Tag Archives: impeachment

Most toxic ever? Well … it’s a different type of toxicity

An acquaintance of mine posed a question to me today. Since he asked it in a public social media venue, I’ll answer it here.

He wondered: “Has it always been this toxic? Or are we entering a new era?” The “it” to which he referred is the political atmosphere.

I’ve thought about it for several hours and I’ve concluded that it’s more likely a “new era” than the most toxic ever.

This fellow seems to think I’m an expert on political matters. I’m not. I am, however, a 67-year-old red-blooded American patriot who’s been witness to a lot of anger, anxiety, fear and loathing in the halls of power.

One highly toxic era occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The first trigger was the Vietnam War, followed immediately — and in a related sort of way — the Watergate scandal. I served in that war for a time, came home and then got involved politically as a newly married college student.

Politicians were angry at each other because of their respective views on the war. That anger spilled into the streets. People died during riots. Then came Kent State in 1970 when National Guard troops opened fire and killed four student protesters. The nation was grief-stricken.

The Watergate break-in — in June 1972 — stirred Americans even more. The scandal that ensued threatened to swallow the nation in one big bite. It didn’t. The U.S. Constitution did its job; a congressional committee approved articles of impeachment against President Nixon, who then quit.

There was plenty of anger then, too.

Two decades later, a newly elected president became the focus of intense Republican anger. The GOP detested President Clinton. Republicans won control of Congress in 1994 and began their quest to get rid of him. They hired a special counsel, who then stumbled onto a discovery: the president’s relationship with a young White House intern. The counsel summoned the president, made him swear to tell the “whole truth” to a grand jury; the president didn’t uphold that oath when he was asked about the intern.

There you go. Impeachment proceedings began. Was there intense anger then? Uh, yeah. The air was poisoned by partisan bias. The House impeached President Clinton in 1998, but the Senate acquitted him in a trial.

Now comes the Donald John Trump era. The air is toxic. It’s full of bitterness. Democrats cannot stand the very idea of this guy being elected president of the United States. The president’s core supporters are firing back, telling Trump foes to get over it; he won fair and square.

Another special counsel is now on the job. He’s researching whether the president had an improper relationship with Russian government officials. The president has impugned the integrity of the political system, the nation’s intelligence network that has concluded Russians sought to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s tweet storms have infuriated his foes, energized his friends.

The president cannot seem to tell the whole truth. The only difference between this president’s penchant for prevarication and Bill Clinton is that Trump hasn’t lied under oath … yet.

Trump’s candidacy for president ushered in a new political era. His election as president hammered it all home. The reaction to his election has generated yet another storm the likes of which many of us never have seen.

Is it the worst ever? I won’t say that. It damn sure feels like something brand new.

Don’t even consider it, Mr. President

A back-bench congressional Democrat has issued a warning to the president of the United States.

Rep. Ted Lieu says Congress will start impeachment proceedings if Donald J. Trump fired special counsel Robert Mueller and the fellow who picked him for the job, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Message to the president? Don’t even think about it.

I’m not yet sure how Rep. Lieu knows what the House leadership would do. It’s run by members of the other party. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan would be the key member to set impeachment proceedings into motion. I am not yet convinced Ryan has the fortitude to do the right thing if Trump were to commit what could be considered an impeachable offense.

I also have mixed feelings about an impeachment in the first place.

It’s clear to you, I am sure, that I don’t believe Trump is fit for the office to which he was elected. What would we get if Trump were impeached and then convicted in a Senate trial? Vice President Mike Pence is more of a “true conservative” than Trump. He seems competent enough, whereas Trump can’t find his backside with both hands when it comes to understanding the complexities of government.

OK, I didn’t support the Republican ticket in November 2016. I do take some solace, though, in realizing that I am a member of a majority of voters who endorsed the other major-party candidates.

But … back to my point about impeachment.

We’re a long way from even thinking about that — unless the president does something seriously foolish by firing Mueller and Rosenstein.

Yes, Newt … the president can ‘obstruct justice’

I am beginning to think Newt Gingrich no longer should be taken seriously.

He’s the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; at one time he was second in line to be president, right behind the vice president.

Gingrich once voted to impeach President Bill Clinton for, among other things, obstruction of justice. So what does this clown say now? The president cannot commit such a crime because — are you ready? — he’s the president!

The current president, of course, is Donald J. Trump.

Gingrich is an ally of Trump. He has spoken favorably of the president. I get that. However, his remarks to the National Press Club make no sense. He didn’t cite a federal statute that prohibits a criminal indictment against the president. He said that the office protects its occupant from an obstruction of justice charge.

But … didn’t it protect President Clinton? Didn’t it do the same for President Nixon when the U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against him for, um, obstruction of justice?

Newt needs a reminder of history. Indeed, he was part of an event that involved a president who he once accused of obstructing justice. If he continues to ignore history and spout the nonsense he keeps spouting about Donald Trump, then he is talking himself out of any relevance to the current political discourse.

Hold up on impeachment, Rep. Green

U.S. Rep. Al Green is getting way head of the parade as he prepares articles of impeachment against Donald J. Trump.

The Texas Democrat believes the president has committed obstruction of justice in the ongoing probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian agents who allegedly sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

Here’s a thought, Rep. Green: Why not wait for the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the issues that have given you so much grief?

Mueller has been handed a huge pile of potential evidence to sort through, thanks to the testimony given this week by former FBI Director James Comey. It would serve the process well to let Mueller and his well-qualified legal team to sort through the evidence and determine whether the president committed an impeachable offense. Such an offense might include whether his campaign colluded with Russian spooks in hacking into the electoral process and whether he indeed obstructed justice by firing Comey.

https://www.texastribune.org/2017/06/07/al-green-pushes-forward-trump-impeachment/

I take a back seat to no one in my loathing of the president, not even to Rep. Green.

I just want to see the special counsel’s investigation concluded before the House of Representatives considers an impeachment of the president of the United States.

Impeachment? Not likely with this Congress

John Podesta knows a thing or two about impeachment. He served as White House chief of staff for a president who was impeached by the House of Representatives and put on trial in the Senate.

Podesta has looked at the political landscape and reports that he doesn’t see impeachment on the horizon for Donald J. Trump.

I have to agree with his assessment.

The issue is the makeup of the body that would file articles of impeachment.

Podesta seems to think, according to his comments to the Washington Post, that Trump might deserve to be impeached, but he doesn’t think the current House has the guts to do it. He allegedly sought to quash an FBI investigation into his campaign’s relationship with Russia. The Justice Department has assigned a special counsel to look at the matter.

Consider the 20th century’s two big impeachment moments.

* One of them occurred in 1974. The House was in control of Democrats. The president, Richard Nixon, was a Republican. Nixon stood accused of obstructing justice in the Watergate scandal. The House Judiciary Committee, with its Democratic majority, approved articles of impeachment and referred them to the full House.

President Nixon’s impeachment was a done deal. It took a stern lecture from the late Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater to persuade the president to give up the fight; Nixon quit the presidency the next day.

* The other occurred in 1998. Republicans controlled the House and the Senate. The special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, began his probe by looking at a real estate matter involving President Clinton and his wife, Hillary — both of whom are Democrats. He expanded it to include an extramarital dalliance the president was having with a young woman. He summoned the president to testify before a federal grand jury; the president was untruthful.

He was impeached on obstruction and perjury charges. The Senate acquitted him. Again, politics — just as it did in 1974 — played a role in moving the impeachment forward.

Would the Republicans who control Congress have the stones to impeach a fellow Republican who also happens to be president? Podesta doesn’t think so. Neither do I.

Impeachment is a political exercise in the extreme. Sure, the members of Congress talk a good game about seeking justice, to punish the president for committing “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The reality is that it all rests on politics.

The previous century provided ample evidence of the politics associated with this serious matter. I have no reason to believe — at least not yet — that anything has changed.

No matter the result, blowback will be ugly

Donald J. Trump’s current political troubles are likely to end one of two ways.

The special counsel and two congressional committees will find criminal conduct involving the president, his campaign and the Russian government — and he’ll be impeached and possibly convicted.

Or …

The special counsel and those committees will come up empty and will decide there’s no “there” there. The president will be absolved of wrongdoing and he’ll complete his term in office.

Either outcome bodes ugly for those of who have an interest in government, in politics and in public policy. The ugliness will be the result of the president’s reaction to either outcome.

History already has shown that Trump cannot — or will not — let go of the past. Witness his continual recitation of his stunning, shocking victory in the 2016 presidential election.

Consider the potential outcomes:

Trump gets impeached and then convicted. The president will not go quietly. He will not leave office as President Nixon did in August 1974 and then disappear for years. We won’t see Trump fly away aboard Marine One from the White House lawn, grinning broadly, waving to his friends, White House staff and political supporters.

Oh, no. He’ll be angry. He’ll be lashing out continually against the media, Democrats, turncoat Republicans, Congress in general. He might even call for the abolition of the U.S. Constitution for all I know.

Once in some form of retirement, he’ll be tweeting his fingers to the bone. He’ll be dishing out insults by the minute, let alone the hour. He’ll threaten to sue anyone for any reason that comes to mind.

And the media he hates — allegedly — will lap it up, report it dutifully and give him all the platform he needs to seek some form of revenge against the system that “betrayed” him.

If the president is impeached and then acquitted by the Senate, well, ratchet all of the previous up by a factor of, oh, several thousand.

The president is clean. This outcome could be just as ugly as the other one.

Think of how the president is going to play this one out. He’ll stage campaign-style rallies. He’ll savage the media and his political enemies. He likely could re-tell the story of his “historic” electoral victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton. The president is not likely to accept victory like a gentleman, praise the system for doing its job, thank the special counsel, Robert Mueller, for his service to the country and wish him well as he returns to private law practice.

The president will seethe and stew over the very idea that he would be the subject of an FBI probe, of an investigation by the legislative branch of government.

Moreover, he’ll do all of it in public. He likely would seize the limelight at every opportunity. He’ll create opportunities when they don’t present themselves.

All of this is my way of telling you that no matter the outcome of these investigations, we — the American public — are going to be disserved by the president of the United States.

Just as he showed during the 2016 GOP primary campaign, he exhibited a clearly defined “sore loser” trait. When he won the whole thing, he has shown as well that he is a “sore winner.”

Thus, I am not looking forward to the end of this investigation, no matter how it turns out.

What has happened to Trump’s ‘fine-tuned machine’?

We’re at about Day 120 of the Donald J. Trump administration.

The nation passed the 100-day benchmark period with the president proclaiming that he had accomplished more than anyone in the history of his office during that time.

In less than one month since that boastful time, it’s fair to suggest that the wheels have flown off the Trump wagon. His “fine-tuned machine” is on fire. Words like “impeachment” and “criminal investigation,” which once were whispered between friends are now being blurted out in the open.

Dear readers, we are on the verge of a full-blown crisis in our government.

We aren’t yet in full crisis mode. I am beginning to believe that the moment well could be at hand.

The U.S. Justice Department has appointed a special counsel to examine the president’s relationship with Russian government officials who — according to 17 U.S. intelligence agencies — tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has fired the FBI director, James Comey, because he was spending too much time on “the Russia thing.” He reportedly has labeled Comey a “nut case” and “crazy” while meeting in the Oval Office with the Russian foreign minister and that country’s ambassador to the United States.

What’s likely far worse is that the president said that firing Comey relieved him of “pressure” from the FBI probe into that very “Russia thing.”

Does this sound like an obstruction of justice? Does it sound like an impeachable offense? Does it sound like an administration running like a “fine-tuned machine”?

I also believe we are witnessing what many of us said would be a nightmarish political experience with the election of Donald Trump as president.

Many Americans said he is unfit, ill-prepared, unqualified and temperamentally unsuited to become our head of state and government and our commander in chief. To be honest, the speed and the drama associated with what looks like a presidential death spiral is shocking even to the most ardent critics of Donald J. Trump.

You may count me as one of those critics who is astounded at what we appear to be witnessing.

We’re just past the 100-day mark of a brand new presidency and it’s coming apart right before our eyes.

Is Rep. Chaffetz the GOP answer man on impeachment?

Given that I am a red-blooded American male, which means that I am wrong a good bit more than I am right, I will advance this notion with some trepidation.

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz could emerge as the stand-up congressional Republican who gets his GOP caucus members to see the unvarnished truth behind the president of their party.

Donald J. Trump might be in some serious political trouble with what we’re hearing now about what he allegedly “asked” FBI Director James Comey to do; he reportedly suggested that Comey shut down an investigation into national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russian government officials.

Obstruction of justice, anyone?

So, where does Chaffetz fit into all of this?

He chairs the House Government and Oversight Committee. He has announced he will not seek re-election to his Utah congressional district seat in 2018. He is a lame duck. He has no more pandering to do to get elected. He need not worry about his “base” of supporters.

Chaffetz said this week he is preparing to ask to see a memo that Comey wrote after meeting with the president shortly after Trump fired Flynn from his national security adviser job. The memo reportedly is part of a meticulous paper trail that Comey has left that details conversations he had with the president.

There could be much more to this than we know about already. Chaffetz might want to see all that Comey wrote down and which now is in the FBI files, presumably locked away somewhere inside the J. Edgar Hoover Building. If the FBI has its former director’s memoranda, then it belongs to the public. Chaffetz, therefore, would seem to be entitled to see them as a representative of a committee charged with examining “government operations.”

Chaffetz is set to chart a new life for himself away from Congress. The timing of these revelations — and of the chairman’s decision to step away from the House — suggest to me that Chaffetz has far less to lose politically than other congressional leaders who have been unable or unwilling to take decisive action against the president.

Mr. Chairman, are you up to the task of rooting out the truth, no matter where it leads?

Hold up on ‘impeachment’ talk

Donald J. Trump may have committed a monumental mistake by divulging highly classified information to visiting Russian diplomats.

He well might have put some intelligence operations in jeopardy; indeed, let us pray we don’t lose any lives as a result of whatever he might have told the Russians who he welcomed into the Oval Office.

Social media are buzzing with talk about impeachment, that the president might have committed a treasonous act.

Let hold on here.

I detest Trump as much as the next guy. However, it’s good to realize that in order to be impeached by the House of Representatives and tried by the Senate, a president needs to commit a “high crime and misdemeanor.” Trump likely didn’t do anything illegal.

You can bet that he might have done something that is far more “careless” and “reckless” than anything Hillary Rodham Clinton did when she used her personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state. Did the president commit an impeachable offense?

It’s not likely.

Trump pops off

There well might be other grounds on which to impeach the president. I can think of obstruction of justice, for one thing, dealing with his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, who at the time of his firing was in the middle of an investigation into whether Trump had an improper relationship with Russian government officials.

The Emoluments Clause in the U.S. Constitution also might prove problematic for Trump as he continues to have interests in businesses that have dealings with foreign governments.

As outrageous as Trump’s relationship with Russia is proving to be, his reported carelessness with classified information doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment.

The founders set a high standard for such an action, although President Clinton’s impeachment did seem to stretch far beyond what one would constitute grounds for impeachment. Congressional Republicans hung their impeachment vote on the president’s failure to speak the truth under oath to a federal grand jury which asked him about his relationship with that White House intern; U.S. senators, though, acquitted him in the trial that ensued.

It’s good to scale back the impeachment talk regarding Donald Trump as it relates to this latest bombshell. What he might have done stinks to high heaven and there well could be blowback. Impeachment? It doesn’t appear to be a natural consequence of what the president might have disclosed to his Russian guests.

Delay from Trump adds to suspicion of a lie

Donald J. Trump’s job as president of the United States gives him direct access to the finest, most professional intelligence-gathering apparatus in the world.

He hasn’t availed himself of that apparatus. Yet, he has fired off that infamous tweet in which he accuses President Barack H. Obama of wiretapping his campaign offices.

Trump could — if he had the proof in hand — deliver it to Americans right now. He has access to it. He is the president … of … the … United … States … of … America, for God’s sake!

He’s not coming forward. The president isn’t producing it. Hmm. Why do you suppose that’s the case? Oh! He doesn’t have it! It’s a lie!

His tweet the other day declared as a “fact” that the former president had broken the law. A fact, man! Facts mean what they mean. It is that the purveyor of that “fact” has the proof of what he has alleged.

Where in the name of prevaricator in chief is the proof, Mr. President?

As some have noted already — so this isn’t an original thought — can you imagine what the Republican-led Congress would do if, say, President Obama had said such a thing about Donald J. Trump?

They would have filed articles of impeachment against him before the final words had left his lips.

Where is the outrage among those in command of the legislative branch of government?