Tag Archives: impeachment

Obstructing justice is an impeachable offense … isn’t it?

Robert S. Mueller III filed a lengthy report that concludes among other things that the president of the United States obstructed justice regarding the lengthy investigation into the Russia Thing.

If a president can be impeached for obstruction of justice in 1998, why is it different in 2019? That’s the quandary with which I am wrestling at this moment.

House Republicans declared in 1998 that a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, should be impeached because he obstructed justice while former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr looked into that sexual relationship with the White House intern. Oh, and he committed perjury while talking to a federal grand jury.

Two strikes against Clinton were enough for the GOP to launch an impeachment proceeding against a Democratic president. The impeachment succeeded, but then the Senate trial produced an acquittal on all the counts.

Therein lies the conundrum that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing. The House has the goods to impeach Donald Trump. Mueller’s report cited at least 10 instances where the president sought to obstruct justice. He said it again in testimony before two congressional committees in July. Why didn’t he file a formal complaint? Mueller said the Office of Legal Counsel policy prohibits him from indicting a “sitting president.”

I happen to stand with Pelosi’s decision to go slow on impeachment. She doesn’t want to proceed with impeaching Trump if there is no appetite among Republicans in the Senate to convict him of a complaint brought to them by the House.

I say all this, though, while scratching my noggin. If obstructing justice was enough to impeach a president 21 years ago, why is this instance so radically different that congressional Republicans cannot do so again now?

I think I know the answer. Congressional Republicans are playing politics with a growing constitutional crisis.

Trump projects his own ‘ineptitude’ on ex-special counsel

Donald Trump has resorted now to calling former special counsel Robert Mueller “inept.” The president is boasting about Mueller’s supposedly poor performance while testifying before two congressional committees.

What I find hilarious is that the Twitter master in chief would stoop to saying Mueller demonstrated “ineptitude” while explaining why he didn’t “exonerate” Trump of obstruction charges. Mueller also repeated his contention that the Russian hacking of our 2016 presidential election should concern “every American.”

Mueller’s performance, while it didn’t deliver the explosive moment some had hoped would occur, was far from how Trump has described it.

Indeed, for this presidential buffoon to criticize Mueller — a former FBI director, career prosecutor and decorated Vietnam War combat Marine — is laughable on its face.

Oh, well. I suppose Donald Trump can stand behind the notion that he is president, after all, and no one else holds the office.

So very sad.

Whether to impeach or mount anti-Trump election effort

Today I feel one way about impeaching Donald Trump. Tomorrow I might feel differently.

Well, that’s how it goes for me. I cannot settle on a course of action regarding the president of the United States. I believe he is a criminal. I believe he is unfit for office. I believe has obstructed justice … which is an impeachable offense.

Does that mean the House of Representatives should launch an impeachment “inquiry,” let alone actual impeachment proceedings? No.

I now believe — at least that’s my belief today — that the only option now for getting rid of Donald Trump will occur at the next presidential election.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi along with the rest of the House Democratic caucus might have been waiting with bated breath for former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony this week before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. They wanted a “gotcha” moment to occur. It did not present itself. Mueller said what many millions of Americans know already, that Trump has obstructed justice.

Committee Republicans did their job. They sought to impugn Mueller’s integrity, his impartiality, his fairness. They didn’t persuade me, but I was not the one whose attention they sought; they sought to energize the Trump base of voters. Mission accomplished.

Congressional Republicans appear to be as dug in as ever against impeaching the president. Democrats appear to be a bit more demoralized today than they were the day before Mueller took his seat before the House panels.

But … an election is coming along. November 2020 will present Trump foes perhaps their final opportunity to rid the nation of the scourge of this president, the guy who doesn’t believe what Mueller — and other intelligence experts have — that the Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Can they make the case? Can they deny Trump the Electoral College victory he covets to take office for a second term as president?

I believe at this moment that is the only viable course available for those of us who want Donald Trump removed from the presidency.

However, that could change. I mean, there’s always another day.

Mueller set to stand on the world’s center stage

Robert S. Mueller III only thought he was heading back into private life after completing his 22-month-long investigation into whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russian election hackers.

He turned his report in to the Department of Justice, then headed for the tall grass. Mueller came out of proverbial “hiding” to deliver a nine-minute statement on what he concluded.

Now he’s heading back to the world’s center stage. The former special counsel is going to speak to two U.S. House of Representatives committees — Judiciary and Intelligence. He will tell committee members what his 448-page report says.

Now, though, we’re hearing from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who says Mueller is going to produce “substantial evidence” that Trump committed crimes while running for president and while serving in the office. Nadler said on “Fox News Sunday” that Mueller’s report already has unveiled such evidence.

Mueller will get a chance on Wednesday to tell the world what he’s put in writing.

OK, so no we must wonder: Is this the game changer? Is this moment when the bulb will light up in the skulls of recalcitrant Republicans who have given the president a pass on what Democrats have been yammering all along: that Donald Trump is a criminal and should be removed from office?

I don’t know about you, but I am not going to hold my breath that such an event will occur. It goes back to that weird vise grip that Trump has clamped on the Republican Party, on GOP members of Congress and on that base of supporters who continue to cheer for their political hero.

The show will commence early Wednesday. All the broadcast TV networks are going live with it, along with a number of cable TV outlets. I presume they’ll let Mueller’s words speak for themselves, leaving it to the president himself to label the coverage as “fake news.” I wonder, too, if Trump is going to tell millions of Americans that they didn’t really see and hear what they saw and heard.

Is this going to be Robert Mueller’s last act before actually retiring and returning to the weeds? Hah! Not a chance.

Still, the TV viewing promises to be riveting.

Memo to AOC: You’re playing with fire

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is beginning to get on my nerves. As in really getting on my nerves.

The rookie New York City congresswoman is seeking to disrupt the political power structure within the Democratic Party by challenging one of her fellow Democrats, who also happens to one of the more skilled politicians ever to lead the U.S. House of Representatives.

AOC needs to mind her manners. I don’t mean to suggest that she sits silently on the back bench of the House. I do mean to suggest that Ocasio-Cortez is getting far more attention than she deserves this early in her congressional career.

Pelosi vs. AOC heats up

The freshman lawmaker is re-igniting her feud with Pelosi by hitting back at the speaker, who criticized Ocasio-Cortez and other far-left pols in the House for their outspokenness. She said all they have is “social media” and added that there’s no outright support among the rank and file to back them up.

AOC, of course, said she does have “public sentiment” on her side, which is to demand immediate impeachment of Donald Trump. Pelosi is digging in against that idea, saying it is too early and that she wants significant Republican buy-in were she to initiate impeachment proceedings against the GOP president.

I tend to side with Pelosi, although the evidence does seem to be mounting that the president has committed impeachable offenses. Pelosi, the shrewd pol that she is, understands that to impeach the president in the House cannot guarantee removal from office, given the Republicans’ control of the Senate, which must put the president on trial. Moreover, the bar for conviction is much higher than it is for impeachment; the Senate needs 67 votes to convict, while the House only needs a simple majority to impeach.

Pelosi is the veteran here. She is the politician with lots of wisdom and knowledge of how the system works. She also is every bit as ideologically progressive as AOC and her other congressional newbie allies.

The only difference is that Speaker Pelosi knows better than to rush headlong into a confrontation that she well could lose.

Back bencher bails on GOP … will there be more?

Justin Amash used to belong to the Republican Party while serving as a congressman from a reliably Republican district in Michigan.

How reliable is it? Grand Rapids, Mich., used to be represented in the House of Representatives by Gerald R. Ford, who went on to become the nation’s 38th president. If there was anyone who was more “establishment Republican” than President Ford, then he or she has been hiding in the tall grass for generations.

Amash bailed on the GOP this week. He is the lone GOP House member to sign on to the call to impeach Donald J. Trump. He believes Trump has committed crimes against his high office and the Constitution. Yet his formerly fellow Republicans are having none of it. Now, Amash is having none of them.

He is now an independent. Rumors are flying that he will run for president in 2020 — as a libertarian! Well, good luck with that.

Actually, I admire Amash for sticking to his principles. He likely won’t change any Republican minds by leaving the party. There are those of us out here in this vast nation of ours who believe he is right, that the president did commit crimes that have risen (or sunk!) to the level of impeachment.

He isn’t going to place fealty to the president or to his former political party over the principle of adhering to the law and defending the Constitution.

Is this former GOP back bencher going to move to the front rank of politicians? We will need to see how that plays out. My hope is that he does. My concern is that he will disappear.

Watergate Day has arrived, heralding ‘most stupid scandal’ ever

Happy Watergate Break-in Day, ladies and gentlemen.

It was 47 years ago today that some burglars got caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. It turned out eventually that the burglars were acting on behalf of the Committee to Re-Elect the President — aka the hilarious acronym “CREEP.”

The scandalous nature of the burglary took time to unfold before the nation. When it did, all hell broke loose. We learned about how President Nixon sought to, um, “obstruct justice” by seeking to stop the FBI investigation. There were those infamous tape recordings. The Senate seated a select committee to get to the bottom of it.

Once it did, then the House Judiciary Committee launched impeachment proceedings. Then it voted to impeach the president, with several Republican members joining their Democratic colleagues.

Nixon then quit the presidency.

Why is this remarkably pertinent today? Because another scandal is growing in Washington that well could result in another presidential impeachment. As stupid as the current troubles surrounding Donald Trump might seem, they fail the Stupid Test standard established by CREEP.

When the burglars broke into the DNC office on June 17, 1972, the Republican president already was headed toward a smashing re-election victory. The Democrats later that summer nominated Sen. George McGovern, who then went on to lose to Nixon in a landslide. Nixon carried 49 states, rolled up 521 electoral votes, trounced McGovern by 23 percent in the balloting.

Yet the CREEP moguls thought it was worth their time to rifle through the DNC files to look for additional dirt on the Democratic Party and on McGovern.

I cannot fathom a more stupidly conceived crime than the one concocted by CREEP and the Republican Party establishment.

There can be no way yet to determine how the Donald Trump drama is going to end up. I want him out of office at the earliest possible opportunity. Whether it’s through impeachment and conviction in a Senate trial or by the next presidential election that is still about 500-some days away, it makes no difference to me.

In the annals of stupid scandals, though, the stupidity standard was set 47 years ago when those bozos broke into the DNC, only to allow Richard Nixon’s penchant for paranoia to doom his presidency.

Courts not involved in impeachment, Mr. POTUS

OK, Mr. President. Let me be clear: I am not on your side. I want you gone from the office you occupy.

However, I am not yet ready to climb aboard the impeachment haywagon. Maybe I’ll get there. Just not yet.

There. Having gotten that off my chest, I feel the need to remind you — and all those Trumpsters, if they’re paying attention — about a fundamental aspect of impeachment.

Your statement today that the “courts wouldn’t allow” the House of Representatives to impeach you is born of utter ignorance.

The House has the sole authority to impeach a president, sir. The courts have nothing to say about it. The Constitution doesn’t allow it. The Constitution invests the full power of impeachment in the elected body of politicians comprising the House.

Really, Mr. President, you ought to read the governing document. The impeachment matter is inscribed in Article I as clearly as it gets.

But your base of supporters don’t care about that, either. I know those are the folks to whom you are speaking. They cheer you on. They are ignorant, too, of what the Constitution allows . . . or appear to be ignorant.

Just so that I am clear, Mr. President, please understand that whatever the House decides to do regarding impeachment will come only after it does its homework. The only positive statement I will make to you at this moment is that the Senate and its majority of sycophants do not appear ready to convict you of any charge that the House would bring.

Oh, and Mr. President, the Senate has the sole authority to put presidents on trial. That’s in the Constitution, too.

Who will be the GOP ‘hero’?

Bill Press is old enough to remember the Watergate scandal. He also is a fierce Democratic partisan who cheered the resignation of President Nixon in 1974.

He’s now a Democratic Party “elder” who writes commentaries on occasion and speaks for Democrats who are engaged in a fight with another Republican in the White House, Donald Trump.

He wonders now whether there are any Republicans who will stand up to Donald Trump the way they stood up in 1974 to Richard Nixon. Press isn’t holding his breath. Neither are many of the rest of us.

Trump is fighting with House and Senate Democrats over the president’s assertion of executive power/privilege at the expense of the legislative power. Congress is demanding that Trump turn over his tax returns; Democrats want to talk to key White House aides; they are insisting on seeing the full, unredacted report filed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Trump is having none of it.

Press wonders whether any of the Republicans in the House and Senate who are standing up for Trump will begin standing up to him if he continues his assault on the constitutional concept of “co-equal power” shared by those three branches of government: Congress, the White House and the courts.

He fears the worst. Press concludes in an essay: “The difference is, under Watergate, there were brave Republicans willing to stand up to their president: Bill Cohen of Maine and Lawrence Hogan of Maryland in the House; Barry Goldwater of Arizona and Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania in the Senate. Today, especially among cowardly Senate Republicans, we’re waiting for the first one with enough guts to stand up against Trump. It looks like it’s going to be a long wait.”

It took a GOP congressional delegation to troop to the White House to tell President Nixon he didn’t have the votes to withstand a Senate trial once the House impeached him. That’s when Nixon quit.

Is there a hero among the current crop of GOP lawmakers? I fear not.

AG held in contempt of Congress … to what end?

Well, here we go. Donald Trump has managed to make history once again.

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has ruled that it now holds Attorney General William Barr in “contempt of Congress” for refusing to turn over the complete, unredacted report filed by special counsel Robert Mueller III.

To be honest, I don’t know what this really means in actual terms. A previous Congress once held another AG, Eric Holder, in contempt, but that went nowhere.

This one somehow feels different.

Trump has declared executive privilege in declaring that the White House will no longer allow anyone to testify before Congress; nor will it send over any documents that Congress might demand as it continues its constitutional role of oversight of the executive branch of government.

The president leads the executive branch, which the Constitution says is merely a “co-equal” arm of government. Its power is no greater or less than Congress, which comprises the legislative branch of government.

I’ll stand with Congress — no surprise there, I’m sure — in this dispute. Congress is seeking to assert the power granted by the Constitution. Donald Trump is asserting a vast array of executive privilege that he is seeking to block congressional inquiry.

I do not know how in the world the president can get away with this power grab.

A key House committee now has acted. It holds the president in contempt. That decision by itself is virtually meaningless, in my view. However, it is looking like a precursor to more legislative action intended to get to the bottom of this matter regarding obstruction of justice and whether the president is blocking efforts to find the truth.

Is there an impeachment on the horizon? A big part of me hopes that isn’t the case. House Democrats are in a position to impeach Donald Trump. Republicans who run the Senate — where an impeachment trial would occur — are in a position to dismiss whatever complaint comes to them from their colleagues in the House.

It’s taken a while to get to this place. It is an ugly spectacle to watch. It’s making me quite jittery.