Tag Archives: House Intelligence Committee

So, that’s why Chairman Schiff managed to keep his cool

It occurred to my wife and me this evening as news broke about the House Intelligence Committee’s report on its impeachment findings just why Chairman Adam Schiff was able to keep his cool while ranking member Devin Nunes kept ranting during the public hearings about so-called Democratic games.

Schiff knew what was coming, that the Intel Committee’s evidence would implicate Nunes as a key player in the impeachment drama involving Donald Trump, his lawyer Rudolf Giuliani, Ukraine and the sordid other characters.

It appears that Nunes had plenty of contact with Ukraine government officials, seeking Ukrainian help in digging up dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

So, while Nunes was preening and posturing about alleged nefarious Democratic motives in seeking to impeach Trump, he well might be involved in his own nefarious activity.

Schiff, experienced prosecutor that he is, kept his cool. He knew what would be revealed.

Well played, Mr. Chairman.

Get ready for the next clown show

Ladies and gentleman, step right this way. You’re going to witness another clown show brought to you by the congressional Republican caucus that is running interference for a crooked president of the United States.

The arena this time will be the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, which in the morning will begin its hearing on whether to impeach Donald Trump on at least two counts: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The House Intelligence Committee has produced 300 pages of incontrovertible evidence that Trump sought a personal political favor from a foreign government; he conditioned military aid to that foreign government on delivering that favor; his personal lawyer was involved in conversations with federal budget officials and those within that foreign government.

And yet …

Congressional Republicans continue to insist that Trump did nothing wrong. There’s nothing to see here, they say. They don’t stand up for the president’s moral character or his standing as commander in chief. They seek to deflect attention from the allegations by criticizing the motives of Trump’s foes and suggesting that Ukraine, and not Russia, attacked our electoral system in 2016.

The Judiciary Committee will open its hearing and Chairman Jerrold Nadler will have his hands full as GOP members seek to be recognized for “points of order.” The No. 1 GOP doofus well might turn out to be a Texan, I should add. Louis Gohmert of Tyler, a former appellate judge — if you can believe it — is likely to become the Main Man leading the opposition against what looks to me like impeachable offenses committed by the president.

What absolutely astounds me is how and why Republicans continue to dig in when the evidence blares out loudly that Donald Trump violated his oath of office. 

I am scratching my head bloody over that one.

Let the clown show commence. Chairman Nadler is going to earn his congressional salary. Of that I am certain.

Trump decides to forgo offer to defend himself at Judiciary hearing

Who would’ve thought this might happen? Well, I guess I would have thought it.

Donald Trump and the White House legal team has informed the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and its chairman, Jerrold Nadler (pictured) that the president won’t participate in the panel’s hearing Wednesday over whether to impeach him. They’re going to rely exclusively on Trump’s defenders on the committee.

Well, this ought to be just special.

Judiciary Committee Democrats have given the president the opportunity to defend himself against allegations that he has abused the power of his office by soliciting a foreign government for personal political help; that charge lies at the heart of the pending impeachment of the president.

Did the president want to take part? Nope. He’s going to stand behind the deflecting shields held by the likes of Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Jim Jordan of Ohio. I’m sure both of them, among others will do their best to change the focus away from the president’s conduct to other matters, such as impugning the motives of those who have leveled the accusations.

Do you know what that means? It means a repeat of what we heard from GOP defenders on the House Intelligence Committee, which launched the impeachment inquiry before handing off to the Judiciary Committee.

And the president will accuse House Democrats of refusing to grant him a fair hearing.

Amazing.

Why not hear GOP version of events, too?

I have this kooky notion I feel like sharing. The House Intelligence Committee is going to issue a draft report Monday on its findings regarding the impeachment inquiry hearing it conducted with regard to Donald Trump, Ukraine and the allegation of, um, “bribery.” 

It will be a partisan report, authored by Democratic members and staffers. Why not allow the Republicans to issue their own version of events? Why not put the GOP response out there alongside the Democrats’ response and let the public decide which party is speaking to the issues and which one is seeking to deflect attention from the cause of this inquiry in the first place: the behavior of the president of the United States?

I am all for hearing how the Intel Committee Republicans justify their badgering, their hectoring, their seeking to undermine the motives behind the inquiry. I want the public to be able to digest both versions in real time and to decide which side has the facts on its side and which side is trying to provide cover for POTUS’s backside.

The Intel Committee will hand this investigation off to the Judiciary Committee, which begins its own hearings on Wednesday. I don’t know how the Judiciary panel will take. I hope they can wrap this up quickly, decide whether to adopt articles of impeachment and then send this matter to the House floor, where the Democrats are likely to impeach this presidential imposter.

But first … let’s hear how the GOP defends this guy’s impeachable conduct. Hey, fair is fair!

History about to be made … again!

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee is set now to pick up where the Intelligence Committee left off. It will finish the job that the Intel panel started with the inquiry into whether to impeach Donald J. Trump.

The House will convene its own public hearings and will hear witnesses confirm — and some will possibly contest — the allegations that have piled up around the president.

That he sought foreign help for a political favor; that he abused the power of his office; that he withheld military assistance in exchange for that political favor; that he obstructed the pursuit of the truth behind each of the allegations.

There might be multiple articles of impeachment filed by the Judiciary Committee. The House of Representatives will take a vote once the articles are approved by the Judiciary panel.

Then it goes to the Senate, where the president of the United States will be the third such individual to stand trial before the jury of 100 senators. And, yes, the likelihood of a conviction appears remote at this moment. But … one cannot take anything to the bank just yet.

It will be a historic hearing. It will be full of thrusts and parries. Democrats, in my view, hold the winning hand. Republicans are seeking to bluff their way past the opposition.

Both sides are dug in. However, I say all this in the moment. I maintain a glimmer — and that’s all it is — of hope that sanity and reason might prevail in the Senate, that senators on both sides of the great divide will realize what many millions of Americans have concluded already.

It is that Donald Trump’s ignorance, arrogance and narcissism make him unfit for high public office.

Let the proceedings continue with somber reflection and sober deliberation.

Why do they deny hearing what the witnesses have said?

The much-anticipated public hearing on the impeachment inquiry being conducted by the House Intelligence Committee produced a serious exercise in frustration and futility.

At least for me it did.

The Intel Committee took into the public domain what it had heard in private about whether Donald Trump sought a “favor” from Ukrainian government officials who could dig up some dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The term of art has become “quid pro quo,” the Latin phrase that translates to “something for something,” or “this for that.”

It is the basis for the pending impeachment of the president of the United States.

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged in the press briefing room that there was a quid pro quo, and then he told us to “get over it.”

Then came the testimony before the House panel from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who said that “yes,” the president sought a quid pro quo. He heard him seek it in real time and told the committee what he heard from the president. He said everyone was “in the loop” regarding the quid pro quo.

The memo of Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president even mentions the “favor, though.”

Why, then, do Republicans on the House committee and others on Capitol Hill keep saying there was “no quid pro quo”? What are they not hearing? Did they cover their ears when Sondland testified to that knowledge at the House hearings? Did they not hear Mick Mulvaney’s assertion of a favor and his scolding us to “Get over it”?

I know these are rhetorical questions. They won’t produce any answers. They simply serve to symbolize the futility and frustration that this impeachment inquiry has produced … so far.

If I had an impeachment vote, I would …

… Vote to impeach Donald John Trump, the president of the United States.

I managed to watch a lot of the impeachment inquiry hearings that the House Democrats brought into our living rooms. I didn’t see all of it. I mean, I do have a life and I had to run some errands and do some other things that pulled me away from the TV set.

But I’ve heard enough to believe that Trump has committed at least two impeachable offenses.

He sought that political favor from Ukraine’s government; that favor would allow for Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 election, just as Russia did in 2016 when it sought to engineer Donald Trump’s election as president.

Trump sought that favor to bring down the political fortunes of Joe Biden, who well might be a 2020 opponent facing Trump.

That’s one impeachable offense.

He has sought to obstruct justice by prohibiting key White House aides from testifying before the House Intelligence Committee. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was a no-show when subpoenaed by the Intelligence panel; so was former White House counsel Don McGahn.

That’s another potentially impeachable offense.

Trump has lied repeatedly throughout the impeachment inquiry. Now we hear that House Democrats want to examine whether he lied to former special counsel Robert Mueller during his probe into “collusion” regarding the Russian attack on our election in 2016. Trump provided written answers to questions from Mueller’s team. Was he truthful? Or did he commit perjury?

Yep, that’s impeachable offense No. 3 … maybe.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff noted passionately today that the “day after” Mueller filed his report that effectively cleared Trump of colluding with Russia, the president telephoned Ukraine to ask the favor that has gotten him into trouble now.

Schiff said that act provides evidence that Trump believes he is “above the law” and said there is nothing more dangerous than to have a president who holds that view.

If I had a vote on whether to impeach Donald Trump, I would vote “yes” to send this matter to the U.S. Senate, where the president will stand trial.

I have heard enough to persuade me of what I have suspected of the president all along.

Maloney channels Jordan

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney got rough and tough today with Gordon Sondland. The New York Democrat asked the U.S. ambassador to the European Union “who would benefit” from an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Sondland was a witness at the impeachment inquiry hearing being conducted by the House Intelligence Committee. So, Maloney asked the question. He asked it repeatedly. Maloney’s voice became brusque. He bristled at Sondland’s initial semi-response.

I watched the exchange today and, to be honest, it made me uncomfortable. Then I recalled what I have witnessed from the get-go from a member of the Republican lineup on the committee, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Jordan was brought onto the committee to act — as I see it — as the designated hatchet man for the GOP House minority. He has been roughing up witnesses throughout the impeachment inquiry process, not to mention tossing insults at his Democratic committee colleagues, including Chairman Adam Schiff.

So, was Maloney totally out of line today? Maybe at some level. Sondland said he had testified in good faith to the committee, but Maloney wasn’t taking that bait. He mentioned that Sondland’s initial closed-door testimony didn’t go well and that he had to issue a clarification of what he said initially.

“I appreciate your candor,” Maloney said in a near-shout at Sondland, “but look what it took to get it out of ya.”

As a spectator with an admitted bias about these proceedings, I am left to suggest only that Sean Maloney was channeling his colleague Jim Jordan. He was dishing out just a little of what Jordan has been delivering all along.

Day One proved more eventful than some of us expected

The first day of public hearings into the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry could have turned into a snoozer.

It didn’t. Far from it. The daylong testimony was riveting on a couple of levels.

On one level we got to hear from the mouths directly of two career public servants about the things they said in private to the House Intelligence Committee. Their public testimony was as damaging as what we were led to believe their private testimony had been.

William Taylor is the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; George West is a deputy secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. They were strong. They were forthright. I believe they told the truth.

They told us that Trump sought political favors from a foreign government. They said the president was more interested in digging up dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, than in rooting out corruption in Ukraine.

I believe they helped shore up the belief among many Americans that Trump has committed at least one impeachable offense. There might even be a bribery count thrown into the impeachment mix once the House of Representatives votes on the issue.

With several more days of hearings to go, the other aspect of this spectacle deals with how the Republicans on the committee and elsewhere in Congress are going to respond.

I will acknowledge my bias, but to my eyes and ears, the GOP didn’t fare as well as their Democratic colleagues. They struck out hard against Democratic motives and challenged what the witnesses saw and heard. Stunningly, they didn’t say a single word — that I heard — in defense of Donald Trump’s character. Which makes me wonder: How are they going to defend Trump against this impeachment tide?

They won’t defend their political main man. They will continue to attack, which will seek to divert our attention from the issue at hand: whether the president broke the law while violating his oath of office.

There will be more to come. This serious matter is likely to demonstrate — no matter how this drama concludes — that our Constitution does work.

Both sides are digging in deeply

My aversion to making political predictions remains rock-solid, given my abysmal record in making them.

That said, this isn’t exactly a flash, but it seems more likely than ever that Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill aren’t going to change each other’s minds regarding the pending impeachment of Donald Trump.

We got a good look today at the intransigence on both sides. However, I am going steer clear of the “both siderism” argument here by declaring that congressional Republicans are those who need to have their heads examined.

William Taylor and George Kent sat before the House Intelligence Committee for about nine hours today. They answered questions from lawmakers on both sides. To my mind, they painted a clear picture of a president who sought foreign government assistance in helping his political future. He abused the power of his office. He has violated his oath of office. Donald Trump has committed an impeachable offense.

Republicans don’t see it that way. They say that even though what the president did was wrong, they don’t see his actions as impeachable. They are wrong. I believe the president deserves to be booted from office.

He likely won’t get the boot. The House impeachment will send this matter to the Senate. Republicans control the upper chamber. To convict the president of a crime against the Constitution would require a flip of 20 GOP senators. Most of them won’t budge.

Therefore, we are entering a most frustrating element in this process. It is that both sides are digging in. They both think they’re right. However, in this debate there only can be one correct side.

In my view, the winning argument belongs to the Democrats.