Tag Archives: Clinton impeachment

It’s not about Bill Clinton

I got into a testy email exchange with a good friend and former colleague recently about Donald Trump, his behavior and the general state of his presidency.

My friend, a loyal Republican and staunch political conservative, compares Trump’s behavior toward women with what transpired with former President Clinton and the impeachment he endured during his second term in office.

He lambasted Democrats and progressives for giving Clinton a pass for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky and for what he allegedly did with her “in the Oval Office.”

I don’t intend make too much of a deal of this, except to say I, who supported Clinton’s election and re-election, never excused his behavior. In fact, I wrote editorials applauding his impeachment in 1998 on the basis of his committing perjury before a federal grand jury that questioned him directly about whether he had “sexual relations with that woman.”

I get that Republicans had a case for impeachment based on his perjuring himself under oath.

Trump likely would never get impeached because of his serial philandering and his admitted groping of women. There quite likely won’t be a grand jury to summon him to testify about any of that hideous conduct.

My issue with Trump and his ghastly behavior simply is that he brought all of that with him into the White House, yet enough voters in just the right states endorsed him and elected him by a narrow Electoral College margin. Yes, he is the president of all Americans and I do not question the legitimacy of his election.

I just question the wisdom of voting for a guy with an acknowledged record of behaving like a sexual predator.

As for Clinton’s impeachment, the founders set the bar high for conviction. The GOP didn’t reach that bar and the Senate acquitted him on all the charges brought by the House.

The U.S. Constitution, therefore, did its job in that case and it lends nothing to the argument over the here and now to dredge up what happened 20 years. ago.

‘Great job’ doesn’t preclude impeachment

Donald J. Trump Sr. was in full rant mode in Billings, Mont., earlier this week.

He went to Montana to stage a campaign rally and then launched into a bizarre riff about the possibility of his being impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. He mentioned Rep. Maxine Waters, the Democrat who vows that Trump will be impeached. “I’m doing a great job,” Trump bellowed, wondering how he could be impeached even though his presidency — he says — is the most successful in the history of the republic.

Trump seems to assert that a president who does a “great job” shouldn’t be impeached. We can debate until hell freezes over whether Trump is doing anything approaching a great job. We’ll save that one for another day.

However, let’s review a bit of recent history … shall we?

President Bill Clinton also was doing a great job during his second term in the White House. The economy was on fire. We were heading toward a balanced federal budget. Joblessness was low. Times were good.

Then the president committed what Republicans believed was an impeachable offense. Special prosecutor Kenneth Starr was conducting a wide-ranging investigation that turned up a relationship that the president had with a young White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.

Starr summoned the president to talk to a grand jury, which then asked him about the relationship. The president who took an oath to “tell the whole truth” didn’t tell the truth. He committed perjury.

Boom! There you have it! Republicans had their impeachable offense!

The House impeached the president who was doing a “great job.” Clinton went to trial in the Senate. He was acquitted on all charges.

So … for the current president to suggest that he shouldn’t be impeached because he’s doing a “great job” is to ignore recent political history.

Donald Trump well might be found to have committed an impeachable offense. Impeachment, let us remember, has nothing to do with the president’s performance in office. It has to do with conduct.

Impeachment needs to stay on back shelf

Leon Panetta is a Democratic Party wise man and elder whose wisdom needs to be heeded.

The former U.S. representative, CIA director, defense secretary, White House chief of staff — I think that covers it — says Democrats need to cool it with the “impeachment” talk regarding Donald J. Trump.

The 2018 midterm election is shaping up as a good year for Democrats. They well might take control of the House of Representatives when the ballots are counted. I am not going to say it’s a done deal, though; I am out of the political predictin’ business, as you might remember.

Suppose the Democrats take the House. They’ll chair committees. They’ll have subpoena power. They’ll have the numbers to impeach the president if they’re so moved to take that action.

Panetta’s advice is for Democrats to keep a lid on impeachment talk as they campaign district by district for control of the lower chamber of Congress.

As Politico reported: “I think the most important thing that the Democrats could do is allow Bob Mueller to complete his work,” Panetta said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” referencing Mueller’s work as special counsel for the Justice Department and his role in the ongoing investigation into Russia’s part in the 2016 presidential election.

He is right. Impeachment seems a good bet to follow if Democrats manage to wrest control from their GOP “friends.”

However, impeachment is one thing; conviction and removal from office is quite another.

If the House impeaches Trump, the Senate will need a two-thirds vote to convict him of whatever “high crime and misdemeanor” the House chooses to level against the president. President Clinton got impeached in 1998, but the Senate never came close to the two-thirds threshold during the trial it conducted.

Republicans are likely to make impeachment a campaign issue as they fight to fend off the Democratic assault on GOP control of Congress. If I hear Leon Panetta correctly, Democrats need to turn away from any impeachment discussion until — or if — they win control of the House in the midterm election.

I think I’ll root for a House flip.

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.

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.