Tag Archives: Senate GOP

Let’s move on … but do not forget!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Our latest national nightmare is winding its way to a conclusion.

I’ll toss a single bouquet at Donald Trump’s legal team. It took next to no time to finish its job in defending their client in the U.S. Senate trial against charges that he incited an insurrection against the U.S. government.

I don’t believe Trump’s team made the case. But that’s just me. He did what the House of Representatives alleged he did in its impeachment article. The remaining task will be for the Senate to cast its vote.

I do not expect a conviction. Trump will walk away. The Constitution sets a high bar for conviction, two-thirds of the senators have to agree; they won’t get there.

What now? Well, it is time to move on. It is not time to forget. Nor is it time to shove aside what happened on the Sixth of January. What happened was an egregious attack on our system of government. It was an attack on our democratic process.

The terrorists who stormed Capitol Hill intended to stop Congress from fulfilling its constitutional duty of certifying the results of an election that Donald Trump lost. He still hasn’t accepted his defeat, that Joe Biden is now president.

The Senate very soon can get busy with other pressing matters. COVID relief needs approval. There needs to be attention paid to economic revival. President Biden can now step out of the shadows cast by the impeachment trial and insert his own efforts at fixing what ails the nation.

I am fine with that. I only wish we could anticipate a more just outcome from the Senate trial. We won’t get it.

Instead, we are going to witness a majority of Republican senators continue to lick the boots of a cult figure. There might be a few crossovers, just not enough of them.

If I was King of the World, I would suggest that the Republican Party needs to assess whether it believes that “character matters,” and that it hues to the tenets of inclusion that made it a great political party. The Party of Trump represents none of it.

But, hey, that’s politics, right?

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.

Conviction still unlikely

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The evidence of incitement of insurrection has been searing, heartbreaking, graphic and it reveals a profound danger to our republic.

Despite what I believe we have seen in the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, I fear it won’t move a sufficient number of Republican U.S. senators to do what they should do … which is convict the ex-president of the crime for which the House of Representatives impeached him for the second time.

Trump will get an acquittal. He likely will crow about it. The good news from my standpoint, though, is that his legacy — and I use that term with great caution — will be scarred forever by the knowledge that most senators believe he violated the sacred oath of his office.

He stood before the crowd of terrorists on the Sixth of January and implored them to march on Capitol Hill. He told them to “stop the steal” of an election he lost fair and square to President Biden. They tried to do as they were instructed to do by their hero, the disgraced president.

It won’t move enough senators to convict Trump. Which means the Senate cannot vote to ban this monster from ever seeking federal public office.

That will be to the shame of all the Republicans — and I am talking specifically to Texas’s two senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both of whom indicate no interest in doing the right thing.

They will hide behind the phony argument about the trial’s alleged unconstitutionality. They will look indifferently at the evidence, at the sight and sounds of terrorists storming the Capitol building, ignoring how many of their colleagues came to being physically harmed … or worse.

The good news, as I see it, will be that Trump will be marked forever as someone who sought to destroy the very government he took an oath to defend and protect.

Managers set, let the trial commence

Here we go. The Donald Trump impeachment trial managers have been named. The House of Representatives has sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate. The managers at this moment are likely scurrying in an effort to come up with a prosecution strategy.

And the White House legal team no doubt is scurrying, too, to concoct a defense strategy to counter what I believe is a mountain of evidence to suggest that the president deserves to be removed from office.

But I am not among the 100 senators who’ll make that decision. Trump is likely to survive the trial, which is supposed to begin next Tuesday.

Man, it is going to be some kind of spectacle.

This is serious stuff, folks. It’s only the third time a president has been put on trial. Donald Trump now gets to join Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton among the roster of presidents who are forever identified as “impeached.” Presidents Johnson and Clinton both survived their trials. So will Trump, or so it appears at this moment.

If I could have had a hand in selecting the managers, my preference would have been to include the lone now-former Republican member of the House to vote to impeach Trump. Rep. Justin Amash, the libertarian-leaning conservative who represents the same Michigan congressional district that once sent Gerald R. Ford to Congress, should have been included on that team of managers.

But, he’s not among the managers.

You may count me as one American who is anxious for this trial to conclude. The Senate’s Republican majority is dug in. They won’t convict Trump unless something so compelling comes forward in the next few weeks that they cannot stand by their man.

The way I see it, though, Trump already has done enough to merit his removal. He solicited a foreign government for political help and he has blocked Congress from doing its oversight duties. Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Got it?

The trial will be done in fairly short order. Then we can get on with the task of removing this guy from the White House the old-fashioned way: at the ballot box in November.

Where’s the ‘intelligence’ at the briefing?

When a leading Republican supporter of Donald J. Trump comes out of an intelligence briefing and calls it the “worst” one he’s heard in his time as a U.S. senator, then it looks as though the president has some trouble on his hands.

Mike Lee of Utah came out of the briefing today to blast the briefers. He called the event “sophomoric,” and was highly critical of the national security team’s instruction to avoid any debate about what they learned behind closed doors.

Lee didn’t like what he heard. What’s more, he said so out loud.

The briefing came from some Trump administration heavyweights, including CIA Director Gina Haspel and Defense Secretary Mark Esper; a third briefer was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who I should add has emerged as a high-profile disappointment as the nation’s top diplomat.

At issue was the justification for killing Iranian Revolutionary Guard chieftain Qassem Solemaini. The president said Iran was planning an “imminent attack” on U.S. interests and that the air strike in Baghdad was meant as a “defensive” measure. He didn’t provide any evidence of such an “imminent” attack. Senators came out of today’s briefing saying the national security team didn’t provide anything new, either.

Iran responded with the missile attack against two U.S. bases in Iraq. The missiles didn’t inflict any casualties. Iran backed down. Trump said the United States would not pursue any further military action. “All is well,” the president said via Twitter. Well, it isn’t all well.

What is stunning to me was the anger expressed by Sen. Lee, who until now has stood foursquare behind the president. He said the briefers’ admonition was “insulting.”

This is the troubling aspect of the hit against Solemaini. The strike itself needed to happen. What also needed to occur was the development of a cogent after-action strategy by the Trump administration.

It appears that there is nothing of the sort available for public review.

Politics runs head first into justice

I wrote once on this blog about how politics is likely to drive a potential impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Well, the House of Representatives impeached the president on a virtual party-line vote and the Senate is now going to put him on trial.

The outcome will be decided, yep, on party lines.

Which brings up this point: Are senators free to vote their “conscience,” to base their decision solely on the evidence they have before them? Or must they worry what the folks back home think of what they are about to do?

I present to you U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala.

Sen. Jones, who is running for re-election next year after narrowly defeating a Republican opponent, is facing the Mother of All Political Quandaries. Does he vote to convict Trump on obstruction of Congress or on abuse of power and face the wrath of Alabama voters, most of whom support the president? Or does he challenge them by declaring that he has voted to convict based on what he has seen and heard?

I believe Jones wants to keep his Senate seat. I also believe he is, as most pundits have posited, the most vulnerable Senate Democrat facing re-election this year. I don’t know much about Jones. I don’t know what makes him tick. I cannot measure his political courage. I don’t know if he’s a “maverick,” a loyal party guy or someone who wants to cover his own backside at any cost.

This is what I mean when I mention how politics runs head first into the quest for justice in matters of impeaching a president. Politics clearly is keeping Republicans from bucking their own partisan interest; it also is keeping most Democrats in line as well.

We have sticky wickets. Then we have matters such as this.

I believe Sen. Jones is going to lose some sleep over this one.

Where is the ‘impartiality’?

Oh, how I hate playing the “both sides are wrong” card. I feel I must do so in this instance.

Republican Mitch McConnell, the U.S. Senate’s majority leader, says he is not going to be an “impartial juror” when the Senate commences its trial over the articles impeachment filed against Donald J. Trump.

McConnell’s comments have drawn a rebuke from fellow Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who said she is “disturbed” by his approach to putting the president on trial.

Now comes the view of a senior Democratic senator, Dick Durbin, who criticizes his fellow Democrats for refusing to maintain their own impartiality.

Both sides are guilty? I suppose so.

All 100 senators are going to raise their right hands and take an oath to be impartial jurors when Chief Justice John Roberts administers the pledge. They will say “so help me, God” at the end of the oath, which gives the pledge an air of sanctimony.

Will they be loyal to that sacred oath? Have they made up their minds to convict or acquit Trump? Is there a truly impartial mind among the 100 senators who will sit in judgment of Donald Trump? Or have every one of them pre-determined the president’s guilt or innocence, determining whether he has committed impeachable offenses?

Those of us on the outside have the liberty to make these determinations prior to hearing evidence. We’re not elected public officials. Those folks have the power to remove the president, or to keep him in office. They must maintain their impartiality for as long as they are hearing the case being presented.

I worry now that the trial that’s about to commence — hopefully sooner rather than too much later — will be akin to a sideshow with senators on both sides of the great divide guilty of the same sin.

Set to make impeachment history once again

Here we are, on the cusp of another politically historic event awaiting the U.S. House of Representatives.

The House Intelligence Committee is going to hand off to the Judiciary Committee, which then will decide whether to file articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump.

This shouldn’t be a close call. However, it’s likely to become a partisan vote, with Democrats voting to impeach the president and Republicans saying “no.”

I’m out here in the Peanut Gallery. What I have seen from the middle of Trump Country tells me that the president deserves to be impeached; he also deserves to be convicted in a U.S. Senate trial. The allegations leveled against him are far worse than anything that befell President Clinton in 1998 and rise at least to the level of what President Nixon faced in 1974 when he resigned.

House Republicans impeached Clinton for lying about an inappropriate relationship he had with a White House intern. Nixon quit before the House could impeach him for obstructing justice in the search for the truth behind the Watergate burglary in June 1972.

What does Donald Trump face? He is facing an accusation — which he more or less has admitted to doing — of soliciting a foreign government for a political favor. In exchange for the favor, which included digging up dirt on a potential political foe, the president would release weapons to Ukraine, which is fighting rebels backed by Russia.

The U.S. Constitution expressly forbids such activity. It cites “bribery” along with “treason” specifically as crimes for which a president can be removed from office. It isn’t treason, but it sure looks for all the world to me like bribery.

I fully expect to get some dipsh** responses from High Plains Blogger critics who think I’m whistlin’ Dixie with regard to the crimes I believe the president has committed. That’s fine. Let ’em gripe.

I stand by my assertion that Donald Trump has committed crimes that rise to the level of impeachment. They certainly are far more egregious than what ended up on President Clinton’s record.

The record as I’ve seen it pile up during the impeachment inquiry is replete with evidence of wrongdoing. The House and Senate Republican caucus, however, is equally replete with political cowardice among House members and senators who choose to stand with the president and refuse to stand for what they piously proclaim to be “the rule of law.”

And so, history is about to be made once again as one House panel passes the torch to another one. Let this lawful, constitutional and appropriate impeachment effort proceed.

Impeachment: Problematic, but necessary

I have traipsed all over the proverbial pea patch in trying to assess whether the U.S. House of Representatives should impeach Donald J. Trump.

At this moment, and it appears to be a permanent view, I stand in favor of impeachment as a necessary evil. Will a House impeachment result in Trump’s removal from the presidency of the United States? Probably not. The Senate’s Republican majority isn’t likely to follow the House Democrats’ lead in determining that Trump committed impeachable offenses that merit his ouster.

My former view was that impeachment would be an exercise in futility. So, my thought held, what is the point?

I have determined that the point is that Congress cannot let stand what it believes are acts that constitute egregious abuse of power and obstruction of justice.

It is all but proven that Trump sought personal political help from a foreign government. That’s a crime. The president of Ukraine and Trump spoke on the phone. The Ukrainian thanked Trump for supplying his country with military weaponry, but Trump then said he needed a “favor, though” in return for delivery of the weapons to be used against Russian aggressors.

Trump has sought foreign government help in digging up dirt on Joe Biden, a potential political foe in 2020. How in the world is that not an impeachable offense?

The president’s ouster as a result of impeachment remains unlikely at this moment. The Senate will hold a trial. Republicans occupy 53 of the body’s 100 seats. The U.S. Constitution requires a two-thirds vote to convict a president for him to be kicked out of office.

The way I see it, it is entirely possible for most senators to vote to convict Trump, just not enough of them to kick him out of the White House. I can think of possibly four Senate Republican votes to convict: Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Lamar Alexander and Johnny Isaakson; the latter two are not seeking re-election in 2020 and are immune from any retribution Trump might seek to level against them. Then again, a slim majority to convict Trump presumes all Senate Democrats vote to uphold the House impeachment.

Yes, this impeachment inquiry remains highly problematic. However, I believe now that it must proceed and it should result in articles of impeachment against the president.

Donald Trump has richly earned the inglorious title of “the nation’s third president to have been impeached.” Whether he can parlay that epithet into a winning re-election strategy remains to be seen.

If he does, then there will be something terribly wrong with our nation’s political system.

Has an impeachment ‘inquiry’ commenced?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler are at odds.

Pelosi doesn’t want to impeach Donald Trump; Nadler wants to proceed now with impeachment.

It looks as though Nadler is winning this argument. He appears to have commenced what has been called an “impeachment inquiry.” That means ostensibly that the Democratic caucus is going to examine whether to launch a full impeachment proceeding against Trump. They think they have the goods. Maybe they do.

But wait a second. If the House decides it has enough to impeach Trump over obstruction of justice in connection with the Russian hack of our 2016 election, then the bar gets really high.

A House impeachment is the easy part. Democrats need a simple majority to impeach. Then the Senate gets to put the president on trial. They need 67 (out of 100) votes to convict the president. The GOP occupies 53 Senate seats. They are as firmly in Trump’s corner as Democrats are as firmly intent on giving him the boot.

An impeachment “inquiry” looks to me like an exercise in futility for those who want to remove the president from office.

I personally don’t think it’s enough just to say Donald Trump has been impeached. I want him out of office, too. Impeachment, though, isn’t going to do the job.

Unless someone drops a serious bomb that persuades Republicans they are standing with a crook.