Tag Archives: impeachment

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.

Let’s enjoy the nation’s birthday … and wish ourselves well

I make no secret of my dismay and disgust at the state of our national government.

It starts at the very top of the political food chain.

Here’s the thing, though. We’re about to celebrate the 241st year of our nation’s existence, or at least when it declared itself to be independent of the English monarch, King George III. Our revolution already was underway when those men signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

It would be another decade before our Constitution would be written and ratified.

Over the many decades since then, we’ve been through hell as a nation. Four of our presidents have been murdered while in office; others have died from other causes. We endured the Civil War, two world wars, and various conflicts that tore at the nation’s soul.

We have been hit twice — real hard — on our soil by our enemies. We have mourned the deaths of Americans we did not know.

Two of our presidents have been impeached. One of our president was on the verge of impeachment — and then he resigned. Congress has suffered through myriad scandals of varying types.

Our economic life has been imperiled. We had the Great Depression and something that we recently have referred to as the Great Recession. 

All this turmoil and tumult we’re going through today only serves to remind me of something most of have known all along: We are a resilient nation; we are filled with resolve and grit.

On this national birthday, I am driven to think of who we are, the journey we’ve taken, the wounds we have suffered and the healing that has occurred.

I plan, therefore, to set aside my disgust for a day at what is unfolding at this moment in the halls of power. I plan to cherish what I know to be true: We continue to be the greatest, most indispensable nation on Planet Earth.

Are we perfect? Of course not. We’ve been through hell as a people and we’re still standing tall.

Those men who signed that declaration knew what they were creating. Despite all that has transpired since that signing, I am as certain as I am writing these words that those men would proud of what they created.

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.