Tag Archives: US Senate

Due diligence anyone … anyone?

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Who needs due diligence when you have a power-hungry hypocrite in charge of a U.S. Senate confirmation process?

That’s a rhetorical question, of course. Due diligence is as important as it always is when considering whom to seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. That ain’t stopping Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from unleashing the confirmation hounds on a nominee Donald Trump intends to send to the Senate upon the death of the iconic Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Let’s see how this goes. The presidential election is 46 days away. Trump hasn’t yet pitched a name at the Senate. He will do so quickly, or so we are led to believe. McConnell said the Senate will receive the nominee’s name, the Judiciary Committee will conduct a hearing and then the Senate will vote on the nominee … before we decide the presidency and before we decide who sits in the Senate!

How in the name of legislative due diligence is that supposed to happen?

Two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, say the Senate should wait until after the election. Yeah … do ya think?

A number of Republicans might lose on Election Day. Martha McSally of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Collins, and possibly even McConnell in Kentucky are prime targets for defeat. How does a lame-duck Senate session vote, therefore, on a Supreme Court nominee when several of the body’s members won’t be there to stand before their constituents?

Let us not forget how McConnell stonewalled President Obama’s pick to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia in early 2016, with McConnell saying that the president didn’t have the right to make an appointment during an election year. We’ve got that now, only magnified by an untold factor given the closeness of the next election!

Back to my point: How also does a Senate do the kind of due diligence required to thoroughly examine the quality of the person nominated by the president to serve as a member of nation’s highest court?

My view is that it cannot. The Senate must not steamroll a nominee to the Supreme Court in a fashion that screams political expediency.

Mitch McConnell’s hypocrisy is on full and inglorious display.

He sickens me.

Former AG faces intriguing political fight

Take away the upcoming presidential contest between Donald Trump and Joseph Biden and you are left with a boatload of intriguing down-ballot contests all across the nation.

The most interesting, intriguing, maddening and bizarre? It’s likely occurring in Alabama.

Two Republicans are running in a July 14 primary runoff to see who faces Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones in the fall. One of the GOP candidates is former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville; the other is a former U.S. senator and attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

Donald Trump has endorsed Tuberville. He detests Sessions, the guy he picked for AG, who he then fired because — as Sessions has noted — the AG “followed the law.”

Sessions finally has begun firing back at Trump’s idiocy, declaring that Alabamans will determine who should represent them, not a president’s “personal feelings” about one of the candidates.

This is weird, man.

Sessions wants his former Senate seat back. He is running as a supporter of Trump’s agenda. Trump’s campaign has declared it doesn’t want Sessions to stand with Trump. POTUS stands with Tuberville, declaring that Sessions “let our country down.” Oh, how did he do that?

By recusing himself from the FBI investigation into whether the Trump campaign collude with Russian operatives who attacked our electoral system in 2016. How could Sessions have led a Justice Department probe into a campaign in which he was an active participant? He couldn’t! Which is why he recused himself and allowed the appointment of Robert Mueller III as the special counsel.

That recusal and Mueller’s appointment enraged Trump. As did the investigation that Mueller conducted. He ended it by saying he didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute Trump, but stated pointedly that his findings did not “exonerate” Trump from wrongdoing.

All of this seems to put Sessions in a tough spot as he campaigns in a state full of voters who still seems to adore the carnival barker/con man/liar/philanderer in chief.

Go figure.

Two-fer endorsements: Idea is catching on?

This must be a new thing, more or less, in the world of newspaper editorial endorsements.

Editorial boards face a lengthy list of candidates for a specific office; they interview the contenders; they can’t settle on a single candidate to endorse … so they go with two of ’em!

Hmm. The New York Times did so when it endorsed U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic Party presidential primary contest.

Now it’s the Dallas Morning News doing the same thing regarding the Democratic primary contest for the U.S. Senate now occupied by Republican John Cornyn. The DMN couldn’t decide on a single candidate, so they offered up Texas state Sen. Royce West and former Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards for readers to consider.

I believe that’s a bit of a cop-out on the part of the newspaper.

I get the paper’s semi-endorsement of West. He hails from Dallas. He has represented the city in the Legislature for a long time. He is a powerhouse legislator. He’s a hometown guy, sort of a “favorite son.” 

Edwards also impressed the Morning News editorial board. She’s well-educated and well-grounded in public policy.

However, shouldn’t newspapers that seek to lead a community make the same tough call that their readers will have to make when they enter the voting booth to cast their ballots for political candidates?

I am in the process of making up my own mind on who gets my vote in the upcoming Super Tuesday primary election. We’ll get to select someone to run for president along with a whole lengthy array of candidates on all manner of public offices up and down the political food chain.

We have to pick just one for each race. I had been kinda hoping for a bit of guidance from my newspaper on who to ponder in this race for U.S. Senate. I guess I’m on my own.

Not so fast on the high fives, POTUS’s legal team

Conservative media personalities and other defenders of Donald John Trump have been back-slapping and high fiving the legal team that represented the current president in the Senate impeachment trial that appears to be barreling toward acquittal.

The Senate has rejected in a 51-49 vote a motion to allow new witnesses and other evidence into the Senate to testify about the case against the president.

It is true that Trump’s legal eagles seem to have won the argument on the floor of the Senate. How much of a hurdle, though, was it for them to clear? Not much of one, if you want to know my view on it.

To me the result was equally clear. Trump abused the power of his office by seeking foreign government political help and obstructed Congress by ordering his staff to ignore congressional subpoenas. The president should be removed from office!

Republicans control the Senate. To a person the GOP majority has stood behind Trump. POTUS legal team hasn’t changed a single mind. It hasn’t needed to turn any votes in their favor.

In fairness, I need to suggest that there might be a Democratic senator or two (or three) who could vote to acquit the president. They likely will be senators who represent states that Trump won in 2016 and they might be senators who are up for election or re-election this year. I present to you Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Were they persuaded by the presentation given by Trump’s team? Allow me a brief chuckle. I doubt it. They were swayed by the political dynamics back home.

So here we are. We’re going go get an up/down vote on Wednesday. The deal is done. The result, if you’ll excuse the cliché, has been “baked in.”

Republicans will stand with Donald Trump while Democrats will stand with the Constitution of the United States.

Trial muzzles loquacious group of lawmakers

Hear ye! Hear ye!. All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment.

One hundred Americans who now serve in the U.S. Senate got that command at the start of a trial to determine whether the current president of the United States, Donald John Trump, gets to keep his job.

Four of those 100 senators are running in a primary campaign for the right to face that president in an election later this year.

I am trying to imagine the difficulty it was for those senators, a group of men and women with enormous egos — many of whom are deeply in love with the sound of their own voices — to hear that mandate come from the Senate sergeant-at-arms.

The late Sen. George McGovern once said that the first prerequisite for a successful politician is to have a large ego. So the Senate is now sitting on its hands, its collective lips zipped while House members — from that “other” legislative branch — argue on behalf of the case that produced an impeachment of the Donald Trump.

My goodness. It’s bad enough for these men and women to have to sit there and not say a word. What makes it worse is that they are being forced to listen to House members talk for hours on end about a case they have brought to the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.” Senators tend, as I understand it, to look down on their colleagues in the House. Except for those few sparsely populated states that have just a single House member in Congress, senators represent their entire states while House members represent a “mere” congressional district. Senators have greater power, or so they believe, than their House colleagues.

The impeachment accuses Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

You and I are all quite certain that senators have plenty to say about those articles of impeachment. Except they cannot say a word about it, other than to comment — when the media ask them for their comment — on the presentation they are being forced to hear without being able to respond in real time.

In a strange sort of happenstance, we are witnessing the members of one legislative chamber elevating their profile to the same level as the members of the other.

I find it entertaining.

‘Liberal hack’ attack is now the new normal?

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally is a supreme disappointment to me, as I once said something nice about the grace she exhibited in losing an earlier race for another vacant Senate seat in Arizona.

Now the Republican seeking election to a seat to which she was appointed is turning into, shall we say, a “conservative hack.” Why? Because she called a CNN reporter a “liberal hack” who had the temerity to ask her a straightforward question devoid of any political taint or bias.

CNN Capitol Hill reporter Manu Raju asked McSally if she supported calling for additional evidence and witnesses in the upcoming impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, the current president of the United States.

“You’re a liberal hack; I’m not talking to you,” McSally snapped at Raju. Huh? That’s how it goes? A working journalist asks a question that requires at minimum a “yes” or a “no.” She chose to bite back at someone who is merely doing his job as a correspondent for a major newsgathering organization.

This is the “media is the enemy of the people” strategy employed by Donald Trump against those in the media who continue to provide critical coverage of events and statements from the president and his allies — when it is deserved!

McSally, a backbench senator who was appointed to replace former Sen. Jon Kyl, who served briefly after the death of the great Sen. John McCain. She earlier had run against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema for a seat vacated by the retirement of Jeff Flake. That race was a nail-biter, but McSally conceded with grace and class to her opponent.

Thus, I had hope she would comport herself with dignity when she got the appointment to succeed Kyl. Silly me.

McSally doubled down on her slap back at Raju, recalling that she was “a fighter pilot.” Indeed, she is U.S. Air Force Academy grad who saw combat duty in Iraq.

Her petulant display, though, bodes grimly for the state of political discourse at least where it involves this federal legislator. Perhaps she is feeling the heat of sagging poll numbers in Arizona, where she is trailing possible Democratic challenger Mark Kelly, a former shuttle astronaut.

Whatever the case, Manu Raju — seeking a simple answer to a direct question — didn’t need the high-profile slap in the face by Sen. McSally. Bad call, senator.

Acquittal doesn’t necessarily mean exoneration

Given what most of us out here in Flyover Country expect will happen — that the U.S. Senate won’t kick Donald Trump out of office — I want to offer a word of warning to fellow news junkies as to what we’re likely to hear from the president of the United States.

He will shout, scream and holler that the Senate has “exonerated!” him. He will declare that the Senate’s failure to clear the very high — justifiably so — bar set by the nation’s founders means that his impeachment was based on nothing at all.

That’s not how many of us see it.

The House of Representatives impeached Trump on allegations that he abused the power of his office and that he obstructed Congress. They made the case in convincing fashion; their evidence is enough to warrant his removal from office … in my view.

Trump sought political help from a foreign government and withheld military aid to that government until it provided a “favor, though” to him and his re-election team. He has instructed his staff to ignore congressional subpoenas. Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress? Done deal, man. Again, that’s my view.

The Senate won’t find 67 votes to convict Trump. So, he’s likely to say the Senate has “exonerated” him. No. It won’t. His expected acquittal only will signify that an insufficient number of senators saw fit to convict Trump of what I believe are impeachable offenses.

We need to hear from witnesses in this Senate trial. Yes, even if they are provide evidence that clears Trump of wrongdoing. Trump is fighting that idea, which tells me he is hiding something. Someone deserving of “exoneration” doesn’t go to Trump’s lengths to keep witnesses from testifying. Am I right?

The trial begins next week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has named the “managers” who will prosecute this matter on behalf of the House. Senators will sit quietly in the chamber and listen to what everyone has to say.

Then they will vote. Trump will escape with a narrowly defined acquittal. He’ll holler he was “exonerated!”

The irony? That false claim will be yet another Donald Trump lie.

Let the trial begin … with witnesses!

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

It looks as though the U.S. Senate is going to convene a trial next week. The president of the United States is going to stand trial on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress.

The trial of Donald Trump isn’t a purely legal proceeding. It’s damn close to one, though. It’s close enough to a courtroom trial that there needs to be witnesses called who have something important to add to the issue at hand.

That issue is: What happened precisely during that “perfect phone call” that Trump had with the president of Ukraine? Then-national security adviser John Bolton was present when Trump talked to his Ukrainian colleague; so was acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. The Senate needs to hear from them. What they did hear? Did the president ask a foreign government to interfere in our 2020 election? Did he withhold military aid to Ukraine until it announced an investigation into Joe Biden, a potential Trump foe?

The nation does not know what they know. We have not heard it from them directly. I am one American who wants to know what they heard. I want to hear ’em say it out loud, in public, under oath.

Will that occur? Will the Senate summon them? We don’t know.

In return, of course, Trump wants the Senate to call Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who worked for the energy company for a handsome sum of money. There are allegations of “corruption” involving Hunter Biden. Except that prosecutors have said time and again that the younger Biden did nothing illegal.

The president also wants to call House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. Why? Beats the livin’ malarkey out of me!

Let’s not turn this trial into a sideshow. It is serious. It is a sober event. It should be conducted with utmost decorum and dignity.

I am awaiting the start of this trial. I hope we get to hear from Bolton and others with direct knowledge of what happened … allegedly!

We need a serious trial. Not a circus.

Get on with Senate trial and then move on to the next fight

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

My impeachment fatigue is worsening. It’s wearing me out. I am tiring of hearing the same news reports time and again about the upcoming trial of Donald John Trump.

Let’s get the trial done, shall we.

I believe my worsening case of impeachment fatigue is brought on the realization — which I have known for some time, truth be told — that the U.S. Senate will not toss Donald Trump out of the White House. It will not muster up the constitutionally mandated courage to do the right thing and convict him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Trump is likely to keep enough Senate Republicans in tow to avoid being booted out with a two-thirds majority needed at the end of the trial.

I would say “that’s fine,” except that it isn’t. It’s just the way this hand will play out.

It appears, too, that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who presided over Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives, caved in her demand that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell guarantee a “fair” trial before she sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate. I guess every politician has limits on his or her patience and I reckon Pelosi reached her limit.

So, what now? We get a trial. Trump stays in office. Then he runs for re-election as the first president ever to do so with the cloud of impeachment hanging over him. How that plays out depends on (a) how adroit Trump is in parlaying himself as a “victim” and (b) how well the Democratic Party nominee is able to articulate the case that an impeachment is a major scar on the president’s legacy.

I will devote much of this blog, therefore, to making the case as well as I can that Donald Trump needs to serve just a single term as president, that the next president will have some major cleanup work to do to restore the dignity of the office.

The impeachment fatigue, I am hoping, will dissipate once we get a Senate verdict. Then I’ll be ready to move on to the next battle.

Let’s all get ready.

How is McConnell able to serve as a Senate ‘juror’?

I am baffled. The U.S. Senate majority leader is seeking to grease a pending Senate trial in favor of the president of the United States.

And this will occur after he takes an oath administered by the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to be an impartial juror.

How does that work?

Mitch McConnell is working with the White House to ensure a favorable outcome for Donald Trump, who’s about to be impeached by the House of Representatives. The Senate will get the matter and will conduct a trial to determine whether Trump should be convicted of two high crimes and misdemeanors: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

All 100 senators will serve as jurors in a trial presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts. But how in the name of impartial juris prudence can Majority Leader McConnell perform the duties he will swear he will do if he’s attempting to rig the outcome in favor of the president?

This isn’t how you’re supposed to do it.

I get that the trial isn’t strictly a judicial affair, that it’s tinged with politics through and through. However, there is supposed to be a certain level of judicial decorum involved when the jurors take an oath to judge the evidence fairly and with an open mind.

For the leader of the Senate to work against that very oath is a serious violation of the duties he is supposed to perform.