Tag Archives: US House

Nadler: POTUS ‘ought to be impeached,’ but first …

U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler has declared his belief that Donald Trump “ought to be impeached.”

I happen to agree with him — to a point.

Nadler believes the president has committed impeachable offenses. So do I. He seems to think the House of Representatives has the votes to impeach the president. As do I.

But … there’s this matter about whether the public is fully on board. Nadler is hedging enough to forestall any rush to impeach the president. I am not sure the public is sufficiently behind an impeachment effort to make it stick, or to persuade enough U.S. senators to convict Trump and toss him out of office after a trial for the charges the House would bring against him.

The conviction bar is far higher than the impeachment bar. The House — with its 235-200 Democratic cushion — needs a simple majority to lodge a formal complaint against the president. The Senate requires two-thirds of its members to convict Trump; Republicans control 53 seats. I do not believe there are enough GOP senators who have the courage to convict to boot the carnival barker out of the office to which he was elected.

There is Chairman Nadler’s conundrum.

The Judiciary Committee has effectively launched impeachment proceedings against Trump. Will it produce enough actual, concrete, tangible evidence that Trump has committed a “high crime and misdemeanor” to warrant impeachment?

Sure, but the process has to play out. It’s a political event, to be sure. Some Democrats keep talking about doing their “constitutional duty.” Fine, but to what end?

If the goal of impeachment is to persuade enough Americans and their elected representatives in the House and Senate to kick Trump out of office, then I believe the pro-impeachment brigade has more miles to march.

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.

Wyoming: where few folks live, where U.S. rep wields huge clout

RAWLINS, Wyo. — This is a charming town in the south-central region of a sprawling state. It sits somewhere between two fictitious towns to which I refer when I’m trying to illustrate sparse population: Resume Speed, Wyo., and Bumfu*, Egypt.

Here’s the deal with Rawlins, and with Wyoming: The state shares the rare distinction of having three statewide representatives in Congress; by that I mean two U.S. senators and one U.S. House of Representatives member. The other states are North and South Dakota, Alaska and Montana.

But let’s talk about Wyoming.

Its lone U.S. rep is a young woman named Liz Cheney. You might have heard of her. Her parents are Dick and Lynn Cheney. Dad Cheney has considerable political credential: former vice president, former secretary of defense, former congressman — from Wyoming, no less, former White House chief of staff. The dude’s been around, you know?

He passed his political interest on to his daughter, Liz, who recently moved to Wyoming so she could run for Congress from the state that ranks No. 10 in geographical area among all 50 states.

She faced down carpetbagger accusations, given that she grew up Back East, while Dad was serving as congressman, defense secretary during the Bush 41 administration and WH chief of staff for President Ford.

I don’t know how well Liz Cheney has acquainted herself with Wyoming’s unique issues. The state has a couple of impressive national parks, it is teeming with spectacular beauty; they mine a lot of coal in Wyoming; driving across the magnificent landscape one sees a lot of wind farms as well. They all require federal attention.

Given that Rep. Cheney represents the same constituencies as Sens. John Barraso and Mike Enzi, Wyoming gets a three-fer in political clout. Cheney is not bashful, either, about wielding her power, as the second-term House member already is chairing the House Republican Caucus.

Oh, and gerrymandering, the task that allows state legislators to carve up their states according to population trends? Not an issue in Wyoming. No such thing as “gerrymandered congressional districts” here.

There might come a day when the state gets a second House member. For now, all the state’s 580,000 residents should appreciate having a U.S. representative who answers to them.

Mr. Sam knew his place

BONHAM, Texas — The plaque pictured here offers an important civics lesson. It tells of the late Sam Rayburn’s role as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and also as a rank-and-file member of the legislative branch of the federal government.

The great Mr. Sam said he didn’t work “under” eight presidents, but that he worked “with” them. Listen up! Pay attention!

Too many presidents over many decades have fancied themselves as bigger than their office, occupying an office bigger and more powerful and meaningful than the other two co-equal branches of government.

Yes, Donald Trump, I refer to you as well.

Rayburn served in the House with eight presidents, the first of whom was Woodrow Wilson; the last of them was John F. Kennedy. Rayburn died in November 1961.

He was the Man of the House, even when he wasn’t pounding the gavel as its speaker.

I came back to the Rayburn Library and Museum today to show my visiting brother-in-law — who is quite a student of history — this place my wife (his sister) and I visited for the first time just a few weeks ago.

I didn’t see the plaque on our first visit. I feel compelled to offer these few words as a tribute to the understanding that Speaker Rayburn had about Congress and its role as a partner in the making of laws that govern all Americans. He was a student of government and knew he was duty bound to work within the system, reaching across the partisan divide, to find common ground in search of the common good.

There is a huge lesson that needs to be learned in the present day. Donald Trump, then the Republican nominee for president, declared in the summer of 2016 that “I, alone” can repair the things that he said were ailing the country. Uh, Mr. President, good government is most definitely a team sport, requiring all branches of government — even the judiciary — to play a role in the crafting and interpretation of law.

Sam Rayburn knew what has been lost on occasion in the present day. Legislators dig in against the president, who digs in against the men and women who serve in Congress. Nothing gets done. They all seek to declare political victory, when in reality they all fail.

Given that we have only one president at a time, the onus for failure — at least in my mind — falls on the doofus in the White House at the moment.

I cannot stop thinking at this moment how the great Sam Rayburn would react to the bullying and showboating he would witness from down the street at the White House.

My guess? He wouldn’t stand for it.

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.

Rep. Taylor is feeling the pain a little more deeply

I spoke by phone today with U.S. Rep. Van Taylor, the newly elected congressman from Texas’s Third Congressional District.

Taylor is a young freshman Republican in the People’s House. He didn’t say so directly, but I am sensing a deep personal pain in the wake of the El Paso massacre that erupted over the weekend, mere hours before another gunman opened fire in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine victims. Twenty-two people died at the hands of a lunatic who allegedly traveled more than 600 miles to El Paso to do harm to “as many Mexicans as possible.”

Why is Taylor feeling so much pain? The alleged shooter is a constituent of the congressman.

The alleged gunman graduated from Plano High School. He had lived with his grandparents in Allen, which is right next door to Plano.

Rep. Taylor told me that the act of one individual shouldn’t tar an entire community. He spoke to me today of the standard of living in Plano, how it ranks highly among cities of comparable size in any study one can name. It has a stellar per-capita income, along with the education level of its residents, he said.

One man’s moronic outburst doesn’t tar the community. That’s what I heard Van Taylor say this morning.

He hasn’t visited El Paso in the wake of the massacre. I am not sure when he’ll go. Taylor did tell me he has spoken with El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, with whom he served briefly in the Texas Legislature.

I ended up telling Taylor that I was “in your corner.” I am pulling for him and his colleagues as they seek answers to this dual-track tragedy. I only intend to demand them to explore deeply any possible avenue they can to curb this gun-violence insanity.

Indeed, I believe this young man is hurting.

Back bencher bails on GOP … will there be more?

Justin Amash used to belong to the Republican Party while serving as a congressman from a reliably Republican district in Michigan.

How reliable is it? Grand Rapids, Mich., used to be represented in the House of Representatives by Gerald R. Ford, who went on to become the nation’s 38th president. If there was anyone who was more “establishment Republican” than President Ford, then he or she has been hiding in the tall grass for generations.

Amash bailed on the GOP this week. He is the lone GOP House member to sign on to the call to impeach Donald J. Trump. He believes Trump has committed crimes against his high office and the Constitution. Yet his formerly fellow Republicans are having none of it. Now, Amash is having none of them.

He is now an independent. Rumors are flying that he will run for president in 2020 — as a libertarian! Well, good luck with that.

Actually, I admire Amash for sticking to his principles. He likely won’t change any Republican minds by leaving the party. There are those of us out here in this vast nation of ours who believe he is right, that the president did commit crimes that have risen (or sunk!) to the level of impeachment.

He isn’t going to place fealty to the president or to his former political party over the principle of adhering to the law and defending the Constitution.

Is this former GOP back bencher going to move to the front rank of politicians? We will need to see how that plays out. My hope is that he does. My concern is that he will disappear.

Rep. Taylor wants to get along

I am quite certain that when U.S. Rep. Van Taylor finishes his time in Congress that he will have earned high marks from conservative watchdog groups and political action organizations.

That’s fine. It’s who he is. He also seems to be demonstrating an attitude that’s been missing in the halls of Congress for, oh, several decades. He wants to forge friendships, alliances and partnerships with his colleagues across the aisle.

That’s right. This conservative freshman Republican wants to work with Democrats.

Taylor came to the McKinney Sunrise Rotary Club this morning to make the case that “Congress is broken” and that it needs a few healing hands to repair it. The young man from Plano just might be what the doctor has ordered.

I was impressed with a small gesture he extended to someone who asked him a question, while addressing Taylor as “Congressman,” to which Taylor said, “You can call me ‘Van.’ I work for you. I am the employee here.” He took office just in January, succeeding a living legend in the House, Sam Johnson, also of Plano. More on Johnson in a moment.

The idea that Congress is broken isn’t exactly a “news flash,” Taylor said. “I am trying to build relationships with Democrats. Most bills I sponsor are bipartisan bills,” he said.

Taylor honed his bipartisan leanings serving in the Texas Senate, where he worked prior to being elected to the U.S. House. So he knows about certain rules that promote bipartisanship, such as the Texas Senate’s two-thirds rule that requires at least 20 members to consider legislation on the Senate floor.

He told us this morning that “the proudest day of my time in the Senate was when I got to introduce my congressman,” Rep. Johnson, whose story of heroism during the Vietnam War is legendary, to his  Senate colleagues. He was held captive as a prisoner of war for seven years in the “Hanoi Hilton,” after being shot down and was kept in solitary confinement for four of those horrific years.

Indeed, Taylor’s own military experience commends him well to serve in Congress. He was a Marine Corps intelligence officer. He was on active duty and was planning to leave the Marines while touring the Pentagon, a place he said he had never visited.

Then he watched the Pentagon burn on 9/11. He returned home to North Texas, served in the Marine Corps Reserves and was called up in January 2003 as the nation was preparing to go to war in Iraq. Taylor then served a year in Iraq after the shooting started in March 2003.

So, this newcomer to the Big Show wants to do well. He wants to get things done. He knows the system on Capitol Hill is in bad shape. It needs repair. Taylor acknowledges that Texas congressional Republicans meet regularly with each other, but also wants to further the outreach to include Texas congressional Democrats.

I wish Van well in his search for common ground.

Dial it back, Mme. Speaker

Surely the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives knows with whom she is dealing. Surely she knows that the president of the United States possesses a hair-trigger temper that ignites a mouth that speaks without filter.

Yet there she is, telling House colleagues she doesn’t want to impeach the president; she wants to see him sent to prison.

Ayye! How about dialing it back, Nancy Pelosi?

Donald Trump well might be goading the House to impeach him. He also knows what many of us know already, that the Republicans who run the Senate aren’t going to convict him. He’ll then be able to use a House impeachment against Democrats and pave the way toward a possible — if not probable — re-election in November 2020.

Pelosi is known to possess a first-class political mind; her political instincts are believed to be unparalleled. Thus, I am surprised to hear her say what she said, that her goal is to put the president of the United States in prison.

It’s one thing to comprehend the steep hill that awaits a potential impeachment vote in the House. It’s quite another to say she wants to toss the president behind bars.

I agree with the speaker’s reluctance — if only for now — to launch impeachment proceedings against the president. I only wish she would keep the “prison” thoughts to herself.

Speaker Pelosi is sure to launch the president into a hysterical response that only will serve to make us all just shake our heads in utter disbelief.

Impeachment is all about politics

Elizabeth Warren actually has said with a straight face and in an earnest-sounding voice that impeaching Donald J. Trump is not about politics, but is about “the Constitution.”

Baloney!

It’s all about politics and for Sen. Warren of Massachusetts, one of 23 Democrats running for president in 2020 to say otherwise is, shall we say, empty rhetoric.

That is why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is correct in digging in on the issue of impeaching Trump.

At least until the House and Senate finish their tedious work in determining whether to proceed.

Impeaching a president is all about removing that individual from office. The House would draft articles of impeachment; its Judiciary Committee would recommend whether to impeach; if it votes “yes,” then the full House votes on whether to file the complaint.

If the House votes to impeach, then the Senate puts the president on trial. Here is where the bar gets high; senators need a two-thirds vote to convict. Senate Republicans occupy 52 seats in the 100-member body. Is there a realistic chance that a dozen or so GOP senators are going to vote to kick Donald Trump out of office?

That is the calculation that keeps Pelosi from pulling the impeachment trigger in the House.

Thus, it’s all about politics. Sen. Warren.

To be sure, I happen to agree that Trump has committed a crime. I believe he has obstructed justice. I also believe former special counsel Robert Mueller was hamstrung by Justice Department policy prohibiting an indictment of a sitting president.

Republicans continue to stand with a president who has committed the very “crime” that drove GOP lawmakers to stampede toward impeaching a Democratic president two decades ago.

Pelosi knows the steep hill she faces if the House were to proceed with an impeachment.

So, let’s quit the high-minded rhetoric about the Constitution. Impeaching a president is the epitome of political action. If the House is going to impeach the fraud masquerading as the president of the United States, it had better do it right.

Or else … the pols don’t want to consider what will happen if they get it wrong.