Tag Archives: Clinton impeachment

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.

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.

Is there an impeachable offense in this scandal?

President Bill Clinton was impeached because he answered falsely to a question — posed before a grand jury — about whether he had a sexual relationship with a young White House intern.

Congressional Republicans were waiting for a reason to impeach the Democratic president. The president handed it to them by perjuring himself before a grand jury assembled by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Let’s remember that Starr’s probe began with an examination of a real estate matter involving the president and the first lady. We called it “Whitewater.” It was centered in Arkansas.

Somehow, though, it weaved its way toward the relationship the president had with a much-younger woman who was working in the West Wing.

Two decades later, a new special counsel, Robert Mueller, is conducting an investigation into Russian collusion, obstruction of justice and assorted other dealings involving — allegedly — Donald J. Trump.

I now am wondering if this current sex controversy involving Trump and a porn star is somehow going to end up on Mueller’s list of issues to investigate.

Trump has denied having an affair with this woman. Her lawyer has said on the record that the future president and his client did have a sexual relationship.

Given the sometimes-unpredictable nature of these investigations, I am left to wonder what might happen if he is able to subpoena Trump to testify before a grand jury he has assembled.

Is it at all possible that Mueller could ask Trump — who would be compelled to swear to tell “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” — whether he had an affair with this porn queen.

If Trump says “no,” and if the porn queen produces proof that she and Trump took a tumble in 2006, is that grounds for an impeachment?

Holy moly, man! Might history be capable of repeating itself?

Let’s all wait for all of this to play out.

Mueller’s probe might find new paths to travel

Kenneth Starr’s investigation of President and Mrs. Clinton began with a look into the first couple’s real estate dealings.

Then it morphed into something quite different. A blue dress emerged with some DNA on it, linking it to a relationship between the president and a young White House intern.

Starr, a special prosecutor, summoned the president before a grand jury and asked him about the relationship. President Clinton didn’t tell the truth.

Boom! We had an impeachment!

Two decades later, special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe — which began as an investigation into possible collusion with Russians who hacked into our 2016 presidential election — might be heading down a similar path.

Donald Trump allegedly had an affair with a porn queen in 2006. He has denied it. The president’s personal lawyer, Michel Cohen, has acknowledged writing a $130,000 check to keep the porn queen quiet about an affair — again, that the president says didn’t happen.

So, here comes the latest Big Question: Where did the money come from to pay the porn actress? Cohen says he paid it out of his personal account.

Meanwhile, you and I know that Mueller’s antennae have been alerted. The special counsel/former FBI director is a meticulous lawyer. There just be be some dots connect between the Russian probe and this seedy, crappy, tawdry affair.

Looking back on the Starr investigation, I am perplexed at how the special prosecutor connected the dots between real estate and a tawdry relationship between the president and a much younger woman. But he did.

Might history be repeating itself?

Would a Democratic ‘wave’ imperil the president?

I want to broach a subject that isn’t getting a great deal of attention … at least that I’ve noticed.

The 2018 midterm congressional election poses a potentially grave threat to the presidency of Donald Trump.

Politico reports that White House aides are telling the president directly that Democrats across the country are poised to score possibly decisive gains in both chambers of Congress. Democrats might take control of the Senate and the House. Indeed, Republicans’ Senate majority has been pared to just 51-49 with the election of Democrat Doug Jones in the Alabama special election earlier this month. And the House? Well, there’s now increasing chatter about Democrats possibly being able to wrest control of that chamber from Republicans.

Where is the eminent threat to Trump and his presidency?

If Democrats gain control of Congress, then we have an increasingly real possibility of impeachment.

Yes, the bar is set pretty high. And, yes, it’s also a highly political event. Witness what transpired in 1998 when Republicans found their long-sought reason to impeach President Bill Clinton. The president handed it to them by lying under oath to a grand jury about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The House moved rapidly and impeached the president, who then was acquitted in a Senate trial.

What might happen in, say, 2019 if Democrats take control of Capitol Hill. They have possible violations of the “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution, which prohibits presidents from profiting from their office. Or, we might have evidence of collusion with the Russians in connection with the 2016 presidential election. Or, we might find something out about the president’s foreign investments, which could be unraveled by the special counsel’s ongoing investigation.

Republican toadies already have indicated they have no desire to impeach the president. Democrats, though, think quite differently. If they are handed the speaker’s gavel, as well as the gavels pounded by committee chairs, there might be some impetus to remove the president from office.

Trump’s behavior has, at times, seemed erratic — and weird. I don’t know how his strange Twitter habits or his manner of speaking publicly constitute “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but the 2018 election might empower the opposing party to take serious — and decisive — action against a president its members have detested since the day he took office.

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.