Archive for the ‘impeachment’ category

Is Impeachment Off The Table

February 22, 2019

Rumors are mounting that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation is coming to a close and the long anticipated report may be delivered in the next few days.  Will there be a smoking gun demanding Impeachment hearings?  Let’s consider.

The idea that Donald Trump, or only members of his campaign staff, colluded with Russians to influence American voters has been the public’s Holy Grail target of the investigation.  Unfortunately, the reality is alleged Russian interference is beside the point. 

Right wing groups routinely publish fake news on social media with as much sophistication as any reported Russian endeavors.  Left wing groups have been know to “stretch” the truth frequently too.  “Dirty tricks” are a staple of American politics and have been for years.  So technically, “colluding” is illegal but what irreparable harm was done?  Enough, do you think, for a Republican controlled Senate to convict an impeached President?  Not likely.

So, how about the “hush payments” Trump arranged through his lawyer to silence two women involved in Trump liaisons.  Once again, these may have been campaign finance violations but they occurred long before Trump became President.  Again, it is unlikely Congress could agree on showing Donald Trump the door.

How about “obstruction of justice”?  The Trump argument that he was authorized to fire FBI Director James Comey may be true but what about Trump’s other statements, like “go easy on Flynn”, “investigation is witch hunt”, “Session should never have recurved himself” as examples.  Once again a Republican controlled Senate is not likely to uphold an impeachment.

In the world of speculation, partially supported by already published rumors, there could be descriptions of money laundering involving members of the Trump family.  With revelations that the Trump organization were in negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow well into 2018 and the tendency of Trump Organization to grease palms creates a wide range of possible violations of US law.  Add these incidents similar ones involving “pay for influence” tied to the “Inauguration Ball” and the “Washington DC Trump Hotel”, a case detailing tax fraud, influence peddling, and violations of the “emoluments clause” begins to shape up.  The question is whether a report outlining this would ever see daylight?

Impeachment and removal from office is very unlikely with what is known today.  Impeachment, no conviction, and no reelection is more probable.  No impeachment and defeat in 2020 is the most probable but not a certainty.  

For Trump to be a one term President, however, the Democrat candidate must run a winning campaign. For Democrats to run a winning campaign, Dems must select a centrist, adult-like candidate, and make the election about Trump.  Hmmm.  

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The Unheard Message

March 20, 2018

President Trump’s unexpected 2016 Presidential victory has all the markings of a message not heard. Candidate Trump promised all good things to everyone and did so in a showman’s style. That was heard. Intertwined, however, with Trump’s promises was a spiteful and narcissistic tone promising also to change long standing institutions.

Apparently the promise of so much good lulled many Americans to reserve judgement and let Trump be Trump.

Fourteen months into the Trump Presidency, incident after incident is accumulating that core traditions and institutions which underpin the operation of our Democracy are being mocked, attacked, and derided. It may be understandable that a struggling worker who hears of jobs returning may ask the President no further questions, but for political, intellectuals, and senior business leaders to not recognize the existential threat President Trump’s behavior is making on the proper functioning of the American Democracy, this is sad and should be a major concern.

The concerns are not about

  • Nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The next Democrat President will nominate someone as liberal as Gorsuch is conservative.
  • Attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The ACA while insuring some 20 million more Americans than before was still too costly compared to the rest of the modern world.  (ACA was no more costly than what preceded it.)
  • Unfunded tax cuts favoring the already wealthy. Natural consequences will show whether these tax cuts have been prudent or whether they have been simply a sop to wealthy Trump campaign supporters.

The concerns are about

  • The wholesale and unabashed mixing of Trump businesses and political nepotism without any regard for ethics. What an example for Americans.
  • The denigration of longstanding key government agencies like EPA, FDA, CIA, FBI, and Justice Department. It is one thing to disagree with existing agency policies, and to work to replace them. It is quite another to insinuate that the fundamental role of government is at fault.
  • The trashing of the State Department though allowing wholesale vacancies in Ambassadorships, key department officials, and funding. Again, one might disagree with policy direction but new policy direction needs a functioning State Department to develop the changes.  The “deal maker in chief” is not the answer.
  • The total lack of respect for civil discourse as exemplified by demeaning, degrading, and unproven statements personally addressed to other Americans. Name calling, serial denial of facts, and abusive, petty personal attacks have no place in arguably America’s most important office.

Congressional Republicans have pretty much decided to “go along and get along” with President Trump.  Apparently they have assumed this was a wise choice for them personally. Neville Chamberlain possessed similar thoughts in the late 1930’s too.

Business, academic, and civic leaders have also been muted in their criticism of President Trump. Never the less, these groups should have the capacity to see the logical extension of Trumpian rhetoric and find ways to speak out, before it is too late.

Successful democracies depend upon much more than just free speech and free elections.  With 340 million Americans, President cannot “make a deal” with each one.  There must be broad policies developed by skilled and experienced people.  And, there must be sound, ethical agencies charged with developing and implementing policy.

President Trump may simply be a politician who has not recognized he is the President and still sees every issue as a campaign opportunity.   Regardless, his actions and behavior have consequences, and can leave his successor with weakened institutions, shattered foreign relations, and many Americans with bankrupted confidence in the role of government.

Maybe Tom Steyer is right.

 

 

Whose Bluffing Who?

November 7, 2014

President Obama said in an interview that he would put forth new rules covering immigration by year end unless Congress moved to pass comprehensive reform. That’s pretty clear (although the President has said that before). House Speaker John Boehner in a different interview said the President was playing with fire and the President might get burned. Boehner implied that any hope of cooperation would go out the window if the President acted unilaterally. Hmmm.

So, are these two bluffing?

Hmmm. I wonder.

Or is Speaker Boehner using these words “playing with fire” to hide the “I” word? Impeachment would be relatively easy to accomplish with the GOP House majority. Conviction is at least conceivable with a GOP controlled Senate. But would moderate Republicans go along with this? Would any sensible Republican go along with this?

The Democrat calculus may be that since the GOP has no interest in cooperating on any substantive legislation in any case, why not begin doing what will appeal to Democrat voters (at least Hispanics) through executive orders?

The more clever Democrat strategists may also seek to invite dysfunctional GOP behavior so they can say, “see we told you Republicans cannot govern”.

The “congratulations on your victory” mood which President Obama had presented appears very short lived. The 24/7 news media couldn’t be more thrilled with the prospect of venomous sound bites filling hours of mindless TV and radio talk shows.

With so many Republican Senators up for reelection in 2016, a dysfunctional Congress might be well received by Democrats.
Of course, fire often burns both ways…