Tag Archives: impeachment

FBI boss: They were domestic terrorists

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray today said what many millions of Americans have thought — or known — since we saw it occur.

The mob that stormed Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 comprised “domestic terrorists,” Wray told a congressional committee.

I do not intend here to denigrate the FBI boss … but duh!

Look, I respect this man a great deal. He has the toughest job imaginable, which includes investigating the crimes committed on the day the terrorist mob stormed into the Capitol Building while committing an undeniable act of insurrection against the U.S. government.

The fact that the FBI director has made this statement aloud and in public gives the discussion the kind of impetus it needs. Wray gives the domestic terror element an element of gravitas. 

Indeed, I am not at all surprised to hear Wray hang this label on the riotous mob. He has stated already that domestic terror presents the greatest existential threat to our national security. It poses a greater threat than any foreign terrorist organization; that includes ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Taliban … you name it.

What happens now with the investigation of criminal suspects? My hope, and I am can speak only for myself, is that the FBI is able to ratchet up the charges against those it arrests, that they are able to prosecute the suspects on suspicion of committing terrorist acts.

They were whipped into a frenzy on Jan. 6 by a president who was two weeks from leaving office. Donald Trump told them repeatedly on the Ellipse that the election he lost was “stolen” from him and he urged the crowd to take back the government from some nefarious forces he said were committing electoral thievery.

Yes, he got impeached for it and yes he avoid conviction in the Senate. The imprint left behind by the terrorists is indelible and the scars will take years, maybe decades to heal — if they ever do heal.

The terrorists wanted to execute Vice President Mike Pence; you can hear them shouting their intent as they stormed into the Capitol Building where the VP was doing his constitutional duty, which was to preside over the counting and certification of the Electoral College votes that elected President Joe Biden.

Man, if that ain’t terrorism, then it doesn’t exist anywhere.

I am relieved to hear that the FBI director has called it what we have known all along.

It well might be time to declare a new “war on terrorism.” 

Is the ‘big tent’ folding?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Republicans are proud to proclaim their party as a “big tent” organization that welcomes all ideas, all points of view.

Why, then, are state GOP leaders rebuking some of the seven Republican U.S. senators who voted to convict Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection during the Senate trial that acquitted him of the allegations?

Sens. Richard Burr, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey, Bill Cassidy and Ben Sasse have been censured by their states’ Republican Party. Sens. Mitt Romney and Susan Collins so far have avoided such a rebuke. So far!

Sen. John Thune has come to the defense of his GOP colleagues, chastising the state parties for their actions against the senators. He notes that the party prides itself on welcoming diverse opinions.

According to Newsweek: “There was a strong case made. People could come to different conclusions. If we’re going to criticize the media and the left for cancel culture, we can’t be doing that ourselves,” Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican, told the Associated Press.

Republicans Hit Back at GOP Censures of Senators Who Voted to Convict Trump (msn.com)

There you go. Is the GOP a “big tent party” or not? If it is, then the tent appears to be collapsing over them.

This matter reminds me of the kind of thing you hear on university campuses when conservative thinkers are asked to give speeches to student bodies. How many times over the years have you heard about faculty senates and student council leaders demanding that their schools rescind the invitation because they don’t want to hear what the guest has to say.

I am compelled to ask when that rejection occurs: Aren’t colleges and universities supposed to welcome diversity of thought?

This intraparty squabble only exemplifies what many of us have thought for some time, that the GOP’s big tent is open only to those who adhere to a certain kind of thought, or are loyal only to certain individuals.

Trump to linger a while

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This much is becoming evident the day after the U.S. Senate failed to convict Donald Trump of inciting the insurrection on Jan. 6.

The ex-president is going to remain within our field of vision for a good bit longer. As much as I want him to fade into the shadows, never to be seen or heard again, I fear my wish will go ignored.

The media cannot seem to get enough of this guy. He fired off a statement Saturday after 57 senators voted to convict him of inciting the riot that stormed Capitol Hill; the guilty votes weren’t sufficient to register as a conviction by the body, though. I’ll call it a “conviction” only because it was a bipartisan vote to punish Trump, with seven Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues to stand for the Constitution and the sacred oaths they took.

Now the talk centers on what it means for the Republican Party. Trump still commands a huge following among the GOP faithful, although their fealty is aimed at the man and not party principle or philosophy.

The 2022 midterm election already is looming just over the horizon and so the pundit class will examine the influence that Trump might exert on the GOP primary fields as they develop across the land. Given that I am not among the GOP faithful, it doesn’t matter very much to me, other than what it might portend for the future of a once-great political party.

I’ve had some critics of this blog suggest I cannot get past Donald Trump. They’re right to this extent: For as long as the media continue to pay attention to him, I feel compelled to offer commentary on what flies out of his mouth. I will do so, albeit a good bit more sparingly than when he was masquerading as president of the U.S. of A.

He’s still out there. Lurking, preening and prancing. That’s what narcissists do. I just want him to vanish.

Scars to remain

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is now history and, indeed, it made history on its way into the books.

The former president’s “acquittal” by a minority of U.S. senators serving as jurors does not wipe away the scars created by the horrendous event that precipitated the House of Representatives’ impeachment of the former president.

The healing will take time. Lots of time. Maybe the time will outlast the terms of all the lawmakers currently serving in our Congress.

The insurrectionists who stormed Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 inflicted damage not just on the physical structure of our Capitol Building, but also on the relationships among members of both political parties serving in the building.

The men and women who challenged the results of the 2020 presidential election have been cast aside by those who didn’t mount the challenge. We have heard stories of House members and senators being afraid to serve with colleagues, fearing physical harm; they have spoken of lawmakers carrying weapons with them in the halls of the Capitol.

We also have heard of House members and senators seeking to move their desks away from colleagues with whom they have served.

The Donald Trump Age brought us a new level of hostility that didn’t exist in the good old days. There once was a time when Democrats and Republicans could find common ground frequently. Now such discoveries become the subject of major news stories.

We hear about relationships being fractured. Men and women no longer speak to each other while the legislative body seeks to craft laws.

Yes, these are difficult times. I don’t have a formula for ridding the atmosphere in Washington of the toxicity that has poisoned it.

I have told you before that I am an optimist. I am going to cling to the hope, therefore, to a quaint notion, which is that the greater cause of public service will bring men and women of good will together. I just hope it is sooner and not long after many of us have, to borrow a phrase, “left the building.”

Biden set to re-emerge

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

While many of us around the country were fixated on the Senate impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, his immediate successor as president was, shall we say, lurking in the shadows.

President Biden chose to do the smart thing. He said virtually nothing about Trump’s troubles in the Senate. The president blew off questions from reporters on the impeachment trial. He said the Senate would do its work; that the managers would do their work; he expressed next to zero interest in the trial.

I don’t believe much of that. I cannot possibly know how the president spent the bulk of his day, but I feel reasonably certain he had one eye on the trial even as he sought to gather support for the COVID relief package he is ramrodding through Congress.

What I do find refreshing, though, is the relative public silence that President Biden has maintained. It’s remarkable, too, given that Vice President Kamala Harris’s name emerged as a possible witness in the Trump trial; Trump’s legal team reportedly was interested in issuing a subpoena for the VP. The “why” of it, though, remains a mystery to me.

The trial is now over. Donald Trump is officially acquitted of the charge that he incited an insurrection. Our attention now can turn to actual governance, actual legislation, actual negotiation between the head of the executive branch of government and those who lead the legislative branch.

Trump’s future as an active politician, by my reckoning, is likely finished.

I intend to focus more attention on issues that matter and on the politicians who have a direct hand in determining the direction of this great country.

End of a disgraceful era

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The U.S. Senate could have convicted Donald John Trump of inciting an insurrection. It didn’t, falling 10 guilty votes short of the constitutional requirement for conviction.

Does this vote today now signal a revived Donald Trump, the guy who lost re-election to President Joe Biden? I am not going to endorse that scenario.

I am going to hold onto the belief that we have witnessed in real time the demise of a disgraceful era in American political history.

Trump won an acquittal in name only. We watched 57 senators vote to convict him, with 43 of them voting not guilty. The Constitution requires 67 conviction votes to make it official. Let’s face reality. Most of the Senate convicted him, by a healthy margin.

Trump acquitted, denounced in historic impeachment trial (msn.com)

How does Trump now parlay that knowledge into a run for the presidency once again in 2024? My view is that he cannot. Trump has been handed his genitals on a plate by a Senate vote that officially fell short of conviction, but which has delivered an important symbolic conviction that will stain him forever.

Trump incited the insurrection that damn near brought our democratic process to a halt. The riot he provoked could have killed many more people than those who did die. It could have brought harm to Vice President Mike Pence, to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or any other political leader who could have been trampled by the rampaging mob. Thank goodness it didn’t.

I never will accept the Senate’s final verdict as an “acquittal” in the true sense of the term. Trump, though, is going to trumpet the verdict as a triumph. It was nothing of the sort.

That all stated, I now intend to give Donald Trump’s future political adventures all the attention they deserve.

Which is none.

Don’t misunderstand me. I will comment on the damage he has done. I will offer perspective on the work that President Biden and others are doing to repair that damage. Be sure, too, that we all should keep our eyes and ears open to the investigations under way in places like New York and Georgia, where local prosecutors are examining whether to file criminal charges against the ex-president.

Donald Trump’s political future? I believe he is a goner.

What did POTUS know and when did he know it?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The ghost of a great Republican U.S. senator has been revived in the closing hours of Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.

Howard Baker of Tennessee once asked witnesses appearing before the Senate Watergate Committee: What did President Nixon know and when did he know it? What did the president know about the break-in at the Democratic Party offices, the coverup and all that followed that infamous scandal of 1973-74? We found out. Nixon resigned. The rest is history.

Now comes the latest iteration of that query. What did Donald Trump know about the danger facing Vice President Mike Pence during the Jan. 6 riot at Capitol Hill and when did he know it? Trump’s lawyers say he didn’t know anything. Two GOP lawmakers — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Tommy Tuberville — say something quite different. They told Trump that Pence was in trouble and that the mob was looking for the VP as he sought to do his constitutional duty of certifying the 2020 presidential election results.

Trump didn’t respond. He didn’t express concern about Pence’s well-being. He did nothing to quell the violence.

Will any of this change minds? Hardly. Still, I am intrigued by the channeling of a long-departed political icon — Sen. Baker — into this current bit of drama.

Impeachment still matters

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Unless hell freezes over — and that seems remotely possible as North Texas shivers from an Arctic blast — we are going to witness a U.S. Senate trial acquittal of Donald John Trump.

It’s good, though, to think of what an impeachment really means and whether it really still matters.

I am willing to argue that it matters a lot. It matters even when the politics of the moment dictates a preordained outcome that doesn’t result in what ought to be a sure conviction and some form of punishment for the president who stood trial.

Indeed, I will maintain for the rest of my life that Donald Trump committed a high crime against the government by inciting that riot on Jan. 6 that damn near wiped out our democratic process. The politics of this moment, though, precluded a conviction.

Why? Because a 50-50 Senate split required 17 Republicans to join their Democratic colleagues in convicting Trump. You can bet your last greenback that Democrats would stand together; the GOP caucus is more split, with some of them voting with the Dems. But not enough.

Impeachment, though, remains a viable option for the legislative branch to act against a rogue president, who runs the executive branch of government. Make no mistake at all: Donald Trump ran rogue, roughshod over the government.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who led the first House impeachment trial team in early 2020, predicted that he would run wild if he were acquitted. He was and he did.

Political tides do ebb and flow. Their influences are subject to change. The tides of the moment just wouldn’t allow GOP senators to do the right thing. Trump’s hold on the Republican Party remains formidable, I suppose. So we have to live with an outcome that many of us detest.

None of this detracts from the value of impeaching a president who commits a high crime … and oh brother, the 45th president of the U.S. surely deserves to be convicted.

Minds are made up?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It’s time for me to step out of my advocate shoes and take a brief — and dispassionate — look at what is playing out on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

I am hearing from a lot of my social media friends and acquaintances about how Republican senators have “made up their minds” to acquit Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection.

A cautionary word is in order. So have the Democratic senators … made up their minds.

A big part of me shares the disgust that Republican senators appear to be digging in on their insistence that Trump doesn’t deserve to be convicted of inciting the riot that damn near destroyed our democratic process.

I wish they would keep an open mind and wait until they hear all the evidence before throwing in with the ex-president.

Fairness, though, compels me to play the devil’s advocate. Democrats have done precisely the same thing they accuse their GOP colleagues of doing. They, too, have dug in. Only their instinct is to convict Trump, which is an instinct I happen to share.

Let us note as well that this isn’t a legal trial. It is a political trial. The Senate — aka the jury — isn’t bound by strict rules of law to be “fair and impartial.” They are politicians who are playing to their respective bases of support, be they progressive or conservative.

If only more of them shared my own view of how to decide this trial.

Lesson needs to be learned

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Well, my fellow Americans … we have been treated to a serious lesson on the fragility, yet sturdiness, of our democracy.

The first half of the Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial has concluded in the U.S. Senate. The House of Representatives prosecutors — members of the House, the managers — made, in my view, a compelling case for conviction. That Trump incited an insurrection against the government he took an oath to protect and defend.

He didn’t do either during his single term as president. He incited a riotous mob of terrorists on Jan. 6, exhorting them to march on Capitol Hill and intervene in Congress doing its job on that day, which was to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

We saw in graphic terms how close the terrorists came to bringing physical harm to Congress, and to the system of government we cherish.

They didn’t succeed. Our democracy stands to this day. It stands strong and it will survive this horrendous episode.

Donald Trump’s legal team takes the Senate floor on Friday. They say they can make their case in a single day. I am going to go out on a limb here: Trump’s team will talk past the House managers. They will divert the argument, send it down another path.

They cannot argue against the constitutionality of the trial. The Senate has voted already that the trial met constitutional standards. Nor can they possibly defend what transpired on Jan. 6. I double-dog dare them to suggest that Donald Trump’s remarks on The Ellipse didn’t incite the mob to attack the Capitol Building, egg the mobsters to smash windows, to ransack offices, to injure and kill people.

They won’t go there. Instead, I am going to presume Trump’s lawyers might hang their defense on the First Amendment, suggesting that Trump merely was exercising his constitutional free-speech guarantees by declaring his opinion that the election was stolen from him. You know, though, that it wasn’t.

Sigh …

I am left then to salute the founders of this great nation for establishing a governing framework that can withstand the assault that developed on Jan. 6. It was a full-on frontal attack incited by a lame-duck president.

He is likely to get away with what he did; the Senate won’t convict him of the deed I happen to believe he committed. However, his hideous conduct is now on the record for history to judge. Americans have seen it unfold in real time. I don’t know about you, but I never will forget what we learned on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

We must not commit such a horrendous error — electing someone of this individual’s ilk — ever again.