Tag Archives: impeachment

What if POTUS is impeached and convicted?

It’s true. I deal with hypotheticals on occasion. I churn ideas around in my noggin, wondering what might happen if certain events were to transpire.

Let’s talk briefly about a potential presidential impeachment.

First of all, I don’t really want to see Donald Trump impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. Believe me or disbelieve me if you wish. That’s just how I feel.

But if it were to happen sometime in 2019 with a new Democratic majority running the House, it’s good to wonder what happens at the end.

Presidential impeachment is stressful to the max … for the government and for partisans on both or all sides of a political dispute. It’s a huge deal, man! It’s happened just twice: Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 and Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998. They both were acquitted, although President Johnson escaped conviction by a single Senate vote. President Nixon quit in 1974 when the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment, assuring the full House would follow suit.

Donald Trump is facing the prospect — I won’t judge its probability — of impeachment but only if Democrats win control of the House after next month’s midterm election. Democrats need a simple majority in the House to impeach a president.

Then we have the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who appears to be winding it down.

Suppose, then, Mueller presents evidence of, say, collusion with Russians who attacked our 2016 election. Suppose, too, he finds evidence of obstruction of justice based on Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey. Finally, let’s suppose Mueller produces evidence that the president violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which says presidents cannot take gifts from foreign governments.

OK, so the House impeaches the president. Then it goes to the Senate, where there will be a trial presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts. Congressional Republicans so far have been standing by their guy, Trump. If Democrats take control of the Senate, it likely will be by a tiny margin … maybe a seat or two. That’s not enough to convict a president; conviction requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate.

But wait! What if the evidence is so compelling, so overwhelming that enough Republicans cross over to side with Democrats? And what if the president is convicted and tossed out of office? Vice President Pence takes over.

Here is where I am going with this.

Should the House and Senate then ensure that Trump’s presidency is not recognized? There might be a move to obliterate any evidence that Donald Trump served as 45th president. It cannot happen? Sure it can. Such a thing has happened in at least one statehouse: in my home state of Oregon.

The image of a former governor, Democrat Neil Goldschmidt, has been removed from the state capitol building in Salem. He was a successful governor and then a transportation secretary in the Carter administration. Then he admitted just a few years ago — after a newspaper investigation — that when he was mayor of Portland, he had sexual affair with an underage girl. Goldschmidt then vanished from public view, never to be seen again.

They took his portrait down in the state capitol rotunda, as if Goldschmidt never existed.

Does the same fate befall Donald Trump in the event he is convicted? I think it should, just as I am glad they removed Neil Goldschmidt from any recognition in my home state.

Do I want any of this to happen? No. I do not. I merely want the truth to be revealed about what the president knew, when he knew it.

I would actually settle for an apology. It would provide enough pain to the president to satisfy me. He’s never apologized for anything  in his life … ever! Right?

Impeachment needs to stay on back shelf

Leon Panetta is a Democratic Party wise man and elder whose wisdom needs to be heeded.

The former U.S. representative, CIA director, defense secretary, White House chief of staff — I think that covers it — says Democrats need to cool it with the “impeachment” talk regarding Donald J. Trump.

The 2018 midterm election is shaping up as a good year for Democrats. They well might take control of the House of Representatives when the ballots are counted. I am not going to say it’s a done deal, though; I am out of the political predictin’ business, as you might remember.

Suppose the Democrats take the House. They’ll chair committees. They’ll have subpoena power. They’ll have the numbers to impeach the president if they’re so moved to take that action.

Panetta’s advice is for Democrats to keep a lid on impeachment talk as they campaign district by district for control of the lower chamber of Congress.

As Politico reported: “I think the most important thing that the Democrats could do is allow Bob Mueller to complete his work,” Panetta said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” referencing Mueller’s work as special counsel for the Justice Department and his role in the ongoing investigation into Russia’s part in the 2016 presidential election.

He is right. Impeachment seems a good bet to follow if Democrats manage to wrest control from their GOP “friends.”

However, impeachment is one thing; conviction and removal from office is quite another.

If the House impeaches Trump, the Senate will need a two-thirds vote to convict him of whatever “high crime and misdemeanor” the House chooses to level against the president. President Clinton got impeached in 1998, but the Senate never came close to the two-thirds threshold during the trial it conducted.

Republicans are likely to make impeachment a campaign issue as they fight to fend off the Democratic assault on GOP control of Congress. If I hear Leon Panetta correctly, Democrats need to turn away from any impeachment discussion until — or if — they win control of the House in the midterm election.

I think I’ll root for a House flip.

Sen. Graham then and now on impeachment

Darn that public domain. Sometimes it can come back and bite public officials in the backside.

Take it away, Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The South Carolina Republican once helped prosecute President Bill Clinton when the 42nd president was being impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. Graham was a House member at the time.

He said way back then, “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body determines your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role.” He added, “Impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”

MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell dug up Graham’s former view of impeachment. Of course, that was when a Democratic president got into trouble. The GOP lawmaker had a different view about impeachment than he does today.

It seems that Sen. Graham thinks a president must be charged with an actual crime to be impeached.

According to The Hill: Graham said in a statement Tuesday that “the American legal system is working its will” but that “there have yet to be charges or convictions for colluding with the Russian government by any member of the Trump campaign” after another Trump associate, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of eight charges related to financial crimes.

Which is it, Sen. Graham? O’Donnell is imploring reporters to question Graham carefully about his apparent change of heart, mind or whatever.

Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is now a convicted felon. There well might be much more to come from special counsel Robert Mueller as he continues his probe into Russian involvement in our 2016 presidential election.

As for Graham’s earlier statements about “cleansing” the presidency, I have to agree that the current president has soiled it in many ways. The current president is absolutely lacking in “honor and integrity” at almost any level one can imagine.

I certainly will await Sen. Graham’s explanation on how his view on the basis for impeachment has, um, evolved.

Are we entering Watergate 2.0?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m beginning to sense a certain frenzy developing around the White House that — if memory serves — resembles the climate that fell over the place during the Watergate scandal.

Yes, Watergate happened a long time ago. President Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974 just as he was about to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. As Carl Bernstein — one of the Washington Post reporters who covered the story — noted the other day, the “real heroes” of the Watergate saga turned out to be congressional Republicans — led by Sen. Barry Goldwater — who told the president he had no Senate support were the impeachment to go to trial.

That kind of “heroism” is missing at the moment.

Still, my sense is that there is a growing tension beginning to develop in Washington, on Capitol Hill and the White House as special counsel Robert Mueller continues his work to determine if there was any “collusion” between the Trump campaign team and Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

I am in no position to know how this case will conclude. It well might end with Mueller saying, “I got nothin’, folks” — which I doubt will happen. He might recommend criminal proceedings against key White House aides, maybe even the president himself.

Or … he could scold the president and his team and leave all the political consequences up to the House of Representatives and the Senate.

However, those of us of a certain age — such as Americans, like me, who came of age politically during the Watergate era — might be feeling a bit of deja vu as we watch the current White House writhe and squirm as the special counsel goes about his complicated task.

I know I am.

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?