Tag Archives: US Senate

My gut is rumbling: Trump just might survive this mess

I hate it when my gut starts to rumble. I get this queasy feeling down deep about certain matters occurring.

One of them is forcing a serious gut-churn way down yonder. Donald Trump, my innards are telling me, just might survive all this mess he has created. He appears likely at this moment to be able to avoid conviction in the U.S. Senate, if it is handed articles of impeachment from the U.S. House of Representatives; but even impeachment isn’t a lead-pipe cinch, even though the entire Democratic House majority is on board with an impeachment inquiry and potentially with actual impeachment.

Donald Trump has proven to be the master of evasion and, no, I am not referring to young Donald “evading” military service during the Vietnam War. Think for a moment about all the incidents during the 2016 presidential campaign that would have shattered a candidate’s dreams of winning the White House.

He said the late John McCain was a Vietnam War hero “only because he was captured”; he mocked a Gold Star family that criticized him at the Democratic National Convention; he mimicked and ridiculed a New York Times reporter afflicted with a crippling physical disability; Trump then admitted on that “Access Hollywood” recording to grabbing women by their pu*** because his “celebrity” status allowed him to do whatever he wants.

Imagine another politician, Democrat or Republican, getting away with that hideous campaign behavior. It boggles my mind.

So, now he’s president. He has acknowledged asking a foreign government for re-election help. He has admitted to asking an overseas power for help in digging up dirt on a potential 2020 opponent. He is on record telling Ukrainian officials that they can have help to fight the Russian-backed rebels if they did him a “favor, though,” meaning they had to do the favor before he would release the military assistance.

What does the current strife mean for the president? It means, to me, that his slipperiness has been able to deliver him from what should have been certain political doom.

Has this guy’s luck run out?

I hope it has. I fear he might find a way to avoid catastrophe.

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.

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.

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.

Beto feels the heat from those who want him to drop out

Beto O’Rourke is getting a lot of unsolicited advice these days.

Such as what came from the Houston Chronicle over the weekend. The Chronicle, which endorsed his candidacy for the U.S. Senate over Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, has urged O’Rourke to drop out of the Democratic race for president and to run for the Senate seat now occupied by GOP incumbent John Cornyn.

Read the editorial here.

O’Rourke is polling in the single digits. He was thought to be a strong favorite in Texas among the still-large field of Democratic primary candidates for POTUS; he isn’t polling all that strongly in his home state.

So, should O’Rourke bail on the race for the White House? I’ll offer this view.

He lost by a thin margin against Cruz in 2018, filling Texas Democrats’ hearts with hope that the state might actually elect a Democrat to statewide office for the first time in more than two decades. Cruz has parlayed his near-miss into a presidential campaign that started with a lot of buzz, but which has floundered.

Does he shuck that bid and take on Cornyn? Well, he would need some assurance that he could actually win the Senate seat Cornyn has occupied since 2003.

Were the former El Paso congressman lose a second consecutive U.S. Senate race, I believe that might doom any statewide office aspirations that O’Rourke might harbor.

Two straight losses would be tough to overcome.

I have no advice to give the young man. He’s getting a lot of it from people who are more in the know than little ol’ me. I am just concerned that the magic that Beto found in his first run for the U.S. Senate might be a bit more elusive to find were he to make another run for another Senate seat.

Good luck, Beto. Do what you think is best.

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.

U.S. Senate race suddenly becomes quite the attraction

Well now. A serious legislative big hitter has just entered the contest for U.S. Senate. He hails from just down the road from my wife and me in Dallas.

Royce West, who’s served in the Texas Senate since 1993, wants to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. So he’s in.

Suddenly this contest has become a top-tier event, in my view.

West is one of the state’s leading legislative Democrats. He brings serious gravitas to the debate that will unfold over time.

Sure, first things first. West has to win the party’s nomination next spring. Democrats already have a crowded field in that primary. West’s entry only clutters it up, except that West has considerable standing among his legislative colleagues — on both sides of the aisle — not to mention a reputation as a serious and thoughtful individual.

West is a lawyer. No surprise there. As one of his legislative colleagues noted, he brings “a big voice and a big presence” to the contest. Big presence, indeed, given that West is, shall we say, an imposing physical specimen. He also brings considerable knowledge of the state.

Let me stipulate that I’ve known John Cornyn for a long time. He and I have a strictly professional relationship. I have considered it to be a good one at that. I got to know when he ran for Texas attorney general prior to his moving to the Senate. I like him personally, but am baffled — along with many other Americans — by his silence concerning Donald Trump’s behavior and the potential revelations concerning impeachable offenses.

How might this Senate race get even crazier? Consider this: Beto O’Rourke, who lost by just a little bit to Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, is flailing in his effort to run for president; he might decide to bail on the White House bid and make another run at the Senate seat occupied by John Cornyn.

Stay tuned, folks.

Biden gets beaten up for … knowing how to legislate?

I am trying to come to grips with what Joe Biden said and how his comments are being received by some elements within the Democratic Party.

Let’s see … the former vice president said he was able during his Senate days and during his time as VP to work in a “civil” manner with people with whom he disagreed. He said that included segregationists within the Senate ranks, including Democrats such as James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia and Republican Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.

Why, that is just terrible, according to some progressives. They cannot understand how Biden — one of the huge number of Democrats running for president — can work with anyone who holds such despicable views.

They are demanding an apology from the former VP. Biden is having none of it. Nor should he.

The former vice president spent 30-plus years in the Senate. He learned the ropes of the body. He learned how to legislate, which required him — if he was to be an effective legislator — to work with all elements within the Senate. That included individuals who hold some nasty views.

As for whether it reveals a side of Biden that disqualifies him to be president, that he is a closet racist — which some of the critics have implied — I guess I feel the need to provide a two-word rejoinder.

Barack Obama.

Biden served as vice president for two terms alongside the nation’s first African-American president. It has been reported that the two men formed a friendship that is so tight and firm that the former president has referred to himself and his family as becoming “honorary Bidens.”

So, let’s stop with the nonsensical criticism of a career politician who merely was making a point about the need to work with all politicians of all factions — even those with despicable views.

It’s called legislating.

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.