Tag Archives: impeachment

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.

Pelosi: Don’t impeach Trump

Nancy Pelosi has offered an interesting — and to my mind, quite unexpected — analysis on what might lie in store for Donald J. Trump.

She hopes impeachment is not part of his future.

Yep. That’s right. The Democratic U.S. House leader — and someone who wants to become speaker of the House once again — thinks it is in the nation’s best interest to avoid impeaching the president. She sat down for an interview with the Dallas Morning News, which published her responses to questions in today’s edition.

Read the article here.

It’s too divisive. It’s too political. It would bring too much harm to the political process, according to Pelosi.

Do I agree with her? Well, not entirely. It remains to be seen whether he committed any “high crimes and misdemeanors” that rise to the level of impeachment. A special counsel, Robert Mueller, is investigating whether to level formal charges against the president.

The cynic in me — and I don’t consider myself to be of a cynical bent — suggests that Pelosi has based her reluctance to impeach Trump on more political concerns.

She wants to be speaker after the midterm election this year. Suppose the Democrats retake control of the House and Pelosi gets elevated. Does she lead an impeachment march that results in a Senate trial, only to have the president acquitted because the charges don’t persuade a super-majority of senators to convict him?

What does that do to Pelosi’s future as speaker? And would a failed impeachment effort result in Trump’s re-election in 2020?

Then there’s the prospect of Trump being convicted. That means Vice President Mike Pence gets elevated to the Oval Office; a President Pence could run for election in 2020 and possibly lead a Republican wave that produces a GOP retaking of the House of Representatives.

Well, I’ll have to take Pelosi at her word as stated in the Dallas Morning News Q&A.

I find it a remarkable revelation from a staunch and stern Democratic partisan.

Impeachment remains huge obstacle

I am believing now that Donald J. Trump isn’t likely to be kicked out of office before his term expires.

The nation’s founders set a high bar for removal of a president.

The U.S. House of Representatives can bring articles of impeachment. It can essentially indict a president on a complaint that he has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It takes a simple majority of House members to impeach a president.

It’s happened twice. President Andrew Johnson got impeached in 1868. Then in 1998, the House impeached President Bill Clinton. The House impeached Johnson on 11 counts, the principal count being a violation of the Tenure of Office Act after he had fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The House impeached Clinton on a charge that he perjured himself in testimony before a federal grand jury.

Both men were spared being kicked out. Johnson made it by a single vote in the U.S. Senate. Clinton survived much more easily in his Senate trial.

The Constitution lays out a two-thirds rule for conviction and removal from office of the president.

What makes a Trump removal so difficult lies in the numbers. Republicans control the Senate by a single seat. If they lose the Senate majority after the midterm election, it is projected that several GOP senators would need to join Democrats who likely would vote to convict the president on whatever charge is brought before the body.

I’m not certain that an impeachable offense will emerge from the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. If one does emerge, though, it remains a tremendously tenuous view that there would be enough political support in the Senate to actually convict the president — no matter how egregious the charge that might come forth.

Impeachment is a political process, even though members of the House and Senate state piously that they are conducting a quasi-judicial process. It really relies on the partisan leaning of both legislative bodies.

I want to offer this look at what might lie ahead for the president and for Congress.

First things first. We have an election to complete that will determine the partisan makeup of the legislative chambers that will decide what to do about this president.

Hey, you know he could just quit once he realizes his agenda — whatever it is — is going nowhere.

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.

Oh, yeah, there’s also the Clinton matter

I feel the need to launch a bit of a preemptive strike at those who are inclined to take issue with an earlier item I posted on High Plains Blogger.

It wonders whether Donald John Trump should consider resigning the presidency in the wake of resignations of three key members of Congress: Democratic Sen. Al Franken, Democratic Rep. John Conyers and Republican Rep. Trent Franks — all of whom quit over allegations of sexual harassment and sexual abuse.

As long as we’re insisting on resignation …

Critics of this blog might be inclined to remind me that President Bill Clinton should have quit, too, when allegations surfaced about women with whom he had sexual relations. One woman accused him of rape; another accused him of sexual harassment; yet another was revealed to have engaged in some dalliance with the president while she was working as a White House intern.

I’ll answer any such response this way: President Clinton went through a serious round of “due process.”

The House of Representatives impeached him for lying to a grand jury about his relationship with the White House intern. Republicans who ran the House at the time were looking for a reason to impeach Clinton; the president gave them one by lying under oath.

Then came the trial in the Senate, presided over by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Senators heard the evidence, heard the rebuttal to the evidence and then acquitted the president on all the charges brought by the House.

Due process, man. That is what transpired in 1998.  We haven’t been through anything of the sort as it regards the current president.

So, please spare me the “Clinton should have quit, too” mantra. He went through hell by being impeached. He paid a price. Whether it was a sufficient price for what he did depends on whether you agree or disagree with the Senate verdict.

I happen to agree with it.

Sessions vs. Dowd over ‘obstruction of justice’?

Donald Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, says the president “cannot obstruct justice” because the law exempts him from doing so.

Dowd said: The “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer … and has every right to express his view of any case.”

Are you clear on that? Me, neither.

Oh, but now we have this tidbit regarding the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions. Nearly two decades ago, when President Bill Clinton was being tried in the U.S. Senate after the House impeached him, Sessions — then a Republican senator from Alabama — said this while making the case to remove the president from office:

“The facts are disturbing and compelling on the president’s intent to obstruct justice.”

There’s more.

“The chief law officer of the land, whose oath of office calls on him to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, crossed the line and failed to defend the law, and, in fact, attacked the law and the rights of a fellow citizen.”

Dadgum, man! Who’s right? The president’s personal lawyer or the attorney general?

Dowd is reaching way beyond his — and the president’s — grasp, in my view, in contending that Trump is immune from the obstruction of justice complaint, were it to come from the special counsel probing the Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election.

I disagree with what Sessions said in 1999 about President Clinton, but his statements on the record during that trial put him squarely at odds with what Trump’s personal lawyer is trying to peddle today. If an earlier president can be charged with obstruction of justice, then surely so can the current president face such a charge if one comes forward from the special counsel’s office.

This all begs the question from yours truly: What kind of legal mumbo jumbo is Trump’s lawyer trying to peddle?

Is this a nation of laws … or what?

If I understand Donald John Trump’s lawyer’s rationale correctly about whether the president can “obstruct justice,” I believe I have heard him suggest something quite dangerous and insidious.

John Dowd says the president’s role as chief of the executive branch of the federal government means he “cannot obstruct justice.” The president enjoys protection in Article II of the U.S. Constitution that others don’t get, according to Dowd.

He came to Trump’s defense after the guilty plea came from former national security adviser Michael Flynn over whether Flynn lied to the FBI about meetings with Russian operatives.

What I believe Dowd has said is that Donald Trump, as president, is above the law. He can do or say whatever the hell he wants without facing any criminal penalty, according to Dowd.

Let’s review quickly: President Nixon faced obstruction charges in 1974 when the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against; President Clinton was impeached in 1998 on a number of allegations, including obstruction of justice.

I believe Trump’s lawyer is, um, wrong!

I also believe John Dowd might be talking himself into some serious trouble, right along with his highly visible legal client.

Impeachment talk heats up prematurely

I’ve made no secret of my loathing of Donald John Trump Sr.

I still believe he is unfit for the office of president of the United States. Furthermore, I believe he has disgraced his high office and has embarrassed the nation he was elected to govern.

Do I believe he should be removed from that office? Yes, either by election or by some other extraordinary means, such as impeachment.

However, the talk of impeachment that reportedly is getting hotter by the week — if not by the day — is a good bit premature.

Some congressional Democrats aren’t waiting for the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to finish his job. They want Trump’s scalp now. One Democrat, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, believes that Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville, Va., riot in which the president equated white supremacists with those who protested against them is enough of a reason to impeach the president.

Hey, folks. Impeaching the president is the most politically dangerous thing the House of Representatives can do. I get that the House doesn’t need any official findings to launch an impeachment. President Clinton was impeached because he messed around with a young female White House intern; House Republicans said the real reason was that he lied under oath to a grand jury about it.

I maintain — as I have all along — that House members need to wait for Mueller’s investigation into the “Russia thing” runs its course, even if it lasts well into the 2018 congressional election season. Mueller already has indicted three members of Trump’s campaign team, including its former chairman Paul Manafort. There appears to be much more to follow.

So, with that, let’s cool the impeachment talk while the special counsel goes about his arduous task of cobbling together a highly complicated finding of fact.

As The Hill reported: It is not, obviously, off the table at some time in the future, but is premature at this point in time,” Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, told reporters last month.

If something emerges that rises to the level of an “impeachable offense,” I happen to believe Robert Mueller and his crack legal team will hand it to Congress.

Waiting for a ‘Me Too’-themed political campaign

In the bad old days, when President Clinton was being impeached over his relationship with the White House intern, we saw a rash of political campaign themes aimed at extolling candidates’ marital fidelity.

As if someone should actually boast about honoring a sacred oath he took to love his wife “for as long as we both shall live.”

But it happened. I found it disgusting at the time to see these individuals making their devotion to their families a political talking point.

That was then.

This latest incarnation of moral misbehavior has produced a plethora of allegations against politicians and various celebrities from all walks of life. It’s called the “Me Too” campaign, with women coming forward to accuse men in high places of sexual harassment and, in some cases, of sexual assault.

I’m not predicting it will happen, but I won’t be at all surprised to see a new spate of political ads from men running for public office who will say that they know how to behave in the company of women. They well might couch their slogans in ways that seek to ensure that voters understand that they’ve never done anything they would regret as it regards women.

My reaction is likely to mirror how I felt when politicians in the late 1990s sought to capitalize on the president’s misbehavior. It sickened me then.

I don’t look forward to seeing what I fear might occur in this age of “Me Too” politics.

Impeachment isn’t such a long shot after all

Let’s play out a possible scenario that could emerge from the 2018 midterm election.

Democrats think they have a shot at winning back the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. They also believe their chances of winning a Senate majority are even greater.

I’m going to pose a question that well might provoke some angry response: Is it possible that we can learn just how much Democrats hate Donald J. Trump if they manage to achieve a majority in the House and Senate? Is impeachment a foregone conclusion if both congressional chambers flip next year?

Special counsel Robert Mueller is hard at work collecting information — perhaps even evidence — concerning whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians who hacked into our electoral system. If they produce actual evidence and release it to the public, say, in the first quarter of 2018, then the impeachment talk is going to ratchet up to a very loud level. Then again, there might be perjury accusations coming forward, which also is serious enough to impeach a president; just ask Bill Clinton about that one.

The election will occur in November of next year.

Suppose the special counsel produces evidence of collusion. Suppose, too, that Democrats seize control of Congress.

I’ll now offer a brief explanation of presidential impeachment, which is a two-act drama.

It takes only a simple majority of House members to impeach a president. What might the “high crimes and misdemeanors” include? If there’s collusion, I believe that constitutes an impeachable offense.

If the House impeaches the president, it then merely files a formal complaint, an accusation. Then the House hands off to the Senate, which conducts a trial.

To convict a president, though, the bar is set much higher. Two-thirds of the Senate, 67 senators, must vote to convict. President Andrew Johnson came within a single vote of being tossed out of office; President Bill Clinton faced three counts in his Senate trial, and he was acquitted on all three by comfortable margins.

I wouldn’t dare to predict how a Trump trial would conclude. I am not even going to predict that Congress’s controlling majority is going to flip next year.

If it does, however, my sense is that impeachment becomes many times more possible than it is at this moment with Republicans in charge of Capitol Hill.