Tag Archives: Senate GOP

Managers set, let the trial commence

Here we go. The Donald Trump impeachment trial managers have been named. The House of Representatives has sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate. The managers at this moment are likely scurrying in an effort to come up with a prosecution strategy.

And the White House legal team no doubt is scurrying, too, to concoct a defense strategy to counter what I believe is a mountain of evidence to suggest that the president deserves to be removed from office.

But I am not among the 100 senators who’ll make that decision. Trump is likely to survive the trial, which is supposed to begin next Tuesday.

Man, it is going to be some kind of spectacle.

This is serious stuff, folks. It’s only the third time a president has been put on trial. Donald Trump now gets to join Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton among the roster of presidents who are forever identified as “impeached.” Presidents Johnson and Clinton both survived their trials. So will Trump, or so it appears at this moment.

If I could have had a hand in selecting the managers, my preference would have been to include the lone now-former Republican member of the House to vote to impeach Trump. Rep. Justin Amash, the libertarian-leaning conservative who represents the same Michigan congressional district that once sent Gerald R. Ford to Congress, should have been included on that team of managers.

But, he’s not among the managers.

You may count me as one American who is anxious for this trial to conclude. The Senate’s Republican majority is dug in. They won’t convict Trump unless something so compelling comes forward in the next few weeks that they cannot stand by their man.

The way I see it, though, Trump already has done enough to merit his removal. He solicited a foreign government for political help and he has blocked Congress from doing its oversight duties. Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Got it?

The trial will be done in fairly short order. Then we can get on with the task of removing this guy from the White House the old-fashioned way: at the ballot box in November.

Where’s the ‘intelligence’ at the briefing?

When a leading Republican supporter of Donald J. Trump comes out of an intelligence briefing and calls it the “worst” one he’s heard in his time as a U.S. senator, then it looks as though the president has some trouble on his hands.

Mike Lee of Utah came out of the briefing today to blast the briefers. He called the event “sophomoric,” and was highly critical of the national security team’s instruction to avoid any debate about what they learned behind closed doors.

Lee didn’t like what he heard. What’s more, he said so out loud.

The briefing came from some Trump administration heavyweights, including CIA Director Gina Haspel and Defense Secretary Mark Esper; a third briefer was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who I should add has emerged as a high-profile disappointment as the nation’s top diplomat.

At issue was the justification for killing Iranian Revolutionary Guard chieftain Qassem Solemaini. The president said Iran was planning an “imminent attack” on U.S. interests and that the air strike in Baghdad was meant as a “defensive” measure. He didn’t provide any evidence of such an “imminent” attack. Senators came out of today’s briefing saying the national security team didn’t provide anything new, either.

Iran responded with the missile attack against two U.S. bases in Iraq. The missiles didn’t inflict any casualties. Iran backed down. Trump said the United States would not pursue any further military action. “All is well,” the president said via Twitter. Well, it isn’t all well.

What is stunning to me was the anger expressed by Sen. Lee, who until now has stood foursquare behind the president. He said the briefers’ admonition was “insulting.”

This is the troubling aspect of the hit against Solemaini. The strike itself needed to happen. What also needed to occur was the development of a cogent after-action strategy by the Trump administration.

It appears that there is nothing of the sort available for public review.

Politics runs head first into justice

I wrote once on this blog about how politics is likely to drive a potential impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Well, the House of Representatives impeached the president on a virtual party-line vote and the Senate is now going to put him on trial.

The outcome will be decided, yep, on party lines.

Which brings up this point: Are senators free to vote their “conscience,” to base their decision solely on the evidence they have before them? Or must they worry what the folks back home think of what they are about to do?

I present to you U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala.

Sen. Jones, who is running for re-election next year after narrowly defeating a Republican opponent, is facing the Mother of All Political Quandaries. Does he vote to convict Trump on obstruction of Congress or on abuse of power and face the wrath of Alabama voters, most of whom support the president? Or does he challenge them by declaring that he has voted to convict based on what he has seen and heard?

I believe Jones wants to keep his Senate seat. I also believe he is, as most pundits have posited, the most vulnerable Senate Democrat facing re-election this year. I don’t know much about Jones. I don’t know what makes him tick. I cannot measure his political courage. I don’t know if he’s a “maverick,” a loyal party guy or someone who wants to cover his own backside at any cost.

This is what I mean when I mention how politics runs head first into the quest for justice in matters of impeaching a president. Politics clearly is keeping Republicans from bucking their own partisan interest; it also is keeping most Democrats in line as well.

We have sticky wickets. Then we have matters such as this.

I believe Sen. Jones is going to lose some sleep over this one.

Where is the ‘impartiality’?

Oh, how I hate playing the “both sides are wrong” card. I feel I must do so in this instance.

Republican Mitch McConnell, the U.S. Senate’s majority leader, says he is not going to be an “impartial juror” when the Senate commences its trial over the articles impeachment filed against Donald J. Trump.

McConnell’s comments have drawn a rebuke from fellow Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who said she is “disturbed” by his approach to putting the president on trial.

Now comes the view of a senior Democratic senator, Dick Durbin, who criticizes his fellow Democrats for refusing to maintain their own impartiality.

Both sides are guilty? I suppose so.

All 100 senators are going to raise their right hands and take an oath to be impartial jurors when Chief Justice John Roberts administers the pledge. They will say “so help me, God” at the end of the oath, which gives the pledge an air of sanctimony.

Will they be loyal to that sacred oath? Have they made up their minds to convict or acquit Trump? Is there a truly impartial mind among the 100 senators who will sit in judgment of Donald Trump? Or have every one of them pre-determined the president’s guilt or innocence, determining whether he has committed impeachable offenses?

Those of us on the outside have the liberty to make these determinations prior to hearing evidence. We’re not elected public officials. Those folks have the power to remove the president, or to keep him in office. They must maintain their impartiality for as long as they are hearing the case being presented.

I worry now that the trial that’s about to commence — hopefully sooner rather than too much later — will be akin to a sideshow with senators on both sides of the great divide guilty of the same sin.

Set to make impeachment history once again

Here we are, on the cusp of another politically historic event awaiting the U.S. House of Representatives.

The House Intelligence Committee is going to hand off to the Judiciary Committee, which then will decide whether to file articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump.

This shouldn’t be a close call. However, it’s likely to become a partisan vote, with Democrats voting to impeach the president and Republicans saying “no.”

I’m out here in the Peanut Gallery. What I have seen from the middle of Trump Country tells me that the president deserves to be impeached; he also deserves to be convicted in a U.S. Senate trial. The allegations leveled against him are far worse than anything that befell President Clinton in 1998 and rise at least to the level of what President Nixon faced in 1974 when he resigned.

House Republicans impeached Clinton for lying about an inappropriate relationship he had with a White House intern. Nixon quit before the House could impeach him for obstructing justice in the search for the truth behind the Watergate burglary in June 1972.

What does Donald Trump face? He is facing an accusation — which he more or less has admitted to doing — of soliciting a foreign government for a political favor. In exchange for the favor, which included digging up dirt on a potential political foe, the president would release weapons to Ukraine, which is fighting rebels backed by Russia.

The U.S. Constitution expressly forbids such activity. It cites “bribery” along with “treason” specifically as crimes for which a president can be removed from office. It isn’t treason, but it sure looks for all the world to me like bribery.

I fully expect to get some dipsh** responses from High Plains Blogger critics who think I’m whistlin’ Dixie with regard to the crimes I believe the president has committed. That’s fine. Let ’em gripe.

I stand by my assertion that Donald Trump has committed crimes that rise to the level of impeachment. They certainly are far more egregious than what ended up on President Clinton’s record.

The record as I’ve seen it pile up during the impeachment inquiry is replete with evidence of wrongdoing. The House and Senate Republican caucus, however, is equally replete with political cowardice among House members and senators who choose to stand with the president and refuse to stand for what they piously proclaim to be “the rule of law.”

And so, history is about to be made once again as one House panel passes the torch to another one. Let this lawful, constitutional and appropriate impeachment effort proceed.

Impeachment: Problematic, but necessary

I have traipsed all over the proverbial pea patch in trying to assess whether the U.S. House of Representatives should impeach Donald J. Trump.

At this moment, and it appears to be a permanent view, I stand in favor of impeachment as a necessary evil. Will a House impeachment result in Trump’s removal from the presidency of the United States? Probably not. The Senate’s Republican majority isn’t likely to follow the House Democrats’ lead in determining that Trump committed impeachable offenses that merit his ouster.

My former view was that impeachment would be an exercise in futility. So, my thought held, what is the point?

I have determined that the point is that Congress cannot let stand what it believes are acts that constitute egregious abuse of power and obstruction of justice.

It is all but proven that Trump sought personal political help from a foreign government. That’s a crime. The president of Ukraine and Trump spoke on the phone. The Ukrainian thanked Trump for supplying his country with military weaponry, but Trump then said he needed a “favor, though” in return for delivery of the weapons to be used against Russian aggressors.

Trump has sought foreign government help in digging up dirt on Joe Biden, a potential political foe in 2020. How in the world is that not an impeachable offense?

The president’s ouster as a result of impeachment remains unlikely at this moment. The Senate will hold a trial. Republicans occupy 53 of the body’s 100 seats. The U.S. Constitution requires a two-thirds vote to convict a president for him to be kicked out of office.

The way I see it, it is entirely possible for most senators to vote to convict Trump, just not enough of them to kick him out of the White House. I can think of possibly four Senate Republican votes to convict: Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Lamar Alexander and Johnny Isaakson; the latter two are not seeking re-election in 2020 and are immune from any retribution Trump might seek to level against them. Then again, a slim majority to convict Trump presumes all Senate Democrats vote to uphold the House impeachment.

Yes, this impeachment inquiry remains highly problematic. However, I believe now that it must proceed and it should result in articles of impeachment against the president.

Donald Trump has richly earned the inglorious title of “the nation’s third president to have been impeached.” Whether he can parlay that epithet into a winning re-election strategy remains to be seen.

If he does, then there will be something terribly wrong with our nation’s political system.

Has an impeachment ‘inquiry’ commenced?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler are at odds.

Pelosi doesn’t want to impeach Donald Trump; Nadler wants to proceed now with impeachment.

It looks as though Nadler is winning this argument. He appears to have commenced what has been called an “impeachment inquiry.” That means ostensibly that the Democratic caucus is going to examine whether to launch a full impeachment proceeding against Trump. They think they have the goods. Maybe they do.

But wait a second. If the House decides it has enough to impeach Trump over obstruction of justice in connection with the Russian hack of our 2016 election, then the bar gets really high.

A House impeachment is the easy part. Democrats need a simple majority to impeach. Then the Senate gets to put the president on trial. They need 67 (out of 100) votes to convict the president. The GOP occupies 53 Senate seats. They are as firmly in Trump’s corner as Democrats are as firmly intent on giving him the boot.

An impeachment “inquiry” looks to me like an exercise in futility for those who want to remove the president from office.

I personally don’t think it’s enough just to say Donald Trump has been impeached. I want him out of office, too. Impeachment, though, isn’t going to do the job.

Unless someone drops a serious bomb that persuades Republicans they are standing with a crook.

Sen. Paul approves big tax cut, but blocks 9/11 relief bill

Let me see how this works.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was among the Republicans who voted for Donald Trump’s big tax cut in 2018, the one that helped a lot of rich folks and, oh yes, helped run up the national debt to its current level of $22 trillion.

Then the senator this week has blocked a bill to reinstate a relief bill aimed at helping 9/11 first responders battle ailments caused by the terrible terrorist attack on this country. Paul’s rationale is, shall we say, ironic to the point of hypocrisy.

He said the country’s debt is too steep. We need to find spending cuts to pay for the relief package, he said.

Hold on! But … Sen. Paul, your vote on the tax cut helped roll up that national debt! The debt has skyrocketed because you and your Senate colleagues along with the president wanted to slash taxes for wealthy Americans.

I should point out, too, that the 9/11 relief initiative got national attention because of the fiery and emotional testimony delivered by comic Jon Stewart (pictured with this post), sitting alongside first responders suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

This is disgusting in the extreme, Sen. Paul.

Impeachment moves closer to edge of the table

A Texas Democratic member of Congress, Al Green of Houston, filed a motion to impeach Donald J. Trump. The U.S. House of Representatives voted today on Rep. Green’s motion and, to no one’s surprise, turned it down.

What does it mean? To my way of thinking — and I am swaying in the growing gale-force winds on this matter — it looks to me that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s calculation that impeachment is a loser for Democrats.

Ninety-five Democrats voted for motion to impeach. It is far from the 218 votes needed for the House to impeach this president. Democrats occupy 230 House seats, so the bar remains quite high.

House Republicans remain solidly behind the president … for reasons that baffle me, given the evidence that Donald Trump has broken the law while serving as president. But that’s another story.

Pelosi can count votes. She knows the House Democratic caucus isn’t totally lined up with the impeachment faction within its ranks. She also knows that the Republican-controlled Senate isn’t going to convict the president of any “high crimes and misdemeanors” that the House would bring forth in an impeachment.

Green’s impeachment motion was based solely on the racist tweets that Trump launched against the four congresswomen with whom he is engaged in that ridiculous feud. That is a non-starter.

Now, there might be more grist to chew on after former special counsel Robert Mueller III talks next week to the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. However, I am not taking that to the bank, either, given the GOP caucus’s stubborn resistance to looking analytically at what Mueller dropped on our laps at the end of his 22-month probe into alleged collusion with Russians and obstruction of justice.

I am thinking at this moment that the best way — perhaps the only way — to rid the nation of Donald Trump is to remove him from office at the 2020 presidential election.

But … that could change.

Impeachment talk has me rattled

I am willing to give you a pass if you believe I am foursquare, solidly and irrevocably behind impeaching the president of the United States, Donald John Trump.

Except that I am not.

Really. This impeachment discussion is giving me serious heartburn.

I am torn into itty-bitty pieces over this matter. I am terribly conflicted and I am anxious — yes, anxious! — for some sort of resolution.

On one hand, I have supported U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s notion that the House shouldn’t impeach Trump just yet. She is seeking patience. She wants more information to come forth. She well might be stalling, waiting for a presidential election a little more than a year from now to “settle” this matter for her … with Trump losing his re-election effort.

On the other hand, we have those among House Democrats who say it’s not about politics. It’s about “the Constitution,” they say. They argue that it is their “duty” to ensure that the president is “held accountable” and that “no one, not even the president, is above the law.” They are hellbent on launching what they call an “impeachment inquiry,” which is another way of saying they want to commence impeachment hearings.

What if the House impeaches the president? He will stand forever as one who has been impeached. Trump would become the third president to have been impeached by the House. Never mind what the Senate might do. Senators led by gutless Republicans seemingly aren’t going to convict Trump of any of the complaints brought to him. Many of us see the danger that this individual poses to the country. The Senate GOP leadership is ignoring it, to their everlasting shame!

Does the president run for re-election on the basis of his being an impeached president? How does that play out here among the rest of us in Flyover Country. Well, you know that my mind was made up when the 2016 election results came in: I have wanted him gone since the beginning of his presidency. But I digress.

Another downside of impeachment? You can kiss any type of reform legislation goodbye for the remainder of Trump’s term. The president and the House will have declared war on each other. Immigration reform? Climate change legislation? Infrastructure plans? Hah! Forget about it!

And what in the name of good governance will happen if hell freezes over and Trump is re-elected?

Good grief!

I am on the fence, folks. I cannot get my footing anywhere near stable enough to declare either “yes” or “no” on impeaching this clown.

Someone needs to pass the Pepto.