Tag Archives: Clinton impeachment

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?

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.

Get ready for more impeachment talk

Impeaching a president of the United States isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires a stout gut among those who bring it, not to mention the target of such a drastic action.

The bar must be high. It must have a solid basis on which to make such a move.

Where am I going with this? I have this sinking feeling that the current president well might find himself in the crosshairs of those who want to bring such an action against him.

We’re hearing a growing — but still muted — rumbling in D.C. about the prospect of Donald J. Trump facing impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives. I’m attaching an item from The Hill in which former Labor Secretary Robert Reich — an acknowledged political liberal — has lined out at least four impeachable offense already committed by the president.

Here it is.

Reich says that Trump’s accusation that Barack Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower offices constitutes an impeachable offense, saying the president has recklessly accused his predecessor of committing a felony. He notes that the Constitution prohibits president from taking money from foreign governments; Trump, Reich alleges, has done so by “steering foreign delegations” to hotels he owns. Reich contends that Trump violates the First Amendment’s provision against establishing a state religion by banning travelers from Muslim countries into the United States. Reich also says the First Amendment bans any abridgment of a free press, but Trump has labeled the media the “enemy of the people.”

There’s a fifth potential cause, which Reich has asserted. It involves the possibility that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian government officials to swing the election in the president’s favor. Reich said such activity, if proven, constitutes “treason.”

Will any of this come to pass? I have no clue.

Think of the politics of it. Trump is a Republican; both congressional chambers are controlled by the GOP. Will the Republican House majority bring articles of impeachment to a vote, no matter how seriousness of whatever charges are considered?

The collusion matter strikes me as the most serious and the most likely to align Republicans along with Democrats in considering whether to impeach the president. I am not suggesting there is, indeed, proof of such collusion.

Remember as well that the GOP-led House managed to impeach a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, in 1998 on three counts relating to his seedy relationship with that White House intern. Conviction in the Senate, though, required a super majority of senators; the GOP fell far short on all three counts. Thus, the president was acquitted.

They based that impeachment on the president’s failure to tell the truth under oath to a federal grand jury that questioned him about the affair. He broke the law, Republicans said. There was your “impeachable offense,” they argued.

My major concern about the Clinton impeachment was whether the president’s offense had a direct impact on his office. It did not. Any of the issues that Secretary Reich lists, however, certainly do have a direct impact on the president’s ability to perform his duties.

The bar for whatever might occur with the current president is set even higher than it was for President Clinton, given that the president and the congressional majorities are of the same party.

You might not believe this, but I do not prefer an impeachment to occur. I do, though, want the unvarnished truth to be revealed about what the president thinks he can do with — and to — the exalted office he occupies.

If the truth is as ugly as some of us fear, then Congress should know how to repair the damage.

Here comes the dreaded ‘I-word’

The “I-word” has entered the discussion of Donald J. Trump’s troubles involving the Russians, his use of Twitter and a scathing accusation he has made against his predecessor as president of the United States.

One of the nation’s foremost constitutional scholars, law professor Laurence Tribe, believes the president’s reckless use of Twitter to accuse Barack Obama of tapping his phones might be grounds for impeachment.

There you have it, correct? Not exactly.

Tribe, I shall stipulate, is a liberal-leaning fellow who more than likely didn’t vote for Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

But he’s no dummy as it regards the U.S. Constitution and what it allows or disallows.

Tribe’s thesis simply is that the president’s use of a social medium constitutes a reckless disregard for due process and that it implies a certain unfitness for the office he occupies.

Readers of this blog no doubt know what Trump did. This past weekend, he awoke at his Mar-a-Lago estate early one morning and blasted out a tweet that accused former President Obama of “ordering” spooks to tap Trump’s offices at Trump Tower while looking for proof that Trump was colluding with the Russians to swing the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor.

Nasty stuff, right? You bet it is.

It’s also unproven. You see, Trump didn’t offer a shred of proof to back up that ridiculous contention. He has accused President Obama of committing a felony, given that the president cannot “order” a wiretap, which must come from a federal judge, who must have “probable cause” to issue such an order.

The rule of law doesn’t enter into Trump’s tendency to engage in these Twitter tantrums. He just fires this crap into cyberspace. Consequences? Who cares about ’em?

Meanwhile, Republicans as well as Democrats in Congress are demanding Trump provide some basis for this ridiculous assertion. None has been forthcoming.

Spoiler alert: I don’t think we’ll ever see any such basis.

In the meantime, the I-word is out there.

I agree that the bar for impeachment must be kept high. President Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 was based on a sex scandal and his failure to adhere to his oath to be truthful to a federal grand jury that questioned him about it. I don’t believe those events met the standard for impeaching a president of the United States … but that’s just me.

This Trump story is far from being resolved. The president had better come up with something provable to back up his contention that President Obama broke the law.

Or else …

Didn’t they impeach a president for doing this?

President Bill Clinton took an oath to obey all the laws of the land. He then became entangled in an investigation that turned up an inappropriate relationship with a White House intern. He was summoned to testify to a federal grand jury about that relationship, he swore to tell the truth and then, um, fibbed about it.

House Republicans were so outraged they impeached him for it, put him on trial in the Senate, where he eventually was acquitted.

All of that over a sex scandal. Sheesh!

Now a sitting U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has allegedly been caught in a much more serious lie of his own.

He took an oath to tell the truth to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings. He told senators he never had any conversations with Russian government officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Now comes reporting from “enemy of the people” media outlets that, yep, the AG did talk to the Russians.

Should he stay or should he go? Congressional Democrats want Sessions to quit. I won’t go that far just yet.

I do, though, believe the questions surrounding Sessions’s relationship with Donald J. Trump — they’re close friends and even closer political allies — disqualifies him from the get-go from pursuing any kind of unbiased, impartial and thorough investigation into the president’s relationship with Russia.

Some top Democrats want him out. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. What’s interesting to me and others is that a number of key Republicans have joined their Democratic “friends” in seeking Sessions’s recusal from any potential investigation.

The president, quite naturally, is going to label the reporting of Sessions’s contacts with the Russians as “fake news.” He’ll debunk reporters for the Washington Post and New York Times — who have been leading the media probe — as “dishonest” purveyors of fiction.

As one who once toiled the craft of journalism, although surely not at this level, I take great personal offense to Trump’s penchant for counterattack. Rather than reacting seriously and with measured calm, the nation’s head of state goes off on these rants about the media’s so-called status at the people’s “enemy.”

The attorney general has no business investigating whether the president had any kind of improper relationship with Russian government officials prior to his taking office. Whether he should remain on the job, well, that will have to be determined quickly.

I know that the law is designed to presume someone’s innocence. The world of politics, though, is a different animal altogether. In that world, the presumption often infers guilt and the accused must prove his or her innocence.

It might not always be fair. It’s just the way it is.

No scandals, Mr. Fund … none!

Believe it or not, I expected better from John Fund, the noted conservative columnist and Fox News Channel contributor/pundit.

He said President Obama has told a final “whopper” by declaring his administration is finishing its work in Washington without suffering a major “scandal.”

Fund disagrees, as he writes in an essay attached to this post. Here it is:

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/01/19/john-fund-obama-has-one-last-whopper-for-america-as-exits-white-house.html

He calls Obama’s “fast and furious” deal that resulted in drug cartels getting weapons from the Justice Department; he notes the Benghazi massacre in which four Americans died in a firefight with Islamic terrorists; he mentions the IRS targeting certain political groups for intense tax scrutiny.

Fund writes: “Obama has, in fact, presided over some of the worst scandals of any president in recent decades.”

All of those matters were deplorable. They weren’t illegal. They might have been careless, perhaps reckless. They didn’t break any laws.

Scandal? In the strictest sense, President Clinton lying to a grand jury — under oath — about his relationship with the White House intern qualifies as a scandal. He broke a law, which served as the pretext for the House of Representatives to impeach the 42nd president. One can argue the merits of the impeachment about whether lawmakers were truly interested in protecting the law; or whether they were motivated by the salacious aspect of the whole ordeal.

The issues cited by Fund do not, in my mind, constitute “scandalous” behavior.

Therefore, I will stand behind the president’s assertion that his administration served the country in a scandal-free environment.

Of course, one man’s mere controversy is another’s scandal. Fine. If that’s the case, then bring it on!

Here’s another spin on the fidelity issue

bill-and-hill

I feel the need to put another brief twist to this business about marital infidelity and its emergence as an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

For starters, Donald J. Trump’s assertion that Hillary Clinton’s husband’s transgressions disqualify her for high office is ludicrous on its face. Bill Clinton made a mistake in the late 1990s. He got impeached for it; the Senate thought better about tossing him out of office and acquitted him of the charges brought against him.

Hillary’s role? She became the aggrieved wife of the nation’s foremost politician.

OK, but that entire episode spurred another kind of politician.

This was the guy who would boast on the campaign stump, in TV ads, on printed material about how he is faithful to his wife.

“Elect me!” he would say. “I’m a loving husband and devoted father. I believe in the traditional concept of marriage.”

I never could stop wondering: Since when does staying faithful to your sacred marital vows become a bragging point?

Oh, and yes, this kind of phony fealty to marriage does get politicians into some serious trouble. Do you remember former Sen. John Edwards, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate who ran with Sen. John Kerry in 2004? I recall Edwards boasting of his love for his late wife, Elizabeth, while he was cavorting with Rielle Hunter … and with whom he brought a daughter into the world.

It’s all so much crap.

Marital history now an issue?

President Clinton, his daughter Chelsea, center, and wife Hillary walk with Buddy Tuesday, Aug. 18, 1998, from the White House toward a helicopter as they depart for vacation enroute to Martha's Vineyard, Mass. (AP Photo/Roberto Borea)

I cannot believe I am hearing this.

Donald J. Trump is actually considering a new line of attack against Hillary Rodham Clinton that discusses former President Bill Clinton’s extramarital behavior.

Moreover, Trump says he is “comfortable” with his own marital history and believes there’s nothing with which his foes can use against him if he decides to steer this campaign straight into the gutter.

Am I hearing this correctly?

Trump said Bill Clinton’s presidency was a “disaster” and he was impeached for “lying” about an affair he had with the young White House intern.

Disaster? Are you kidding me? Yes, the impeachment soiled the president’s otherwise sparkling record as the head of state. The Senate eventually acquitted President Clinton of the charges brought against him.

So now the discussion is turning in this direction.

And the man who well might take us down the lowest of roads is not worried about his three marriages, his boasting of cheating on at his first two wives, his treatment of women, his hideous statements about them.

This is the criterion we’re using to select the Leader of the Free World? Heaven help us.

Ken Starr calls it quits at Baylor

starr

Oh, the irony of it all.

Kenneth Starr has quit his job as a law professor at Baylor University. You’ve heard of him, yes?

He once was a special counsel who was hired by Congress to investigate a real estate deal involving President Clinton and his wife, Hillary Clinton. Then the investigation turned into something quite different. He began sniffing around about allegations of an affair between the president and a young White House intern.

His investigation resulted in the impeachment of the president on grounds that he lied under oath about the affair to a federal grand jury. The Senate acquitted Clinton.

Starr moved on, first to Pepperdine University and then to Baylor.

But … while he served as president of Baylor, the university got caught up — wait for it! — in a sex scandal involving star football players. The school was accused of covering up some serious misbehavior.

It all happened on Starr’s watch.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/08/20/ken-starr-resigns-as-baylor-law-professor-cuts-ties-with-university.html

The head football coach was fired. The athletic director quit. Starr was demoted from president to chancellor. He kept his classroom job.

Now he’s quit the professor post, severing his ties with the university.

Do you get the irony? Sex propelled Ken Starr to a form of political stardom and sex has caused his fall from grace at a major Texas university.

As the saying goes: Karma’s a bitch, man.