Tag Archives: impeachment

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.

Impeachment? Not so fast, folks

Social media are chattering and clattering like a newspaper newsroom full of typewriters on deadline. Those of you who are old enough to remember actual typewriters will understand the analogy.

But the social media are abuzz with viral statements, requests and demands that Donald John Trump Sr. gets impeached.

Let’s hold that thought. At least for a while, OK?

The president of the United States is demonstrating plenty of disturbing behavior. He holds those rallies in which he ad-libs his way into nonsensical rants. Then he reads reasonably crafted speeches, looking for all the world as if he’s been asked to eat every bite of the squishy spinach on his plate. The next day he tears into the media, members of Congress and virtually every political foe who’s lined up against him.

Serious-minded folks like former head spook James Clapper say they doubt Trump’s “fitness” for his job. He’s acting like a maniac. Sounding like a blithering, blathering fruitcake.

Does any of this behavior rise to the level of an impeachable offense? No. Not as I understand what’s written into the U.S. Constitution.

Article II, Section 4 spells out the specifics of a presidential impeachment. It calls for such an action in the event of “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The House of Representatives must bring formal charges against the president. Then the Senate conducts a trial; to convict a president and toss him out of office requires a two-thirds vote by senators.

Has the 45th president committed any sort of “high crime and misdemeanor”? No. Indeed, there is an open debate on just when we’ll know of any potential charges being brought. Many of us have our opinion on whether there should be charges brought. To date, we have none. We don’t even have any compelling evidence to suggest that there will be charges brought.

What about the president’s behavior? My reading of the Constitution suggests that loopy conduct does not, by itself, constitute an impeachable offense. But let’s not kid ourselves here. Donald Trump’s behavior on speech podiums is weird in the extreme.

I’ve never heard a more inarticulate president than the one we’ve got now. Never have I seen someone trash tradition in the manner that he does. Given an opportunity to heal a nation divided by myriad issues of many stripes, Donald Trump does precisely the opposite. He lashes out. He hurls insults at his foes. He cannot even bring himself to offer a word of good wishes to one of his critics — Sen. John McCain — who is in the midst of a life-and-death struggle against cancer.

Trump disgraces his office almost daily. I’d say he disgraces himself, but he seems to lack the capacity to look inward.

Is any of this impeachable? No.

None of it will stop the social media chatter. I just think it’s important to put some of this hysteria into some perspective.

Meantime, let’s wait for the special counsel looking at “The Russia Thing” to do his job.

Kenneth Starr: The King of Irony

Leave it to Kenneth Starr to make one of the more ironic declarations about the unfolding investigation into Donald J. Trump’s alleged involvement with Russian election hackers.

Starr has cautioned special counsel Robert Mueller to avoid going onto a “fishing expedition” in his search for the truth behind whether Trump’s presidential campaign had any improper dealings with Russians seeking to meddle in our 2016 election.

Mueller needs to keep his mission focused, Starr said. He shouldn’t allow it to wander onto unplowed ground.

Well now. How does one respond to that?

Let’s try this.

Kenneth Starr became a master judicial fisherman in the 1990s when he was selected as special counsel to investigate a real estate deal called Whitewater involving President and Mrs. Clinton. He came up with nothing there. Then he sauntered off into a sexual harassment charge leveled against the president by Paula Jones. Then he found something else, which was a relationship the president was having with a White House intern.

Real estate deal leads to sexual harassment, which then leads to a sexual relationship. Impeachment followed all of that.

Is the current special counsel headed down the same path? I haven’t a clue.

Kenneth Starr, though, proved to us all that these investigations can hit pay dirt even as they wander hither and yon.

The comic aspect of this whole discussion is that someone such as Starr would issue a word of caution for one of his legal descendants about a “fishing expedition.”

That’s it: Blame Congress now

Here, dear reader, is a tweet that came from the president of the United States. It is just another in an endless litany of shocking pronouncements from Donald John Trump Sr.

Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!

There you have it. The president has blamed Congress for enacting a tough sanctions bill against Russia. He didn’t say a word in that tweet about his signing the bill into law. Lawmakers approved the bill with overwhelming majorities and they undoubtedly would have overridden any presidential veto.

Indulge me for a moment.

The U.S.-Russia relationship has tanked because the Russians have been caught — and please pardon the somewhat dated description here — red-handed in their effort to attack the U.S. electoral process. The Russians sought to meddle in our 2016 presidential election. Intelligence analysts have concluded the Russians did it. Members of the Trump administration have drawn the same conclusion.

The only high-ranking U.S. official to equivocate is the highest-ranking of them all: the president.

Congress acted as it should have acted by imposing new sanctions on the Russians — and by assuring that Congress has the final say on any effort to lessen or eliminate them.

Yet the president continues to hold tightly to this notion that he can “negotiate” better deals with Russians than Congress.

I should add that Trump signed the sanctions bill without the usual fanfare associated with high-profile bill signings. No TV cameras were present; the president didn’t hand out pens to officials as he etched his signature to the document. The signing was carried in the proverbial dead of night. Why is that?

Now he’s going after Congress yet again for doing what it is entitled to do.

Just suppose for a moment that Donald Trump finds himself in grave political trouble down the road. Suppose special counsel Robert Mueller concludes that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian effort to sway the election; let’s also suggest that Mueller might find evidence of obstruction of justice stemming from Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

All of this well might bring the president to the brink of impeachment by the House of Representatives. It is at that point that the president is going to need every friend he can find on Capitol Hill to save his backside.

Is this how he nourishes those relationships, by blaming Congress for the deterioration in U.S.-Russia relations?

Hold on, Rep. Waters!

Donald John Trump Sr. isn’t the only American politician who needs to bind up his hands to keep him from abusing his Twitter account.

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters? I’m talking about you!

The California Democrat is one of the president’s most vocal and consistent critics. She fired off a tweet that said Vice President Pence already is planning his inauguration in anticipation of Trump’s impeachment and conviction of assorted “high crimes and misdemeanors.” She said former White House press flack Sean Spicer and ex-chief of staff Reince Priebus will “lead the transition.”

Read my lips here: I take a back seat to no one in my disdain for this president and the way he has conducted himself. But impeachment is not even close to occurring.

Waters has been around Capitol Hill for a long time. I am going to presume she does an adequate job representing her California congressional district, given that she’s been re-elected numerous times since her first election to Congress in 1990.

She tends to make a national name for herself, though, by popping off during heated political debates. It’s getting pretty damn hot in Washington these days, as I believe we all can attest.

Waters isn’t the first anti-Trumpkin to talk openly about impeachment. Fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Green of Texas has filed articles of impeachment, but it isn’t going anywhere — at least not yet.

But this business of using Twitter as a platform to make these kinds goofy political pronouncements is beginning to annoy many of us. You may count me as among the annoyed.