Tag Archives: House Judiciary Committee

Trump remains ignorant of the U.S. Constitution

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is a first-year member of the U.S. House of Representatives, who happens to serve on the House Judiciary Committee.

She is a Democrat from Florida who is likely to vote “yes” on articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump. She is a native of Ecuador.

The congresswoman offered an obvious observation today, which is that “I don’t think the president has ever read the Constitution.”

Gee, do ya think?

I happen to virtually certain he’s never looked at it. If he has, then he looked past Article II, the segment dealing with executive authority, or the power of the presidency. He infamously referenced Article II not that long ago when he declared that it enables the president to do whatever he wants.

No. It does not! Not even close. Indeed, Article II spells out the limits of executive authority. Indeed, Article I — which deals with the legislative branch of government — implies heavily that the executive branch’s powers are kept on a tight leash.

Rep. Mucarsel-Powell’s instincts are correct. Trump took office without dedicating a single moment of his entire pre-political life to public service. He didn’t understand government when he ran for the presidency and doesn’t understand it now that he is president.

Donald Trump sounds and acts like someone who fancies himself as The Boss. He isn’t. You’re the boss. As am I … the boss. We call the shots. Not him.

Had he ever thought for a moment about the U.S. Constitution, the document he took an oath to “defend and protect,” he might understand the limitations it places on the presidency.

I do not believe he has done that. I also believe his ignorance of the Constitution is precisely the reason the House of Representatives is going to impeach him.

Four scholars offer words of impeachment wisdom

The testimony today from four legal constitutional law scholars has been far more riveting than I thought it might have been.

Three of them selected by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have concluded that Donald J. Trump’s action warrant his impeachment and removal from office. A fourth, chosen by Judiciary Committee Republicans, said the evidence presented so far falls short by a good margin of the threshold of proof needed to remove Trump from the presidency.

Let me state up front that every one of them made compelling arguments for their respective cases. Yes, even the GOP-selected professor, Jonathan Turley, has been impressive in arguing his case.

I remain steadfast, though, in my belief that Trump has violated his oath of office, has abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress sufficiently to merit his impeachment and removal from office at the end of a Senate trial.

At issue is whether Trump sought to leverage a White House meeting and military assistance to Ukraine against a request by Trump that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy investigate allegations of corruption by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Three of the law professors testifying today said without equivocation that the action is impeachable. Period.

I realize that I don’t need any convincing. Then again, it doesn’t matter what I think, because I am not going to cast a vote on whether to impeach the president. I am just a chump taxpayer, one of the congressional benefactors whose taxes pay the salaries of the men and women who are asking all these questions.

What has been remarkable, though, has been the continuing reticence of committee Republicans in the wake of the scholars’ insistence that Trump has committed offenses worthy of his removal. I recognize that the GOP resistance to being moved to support the Constitution is no surprise. I am not at all shocked by what they have said in questioning the law professors.

However, it has been edifying — and in many ways riveting — in ways I did not foresee when I tuned in this morning.

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.

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.

Has an impeachment ‘inquiry’ commenced?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler are at odds.

Pelosi doesn’t want to impeach Donald Trump; Nadler wants to proceed now with impeachment.

It looks as though Nadler is winning this argument. He appears to have commenced what has been called an “impeachment inquiry.” That means ostensibly that the Democratic caucus is going to examine whether to launch a full impeachment proceeding against Trump. They think they have the goods. Maybe they do.

But wait a second. If the House decides it has enough to impeach Trump over obstruction of justice in connection with the Russian hack of our 2016 election, then the bar gets really high.

A House impeachment is the easy part. Democrats need a simple majority to impeach. Then the Senate gets to put the president on trial. They need 67 (out of 100) votes to convict the president. The GOP occupies 53 Senate seats. They are as firmly in Trump’s corner as Democrats are as firmly intent on giving him the boot.

An impeachment “inquiry” looks to me like an exercise in futility for those who want to remove the president from office.

I personally don’t think it’s enough just to say Donald Trump has been impeached. I want him out of office, too. Impeachment, though, isn’t going to do the job.

Unless someone drops a serious bomb that persuades Republicans they are standing with a crook.

Recalling one tough ‘S.O.B.’ and how he would react to Trump

I have been thinking a good bit in recent days of my former congressman, arguably the meanest, most irascible, most ferocious partisan ever to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The late Jack Brooks was that man. He called himself Sweet Old Brooks. You get how the initials spell out and how they likely refer to their more, um, colloquial meaning.

Brooks — who represented the Golden Triangle of Texas from 1953 until 1995 — was one mean dude. It is no stretch to say that he hated Republicans. He served on the House Judiciary Committee that approved articles of impeachment against President Nixon in 1974. I read a fascinating Politico piece recently that told how Brooks actually authored the articles to ensure they were written with unassailable precision.

How would Sweet Old Brooks react to what we’re debating today?

I truly believe in my gut that he would be calling for Trump’s head on the proverbial platter, or perhaps even some pertinent body parts as well, if you know what I mean.

Jack Brooks was one of many Texas proteges of the great House Speaker Sam Rayburn, who took other political fledglings under his wing. Men such as Lyndon Johnson and Jim Wright (another U.S. House speaker) owed their political success to the mentorship provided by Mr. Sam.

However, Brooks was wired differently than LBJ or Speaker Wright. President Johnson learned to work with Republicans, who helped him enact the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. He needed those Republicans to counter the opposition he was getting from southern Democrats who remained faithful to their segregationist past.

To be clear, Jack Brooks was not among those southern Democrats who resisted LBJ. He supported the president’s efforts in the House. A large part of his Southeast Texas constituency comprised African-Americans in Beaumont and Port Arthur.

Brooks, though, was among the toughest, meanest politicians I ever met. I do not recall in all the discussions I had with him that Brooks would offer unsolicited praise for Republican politicians. He considered President Reagan to be a dunce and a dolt.

How would he react to the conduct of the current Republican president? He would find a way to send Donald Trump packing. Of that I am absolutely certain.

He surely was an SOB, but he was our SOB.

If I could ask Mueller one question …

I want to look for a moment past the Democratic primary presidential debate that’s coming up. My attention at the moment is riveted on an upcoming appearance by Robert Mueller before the U.S. House Judiciary and Select Intelligence committees.

He is going to make public statements before both panels and then will take questions in private. He is going to talk to the nation about the conclusions he reached regarding Donald Trump’s involvement with Russians who attacked  our electoral system during the 2016 presidential campaign.

He concluded that the president’s campaign did not conspire to collude with the Russians who dug up dirt on Hillary Clinton. He also said that despite evidence of obstruction of justice, he declined to issue a formal complaint against the president; he left that resolution up to Congress. He said in that nine-minute statement he read a few weeks ago that rules and policy prohibited him from indicting a “sitting president.”

I heard this notion come from a former federal prosecutor, but I’ll appropriate it here in this blog. I want the former special counsel to answer this question:

If you were not constrained by Office of Legal Counsel rules and prohibitions against indicting a president, would you have indicted Donald Trump on charges that he obstructed justice?

Mueller can answer such an inquiry any number of ways. If he says “no,” that he wouldn’t have indicted the president, well, that statement would stand on its own.

However, were he to provide an answer that stops short of a flat “no,” he well might say something like this, “I will not respond to a hypothetical circumstance. I deal only with what I know.”

Then again, the former FBI director could answer “yes, I would have issued an indictment.” Suppose, though, he demurs with the “hypothetical” non-answer, that opens the door to supposition that he doesn’t want to reveal his desire — under that circumstance — to file a formal complaint against the president of the United States.

You want high political drama in a congressional hearing room? Robert Mueller’s decision to appear before two key House committees in response to a subpoena is about to deliver it.

I am waiting with bated breath.

Waiting to hear from the former special counsel

I know what I will be doing on the 17th of July.

I will be watching TV as former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III talks to two key congressional committees about that Russia investigation he conducted for 22 months.

Yep. The special counsel, who vowed to be finished talking publicly about it, is going to speak in public, in the open and on the record to the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.

For those of us with a keen interest in what Mueller concluded, this will be — to borrow a phrase — a “must-see TV” event.

The committees had to subpoena Mueller to talk to them. Mueller agreed. Now, the question will center on how much Mueller will divulge that he hasn’t already done in his 448-page report, which he filed some month ago.

Mueller appeared just recently a few weeks back to declare that he didn’t “exonerate” Donald Trump of obstructing justice, and that he had found reason to clear the president, he “would have said so.” Trump, of course, spun that declaration into something unrecognizable, saying he had been cleared of “collusion” and “obstruction of justice.”

Well, now we will get to hear more from Mueller, the former FBI director, a career prosecutor, a meticulous legal eagle and a man of impeccable integrity. That won’t dissuade, of course, Republican committee pipsqueaks from seeking to discredit this dedicated public servant.

Mueller probably is unhappy about getting the subpoena. However, he knows that he must adhere to it, unlike the president of the United States, who has blocked aides and senior advisers from speaking to congressional inquisitors.

I will look forward to what this man has to say.

Dean testimony provides a preview of what we might see

John Dean sat before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today to offer the panel some historical context. He wasn’t there as a “fact witness” with specific knowledge of the matters involving Donald Trump’s conduct during the most recent presidential campaign.

However, he was there to provide some historical perspective gleaned from his role as White House counsel during the Watergate scandal of 1973-74.

I agree that Dean was a dubious “expert,” given his own culpability in the crimes committed during President Nixon’s administration.

However, we might have gotten a preview of what we could expect if the House Judiciary panel decides to launch a full-blown impeaching proceeding against Donald Trump.

What might that include? It might — indeed, it likely will — include Republicans on the panel who will seek to denigrate the credibility of every Trump critic who seeks to make the case for impeaching the president.

We heard it today from GOP members who sought to ridicule Dean’s appearance. By “ridicule,” I mean to suggest that they inferred that since Dean wasn’t there to discuss the “facts” of the Trump matter, they would ask him questions about subjects that had nothing to do with the issues at hand. They sought to suggest that as a convicted felon who lost his law license he had no credibility on anything.

Did we hear anyone of the GOP members defending Donald Trump’s character? Did they speak to the president’s honesty, his integrity, his courage, his commitment to public service?

Umm. I didn’t hear it. Did you?

What I heard was an effort to denigrate, disparage and disrespect a witness who took an oath to tell those members of Congress the truth.

I believe it’s good to keep this conduct in mind if the House Judiciary Committee decides to launch impeachment proceedings yet again.