Tag Archives: US Constitution

Trump shows his ignorance one more astonishing time

Wow! That was a wild 72 hours in the world of Donald J. “King of Hospitality” Trump.

He announced plans, via Twitter, to play host to the G7 summit of industrialized nations at his Doral Country Club in south Florida, a decision that clearly violates the Emoluments Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Then he announces, again via Twitter, that he’s changed his mind. He won’t host the summit there. He’ll look for another suitable location.

Does that make it all better now? Is the president clear of impeachable offenses? Uhh, no. He’s not.

The Emoluments Clause bans the president from benefiting from his public office. Hosting the G7 summit at Doral would have lined his pockets considerably, given that he never divested himself of his many business interests after becoming president. There are the other matters still to be considered, though, regarding probable impeachment by the House of Representatives. We’ll get to those another time.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney went on Fox News this morning to say Trump was “surprised” at the pushback. No surprise there. Trump’s ignorance of constitutional matters is well-known and well-chronicled.

Mulvaney said Trump still considers himself in the “hospitality business” and wants to put on the best show possible for the foreign dignitaries. But he’s the president of the United States, “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace reminded him. Mulvaney said hospitality is part of Trump’s “background.” Yeah. Let’s move on.

The United States of America is full of resorts that could play host to this event. Here’s a thought: How about Camp David, the official presidential retreat tucked in the Maryland mountains not far from the D.C. hustle and bustle? Sure, Trump has said he considers Camp David to be a dump. However, it has been the site of many important gatherings.

What’s more, it is a publicly owned site reserved for presidents to relax and, yes, to welcome foreign dignitaries. It also has not a single thing to do with Donald Trump’s business empire.

Trump got the pushback he deserved when he made his initial Doral decision. No, it wasn’t, as he said on Twitter, the result of what he described as “Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility.”

It was based on Donald Trump’s utter incompetence and his expressed belief that he can do whatever the hell he wants, even if it flouts the U.S. Constitution.

Simple, singular impeachment matter is getting complex

There goes the simple, narrowly focused articles of impeachment that the U.S. House of Representatives was likely to file against Donald J. Trump. What I thought would be a singular event is turning into something far more complex.

The House launched that impeachment inquiry based on the president’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodyrmyr Zellenskiy in which he asked for help — allegedly — in getting re-elected. He also wanted some dirt on Joe Biden, a potential opponent in 2020.

Oh, boy. You can’t ask for that kinda help from foreign governments, Mr. President. It’s against the law and, um, the Constitution. It’s also an impeachable offense.

But wait! Now we have Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, being investigated by federal prosecutors over his conversations with Ukrainian officials regarding the president’s re-election campaign.

Oh, and then there’s the testimony about whether Trump sought a “quid pro quo” — with Trump getting something in return for the re-election help. That’s another no-no.

Trump seems to be coming unglued. His Twitter fingers are getting a serious workout. I heard something today about Trump sending out 33 tweets in 20 minutes over the weekend. Good grief, man! Doesn’t the president have actual work to do?

This kind of reminds me of a runaway grand jury, which judges sometimes impanel to look at evidence regarding specific crimes, but then launch into other matters that take investigations far afield.

Runaway grand juries occasionally produce blockbuster indictments. Might that be happening now? Hmm. I am thinking that’s possibly the case.

As for the impeachment timetable, it well might be pushed back a bit while various congressional committees pore through the mountain of evidence that is building and which well might doom the president.

Is this a happy time? Of course not! It is a sad time for the government, for the country or for Americans who are concerned about where this all leads us.

However, the House impeachment inquiry must proceed.

Impeachment has nothing to do with success

Donald Trump keeps yapping and yammering the same thing repeatedly.

House Democrats “can’t impeach” a president who presides over the “best economy in history,” or someone who has managed to “restore and rebuild our military that had been depleted,” or is “making America great again.”

Actually, the House of Representatives can impeach a successful president. The House did that very thing in 1998 when it impeached President Clinton for far less than what is on the table today. Clinton lied to a grand jury about a sexual relationship he had with a White House intern. That was all House Republicans needed to hear. They impeached the president, who then stood trial in the Senate, which acquitted him.

What were the presidential atmospherics at the time? Oh, let’s see: The president, working with a GOP-controlled Congress, managed to cobble together a balanced federal budget; private-sector payrolls were exploding; we were at peace, relatively speaking.

The House still impeached the president.

You see, the president’s job performance has not a damn thing to do with whether he deserves to be impeached.

I am more than willing to accept that Donald Trump has presided over a successful economic condition. However, the House is considering whether to impeach him over improper contacts he has had with foreign governments and whether he sought foreign help in his re-election effort and whether he has asked foreign governments for dirt he can toss on the campaign of a potential presidential foe, former Vice President Joe Biden.

I won’t argue whether the current economic prosperity is facing any risk of imploding. As I said, the economy is not the issue. Nor is world peace. Nor are any of the issues on which a president can claim credit.

Impeachment is a narrowly focused political exercise. Its aim is to determine whether a president has committed a “high crime and misdemeanor” while serving in the nation’s highest office. There appears to be ample evidence of the commission of such a transgression.

None of this will result in Donald Trump changing his tune. He’ll keep blathering about what a great job he has done, apparently thinking that enough Americans will buy into it and suggest that all that happy talk means it’s all right for a president to solicit foreign interference in our electoral process.

Actually, it isn’t all right. It is an offense worthy of impeachment, conviction and removal from office.

Mr. POTUS, impeachment is quite ‘constitutional’

Donald Trump, as it has been noted repeatedly, doesn’t know what is in the U.S. Constitution.

Thus, when he complains that efforts aimed at impeaching him are “unconstitutional,” he merely reveals his utter ignorance of the nation’s founding document.

It’s in Article I, the part of the Constitution that lays out legislative responsibilities. It refers to how the Senate shall have the “sole responsibility” to try the president for crimes brought by a House impeachment. It’s near the end of Section 3. Really. It is!

And in Section 2, it says the House shall have the “sole power of impeachment.”

It states that impeachment shall reach no further than “removal from office” of the person being impeached. That includes the president. Yep. It’s in there, too.

So, there you have it. Donald Trump seems to believe the House is acting outside its constitutional authority.

Hmm. No. It isn’t. It is acting solely within its authority. It is following the letter of the law and of the Constitution.

The president needs to look at the document he swore to defend and protect. It’s not a difficult thing to do.

Yes, it’s time to impeach the president of the United States

You may now count me as an American who has changed his mind on whether to impeach the president of the United States, Donald Trump.

I had been in the camp of those who said impeachment was a potential political loser. I had joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in digging in against impeaching Trump. Why not wait until the 2020 presidential election? Why allow the Democratically controlled House to impeach Trump, only to allow the Republican-controlled Senate to acquit him?

That’s all changed. In my view, the president has delivered impeachable offenses to the House and to the Senate.

We had that memo taken from the transcript of the phone call Trump had on July 25 with Ukrainian President Volodyrmyr Zellenskiy, when Trump asked Zellenskiy for help in getting him re-elected. Oh, and then he asked for that “favor, though,” when he indicated he would withhold shipment of arms to Ukraine until after Zellenskiy did as Trump had asked.

The president is not allowed to seek foreign government assistance in that manner. It’s in the law. It is implied in the Constitution. Trump has broken the law and broken faith with the oath he took to defend the Constitution.

The House must not wait any longer than it needs to wait.

As for the Senate, I remain skeptical about that body’s collective courage, doubting senators will be able to muster the two-thirds majority it needs to convict the president and, thus, boot his sorry backside out of office.

Trump won’t cooperate with the House committees seeking information about what the president said and when and to whom he said it. He keeps insisting that he did nothing wrong, that his phone conversation with Zellenskiy was “perfect.” OK, then, why does he dig in and resist at every turn? Why does Trump insist that he didn’t ask Zellenskiy for dirt on a political foe, Joe Biden, when the memo already published suggests that he did that very thing?

He blasts the media, Democrats and even the few Republicans who’ve shown the guts to criticize the president. Trump says the impeachment drive is “illegitimate” and calls it an attempted “coup” to reverse the results of the 2016 presidential election.

Come on! The House is pursuing a legal attempt to hold the president accountable for his own acknowledged actions.

And then we have the whistleblower, acting under the protection of a law that aims to protect these individuals who reveal corruption in our government. One of them has filed a report with credible evidence that Trump has sought to use the power of his office for personal political gain. He or she has “indirect” knowledge. Then we hear about a second individual with “direct” knowledge of what already has been alleged.

Trump wants to reveal the identity of this individual, or both individuals. He is threatening them with the same punishment we hand out to those convicted of espionage.

If that isn’t witness tampering, or obstruction of justice or abuse of power then there is no standard that fits any of those misbehaviors.

Donald Trump needs to be impeached. The House needs to act with deliberate speed.

‘Emoluments’ have become a matter of interpretation

Donald Trump has violated his oath of office. I stand by that assertion and will continue to stand by it for as long as I am able to stand by anything.

But I have received a fair question from someone who commented on a recent blog post. The question, in part, asks this:

“[N]o Person holding any office of Profit or Trust under [the United States] shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign state.”

If this is the part of the Constitution that he has allegedly violated, then I guess the theory is that he was seeking a present from the President of the Ukraine in the form of an investigation into Burisma and the Bidens.

The blog reader asks for a blog post that explains what Donald Trump has done to call for his impeachment.

I believe the Emoluments Clause is a tangential element in the argument that he has violated his oath.

My greatest concern is the “favor” he sought from Ukrainian President Volodyrmyr Zellenskiy. The Ukrainian president said in that July 25 phone call that he appreciated the help coming from the United States in the form of weapons Ukraine is using against Russia-backed rebels. Then the next thing that came from Trump referred to a favor he wanted “though” in exchange for the funds already appropriated by Congress. He said he wanted Ukraine to investigate allegations that Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, profited from a business relationship that Hunter Biden had with a Ukrainian businessman.

Therein lies the violation, in my view.

You see, the president withheld money approved by Congress to aid a U.S. ally in its fight against a U.S. foe, Russia. Therefore, he put our national security at risk. Thus, he violated the oath he took to protect and defend the Constitution and to protect Americans against foreign adversaries.

Congressional Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry that appears headed toward a certain impeachment of the president. I don’t know what the inquiry will reveal. There will might be something to allegations that the president is actually profiting from his office, with foreign governments spending money at the glitzy resorts he still owns.

First things first. The inquiry needs to come to grips with this patently frightening notion that the president of the United States is stiffing an ally, benefiting an adversary and in the process putting Americans in jeopardy.

If it were up to me, I would call that an impeachable offense.

Is it OK to ask foreign governments for partisan political help?

This note is directed at you, U.S. Rep. Van Taylor. I have asked your staff for an answer, but haven’t gotten one, so I’m asking you directly, through this blog.

Here is my question: Is it all right for the president of the United States to ask foreign heads of state for help to get him re-elected, and is it all right for POTUS to ask those heads of state for dirt on a potential political foe?

I have looked through your website. I have tried to find a comment from you on the crisis that is metastasizing in the White House. I have come up empty.

I know you’re a freshman member of Congress. I also am acutely aware that you are not a blowhard in the fashion of some of your Democratic colleagues who have found ways to get their names in print and their faces on TV all … the … time! I admire that aspect of your still-brief service on Capitol Hill, congressman.

However, I want to know what you as a dedicated Republican think about what Donald Trump has acknowledged openly has done. He told the world that he is urging China and Ukraine to “investigate” Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

I believe the Constitution is clear that presidents must not use their office for personal gain, or political advantage. I also believe the president has violated that prohibition. He said so himself. We don’t need a “whistleblower” to tell us something the president himself has admitted to doing.

Why, though, do you and your fellow Republicans remain largely silent? This is unacceptable! Members of Congress who aren’t revolted and repulsed by the president’s conduct are derelict in their duty.

I want at the very least for my congressional representative — that would be you, congressman — to at least declare publicly that you will not tolerate any betrayal of a solemn and sacred oath that the president has taken.

I believe the president has betrayed his oath. I also want you to stand up for the principle of defending the Constitution.

Wake me from this ‘long national nightmare’

Gerald R. Ford ascended to the presidency on Aug. 9, 1974 and declared that “our long national nightmare is over.”

That was then. The Watergate scandal consumed the presidency of Richard Nixon. He was facing certain impeachment by the House of Representatives and equally certain conviction by the Senate. So, he resigned.

President Ford’s declaration comes to mind now as we lapse into another nightmarish stupor. Donald Trump is facing nearly certain impeachment by the House. The acknowledged circumstance appears to make the Watergate burglary and the cover up seem tame by comparison. Trump has admitted to soliciting foreign government help in securing his re-election. Today, he astonished the world by saying China and Ukraine both should investigate business dealings done by former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential opponent of Trump in the 2020 election.

I fear the nightmare this time will not end as cleanly as it did in 1974 when President Nixon resigned.

The House has enough evidence to impeach Donald Trump. The Senate, though, isn’t showing a hint of the courage demonstrated during the Watergate matter. Republican senators are standing behind Trump, who clearly has violated his oath of office by placing his personal political interests ahead of the country’s national interest.

How this crisis ends is anyone’s guess. Trump could follow the Nixon model and resign; he won’t. The president could be impeached and then be acquitted by the Senate; then he’ll run for re-election crowing about being found not guilty of what he has acknowledged doing.

He could be impeached and then convicted; but how might he depart the White House? I have zero faith that he would leave with any sense of shame or humility.

We’re entering another long national nightmarish scenario that doesn’t appear headed toward any sort of clean ending.

It’s not all grim, however.

President Ford also reminded us that “our Constitution works.” It most certainly did in 1974. I am clinging tightly to my belief that it will work yet again this time around.

‘Treason’ becomes a vastly misused term

Donald Trump has accused U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of committing an act of “treason” as he leads the House probe into whether to impeach the president of the United States.

With that, I turned to my handy-dandy, dog-eared American Heritage Dictionary, which describes “treason” thusly:

“The betrayal of one’s country, esp. by aiding an enemy.”

Why look it up? Why question yet again the wisdom of the president’s unhinged rhetoric?

For starters, Chairman Schiff has performed a duty that the law prescribes. He chairs a House committee and has embarked on a task set forth in the U.S. Constitution. His conduct is the exact opposite of treasonous. He is a patriot who is doing his duty under the law.

Now, what about the president? Has he committed a treasonous act? I do subscribe to that notion, either.

Donald Trump has violated the oath of office he took by soliciting help from a foreign government on his re-election effort and in digging up dirt on a political opponent. However, I want to make this point abundantly clear: The president has committed an act of treason. He hasn’t “aided an enemy” state. It’s not as if the United States is in a state of war with Russia, or with Ukraine, or with any nation on Earth for that matter. I include North Korea in that last point, given that Congress never declared war against North Korea when we sent troops to fight the communist nation during the Korean War in 1950.

Of all the major political figures misusing the “treason” epithet, Donald Trump is by far the most egregious offender. He hurls it at foes with zero regard to the immense consequence of what the term entails and the punishment that falls on those who commit such an act.

He won’t stop misusing the term. He cannot stop.

Donald Trump is scaring the daylights out of many millions of his fellow Americans. I happen to be one of them.

Impeachment probe heads down potentially dubious path

Count me as one American — admittedly a fervent anti-Donald Trump American at that — who wonders about the wisdom of marching down a potentially perilous path toward impeaching the president of the United States.

Congressional Democrats appear poised to expand the investigation into whether to impeach Trump to include the most recent charges related to assorted allegations of corruption.

I want to caution the Democratic caucus about the perils of this probe.

It appears at this moment to be virtually an all-Democrat effort in the House, which would impeach the president. They need only a simple majority to essentially file the formal complaint against Trump. Even with the added allegations that Trump is possibly benefiting from his high political office, Republicans remain stone-cold silent on it.

What happens if the House of Representatives, with its 35-seat Democratic majority, impeaches the president? It goes to the U.S. Senate, which is still controlled by Republicans. Is the GOP majority going to convict Trump of anything?

Hah! Not with a two-thirds conviction provision written into the U.S. Constitution. I am not even sure the Senate could must up even a simple majority to convict Trump and kick this utterly unfit individual from the presidency.

Which brings me to my fundamental point: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has dragged her feet on impeachment for good reason. She knows the Senate ain’t gonna convict Trump. So, why rush to judgment? Why not wait until after the November 2020 election when the political calculus might be radically different.

Donald Trump could be removed from office by the voters and/or the Senate could flip to Democratic control. If the first thing happens, then the nation might get to watch a criminal proceeding launched against a former president. If the Senate flips from R to D, though, that doesn’t guarantee anything; the Constitution still requires a two-thirds vote to convict an impeached president.

This is dicey stuff, folks.