Tag Archives: impeachment

‘I don’t know the guy’

All righty. Let’s see how this goes.

Lev Parnas, a Ukraine-born friend of Rudy Giuliani — one of Donald Trump’s personal lawyers — has become a key player in the impeachment trial of the president of the United States.

Parnas says Vice President Mike Pence was in the loop on the favor that Trump sought from Ukraine, when Trump asked Ukraine to produce some dirt on Joe Biden, a possible opponent of the president in the 2020 campaign.

Pence said “I don’t know the guy” when asked to comment on Parnas’ allegation.

OK, that’s Pence standing right next to Parnas — shoulder to shoulder — in the picture that accompanies this blog post. The fellow on the right is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican.

This is a serious pattern within the Trump administration. Trump says he doesn’t know someone, then pictures emerge of him schmoozing with the guy he said he doesn’t know.

Now it’s the VP’s turn to produce the question: Who you gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?

I believe the learned professor is wrong about abuse of power

At the risk of wading into an argument over an issue that ought to be way above my skill level, I want to take issue with a learned law professor’s assertion that “abuse of power” is not an impeachable offense.

With all due respect to the great Alan Dershowitz, it is my considered opinion that presidents of the United States can be impeached over abusing the awesome power of their exalted office.

Dershowitz is going to argue next week in the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump that the Constitution shouldn’t be subjected to this action on the basis of what the House of Representatives has decided. The House impeached Trump on two counts: obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.

The abuse occurred, according to the articles of impeachment, when Trump asked Ukraine for a political favor; he wanted the Ukrainians to investigate Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and, in effect, interfere in the 2020 election because Joe Biden is a possible opponent of Trump. He then withheld military aid to Ukraine, which the Government Accounting Office has said is in violation of the law.

My goodness. If that isn’t an abuse of power, then the term has no meaning.

My reading of the Constitution, which I’ve been doing a lot of lately, tells me the founders were deliberately vague on what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Dershowitz seems to suggest that because abuse of power does not fall into a category of a criminal offense, that it doesn’t quality as an impeachable offense. Other scholars have argued that the founders hadn’t yet established any statutes when they wrote the impeachment clause into the Constitution. Therefore, those offenses could be interpreted broadly.

I’ll go with them and not with Dershowitz.

I am not going to say the Harvard law professor emeritus is a dummy. Far from it. I just believe he has concocted a standard that I don’t think exists in the U.S. Constitution.

Of course, this is an academic exercise anyhow, given the Senate’s likely disposition to avoid convicting Trump of what I believe is a “high crime and misdemeanor.” The GOP-led Senate is more prone to protect the president than the document they all took an oath to “protect and defend.”

POTUS turns salute to football champs into a campaign event

Donald John Trump, the current president of the United States, just cannot help himself.

The Louisiana State University Tigers showed up at the White House ostensibly to receive a salute from Trump for the Tigers winning the college football championship. Hey, LSU whipped Clemson by a score of 42-25.

So, Trump invited them to the White House, per the customary reception given to sports champs.

What does the president do? He turns the event into a campaign event. He yapped and yammered about the impeachment, saying that despite the great economy they want to “impeach the son of a bi***.”

Yep, that’s the language that flew out of the mouth — at the White House — of the evangelical Christian movement’s favorite politician. He makes me so (not) proud of the president.

He blathered some more about how he has supposedly rebuilt the military, brought justice to terrorist leaders.

This is what we get when we have an impeached president who also is running for re-election. Indeed, this also is what we get when we have a president who cannot separate his own political fortunes from events — such as a ceremony to salute a college football team — that have nothing to do with those political fortunes.

Donald Trump clearly is obsessed with this impeachment trial. He also is obsessed — to the nth degree — with his political standing. Trump takes every opportunity he can find to further buttress his status.

Even when such politicking has no place in an unrelated event.

Weird.

Ex-WH ethics guru calls McConnell a ‘perjurer’

Well now, that didn’t take long.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts told all 100 U.S. senators Thursday to raise their right hands and swear under oath to conduct “impartial justice” in the trial of Donald John Trump, president of the United States.

One of senators to swear to follow that oath is Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Except, wait! He’s said many times already that he has no intention of being impartial. McConnell said he will take his cue from Trump’s legal team.

Just hours after taking the oath, former White House ethics lawyer, Richard Painter, who served President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, accused McConnell of committing an act of perjury.

Painter went on Twitter to say McConnell has contradicted himself. “This man just swore an oath saying the exact opposite,” Painter said in a tweet. “This man is a perjurer.”

Well now. Isn’t that a crime punishable with a jail sentence?

To be fair, there are a number of senators on both sides of the aisle whose statements need careful examination. However, I believe I have seen statements only by two prominent Republicans — McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham — that have declared that the senators have made up their minds. Other senators are trying to cover their rear ends by saying they intend to listen to all arguments before making up their minds.

McConnell needs to recuse himself from this proceeding. If he cannot abide by the oath he just took, then he has no business presiding over a Senate that is going to put the president of the United States on trial.

SCOTUS chief to get his feet wet at the highest level imaginable

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts is a serious man who takes his responsibility as seriously as is humanly possible. Of that I have not a single, solitary doubt.

However, I heard something tonight that made my jaw drop. It was that Chief Justice Roberts, who today took an oath to preside over a U.S. Senate trial of the Donald John Trump, has never tried a case in court.

Yep, this will be the first trial over which he will preside.

President Bush appointed Roberts to the D.C. Court of Appeals in 2003. An appellate court doesn’t hear witness testimony; it doesn’t rule on court objections. It hears lawyers argue their cases. Then the court decides which side wins the argument.

After that, Roberts got the nod in 2005 to become chief justice of the nation’s highest court. He does more of the same thing he did at the lower-court level.

Prior to the D.C. court appointment, Roberts worked in private practice, then went to work for the attorney general’s office during the time William French Smith was AG during the Reagan administration.

Trial court experience? None, man. Now he’s been dragged into the role of presiding judge in the U.S. Senate, where he will be charged with keeping order. He’ll get to rule on whether witnesses will be called, although the Senate can overturn whatever ruling he issues.

Still, it is mind-boggling to think that the chief justice’s first actual trial involves a case involving whether the president of the United States keeps his job.

I am certain the chief justice is up to the challenge that awaits him.

Wow!

GAO and Parnas add to Trump saga? Not likely

Under normal circumstances that involve a “normal” president of the United States, one would think that the emergence of a key witness and a government report suggesting law-breaking would be a deal breaker, that they would ring the death knell on an embattled presidency.

This isn’t normal. None of it is normal.

Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born associate of Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, has come forth with information that says Trump was in the whole matter involving the issues that resulted in Trump’s impeachment. Oh, and now we hear from the General Accounting Office that Trump broke the law while withholding military aid from Ukraine while shaking down that government for a personal political favor.

The Senate trial officially commenced today amid pomp and circumstance.  Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts took his oath and sat in the Senate’s presiding officer chair and then administered the oath to the 100 senators who will conduct a trial of Donald Trump.

The GAO watchdog report says categorically that the Office of Management and Budget violated federal policy by withholding military aid that Congress had appropriated. OMB was acting on orders from Donald Trump. Therefore, Trump broke the law!

That, as has been said, is a “big fu****g deal.”

Oh, and Parnas? He has revealed that, yep, he and Trump know each other. He contradicts Trump’s assertion that he doesn’t know Parnas. And who is this guy? He is a friend of Giuliani and has been part of the inner circle involved in the effort to get Ukraine to announce plans to investigate Joe Biden’s involvement in his son Hunter’s work with an Ukrainian energy company.

Parnas also has contended that Trump’s concern about “corruption” only centered on Joe and Hunter Biden and that the president had no interest in corruption, per se, as an issue worth tackling.

My head is swirling. Will any of this matter to Republicans who comprise most of the senators who will decide whether Trump stays in office? Probably not.

Therein lies the extreme frustration that is likely to consume many of us watching this trial unfold from afar.

Managers set, let the trial commence

Here we go. The Donald Trump impeachment trial managers have been named. The House of Representatives has sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate. The managers at this moment are likely scurrying in an effort to come up with a prosecution strategy.

And the White House legal team no doubt is scurrying, too, to concoct a defense strategy to counter what I believe is a mountain of evidence to suggest that the president deserves to be removed from office.

But I am not among the 100 senators who’ll make that decision. Trump is likely to survive the trial, which is supposed to begin next Tuesday.

Man, it is going to be some kind of spectacle.

This is serious stuff, folks. It’s only the third time a president has been put on trial. Donald Trump now gets to join Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton among the roster of presidents who are forever identified as “impeached.” Presidents Johnson and Clinton both survived their trials. So will Trump, or so it appears at this moment.

If I could have had a hand in selecting the managers, my preference would have been to include the lone now-former Republican member of the House to vote to impeach Trump. Rep. Justin Amash, the libertarian-leaning conservative who represents the same Michigan congressional district that once sent Gerald R. Ford to Congress, should have been included on that team of managers.

But, he’s not among the managers.

You may count me as one American who is anxious for this trial to conclude. The Senate’s Republican majority is dug in. They won’t convict Trump unless something so compelling comes forward in the next few weeks that they cannot stand by their man.

The way I see it, though, Trump already has done enough to merit his removal. He solicited a foreign government for political help and he has blocked Congress from doing its oversight duties. Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Got it?

The trial will be done in fairly short order. Then we can get on with the task of removing this guy from the White House the old-fashioned way: at the ballot box in November.

Acquittal doesn’t necessarily mean exoneration

Given what most of us out here in Flyover Country expect will happen — that the U.S. Senate won’t kick Donald Trump out of office — I want to offer a word of warning to fellow news junkies as to what we’re likely to hear from the president of the United States.

He will shout, scream and holler that the Senate has “exonerated!” him. He will declare that the Senate’s failure to clear the very high — justifiably so — bar set by the nation’s founders means that his impeachment was based on nothing at all.

That’s not how many of us see it.

The House of Representatives impeached Trump on allegations that he abused the power of his office and that he obstructed Congress. They made the case in convincing fashion; their evidence is enough to warrant his removal from office … in my view.

Trump sought political help from a foreign government and withheld military aid to that government until it provided a “favor, though” to him and his re-election team. He has instructed his staff to ignore congressional subpoenas. Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress? Done deal, man. Again, that’s my view.

The Senate won’t find 67 votes to convict Trump. So, he’s likely to say the Senate has “exonerated” him. No. It won’t. His expected acquittal only will signify that an insufficient number of senators saw fit to convict Trump of what I believe are impeachable offenses.

We need to hear from witnesses in this Senate trial. Yes, even if they are provide evidence that clears Trump of wrongdoing. Trump is fighting that idea, which tells me he is hiding something. Someone deserving of “exoneration” doesn’t go to Trump’s lengths to keep witnesses from testifying. Am I right?

The trial begins next week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has named the “managers” who will prosecute this matter on behalf of the House. Senators will sit quietly in the chamber and listen to what everyone has to say.

Then they will vote. Trump will escape with a narrowly defined acquittal. He’ll holler he was “exonerated!”

The irony? That false claim will be yet another Donald Trump lie.

Let the trial begin … with witnesses!

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

It looks as though the U.S. Senate is going to convene a trial next week. The president of the United States is going to stand trial on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress.

The trial of Donald Trump isn’t a purely legal proceeding. It’s damn close to one, though. It’s close enough to a courtroom trial that there needs to be witnesses called who have something important to add to the issue at hand.

That issue is: What happened precisely during that “perfect phone call” that Trump had with the president of Ukraine? Then-national security adviser John Bolton was present when Trump talked to his Ukrainian colleague; so was acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. The Senate needs to hear from them. What they did hear? Did the president ask a foreign government to interfere in our 2020 election? Did he withhold military aid to Ukraine until it announced an investigation into Joe Biden, a potential Trump foe?

The nation does not know what they know. We have not heard it from them directly. I am one American who wants to know what they heard. I want to hear ’em say it out loud, in public, under oath.

Will that occur? Will the Senate summon them? We don’t know.

In return, of course, Trump wants the Senate to call Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who worked for the energy company for a handsome sum of money. There are allegations of “corruption” involving Hunter Biden. Except that prosecutors have said time and again that the younger Biden did nothing illegal.

The president also wants to call House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. Why? Beats the livin’ malarkey out of me!

Let’s not turn this trial into a sideshow. It is serious. It is a sober event. It should be conducted with utmost decorum and dignity.

I am awaiting the start of this trial. I hope we get to hear from Bolton and others with direct knowledge of what happened … allegedly!

We need a serious trial. Not a circus.

Hey, let’s nix this dismissal talk

Don’t go there, Mr. President and Mr. U.S. Senate Majority Leader.

I want to be crystal clear on this. The U.S. House of Representatives made a boatload of history by impeaching Donald Trump. The House is about to hand two articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate; yes, it’s been a bit late, but the articles will be en route from the House to the Senate very soon.

So, what are Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell talking about? The president wants the Senate to dismiss the charges brought by the impeachment. Sen. McConnell is giving some serious thought to introducing that motion.

To which I say: no-o-o-o-o-o!

The articles of impeachment allege that Trump abused the power of his office by soliciting the president of Ukraine for a political favor, to in effect interfere in our 2020 presidential election by producing dirt on Joe Biden, a potential 2020 opponent of Trump. What’s more, the House has alleged that Trump obstructed Congress by instructing key White House aides to ignore congressional subpoenas, interfering with Congress’s constitutionally mandated authority to investigate the executive branch of government.

Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It’s clear to me that Trump has committed at least two impeachable offenses.

This case needs to be settled in a Senate trial. My hope is that senators call witnesses, to hear more from them about what they know. Former national security adviser John Bolton says he’s ready to testify if he is summoned. Good! Bring him in. Make him take an oath to tell the truth under threat of perjury if he lies. Then hear the man’s story.

Trump keeps saying he did nothing wrong. Then make the case, Mr. President. My own admitted bias and my own political prism tells me the president has messed in an impeachable sort of way. He needs to be tossed out of office.

That can’t happen if the Senate doesn’t commence a trial. I am not saying that the Senate will vote to convict Trump, only that senators need to finish the job begun by their colleagues in the House of Representatives.

The House has impeached the president; as Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said, Trump is “impeached for life.” It’s now up to the Senate to conduct a trial and make a determination on whether the president stays in office.

We all know what the U.S. Senate will decide. I want all 100 senators to put their statements on the record, where they, too, will remain forever.