Tag Archives: US Senate

Irony awaits impeachment conclusion

There’s a certain sense of irony associated with what is about to happen in the U.S. House of Representatives and then in the U.S. Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed an impeachment inquiry for as long as she could, believing that impeaching Donald Trump would divide the nation more than it is already divided.

Then came that infamous phone call of this past July and the request from the president for Ukraine to help him with a personal political favor. Trump wanted to hold up some key military aid to Ukraine — which wanted it to fight the Russian-backed rebels — until Ukraine delivered on the favor; he wanted to find dirt on a potential political foe, former Vice President Joe Biden.

That did it! said Pelosi. We have to impeach the president. More to the point, she said we had to look into whether there are sufficient grounds to impeach him.

To my way of thinking — and to the thinking of millions of other Americans — the House found sufficient reason to impeach him. House members came up with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It’s as clear to me as the day is long.

Yet, the division remains. Democrats are virtually all in. Republican are virtually all opposed to what Democrats want to do.

So, the House will impeach Trump on two articles of impeachment. The Senate will conduct a trial. As near as anyone can tell, Democrats will have enough votes to send the matter to the Senate. Republicans, though, are in control of the upper chamber, so they’ll find Trump “not guilty.”

You see the irony? Pelosi’s fear of a divided nation is coming true — even in the face of what many of us consider to be overwhelming evidence that Donald Trump should be thrown out of office for putting his personal political fortunes ahead of the national interest.

Will ‘Texodus’ cause loss of clout in Congress? Uhh, yes, it will

A headline in the Texas Tribune asks a question that borders on the preposterous.

“As experienced Texan congressmen retire, will the states’ sway in Congress decline?”

I have the answer: Yes. It will decline.

Both congressional chambers rely heavily on seniority. The more senior the members of the House and Senate, the more powerful committee assignments they get. They ascend to chairmanships or, if they’re in the House, they sit as “ranking members” of the minority party; a ranking member is deemed to be the senior member of the party that doesn’t control the chairmanship.

My former congressman, Republican Mac Thornberry of Clarendon, is retiring at the end of next year; he won’t seek re-election to his umpteenth term in the House. He serves as ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, a panel he chaired until Democrats took control of the House after the 2018 election.

Congressional power ebbs and flows. Texans who worry about such things need not fret over Texas’s loss of clout in the House. Indeed, if the state is turning into more of a “swing state,” Texas Democrats might find themselves elevated to positions of power formerly occupied by their Republican colleagues.

For the time being, though, the retirements of six Texas members of Congress does create a dwindling clout for the state on Capitol Hill.

However, it is likely far from a terminal ailment.

Legal victory = political draw

One of the more fascinating talking points to emerge from the public hearings into the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump’s presidency focuses on the legal vs. political aspects of the proceeding.

The argument goes something like this: If this were strictly a legal matter, House Democrats would have enough compelling evidence to convict Trump of the high crimes and misdemeanors that have been alleged against him. But it isn’t a legal proceeding. It’s a political battle and on that score, Trump is likely to survive impeachment and a trial that would occur in the U.S. Senate.

House and Senate Republicans seem to be aligned along a single thought: Yeah, the president did something wrong, but it’s not impeachable, let alone enough of a reason to convict him and toss him out of office.

Their Democratic colleagues, obviously, see it differently. They believe they have sufficient evidence in hand to impeach and convict Trump on crimes relating to his solicitation of political help from a foreign government and his efforts to cover it up and obstruct the pursuit of justice.

But … this isn’t a criminal matter. It’s a political one. Which is where Trump holds the winning hand.

He has bullied Senate and House Republicans into standing with him. To oppose Trump in this political fight would incur his wrath, which has proven to be quite formidable. They fear the president’s revenge and the support he continues to enjoy among that base of American voters in key states and congressional districts.

Were this a legal fight that operated under the rules of legal justice, in my view this wouldn’t even be a close call. Trump would be drummed out of office, sent packing to Mar-a-Lago … where he no doubt would launch a full frontal Twitter assault on a system that robbed him of the glory he believes he deserves.

Sadly, it is not. It’s a political fight that figures to last beyond the impeachment and trial and into the 2020 presidential election.

That is where this fight is likely to be decided.

Oh, I do hope Americans can snap out of their Trump-induced stupor to rid this nation of this poisonous politician.

Will he resign or stay … and get pummeled?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly wants to serve in the U.S. Senate. How does he do that if he is serving in the Donald Trump administration? Obviously, he cannot.

He also is being dragged feet first into the impeachment inquiry sausage grinder that has cranked up in the House of Representatives.

Pompeo hails from Kansas. He once served in the House from that state. Sen. Pat Roberts is retiring at the end of 2020. Pompeo wants to succeed him.

Does he stay on at State or does he enter the campaign from Kansas? He ought to run for the Senate. I don’t believe he needs to be elected from that state, given that I believe he has disserved his fellow diplomats at State. How? By not standing behind one of his more stellar ambassadors, Marie Yovanovitch, who has been smeared by Donald Trump, who fired her from her post as ambassador to Ukraine.

The impeachment inquiry is getting messy for Pompeo. He now has been revealed to have been in on that phone call Trump made to Ukraine’s president in which he asked for a favor in return for weapons sent to Ukraine to use against rebels backed by Russia.

Yahoo.com reported that Pompeo wants out, that he wants to run for the Senate. The State Department denies it … naturally!

Since the denial comes from the Trump administration, I cannot accept it at face value.

I tend to believe the reports that Donald Trump is going to look for the third secretary of state who is willing to endure the misery the president seems all too willing to inflict on those he selects to serve.

Sessions seeks to become Sen. Suck Up

Jeff Sessions’ announcement the other day that he intends to run for the U.S. Senate seat in Alabama was one of the most pathetic examples of senatorial slobbering I think I’ve ever seen.

Let’s review some history for a moment:

Sessions served for 20 years before joining the Trump administration as attorney general. He then recused himself from the Russia investigation because, he said, he couldn’t investigate his own role in alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign; he was a key player in the campaign.

Trump fired Sessions as AG. He then called nominating Sessions “the worst mistake” of his presidency. He skewered Sessions’ intelligence. He mocked his Southern accent. He humiliated the former AG simply for taking a principled stand against potential conflict of interest.

Now the former AG and former senator wants his old seat back. Did he extol his record as a lawmaker from Alabama? Did he tout his conservative principles? Did the Republican offer a clue as to what kind of senator he would be if voters returned him?

No. He called himself one of Trump’s biggest fans. He asked rhetorically whether he wrote a tell-all book, or did he show up “on CNN” to speak ill of Trump, or whether he has ever said a “cross” word about the president.

My goodness. What a craven example of slavish fealty to someone who, if the tables were turned, wouldn’t do anything of the sort.


Beto wipes out on wave he hoped would win the White House

Beto O’Rourke rode a huge wave to a near win in a 2018 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Texas.

Then the former El Paso congressman decided he would ride that wave in search of a bigger prize: the White House.

Today, though, he called it quits. He is no longer running for president of the United States. Indeed, O’Rourke never quite caught the same wave that excited so many Democrats in Texas and for a time got ’em pumped up in many other parts of the country.

I’ll admit to being disappointed. I had hoped to cast my ballot for O’Rourke once the Democratic Party primary parade marched its way toward Texas. However, O’Rourke never quite ignited the same level of interest in his presidential campaign that he did while he challenged Sen. Ted Cruz a year ago.

Oh, I wanted him to win the Senate seat in the worst way. He campaigned in all of Texas’s 254 counties. He took his message to progressive bastions such as Travis, Dallas and Bexar counties as well as conservative strongholds in the Panhandle, the Permian Basin and Deep East Texas.

O’Rourke finished Election Night 2018 less than 3 percent short of victory. In Texas, that constituted some sort of “moral victory” for Democrats who have lusted for a statewide election victory for more than two decades.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be as O’Rourke sought his party’s presidential nomination.

There might be another elected office in O’Rourke’s future. Just not this next year.

Nice try, Beto. Many of us still want to see you stay in the game, even if you’re no longer a candidate for public office.

Here is a tale of two impeachments

While the president of the United States keeps taking a victory lap after authorizing the mission that killed the Islamic State’s founder, it is time look at another matter that should concern Donald J. Trump.

The president is going to be impeached by the House of Representatives. The Senate will put him on trial eventually and likely will fail to convict him.

It will be the second presidential impeachment in 20 years. The House impeached President Clinton in 1998 and the Senate put him on trial the following year.

Is there a difference between these two matters? Let’s examine a critical difference.

Bill Clinton’s impeachment had everything to do with boorish personal conduct. The Republican-led House was looking for a reason to impeach Clinton, a Democrat. The president handed it to the House by lying under oath to a grand jury about a relationship he was having with a White House intern. Clinton denied the relationship. The House had evidence to the contrary.

The House impeached the president on perjury and on obstruction of justice.

Back to my point: Clinton’s impeachment had next to nothing to do with the job he was doing as president. In fact, he proved to be an effective and highly successful president. He worked with Congress to balance the federal budget and the economy was booming.

His impeachment was based on a disastrous personal decision he made. Clinton paid the price politically for that decision. He stands forever as an “impeached president.”

What about Donald Trump? The allegations staring this president down have everything to do with the conduct of his office. He has been accused of violating his oath of office by accepting foreign government assistance for personal political gain. He allegedly withheld military assistance to an ally in exchange for dirt on political foes.

There might be even more to be revealed before it’s done.

Donald Trump’s troubles far exceed in relevance to the conduct of his elected office anything that Bill Clinton did.

Clinton got impeached because he lied about marital infidelity. Donald Trump is going to be impeached over allegations that he has abused the immense power of his office.

The irony is that Trump likes to boast about doing things in fashions that dwarf his presidential predecessors. On this impeachment matter, what Donald Trump reportedly has done lends a certain quaintness to whatever it was that got Bill Clinton into so much trouble.

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.