Tag Archives: impeachment

Day One proved more eventful than some of us expected

The first day of public hearings into the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry could have turned into a snoozer.

It didn’t. Far from it. The daylong testimony was riveting on a couple of levels.

On one level we got to hear from the mouths directly of two career public servants about the things they said in private to the House Intelligence Committee. Their public testimony was as damaging as what we were led to believe their private testimony had been.

William Taylor is the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; George West is a deputy secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. They were strong. They were forthright. I believe they told the truth.

They told us that Trump sought political favors from a foreign government. They said the president was more interested in digging up dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, than in rooting out corruption in Ukraine.

I believe they helped shore up the belief among many Americans that Trump has committed at least one impeachable offense. There might even be a bribery count thrown into the impeachment mix once the House of Representatives votes on the issue.

With several more days of hearings to go, the other aspect of this spectacle deals with how the Republicans on the committee and elsewhere in Congress are going to respond.

I will acknowledge my bias, but to my eyes and ears, the GOP didn’t fare as well as their Democratic colleagues. They struck out hard against Democratic motives and challenged what the witnesses saw and heard. Stunningly, they didn’t say a single word — that I heard — in defense of Donald Trump’s character. Which makes me wonder: How are they going to defend Trump against this impeachment tide?

They won’t defend their political main man. They will continue to attack, which will seek to divert our attention from the issue at hand: whether the president broke the law while violating his oath of office.

There will be more to come. This serious matter is likely to demonstrate — no matter how this drama concludes — that our Constitution does work.

Both sides are digging in deeply

My aversion to making political predictions remains rock-solid, given my abysmal record in making them.

That said, this isn’t exactly a flash, but it seems more likely than ever that Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill aren’t going to change each other’s minds regarding the pending impeachment of Donald Trump.

We got a good look today at the intransigence on both sides. However, I am going steer clear of the “both siderism” argument here by declaring that congressional Republicans are those who need to have their heads examined.

William Taylor and George Kent sat before the House Intelligence Committee for about nine hours today. They answered questions from lawmakers on both sides. To my mind, they painted a clear picture of a president who sought foreign government assistance in helping his political future. He abused the power of his office. He has violated his oath of office. Donald Trump has committed an impeachable offense.

Republicans don’t see it that way. They say that even though what the president did was wrong, they don’t see his actions as impeachable. They are wrong. I believe the president deserves to be booted from office.

He likely won’t get the boot. The House impeachment will send this matter to the Senate. Republicans control the upper chamber. To convict the president of a crime against the Constitution would require a flip of 20 GOP senators. Most of them won’t budge.

Therefore, we are entering a most frustrating element in this process. It is that both sides are digging in. They both think they’re right. However, in this debate there only can be one correct side.

In my view, the winning argument belongs to the Democrats.

Envoy tosses a live grenade at Oval Office

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

William Taylor said he would not offer an opinion on what he delivered today to the U.S. House Intelligence Committee.

He didn’t need to offer that qualifier. What he delivered was the rhetorical equivalent of a live hand grenade straight into the Oval Office.

The longtime diplomat, a career public servant, today revealed that Donald Trump was more interested in finding dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, than he was in rooting out corruption in Ukraine.

Yep, Taylor told the panel that there was a quid pro quo, that the president of the United States wanted the goods on the Bidens exclusively to help his upcoming campaign for re-election, which he well could wage against Joe Biden, the former vice president of the United States.

So … what now?

We’re going to hear from some more witnesses on Friday. Then some more next week. Maybe even more than that.

I listened to a lot of what Taylor and longtime State Department aide George Kent told the Intelligence panel.

I collected a couple of takeaways from this remarkable day of testimony … under oath.

  • One is that nothing that Taylor and Kent said is likely to shake any of Trump’s Republican allies out of their fealty to the president. The GOP members of the Intel committee today didn’t defend Trump’s character. They didn’t say that Donald Trump would never do what has been alleged. Instead, they homed in on Democrats’ motives and on the Bidens’ activities in Ukraine. They defended Trump by attacking his critics.
  • The second takeaway was that Taylor and Kent are as polished, sophisticated and dedicated to the nation as had been advertised. They were unflappable in the face of the aggression exerted by GOP questioners.

The hearings will continue. There well might be more rhetorical grenades tossed into the White House. Will there be any signal that GOP devotion to Trump will falter? I am not holding my breath.

Hoping for the truth; fearing that we’ll get a circus

I have every intention of watching as much as I can of the public hearing on whether the U.S. House of Representatives should impeach Donald J. Trump. The hearing will convene Wednesday morning.

Believe it or not, I am going to keep an open mind. Yes, I believe the president has committed impeachable offenses. However, I want to hear from the principal witnesses themselves what they knew, what they heard and saw and whether they — as men and women who are closest to the situation — have drawn any conclusions about what the president has done to deserve impeachment.

OK. That all said, I have a fear that some House Intelligence Committee members will have another agenda. They will seek to destroy the credibility of these witnesses. I am referring to Republicans on the panel. Their strategy is shaping up: attack the critics and do not seek to defend the president as a man of high honor and integrity, as someone who would never do the things that have been alleged.

And what has been alleged? As I understand it, there are allegations that Trump sought a political favor from the president of Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy sought weapons from the United States to help him fight Russia-backed rebels; Trump said he wanted a “favor, though” before he would send the weapons to Ukraine. The “favor” involved obtaining critical information about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; Biden is running for president and might oppose Trump in 2020.

Abuse of power? Violation of the presidential oath? Obstruction of justice? It’s all on the table.

I am hoping to hear from these individuals who were “on the call” to tell the world what they heard. These individuals are patriots, career diplomats, military personnel. They, too, take oaths to defend the nation and to serve the Constitution.

Intelligence Committee Republicans, though, seem hell bent on destroying their credibility.

I want some discernment to come from these public hearings. Republicans have clamored for public testimony. The impeachment inquiry has gone according to rules established by GOP House leadership. So now the hearings are going to unveiled in full public view.

I fear the worst, which is that the hearings could become a sideshow.

I will hope for the best, which will be that dedicated public servants will be able to clear out all the rhetorical underbrush and reveal what we need to know.

I am all ears for as long as it takes.

Beware of social media lie: Pelosi didn’t rob SSI fund

Social media can be fun if it isn’t abused. When abuse occurs, it becomes a deadly toxin.

A social media lie has been making the rounds about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and this idiotic notion that she grabbed $2.4 billion from a Social Security fund to pay for the impeachment inquiry under way in the House of Representatives.

It ain’t true. Yet it’s gone viral.

My gut reaction when I first heard of it was: Wait a second; the speaker doesn’t have that kind of authority. The speaker cannot move money around unilaterally.

Fact-checkers have debunked the notion. Pelosi is too smart a politician, too adroit and too shrewd to even consider doing something such as that.

This, therefore, presents a profound example of how social media can be weaponized. Let us take greater care when reading this nonsense.

Factcheck.org lays it out here.

How about we all just settle down and let this process play out?

Trump is ‘truthful,’ says ex-UN envoy … wow!

Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images

I suppose it’s all right to have different points of view on important people, depending on your persuasion or perhaps even depending on how you are tracking your own political future.

What does one make of former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley declaring that Donald Trump is a “truthful” individual?

That’s a serious head-scratcher. Then again, Nikki Haley is believed to be seeking to run for president one day and just might be positing some notions that will put her in the good graces of the man who holds the office at this moment.

Haley is pushing back on calls to impeach the president. She told the “Today” show that Trump has been truthful in his dealings with her. Haley said Trump always “listened” when the two of them spoke and that he was good to work with.

Well, OK. Whatever you say, Mme. Ambassador.

I just cannot get past the countless examples of what I call gratuitous lying on Trump’s part. You know, when he lies when he doesn’t need to lie. He just makes things up. Says whatever rests in that noggin of his. It’s big stuff and dumb stuff.

The big stuff? How about when he said he lost “many friends” on 9/11 when he never attended a single funeral in the wake of that tragedy. The dumb stuff? Let’s look at when he said his father was born in Germany, when he was born in New York City.

This president is “truthful”? Hardly.

‘Inappropriate’ but not ‘impeachable’?

I long have thought that Mac Thornberry was a smart man, even though I have harbored some deep personal — and largely private — objections to many of the public policy positions he has taken.

However, the Clarendon, Texas, Republican member of Congress has, um, inflicted some damage to my longstanding view of his intelligence.

Thornberry went on national TV Sunday and said that it is “inappropriate” for a president to “ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival,” But … then he said it is not “impeachable.”

Allow me to split a hair or two here.

The term “inappropriate” doesn’t necessarily equal “illegal.” However, presidents can be impeached for “inappropriate” behavior. I happen to believe, though, that Donald Trump broke the law when he sought foreign government help in investigating a political rival, Joe Biden.

I’ll stipulate that I am not a lawyer. Thornberry did earn a law degree from the University of Texas; he has called himself a “recovering lawyer.” However, I have read the Constitution, as I am sure has Thornberry. I interpret the Constitution as declaring that presidents cannot solicit foreign governments for political help. Donald Trump did that very thing in that infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

So, has the president abused the power of his office? Did he commit an actual crime? I believe he has done both things. Abusing of power is impeachable; violating the law, not to mention his oath of office, certainly is impeachable.

That makes it far worse than “inappropriate,” as Thornberry has described it.

My disappointment in Thornberry is palpable. He was my congressman for more than 20 years when my wife and I lived in Amarillo. He took office the same week I arrived in Amarillo to begin my tenure as editorial page editor of the Globe-News. I had a good professional relationship with him and his staff.

He has announced he won’t seek re-election in 2020. What he does after he leaves office is a mystery to me. I wish him well. I only wish he would interpret Donald Trump’s egregious misbehavior differently than what he has expressed.

It’s clearly possible, as Thornberry has demonstrated, that people can reach vastly different conclusions while witnessing the same act. Rep. Thornberry has determined that Trump’s actions were “inappropriate,” but not “impeachable.” I believe Trump broke the law and, therefore, earned an early exit from the White House.

Don’t expect GOP heroes to emerge in public impeachment hearing

I feel the need to offer a sad scenario.

It is this: Do not hold your breath waiting for any Republican members of Congress to emerge as heroes during the public questioning of witnesses in the impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump.

Previous impeachment proceedings have produced congressmen and women who have crossed the aisle. I do not expect that event will occur at least in this phase of the impeachment inquiry.

Trump will get impeached by the House. That’s almost a lead-pipe cinch. The public hearings that commence on Wednesday will become a circus. How do we know that? Consider that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has installed Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio on the House Intelligence Committee. Jordan has emerged as arguably the most vocal Trump sycophant in the House and I believe he will do all he can do to divert this probe away from the issue at hand.

And it is: whether Donald Trump abused the immense power of his office for personal political gain by seeking a favor from Ukraine in exchange for weaponry that Ukrainians want to use against their Russia-back insurgents.

Will any Republicans on the Intelligence panel step forward the way, say, they did during the Watergate hearings of 1973 and 1974? Nope.

Remember it was GOP Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee who asked back then, “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

Then came the million-dollar question from fellow Tennessean, Fred Thompson, who was GOP legal counsel on the Senate select committee investigating Watergate: “Are you aware,” Thompson asked White House aide Alexander Butterfield, “of any listening devices in the White House?” Thompson, being the good lawyer he was, knew the answer would be “yes,” that Butterfield was aware of such devices.

It was effectively game over at that point.

If only there could be some political heroism emerge today.

Past the point of no return with this POTUS

I have a declaration to make regarding the president of the United States. It doesn’t give me any joy to say this, but I must say it nonetheless.

It now appears highly unlikely that I ever will be able to put the word “President” in front of “Trump” for as long as this man occupies the nation’s highest office.

A few critics of this blog have called me on this policy I have invoked since Trump became president. They dislike my references to Trump without attaching his elected title in front of his last name.

Too bad.

Truly, though, I had hoped for a turnaround in the president’s conduct of his office. I had wanted to be able to respect the man enough to refer to him the way others have done. The media have done their part in bestowing the title in front of the president’s name. That’s their call. I am making my own call on my own blog. Why? Because I can.

Trump’s behavior since the day he announced his candidacy for president has been abysmal, deplorable, reprehensible, disgusting, disgraceful … stop me now! The list of pejoratives is endless.

He’s going to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate will put him on trial for high crimes and misdemeanors. He stands a good chance of surviving a Senate trial only because there do not appear to be enough Senate Republicans who will muster the courage to stand for the rule of law and vote to convict him of the charges the House impeachment articles will bring.

The backdrop for all of this is unique. Trump will be the first president to be impeached who is facing a re-election campaign. No one can predict with any certainty how the election will turn out when the votes are counted on Nov. 3, 2020.

As much as I wanted it to be different, I must declare that Donald John Trump Sr. has crossed a proverbial line of demarcation. I just do not see an instance that in the foreseeable future that will allow me to speak of this man the way I have spoken about other presidents with whom I have disagreed.

Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush 41 and 43 all conducted themselves with dignity and class — even while they have endured extreme controversy and, yes, scandal.

The current president has not. He won’t change his ways. Given all that has transpired since he rode down that escalator in Trump Tower to announce his entry into political life, I cannot imagine a scenario that would allow me to use the words “President” and “Trump” consecutively.

Sen. Graham … let the House do its job and then do your own

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham keeps yammering out of both sides of his mouth.

The South Carolina Republican once declared that Donald Trump was unfit for the presidency, then he said if allegations about a quid pro quo with Ukraine were trouble that it would be “very troubling.” Now he says without knowing the identity of the whistleblower whose memo triggered the impeachment inquiry into Trump isn’t known, then an impeachment of Trump is “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

Sen. Graham needs to be made to understand that the whistleblower’s ID is protected under the whistleblower statute, even though some media outlets have reported the name of someone purported to be the individual who’s ratted out misbehavior in the White House.

House committees hearing the inquiry aren’t going to call the whistleblower to testify. The Democratic chair of the Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, says it would be redundant and unnecessary. He also worries that it would create a distraction and divert attention away from the subject of the inquiry, which happens to be Graham’s newest BFF, Donald Trump.

The issue is clear cut: Did the president demand a quid pro quo from Ukraine … political dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for weapons to use against Russia-backed rebels? The House has heard from plenty of witnesses who say that Trump did that very thing. The nation will get to hear them say it out loud and in public this week.

The House is doing its job legally.

Let the House proceed, Sen. Graham.