesting that Cobb would “be retiring” at this critical time. With so much work apparently left to do and with Trump’s tenure as president appearing to be in growing peril, now this “friend of the president” has decided to ride off into the sunset?

Mueller’s investigation continues to gather steam. The special counsel reportedly has drafted a lengthy list of questions he wants to ask the president. He also reportedly is considering whether to subpoena the commander in chief if Trump doesn’t appear voluntarily before a federal grand jury that Mueller has impaneled.

Meanwhile, the president continues to undermine and undercut Mueller’s investigation. Yes, he’s doing so even though he insists there’s “no collusion” with Russians.

I’m still about to throw up.

Impeachment remains huge obstacle

I am believing now that Donald J. Trump isn’t likely to be kicked out of office before his term expires.

The nation’s founders set a high bar for removal of a president.

The U.S. House of Representatives can bring articles of impeachment. It can essentially indict a president on a complaint that he has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It takes a simple majority of House members to impeach a president.

It’s happened twice. President Andrew Johnson got impeached in 1868. Then in 1998, the House impeached President Bill Clinton. The House impeached Johnson on 11 counts, the principal count being a violation of the Tenure of Office Act after he had fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The House impeached Clinton on a charge that he perjured himself in testimony before a federal grand jury.

Both men were spared being kicked out. Johnson made it by a single vote in the U.S. Senate. Clinton survived much more easily in his Senate trial.

The Constitution lays out a two-thirds rule for conviction and removal from office of the president.

What makes a Trump removal so difficult lies in the numbers. Republicans control the Senate by a single seat. If they lose the Senate majority after the midterm election, it is projected that several GOP senators would need to join Democrats who likely would vote to convict the president on whatever charge is brought before the body.

I’m not certain that an impeachable offense will emerge from the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. If one does emerge, though, it remains a tremendously tenuous view that there would be enough political support in the Senate to actually convict the president — no matter how egregious the charge that might come forth.

Impeachment is a political process, even though members of the House and Senate state piously that they are conducting a quasi-judicial process. It really relies on the partisan leaning of both legislative bodies.

I want to offer this look at what might lie ahead for the president and for Congress.

First things first. We have an election to complete that will determine the partisan makeup of the legislative chambers that will decide what to do about this president.

Hey, you know he could just quit once he realizes his agenda — whatever it is — is going nowhere.

‘Welcome back,’ ballooning budget deficits

Ronald Reagan and his fellow Republicans made lots of hay in 1980 about the “spiraling” budget deficit during that presidential election year. It totaled a whopping $40 billion.

The GOP presidential nominee’s campaign ridiculed those big-spending Democrats en route to a smashing landslide election victory over President Jimmy Carter.

Ah, yes. Republicans were the party of “fiscal responsibility.”

Hah! Not any longer. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the current fiscal year will end with an $800 billion budget deficit and will surpass $1 trillion by the next fiscal year.

Hey, what happened? Oh, it’s that tax cut that the Republicans wrote into law — at the insistence of Donald J. Trump, and the $1.3 trillion spending bill approved by Congress.

What happened to fiscal restraint? Where are the controls on runaway government spending? Aren’t congressional Republicans — who control the House and the Senate — supposed to rein in free-spending tendencies usually associated with liberal Democrats?

A Democratic president, Bill Clinton, managed to craft a balanced budget in the late 1990s with help from congressional Republicans. Then came Republican George W. Bush, who succeeded Clinton in 2001. We went to war at the end of that year, but didn’t increase taxes to pay for it. The deficit soared out of control.

Democrat Barack Obama came aboard in 2009 with the economy in free fall. He pushed a tax hike and a spending boost through Congress. The economy recovered. The deficit was pared by roughly two-thirds annually by the time he left office in 2017.

Now we’re hurtling back to Square One. The deficit is exploding.

And no one in power seems to care about things that used to matter a lot.