Tag Archives: Senate trial

Yes on gag order!

It’s rare when this blog offers a word of support for a policy decision coming from Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick … but today is one of those days.

I believe strongly that Patrick is correct in issuing a sweeping gag order on the Texas Senate, which on Sept. 5 will begin a trial to determine whether to remove Attorney General Ken Paxton from office after the Texas House impeached him in an overwhelming vote.

Patrick is acting as judge in the Senate, over which he presides as lieutenant governor. His order means that violators can be prosecuted, fined or even jailed.

Patrick’s concern is legit. He worries that statements made outside the chamber could cause undue influence and could taint the proceeding that will occur inside the Senate chamber.

AG Paxton’s defenders in the Senate have popped off needlessly already, as has one of the lawyers hired to prosecute the case, Rusty Hardin. Dan Patrick is having none of it, nor should he allow any comments to go unchecked prior to — and during — the Senate trial. Patrick, moreover, is acting within the trial rules approved by the Senate.

This is serious stuff, folks, and members of the Senate need to give these proceedings the serious attention it deserves.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issues gag order for Paxton impeachment trial | The Texas Tribune

Nothing that anyone can say to me at this point is going to change my own mind. I made my mind up long ago, that Paxton needs to go. He is an embarrassment to the high office he occupies.

But I also believe in the sanctity of the process that is about to unfold. Senators who will act as jurors need to keep their thoughts to themselves … period!



Take a seat, Sen. Paxton

It wasn’t the perfect solution, but I’ll accept it as a worthy compromise, given the stakes involved.

Texas state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, will “participate” in the upcoming Senate trial of her husband, Attorney General Ken Paxton. But she won’t be allowed a vote on whether to convict her hubby on several impeachment articles related to the conduct of his office. Nor will she be allowed to attend closed Senate sessions.

The Senate worked out the procedures for the trial that will begin Sept. 5. It will last a couple of weeks, according to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who will preside over the first impeachment trial ever of a state attorney general.

AG Paxton has been an embarrassment since taking office in January 2015. He has been under felony indictment almost since the beginning of his time in office. He has been outed as an alleged crook by whistleblowers who complained about the way he runs his office.

The Texas House voted overwhelmingly to impeach Paxton. The bar for conviction, though, is high: two-thirds of senators need to vote “yes” on conviction. If any of the charges passes muster, Paxton is out.

That his wife, the senator, won’t be voting lowers the bar just a smidgen. I am troubled that she’ll still be present to influence her colleagues’ votes, although it should be noted that one of the impeachment articles includes an allegation that the AG was having an extramarital affair … go figure, eh?

This case shouldn’t drag on and on.

Let the process run its course.


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.

Time for thorough examination

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Donald John Trump’s impeachment trial is over.

The ex-president will walk away and hole up in his luxurious resort way down yonder. Fine. Good riddance.

However, the wreckage that befell the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 needs a careful examination. Recall that in the wake of 9/11, President Bush formed a blue-ribbon, bipartisan commission to look carefully at how to eliminate the kind of national security breach that occurred on that terrible day. The commission, led by Republican former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean and Democratic former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, resulted in — among other things — the creation of a new Cabinet department, Homeland Security.

The results? We haven’t been hit in that fashion in the two decades after that attack.

Why not form a similarly constituted commission now to take a deep dive into the myriad causes of the riot that erupted on the very day that Congress was meeting to certify the 2020 presidential election? As bad as the event unfolded, it could have been much more tragic.

We need to examine how the security broke down and search for remedies to repair it. We need to examine carefully reports of its pre-planning, who was involved, and seek to root out their motives. There needs to be a careful, thorough and unvarnished accounting for all the factors that led to this monstrous attack on our democratic process … and on the very free-election foundation of our government.

President Biden has many contacts associated — past and present — with the federal government. Surely he can find competent, reasonable, fair-minded individuals to serve on this committee to start peeling away the conspiratorial layers that produced this heinous attack.

We need answers and solutions to how we can prevent a recurrence of this monstrous act.

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.

Trump skates … again!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It’s over.

The ending didn’t produce a result that I wanted. Fifty-seven U.S. senators voted to convict Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection against the government of this country; 43 of them voted “not guilty.”

But … the U.S. Constitution requires 10 more “guilty” votes to hold the ex-president accountable for what I know he did on Jan. 6, which was to whip an angry crowd into a frenzy, to march on Capitol Hill and to subvert Congress’s effort to certify a duly conducted free and fair election for president.

I acknowledge that the result is final. Most of our senators put country ahead of party or ahead of a man. Seven Republicans mustered up the guts to do the right thing.

There will be a lot of hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth over the post-vote speech delivered by Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, which was riveting in its own right. McConnell had just minutes before cast a not guilty vote for Donald Trump. Then he stood before the nation and said, in effect, that Trump did all the things that the impeachment article alleged he did. He incited the crowd, which acted on the then-president’s own words.

McConnell also said that Trump didn’t get away with anything, that he will be held accountable later. Hmm.

So, we can move on to more pressing matters that are relevant to the here and now. President Biden is at work seeking to press Congress for COVID relief; we need help to jump-start the economy; we have environmental concerns that pose an existential threat to our national security; we have racial unrest still boiling in communities across the land.

I am ready to put this sorry episode aside. However, I won’t forget it.

Nor will I ever forgive Texas’s two senators — Ted Cruz and John Cornyn — for refusing to recognize what we all witnessed in real time, that Donald John Trump interfered in a free and fair election.