Tag Archives: Trump impeachment

Obstructing justice is an impeachable offense … isn’t it?

Robert S. Mueller III filed a lengthy report that concludes among other things that the president of the United States obstructed justice regarding the lengthy investigation into the Russia Thing.

If a president can be impeached for obstruction of justice in 1998, why is it different in 2019? That’s the quandary with which I am wrestling at this moment.

House Republicans declared in 1998 that a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, should be impeached because he obstructed justice while former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr looked into that sexual relationship with the White House intern. Oh, and he committed perjury while talking to a federal grand jury.

Two strikes against Clinton were enough for the GOP to launch an impeachment proceeding against a Democratic president. The impeachment succeeded, but then the Senate trial produced an acquittal on all the counts.

Therein lies the conundrum that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing. The House has the goods to impeach Donald Trump. Mueller’s report cited at least 10 instances where the president sought to obstruct justice. He said it again in testimony before two congressional committees in July. Why didn’t he file a formal complaint? Mueller said the Office of Legal Counsel policy prohibits him from indicting a “sitting president.”

I happen to stand with Pelosi’s decision to go slow on impeachment. She doesn’t want to proceed with impeaching Trump if there is no appetite among Republicans in the Senate to convict him of a complaint brought to them by the House.

I say all this, though, while scratching my noggin. If obstructing justice was enough to impeach a president 21 years ago, why is this instance so radically different that congressional Republicans cannot do so again now?

I think I know the answer. Congressional Republicans are playing politics with a growing constitutional crisis.

Chairman Schiff: master of the obvious

I am left with a simple response to U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s assertion that an impeachment of Donald Trump could result in his acquittal.

My response? Well … duh!

I think Chairman Schiff is on the right side of this dispute with the president. I want him removed from office as much as Schiff does. Maybe more so.

However, the prospect of a Senate acquittal is precisely the deterrent that prevents House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from charging full speed toward impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.

To that end, Schiff didn’t provide much insight into what I believe is patently obvious. The House impeachment means the Senate would put the president on trial. Democrats control the House; Republicans run the Senate. Congressional Democrats despise the president and stand solidly behind the idea that he has committed impeachable offenses; Congressional Republicans stand just as solidly behind the president.

A Senate conviction requires 67 votes among senators. The GOP occupies 53 out of 100 Senate seats. Do the math. Do you believe there’s a hope — at this moment, at least — of getting any Senate Republicans to convict the president?

That circles me back to Schiff’s comment on “Meet the Press.”

An acquittal could strengthen Donald Trump’s political hand. Pelosi is an astute politician who knows the stakes involved in handing Trump a political victory. She can blather all she wants about doing her “constitutional duty,” but she also is weighing the political component. For the House to impeach this president and then hand this matter over to another legislative body that adheres to a form of slovenly fealty to the president would be disastrous.

Congressional Republicans do not care about the mountain of evidence that tells them Donald Trump has obstructed justice multiple times during special counsel Robert Mueller’s quest for the truth behind the Russian hacking of our election in 2016.

It boils down to that undeniable fact of political life.

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.

In defense of Robert Mueller III

I feel the need to defend Robert S. Mueller III, although he doesn’t need little ol’ me to stand up for him against critics of his daylong testimony before two congressional committees.

Right-wing critics have said the former special counsel sounded lost, almost feeble, not in charge of the facts, he was hard of hearing.

Left-wing critics have expressed disappointment that Mueller didn’t provide them with the “aha moment” they were expecting.

Let’s get a grip here.

Mueller conducted that lengthy investigation into allegations that the Donald Trump presidential campaign conspired to collude with Russian election hackers. He didn’t find enough evidence of collusion. He also looked into whether Trump obstructed justice.

He said in his report and again on Wednesday that he didn’t clear Trump of obstruction. He said that the president committed crimes. He just couldn’t indict him because he happens to be the president of the United States.

I thought Mueller did precisely what he said he would do. He was a reluctant witness. He said in May that the report would stand as his “testimony” were he summoned to appear before Congress. His delivery this week kept faith with what he declared in May.

I thought the ex-special counsel/former FBI director/career prosecutor/decorated Vietnam War combat Marine behaved with decorum and dignity. I should point out that during the two years of his Russia probe he maintained his stone-cold silence in the face of constant harangues, harassment and hassling from Donald Trump and his sympathizers.

Robert Mueller remains, as one of Trump’s former lawyers once called him, “an American hero.”

So what if he didn’t deliver the impeachment goods? He told us weeks ago we should not expect such a thing.

I shall remind everyone, though, of a critical point that Mueller made. It is that the Russians attacked our electoral system in “sweeping and systematic” fashion and are doing so at this moment in advance of the next presidential election.

The villain here is the president who refuses to acknowledge what the rest of the nation already knows. To that end, I want to thank Robert Mueller for reminding us yet again of the danger that Donald Trump poses to this nation.

Impeachment without conviction: a non-starter

The idea of impeaching Donald John Trump with next to zero hope of obtaining a conviction is to my mind the classic recipe for a non-starter.

That appears to be the calculation that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made in her reluctance to launch impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States.

I happen to agree with the notion that an impeachment by itself will do nothing constructive for those who believe as many of us do: that they want Donald Trump removed from office. Impeachment is the easy part. Democrats need a simple majority to impeach the president. Conviction is different. Republicans control the Senate, which would need 67 votes to convict the president. Will that happen? Hardly.

The daylong testimony by former special counsel Robert Mueller this week was seen as the “aha” moment for congressional Democrats. It wasn’t. Mueller stuck to his script. He said he wouldn’t speak beyond what his lengthy report concluded about Trump and he was generally faithful to that pledge.

Mueller’s report concluded that his 22-month probe produced insufficient evidence to charge Trump with conspiring to collude with Russian election hackers; nor was he able to indict the president on obstruction of justice, following Office of Legal Counsel rules and guidelines.

Despite all that, Mueller laid it out there: Trump likely committed a crime. That has gotten Democrats slathering over the prospect of impeaching him.

Hold on! What is the point of impeaching the president if the Senate won’t convict him of high crimes and misdemeanors and thus, remove him from office?

I am now believing more strongly than ever — and it pains me to say this — that impeachment is off the table. The only path left is for Trump’s opponents to focus solely on the crimes he committed as a candidate for the office and as president and use the knowledge they have obtained to pound Trump senseless on the 2020 presidential campaign trail.

I wish there was a way to remove the president before the election. I don’t see it developing. The man sickens me at a deeply visceral level. I want him gone. I had hoped that Robert Mueller would have changed minds, that he could have gotten those obsequious Republicans to move off their fawning fealty for Donald Trump.

It ain’t gonna happen.

The time is coming for Democrats to prepare instead for a presidential campaign for the ages.

If I were King of the World, I would …

… Go full throttle toward impeaching Donald Trump, 45th president of the United States.

But I’m not. Neither, of course, is Donald Trump, even though he said falsely this week that Article II of the U.S. Constitution allows him to do “anything” he wants.

I listened to a lot of Robert Mueller’s testimony today. Part of it was in my car tuned to National Public Radio. My wife and I drove this morning to Bonham for an appointment and on our way home stopped for a tour of the Sam Rayburn Library and Museum. I was struck by a passage I saw attributed to the late great speaker of the U.S. House, “Mr. Sam,” which was that one should tell the truth always because you never have to “remember what you said.”

Donald Trump hasn’t told the truth a single time since questions arose about the Russian hacking of our election in 2016. He has lied time and time and time again. His lies have piled up on top of each other.

Mueller today told the world that Trump obstructed justice and that Trump lied when he said that the 22-month-long investigation cleared him of obstruction.

Now, is that enough to impeach the president? Yes. Is it enough to convict him of high crimes and misdemeanors? Yes! Not just yes, but hell yes!

However, I don’t run things in Washington, D.C. I am just a chump blogger out here in Trump Country. I also recognize the political realities that are staring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the face. They are serious, stark and foreboding.

She could call for an impeachment vote in the next 20 minutes and likely could get enough House Democrats to impeach the president. Then what? It goes to the Senate, where Trump would stand trial. Did you hear any Republican House committee members sound as if they would endorse conviction in the Senate? If you did, then you heard something that was lost on me.

I’ve heard enough to impeach Donald Trump. However, conviction is a far more difficult hurdle to clear.

If I were King of the World, I would order the Senate to convict this carnival barker/con man/fraud/presidential imposter.

If only I could.

Impeachment now seems more distant

I have one immediate response to the long-awaited testimony from former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

It is that I believe impeachment of Donald Trump has been moved farther away from Congress than it was before Mueller delivered his testimony.

Why do I say that? I didn’t see a single Republican hero step forward during the daylong grilling. I heard no Republican ask a single question that challenged Trump’s phony assertion that Mueller’s 22-month-long investigation absolved him of collusion and obstruction of justice.

Mueller made it clear. His lengthy report did not exonerate Trump. He said that this president could be indicted after he leaves office. Which means to me that the president committed a crime (allegedly!). Except that Mueller could not indict him because of Office of Legal Counsel policies prohibiting the indictment of a sitting president.

So … what does all this mean?

It means to me that we haven’t budged at all from where we were at the beginning of the day.

Democrats have dug in that they either want to impeach Trump now or want to wait until more information becomes public. Republicans have dug in as well, defending a president they have known for a long time has committed a criminal act while running for president and while serving as president; Trump has obstructed justice, according to Mueller.

I want to compare what we heard today briefly to what transpired during the Watergate hearings of 1973 and 1974. Today we heard Republicans to a person stand firmly behind the president, ignoring the evidence they have heard. The Watergate Republicans, though, were able to muster enough courage to ask probing questions of White House senior aides, officials and campaign staffers.

Let’s remember that GOP Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee asked the signature question: What did the president know and when did he know it? Moreover, the Republican chief counsel, future Tennessee U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, asked the White House aide about the infamous tape recording system that President Nixon had installed in the Oval Office. After that it was game over!

We didn’t get that today.

Impeachment is now farther away than ever. This should not be the end, though, of Congress’s probe.

Waiting for Mueller to answer The Question

House Judiciary and Intelligence committee Democrats are preparing to quiz the former special counsel.

As are committee Republicans, although I am certain their questions will seek to take Robert Mueller III into an entirely different direction.

Mueller will sit before the panels for a good bit of the day tomorrow. He clearly is a reluctant witness. However, I am waiting for him to answer The Question, which well might determine whether the House of Representatives pulls the trigger on impeachment proceedings against Donald John Trump.

It goes something like this: Did the president of the United States commit crimes and would he have been indicted by Mueller’s legal team had he been just a private citizen?

To my mind, a “yes” to either or both of those questions would pave the way for the House to march forward.

Let me toss in another one for good measure: Did you “clear” the president of collusion with Russian hackers or of obstructing justice?

If the president committed a crime, then how in the name of juris prudence does he dodge impeachment and how does the president not be held accountable for his actions as a candidate for office and as the holder of the nation’s highest and most exalted public office?

Sounds simple, right? It ain’t. I get that.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has expressed reluctance about impeachment. She doesn’t want the House to essentially “indict” the president only to have the Senate acquit him in a trial.

That is where Robert Mueller steps up. This is where he is able to educate us all about what he found over the course of his 22-month investigation. Sure, he filed that 448-page report. I haven’t read it. It’s not my job. I have read enough of it, though, to understand what he concluded and why he drew those conclusions.

I do not want House Republicans to get away with tarring this good man’s reputation. Mueller took on this task amid high praise for the career of public service to which he dedicated himself. He is a former FBI director, a combat Marine, a Vietnam War hero, a man of privilege who entered public service.

I don’t know the man, but there is nothing in his background that suggests he is how many Republicans — including Donald Trump — have portrayed him.

Moreover, I want him to answer The Question forthrightly.

Then, depending on what he says, we’ll see the character of our elected representatives revealed fully.

Then and now: Clinton and Trump

First, I’ll stipulate that I agree with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to proceed with impeaching Donald J. Trump, at least for the time being.

She knows the political consequences can be difficult to overcome if such an event were to occur. The divisions would be deep. An acquittal by the Republican-controlled Senate could be devastating for the country.

Republicans are standing behind the president. They aren’t listening to the evidence that keeps mounting that Trump committed crimes while running for president and while serving as president.

Which brings me to the key point: How is it that Republicans today are so reluctant to proceed with their constitutional duties when two decades ago they were hellbent on impeaching a previous president for a whole lot less than the charges that are piling up against the current one?

In 1998, the GOP-led House impeached President Clinton. The reason was twofold: He lied to a grand jury that asked him about a relationship he had with a White House intern. Clinton took an oath to tell the truth; he reneged on the oath. The GOP said we cannot have a president who is “above the law.” Republicans threw in an obstruction of justice charge for good measure.

The House “manager” of the impeachment proceeding against Clinton was none other than a fresh-faced South Carolinian named Lindsey Graham, who said in effect that the House could impeach the president for damn near any reason it saw fit.

Today, that same Lindsey Graham is now a U.S. senator and he’s saying something dramatically different about Donald Trump. Despite what the special counsel, Robert Mueller III, said that he didn’t “exonerate” the president after his lengthy investigation into collusion with Russian election hackers, Graham keeps insisting that Mueller “cleared” Trump of obstruction of justice.

No. He did nothing of the sort.

Mueller only concluded that he couldn’t indict a sitting president, citing Justice Department policy; he also said such an indictment would be “unconstitutional,” although that terminology baffles me.

There is a huge mountain of evidence that suggests that Trump sought to obstruct justice by getting a former White House counsel to fire Mueller. That he canned FBI director James Comey to stop the FBI”s probe into the “Russia thing.” That he ordered the payment of hush money to a porn actress to keep her quiet about a fling she and Trump had in 2006, even though Trump denies it ever occurred.

I understand Pelosi’s predicament. I agree with her. However, for the life of me I cannot accept the Republicans’ refusal to budge on this president’s conduct when they were so anxious to pull the impeachment trigger on another president.

Oh, wait. Clinton is a Democrat; Trump is a Republican.

Gosh, do you think Republicans are putting their party over what’s good for the nation?

Trump has cast a weird spell over the GOP

I will be mystified likely forever, as in for the rest of my life on Earth, at how Donald Trump has managed to hijack the Republican Party.

It manifests itself in the amazing 180-degree turnaround of at least two former prominent foes of the president.

I want to highlight briefly the amazing about-face performed by two U.S. senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ted Cruz of Texas. To be fair, not all Republicans have swilled the Kool-Aid from Trump’s dispenser. Freshman U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah is one who remains (more or less) faithful to his 2016 declaration that Trump is a “phony” and a “fraud.”

Graham and Cruz? That’s another matter.

I have attached a link from CNN.com that illustrates what Sen. Cruz said in 2016 about his Republican Party primary opponent, Donald John Trump. Read it here.

Cruz called Trump a “pathological liar.” He blistered Trump then over that hideous allegation that Cruz’s father might have been complicit in President Kennedy’s murder and of course the ghastly tweet involving Heidi Cruz, the wife of the senator.

These days Cruz sings from an entirely different political hymnal. He’s one of the president’s closest allies in the Senate. He follows Trump step for step into whatever the next adventure brings.

It’s not nearly as dramatic a reversal as the one Sen. Graham has performed.

During the 2016 primary campaign, in which Graham was another Trump foe, he called the eventual GOP nominee everything short of being the Son of Satan. Unfit for office. A liar. Amoral. Architect of party ruination. You name it, Graham said Trump fit the bill. It was all bad, man.

Now that Trump is POTUS, Graham has become arguably the Senate’s most vocal Trump apologist. It’s as if, as Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George F. Will has said, he became “an invertebrate.” He lost his spine, not to mention body parts common among males … if you get my drift and I’m sure you do.

There’s also this: Graham led the impeachment effort against President Clinton in 1998 while serving in the House, which then impeached Clinton on charges that are far less egregious than the allegations that have been leveled against Donald Trump.

Go … figure!

All this leads me to wonder out loud: How in the world did this carnival barker, con man, charlatan, fraudulent liar cast such a lasting spell over politicians who make up the guts of what used to be a great American political party?

I do not get it.