Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

Waiting to hear GOP condemnation of Trump’s conduct

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

This much is becoming clear: Donald Trump will not be convicted of high crimes and misdemeanors in an upcoming U.S. Senate trial.

So is this much: Senate Republicans who are standing behind the president are remaining shamefully silent on what they think about the allegations that have been leveled against the president.

They aren’t arguing against the evidence. They aren’t saying the allegations that Trump are false, that he’d never do such a thing.

So, if they believe the allegations to be credible, why don’t they speak out against such conduct? They ought to declare that presidents shouldn’t solicit a foreign government for political help; that they shouldn’t withhold military aid until they get a “favor” from the foreign government; that they shouldn’t usurp congressional authority to conduct oversight of the executive branch by barring White House aides from answering congressional subpoenas to testify.

Nope. We’re getting none of that.

A generation ago, another president, Bill Clinton, got impeached because of an affair he was having with a White House intern. He lied to a grand jury about that relationship. He handed congressional Republicans a gift-wrapped reason to impeach him.

President Clinton also received plenty of condemnation from his fellow Democrats, who were ashamed and aghast at his conduct. They said out loud that Clinton had besmirched the office with his affair. They also said the conduct didn’t rise to the level of a Senate conviction.

This time? Republicans are keeping their lips zipped.

It makes me wonder whether they are so frightened of what this president do, how he might react that they are cowed to remaining silent when they ought to speak out against his conduct.

Is it true, therefore, that Donald Trump has seized the Republican Party by the throat and is strangling it … possibly to death?

Why not witnesses now, Mr. Leader?

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mitch McConnell’s duplicity, double-dealing, hypocrisy make me want to pull my out by its roots.

The Senate majority leader says the Senate that will put Donald Trump on trial for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power doesn’t need to hear witnesses. Democrats don’t need to call witnesses to testify before the body of 100 senators.

He wants the trial to come to a quick and predictable end. He wants the president to be acquitted of impeachment charges filed by the House of Representatives. No need to hear any more evidence, or hear from those who might have something new to add.

The double speak, duplicity and hypocrisy? In 1999, when the Senate put President Clinton on trial for obstruction of justice McConnell insisted on hearing from witnesses. Why, he was all over that one! The Senate needs to hear more evidence, said McConnell.

Hey, I don’t want a lengthy trial, either. However, the trial need not drag on too long if we can hear from a half-dozen or so key witnesses who have first-hand knowledge of Donald Trump asking Ukrainians for political help in exchange for military hardware.

It might not happen, if the majority leader has his newfound way.

Such hypocrisy.

What is there to hide if the phone call was ‘perfect’?

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

There is so much about Donald Trump defense strategy and the approach taken by his Republican allies in Congress that I do not understand.

The House of Representatives has impeached the current president on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Senate is supposed to put Trump on trial. Democrats want to call witnesses. Republicans are fighting that push.

All the while, Trump calls the impeachment a sham, a joke, a hoax, that there’s nothing to see, that the operative phone call with Ukraine’s president was “perfect.”

If Trump and Ukrainian President Vlodyrmyr Zelenskiy engaged in that perfect conversation, then why in the world are POTUS and his GOP allies resisting the demands to hear from witnesses in the Senate trial?

If they clear the president of wrongdoing, wouldn’t it make sense to hear them do so? If there is nothing to hide, then why does Donald Trump act and sound like he’s, um, hiding something from public view?

The appearance of a handful of key witnesses, critical White House aides, wouldn’t necessarily drag the trial into the far distant future. They might work in Trump’s favor; or, they might have precisely the opposite effect.

What’s more, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who today is resisting any witnesses in the Trump trial, was all in for witnesses when President Clinton went on trial in 1999 after the House impeached him. Is he driven solely by partisan concerns?

Why, that just can’t be, given McConnell’s criticism of the House impeachment, which he said was fueled by partisan hatred of Donald Trump. Isn’t that what he said?

If the Senate is going to put the current president on trial, then let’s have witnesses. Let’s see the evidence. Let’s then ask senators/jurors to deliberate over what they see and hear and then let’s demand they make their decision based on what has been presented.

With no witnesses or evidence presented at trial, then there’s nothing to consider.

Where I come from, that sounds like a sham.

Overturn an election result? Well … yeah!

Congressional Republicans argue against the impeachment of Donald Trump on the basis of a belief that Democrats are seeking to “overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election.”

Hmm. You know, at one level I actually agree with that view.

However, here’s the deal: Three of the four presidential impeachments in this nation’s history have been intended to do that very thing. President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment in 1868 didn’t seek to overturn the preceding election; the nation re-elected President Lincoln in 1864 as the Civil War was still raging, but then the president was shot to death in April 1865, allowing Vice President Johnson to ascend to the presidency.

President Nixon was going to be impeached in 1974 before he quit the presidency. President Clinton was impeached in 1998. Did Democrats seek to overturn Nixon’s landslide re-election in 1972? Did Republicans want to do the same thing when they impeached Clinton in 1998 after he had won re-election in 1996? Well, yeah! They did!

So what is the rationale for this argument? Local officials are subject to recall petitions when they mess up. They, too, are elected to their office. Recall movements, therefore, are intended to “overturn” those results.

All this being said, I am not the least bit moved by the argument that an impeachment of a president is an effort to overturn an election. We can argue about the motives, I suppose, of why one side wants to impeach a president.

There can be no argument, though, on the consequence of such an act. Of course it reverses the result of the previous election. That’s what impeachment, I am willing to argue, is all about.

Imagine another president doing this

I want to let a six-page letter that Donald Trump, the current president of the United States, sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stand more or less on its own.

Read it here.

It’s pretty angry. I am trying to imagine another president who was impeached by a House of Representatives controlled by the opposing party sending something this angry to the speaker.

I am referring, of course, to Democratic President Bill Clinton, who in 1998 was impeached by the House led by Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich. Did the president fire off a screed such as this? Did he impugn the motives, the integrity, the patriotism of his foes? I don’t recall that kind of rhetoric coming from the president himself; yes, he had many allies speak publicly on his behalf.

Oh, the president surely thought such things about the GOP speaker. He might even have told him so — privately.

The letter attached to this brief post is the ranting of an angry and seemingly desperate man who, interestingly, is likely to survive the Senate trial that will result from the House impeachment.

Weird. Simply weird.

Impeachment takes dramatic turn

Now we know what the U.S. House Intelligence Committee has compiled.

It says the president of the United States, Donald Trump, abused the immense power of his office to seek a political favor from a foreign government. It speaks to extended phone conversations between the president’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, with Ukrainian government officials. It offers evidence that Giuliani was conducting a covert foreign policy operation.

Some talking heads are suggesting there might be more evidence to gather. They are saying the impeachment process might take even longer than planned.

I am one American who is beginning to suffer from a bit of impeachment fatigue. I do not need to be persuaded any further of the president’s culpability. I want the Intelligence Committee to hand this off to the Judiciary Committee; I want the Judiciary Committee to conduct its hearings. I want Judiciary to approve articles of impeachment. I want the Senate to put Trump on trial. I want enough senators to vote to convict Trump and remove him from office post haste.

I am confident that all but the last event will occur.

No minds are likely to be changed. Trump’s stranglehold on the Republican Party is unlike anything I’ve seen while witnessing these impeachment proceedings. We went through this in 1973-74 and again in 1998-1999. Some Republicans voted to approve articles of impeachment against President Nixon in 1974. Some Democrats did the same when the House impeached President Clinton in 1998.

This time, it’s strictly partisan. By “strictly partisan” I mean precisely that: Republicans and Democrats are dug in. They aren’t moving. Republicans are standing by their man; Democrats want him kicked out of office.

So, let’s get on with this, shall we?

Trying to understand why it’s different now … with Trump

I don’t understand many things. They fly over my head and I am left just to scratch it and say, “Huh?”

One of those items concerns the pending impeachment of Donald Trump. Congressional Republicans are digging in against the impeachment; congressional Democrats are just as fervent in their belief that Trump has committed an impeachable act … or three.

I keep circling back to the most recent presidential impeachment, which occurred in 1998. Bill Clinton got impeached by the House of Representatives, which then was led by the GOP. Republicans had been looking for a reason to file articles of impeachment against the Democratic president almost from the moment he took office in 1993.

Then they found that reason: He lied to a grand jury about an affair he was having with a White House intern. The president took an oath to tell the truth; he violated that oath; the GOP said “aha!” … there’s your impeachable offense.

So the House impeached him. Why? Because he was too embarrassed to admit to messing around with a much-younger woman.

It had not a thing to do with his governance. It affected not a single policy decision. There were no matters of state or statecraft involved. He allowed a young woman to, um, pleasure him and then lied about it before a duly constituted grand jury.

One of the House impeachment “managers,” a young congressman named Lindsey Graham, bellowed righteously that an impeachment was necessary to restore the dignity of the office, which the president had besmirched with his conduct.

That congressman is now a senator and will be one of 100 jurors who will decide the fate of a fellow Republican, Donald Trump. His attitude now? He’s not interested in seeing any of the classified testimony from the witnesses who talked to the House Intelligence Committee. He’s made up his mind. The impeachment inquiry is a “joke,” he said.

Case closed. He don’t need to hear no stinking evidence. 

Therein rests the source of my confusion. Republicans who wanted to pry into the nitty gritty of a president’s personal life now sound as if they are disinterested in knowing the details into how another president might have compromised national security over a political favor he sought from a foreign government.

Which is the worse allegation? I would place my money on the possibility that my president offered a bribe to a foreign leader, which the U.S. Constitution spells out — by name — as a crime against the state.

I just don’t get it.

Impeachment seeks to overturn election? Damn right! So what?

The most tiresome mantra coming from Donald J. Trump’s defenders is the one that suggests that the pending impeachment of the president by the House of Representatives is a “ploy” to overturn the results of the 2016 election.

To which I say: Yeah? So … what?

Of course it would “overturn” those election results. That’s what impeachments are intended to do, despite contentions from those who speak nobly of “defending the Constitution.”

Donald Trump has committed what I believe are impeachable offenses. He sought foreign government assistance to further his personal political future. He sought to sic that foreign government onto an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, intending to damage the political fortunes of a potential 2020 presidential campaign rival. He has obstructed justice. Trump has abused his power.

Impeachment must be the recourse that the House must follow.

Is it the aim of the impeachers to sully Trump’s reputation, to seek his ouster? Sure it is. When the House impeaches Trump, the Senate will put the president on trial. The Senate likely won’t boot him out, given the high bar set in in the Constitution to convict a president of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Then the president must campaign for re-election with the impeachment cloud dangling over his noggin. I hope he loses because of it. He doesn’t deserve to be president and shouldn’t have been elected — in my view — to the office in the first place.

Yes, I want the 2016 election results overturned by the election. It is not one bit different from what the GOP sought to do in 1998 when House members impeached President Clinton, who two years had won re-election with a smashing victory. And, let us not forget that President Nixon faced impeachment in 1974 by a heavily Democratic House just after being re-elected in 1972 in a historic landslide.

So what if this impeachment intends to “overturn the election”? It’s the potential natural consequence of what is about to transpire in the House of Representatives.

In the infamous words of acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney: Get over it!

This impeachment debate is getting personal … and graphic

I just performed a rare — for me, at least — social media act.

I severed a social media relationship based on something this individual posted. I don’t like admitting it, but I am doing so now.

Here’s my side of the story.

The impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s conduct as president has drawn some amazing commentary on both sides of the great divide among Americans. It has stormed onto social media in ways I did not expect.

This evening on Facebook, I got a message from someone I know — although not well — that made me wretch. It contained an encrypted picture that had a note that it contained a graphic image; I had to click on a link to view it, so I did.

It turned my stomach. It showed a terrible image of what was described as a U.S. envoy being tortured; juxtaposed with that image was a picture of former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch with a caption that said she had her “feelings hurt” by Donald Trump.

I put the encryption back on the picture and then “unfriended” the person who posted it from my Facebook network.

Yes, this is the kind of anger that the Donald Trump Era of Politics has brought us. I do not like it. Not in the least.

Although I have to say that the debate over Donald Trump’s fitness to serve as president and the inquiry into whether he should be impeached is revealing a lot about people I thought I knew. I am finding that some of my many acquaintances harbor some pretty nasty tendencies, such as the picture that one of those individuals posted on a social media platform.

I have lived through two serious presidential crises. The first one involved President Nixon and the Watergate scandal; the second one concerned President Clinton and the White House intern scandal. Nixon was on the way to getting impeached, but he resigned the presidency; the House impeached Clinton but he was acquitted by the Senate at trial.

In neither of those crises do I remember the intensity being exhibited by partisans on both sides of that divide. However, the image I looked at today — yes, I saw the warning, but looked anyway — goes so far beyond the pale that I parted company with someone who I thought was better than that.

I am afraid this tumult is going to damage a lot more relationships.

Inquiry hearing is producing a mix of anger and frustration

Watching this impeachment inquiry unfold in real time in public view fills me with a combination of anger and frustration.

I have been more or less glued to my TV in the study in our home. Today’s testimony has been just as gripping as it has been on previous days. The “best,” if you want to call it that, may still to come later in the week.

The House’s impeachment inquiry has angered me at multiple levels.

I’ll set forth my own bias up front. I believe Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses. The anger I feel comes from the testimony of witnesses who have said many things: that Trump placed an investigation by a foreign government into Joe Biden as his top priority; that he wasn’t really concerned about Ukrainian “corruption”; that he abused the immense power of his office to obtain a personal political favor from a foreign government; that those who heard him seek that favor thought it was “wrong.”

It infuriates me that the president of the United States would have so little regard for our national security that he would do such a thing.

My anger runs headlong into the frustration I am feeling that other Americans do not share my anger. They are Donald Trump’s “base” of supporters, many of whom have accepted that Trump’s behavior is “wrong,” but that it is not impeachable. This sentiment comes from those who 20 years ago said that a previous president’s lying to a grand jury about an affair he was having with a White House intern not only was wrong, but that it was impeachable.

I am not going to excuse the perjury that President Clinton committed while testifying before that earlier grand jury. I merely am expressing my frustration that the nature and context of that untruth somehow measures up to the level of what we are discussing today. That a president who lies about fooling around rises to the level of another president who has been accused of jeopardizing our national security and by seeking a foreign government’s probe into a U.S. citizen.

It might be, too, that my anger and frustration perhaps are born of the same emotion.

Whatever the case, I remain transfixed by what is unfolding. No one should take joy in what we’re seeing. Republicans surely are not kicking up their heels. Neither are Democrats, despite what those on the other side might be thinking or saying.

I’m just hoping I can keep my emotions in check as this impeachment inquiry slogs on.