The Insufferable Cowardice Of Democratic Strategists.

Whenever I listen to Democratic Party “strategists” dismiss the idea of impeachment out of fears that it will help Trump win re-election, my thoughts turn to the lion in the Wizard of Oz who was seeking courage. By basing all of their decisions on polling, these pundits and strategists have shown they lack the conviction of their own beliefs. They are little more than weather vanes – always reacting to the direction the political winds are blowing. And, in doing so, they have caused long-term harm to the future of the party and the nation.

Just look at their recent record. The strongest and most eloquent Democratic member of the Senate, Al Franken, was forced to resign without due process by Democratic leaders pandering to the Me-Too movement. Representative Ihlan Omar was publically shamed and forced to apologize for having the courage to speak up about the out-sized role of AIPAC and Netanyahu in US politics. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has largely been left on her own to defend herself against scurrilous GOP attacks. And instead of using all of the powers granted to them by the Constitution to compel testimony, Democratic-controlled committees have patiently awaited the courts to enforce the subpoenas of administration witnesses, allowing Trump to continue to run out the clock until the 2020 election.

Now ask yourself: What would Republicans do if the roles were reversed? We already know the answers. GOP officials have always circled the wagons around those who have been accused of sexual assault, racism and other antisocial behavior. They have ignored the many outrageous statements made by Sen. Mitch McConnell, Rep. Steve King and others. They have looked the other way from the administration’s corruption. And most continue to support Trump despite his crimes and despicable behavior.

Democratic leaders justify their refusal to call for an impeachment inquiry against Trump by pointing to the rise of President Clinton’s job approval following his impeachment. First, let me state that an impeachment inquiry is not impeachment. It is an investigation. If the House doesn’t find enough evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors, it doesn’t have to vote for impeachment. Second, they should note that, despite Clinton’s job approval, Republicans still took control of the House and the White House in the following election.

Further, the crimes and circumstances are starkly different. Can you really compare the impact of impeaching a president over a sexual indiscretion with an impeachment investigation into a president who gained office with the help of our nation’s greatest adversary; who welcomed and encouraged Russian interference; who provably committed obstruction of justice trying to derail the investigation into his campaign’s complicity with Russians; who resorted to witness tampering and suborning of perjury? A president who is in obvious violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause? A president who refuses to reveal his tax returns, likely because of questionable financial ties to Russian crime bosses?

When the details of this president’s crimes are put on public display in congressional hearings, do you really think voters will show sympathy for him and vote for him in 2020?

Some Democratic Party strategists argue that Trump is setting an “impeachment trap” – that he actually wants to be impeached in order to ensure his re-election. This supposes that Trump is an evil genius who is just daring Democrats to impeach and, in doing so, they will fall into his carefully laid trap. That argument is laughable. Trump may be good at branding and manipulating the media, and he’s certainly good at creating fear and division. But a genius? Hardly.

Based on his panic over the Mueller report, I believe he is actually terrified of impeachment. An impeachment inquiry would give Congress access to information that was unavailable even to the Mueller team. Rather than exonerate Trump, it’s likely to reveal a large number of yet unproven crimes, such as tax fraud and money-laundering. Moreover, an impeachment inquiry is likely to have little negative effect on Democratic prospects for the 2020 elections. No matter what happens, Trump has already accused Democrats of treason; of trying to implement a coup; of trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election. Indeed, he and his new fixer, William Barr, have already begun an investigation into the “oranges” [sic] of CIA and FBI “spying” on his 2016 campaign. That nonsense is already baked into the 2020 campaign.

What’s more likely to damage the outlook for Democrats in the 2020 election is weakness and indecision. We already know that 35 to 40 percent of Americans support Trump. Given that his supporters only believe what Fox News and other conservative media tell them, they will vote for him no matter what happens. Likewise, for those independent voters who haven’t yet made up their minds about Trump (if they even exist), an impeachment inquiry might reveal details that give them reason to either vote against him or to stay home on election day.

The voters Democratic leaders need to most worry about are those in their own base. Since Democrats are the majority party, voter turnout is critical. Failing to hold Trump accountable could well demoralize Democrats. But an impeachment inquiry is almost certain to energize Democrats to vote.

If all of that isn’t enough to convince Democratic leaders to do the right thing, they should re-read Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution which states, “The President, Vice-President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” (Note that it says shall. Not can, may or if it’s convenient.) If gaining the office with the help of a foreign adversary, failing to follow the Constitution, obstructing justice, suborning perjury and witness tampering don’t qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors, it’s difficult to imagine what would.

Finally, they should look to the recent town hall meeting held by Rep. Justin Amash for inspiration. A staunch conservative, Amash is the first member of the Republican caucus to call for impeachment. And, when he laid out his case to his skeptical constituents, they rose to their feet and gave him a standing ovation – proof that it pays to have the courage to do the right thing.

The Barr Effect.

Contrary to Attorney General William Barr’s 4-page “summary” of the Mueller Report or his misleading press conference, Trump and his campaign were not cleared of collusion. And he most certainly was not exonerated. In his report, Mueller simply said that there was not enough evidence to indict Trump and his campaign for conspiring with the Russians to interfere with the 2016 election – largely because the Mueller team could not interview the Russian hackers and Russian intelligence officials to confirm that they conspired with the campaign. In addition, the Mueller Report notes that many of the campaign’s communications had been encrypted and much of the evidence had been destroyed.

Nevertheless, the report does detail many examples of cooperation with the Russians who interfered with our democratic process. It also details numerous instances during which the Trump campaign accepted material and information stolen from its political opponents.

By any definition, that is collusion!

As for obstruction, the Mueller Report outlines at least 10 incidents in which Trump tried to obstruct the investigation, including numerous occasions when he ordered underlings to fire the Special Counsel. That means that Trump clearly committed obstruction of justice even though members of his administration refused to follow his orders. (An act of obstruction does not have to be successful in order for it to qualify as an indictable offense.) But, as a result of the DOJ’s unsupported ruling that a sitting president cannot be indicted, Mueller deferred the responsibility of determining guilt to Congress. In doing so, Mueller clearly stated that his investigation DID NOT exonerate the president. And the Mueller Report does not even consider Trump’s corrupt business practices, his tax evasion, his racism, his sexual improprieties, and his obvious violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.

Yet, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, the GOP and some of the media continue to repeat the falsehoods made by Barr in his memo and press conference that the investigation “cleared Trump of all charges.” In other words, for the time being, Barr’s cover-up has worked. He has succeeded in providing a false narrative in order to protect his boss.

None of this is surprising. After auditioning for the position of Trump’s Attorney General by writing an 18-page memo proclaiming the unlimited powers of the president, the skeptics among us saw this coming. Barr’s intentions should have also been clear to anyone with an understanding of history. After all, Barr had participated in presidential cover-ups before following the capture of the sitting president of a foreign nation and the pardons of all the criminals in the Reagan administration who participated in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Indeed, it should be abundantly clear to everyone that Barr is not the Attorney General for the United States. He has merely replaced Michael Cohen as Trump’s fixer and consigliore.

Clearly, Trump is operating outside the law. And both he and Barr are operating contrary to ethical and moral standards. As a result, I believe that both should be impeached. Our nation was built on the concepts of reason, justice and the rule of law. Though it’s likely true that doing so may further divide the nation. But it’s also true that not doing so could set precedents for future presidents and attorneys general which could allow them to commit even more heinous acts. Worse, it puts the entire foundation of our nation at risk!

Suborning Perjury? That’s Where You Finally Draw The Line?

After learning that Trump ordered his personal attorney to lie to Congress about his continued attempts to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow, members of Congress are suddenly willing to speak of impeachment.

Seriously, that’s what finally caused you to grow a spine?

It wasn’t enough that Trump, his entire administration and his congressional supporters have lied to the American public on a daily basis? It wasn’t enough that he stole the election with the help of Russia? It wasn’t enough that Trump embraced dictators and thugs around the world? It wasn’t enough that leaders of his campaign had more than 101 known contacts with Russians during the campaign and accepted illegal campaign contributions from Russians? It wasn’t enough that members of his campaign have been convicted and pleaded guilty of illegal activities?

It wasn’t enough that he appointed a man operating as an unregistered foreign agent as his director of national security?!!!

It wasn’t enough that Trump bragged on tape that he has committed sexual assault? And that it is known that he paid hush money to cover up illicit affairs with a porn star and a centerfold model? It wasn’t enough that Trump has damaged all of our most reliable and necessary institutions, such as the FBI, the CIA and the EPA? It wasn’t enough that he regularly refers to the news media as enemies of the people? It wasn’t enough that Trump appointed a group of sycophants and unqualified toadies to positions of authority? It wasn’t enough that Trump and his cabinet squandered tens of millions on vacations and private interests? It wasn’t enough that his administration sold public and tribal lands to the highest bidders?

It wasn’t enough that Trump undermined NATO and our international relationships with our strongest and most loyal allies – that his administration has broken international laws and treaties? It wasn’t enough that he manufactured an international crisis at our southern border – that he separated thousands of refugee children from their families? It wasn’t enough that his administration’s actions resulted in the deaths of two young children who had survived a thousand mile trek from Central America?

It wasn’t enough that Trump and his supporters have supported racists and Nazis – that they excused racist violence and the death of an innocent young woman? It wasn’t enough that they gave billions in tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy while denying the basic needs of the poor as an extreme act of cruelty? It wasn’t enough that those unnecessary tax cuts ran up approximately $2 trillion in additional debt?

It wasn’t enough that his administration pandered to the victims of disasters in Texas and the southeastern US, while turning their backs on the American citizens of Puerto Rico? It wasn’t enough that Trump blamed the victims of California wildfires for losing their homes and their lives as a result of the climate change he denies? It wasn’t enough that he created trade wars causing Americans to lose markets for their products? It wasn’t enough that he shut down the federal government in a childish temper tantrum?

It isn’t enough that there is abundant evidence that he engaged in treason in plain sight?!!!

But ordering his attorney to lie to you? THAT? That’s where you draw the line?

Where Is The Tipping Point?

Some political pundits, even party insiders, have cautioned Democrats against beginning articles of impeachment when they take control of the House in 2019. Their line of reasoning is that the occupant of the Oval Office should be determined only by election and that a GOP-controlled Senate would never convict Trump anyway. The result of impeachment, they say, could destroy our nation.

Really? What do you think Republicans would do if the roles were reversed? I think you know the answer to that question. They would almost certainly vote for impeachment. Indeed, many called for the impeachment of President Obama simply for saving our economy from a second depression.

And there are even more important questions. What would be the impact of allowing a man guilty of multiple felonies from serving out his term? What precedent would that set? What would prevent a president from committing far more serious crimes in office. Declining to vote for articles of impeachment would say to future candidates that, if you can convince enough Americans to vote for you, you can do whatever you want as president while in office.

Consider the following:

President Richard Nixon resigned under threat of impeachment for making false or misleading statements; for withholding relevant evidence or information; for condoning and counseling witnesses to give false or misleading statements; for interfering with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Congressional Committees; for approving the payment of substantial sums of hush money to witnesses; for making false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States; for causing defendants to expect favored treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony.

And President Clinton was impeached for far less. After a 4-year investigation, he was impeached on one count of perjury for lying about a sexual affair and one count of obstruction for attempting to cover up that affair. He was ultimately acquitted by the Senate.

Now, let’s look at what we know about President Trump. With all of the chaos caused by his administration and the violation of norms, it’s easy to lose sight of the crimes he has committed. For example, he has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator for directing and participating in the illegal payment of hush money to two women with whom he had extramarital affairs. That means he has committed two counts of election fraud – both felonies.

During a televised interview, Trump openly admitted to obstruction of justice by saying he had fired FBI director James Comey for refusing to ignore Michael Flynn’s lies about his contacts with Russia – another felony. In a series of tweets, Trump indicated his admiration for Paul Manafort for refusing to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s office. That is witness tampering in plain sight – another felony. And we know that Trump has repeatedly lied to news reporters and the American public about his involvement in the payment of hush money – yet another example of obstruction of justice.

Additionally, we know that Trump has, on multiple occasions, violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution by receiving money from foreign visitors to his Washington DC hotel and receiving foreign investments in his family business. He and many of his appointees have violated the Hatch Act by using public office and public funds to campaign for re-election. And we know that he and many within his campaign violated the Logan Act by negotiating with a foreign government (Russia) which has a dispute with the United States.

Even without knowing what the Special Counsel has found about Trump’s role in the Russian interference in our elections, and without knowing if Trump acted on behalf of Vladimir Putin to relax sanctions against Russia, we already know that Trump has committed multiple high crimes and misdemeanors. Indeed, he has far surpassed the crimes that led to Clinton’s impeachment. And he has even surpassed Nixon’s. In 1974, those crimes were enough to force a president from office. Is the standard so much higher now? And, if so, why?

Whether or not we allow Trump to remain in office is not just about politics. It’s about the law and what we should reasonably expect from a president. Trump took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. He has clearly violated that oath. And if Democrats fail to vote for articles of impeachment, they will have failed to carry out their duty.

The Constitutional Crisis That Is Donald Trump.

Russian meddling in the 2016 election has created a crisis the Founders never could have imagined – a greedy, narcissistic con man holding the highest office in the land supported by a sympathetic Congress that likely, too, was elected with the help and interference of a foreign enemy.

The Founding Fathers did put into place a system that provided for the removal of a president from office for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which certainly would apply to a man who conspired with an enemy to attain office, defied the Constitution’s emolument clause to enrich himself and his family, and appointed Cabinet members with the sole purpose of deconstructing the agencies they head – all the while ignoring every established norm of presidential behavior.

What the Founders failed to anticipate was a Congress simultaneously controlled by a party that is equally corrupt – a Congress comprised of members who, themselves, may have been elected with the help of the same foreign enemy and foreign money illegally funneled through the NRA. As a result, the Constitution has no provision for nullifying the results of elections illegally decided by external forces; no way to erase widespread electoral mistakes.

So what happens if (more likely, when) Special Counsel Mueller proves that the president, his campaign, and numerous members of his staff conspired with Russia in order to steal the election? What then? Certainly, the president could be impeached if Republicans finally agree to place country above party. Certainly, those involved could be charged with crimes and brought to trial. But what about the members of the president’s party in Congress who also benefited from the conspiracy? Can they, too, be removed? And what of the many decisions that have been made since January 20, 2017?

If the president was, indeed, put into office as the result of a conspiracy, will his many appointments to the judiciary be allowed to stand? These are appointments that could impact judicial decisions for generations.

If Republicans were found to have gained control of Congress as the result of unconstitutional gerrymandering, voter suppression, illegal campaign contributions, and foreign interference, will the bills they passed without input from the opposition party be allowed to stand? What of the deficit-ballooning corporate tax cuts? What of the changes to the Affordable Care Act? What of the stolen seat on the Supreme Court?

And what of the decisions made by the president’s appointees? What of the deregulation of the nation’s greatest polluters? What of the damage done to our public school system? What of the money squandered on private jets and $31,000 dining sets?

Worst of all, what of the damage done internationally – to our trade agreements, to our strategic defense pacts, to our standing with allies?

If the decisions made by illegally and unconstitutionally elected officials are allowed to stand, what’s to prevent it from happening again? What’s to prevent unscrupulous individuals from a party – either party – from scamming the system to win and, in doing so, ensure that it can ideologically remake America in its image for decades to come?

We need a constitutional amendment to nullify election results – all of the results – if it can be unequivocally proven that an election was stolen.

Where Will This Nonsense End?

This week, the United States House of Representatives voted along party lines to sue the President of the United States for the first time in history. The basis for the lawsuit? Teapublicans claim that President Obama overstepped his legal authority by extending the deadline for the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate for another year – yes, that Affordable Care Act – the one congressional Teapublicans have voted to repeal more than 50 times. Never mind that every Chief Executive before President Obama has made such decisions. They were not Kenyan-born, black Muslims who were overwhelmingly elected with the help of African-Americans and Latinos.

In fact, President Obama has signed fewer executive orders than any president since World War II. He has signed 183 to George W. Bush’s 291 and Reagan’s 381.

But in order to truly understand the reason for the lawsuit, we must look at how we got here. In 1974, Democrats called for impeachment of President Richard Nixon over the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex. Despite the fact that, by ordering the break-in and the ensuing cover-up, Nixon had committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” Republicans were spoiling for payback. They spent $70 million of taxpayers’ money on a witch hunt in order to find cause for impeaching President Clinton, ultimately impeaching Clinton for lying about an extra-marital affair – a “crime” likely committed by more than half of the presidents that served before him.

The impeachment backfired, making Clinton more popular than ever and further enraging Republicans. Then, when the George W. Bush administration tanked our economy, Republicans were determined to make the newly-elected Obama look worse. It’s as if they were saying, “Sure, our party made a mess of the country, but we’re going to block any attempt to fix it. We’re going to pin this mess on you.”

Even before Obama’s inauguration, Republican leaders announced that they intended to do everything within their power to make his presidency fail and to make him a one-term president. In attempting to do so, Republicans set a new standard for obstruction through filibusters, a refusal to put forward names for nomination to fill court vacancies, and investigations of manufactured “scandals.” Even worse was the deceit of pretending to work with Democrats to craft the Affordable Care Act (a Republican idea) by adding a variety of amendments in committee, then refusing to vote for it. In his second term, matters have only grown worse, with the 113th Congress doing even less than Harry Truman’s “Do Nothing” Congress and many Teapublicans calling for Obama’s impeachment.

All of this begs the question, what next?

I believe that the next time a Republican is elected president, Democrats will have little choice but to return the favor in kind. Indeed, they will have to raise the stakes. They will have to filibuster every bill and appointment. They will have to sue the president and threaten impeachment. Anything less would be seen as weak and cowardly. It won’t be easy. After all, how can you top the 113th Congress for obstruction?

Unless things change, we may as well just close Congress and declare a permanent recess.

Impeach Obama?

In the fantasy world of right wing crazies, the impeachment of President Obama is becoming a greater possibility. For example, Michele “Batsh*t Crazy” Bachmann recently told viewers of Fox News Channel that President Obama has “rewritten the Constitution to serve his own purposes.” First, I doubt that Bachmann has ever actually read the Constitution. Second, the “evidence” she used to support her claim is the Affordable Care Act (ACA)…a bill passed by Congress, signed by the president and upheld as constitutional by the conservative-dominated Supreme Court.

Some evidence.

Bachmann isn’t the only mental hospital escapee making such claims. At Tea Party rallies throughout the US, it’s common to see people holding “Impeach Obama” signs or verbally calling for the president’s impeachment. Even worse, numerous Teapublican congressmen have suggested that impeachment may soon be “necessary.” To justify their calls for impeachment, they point to manufactured “scandals” such as Benghazi.  But, unlike his predecessor who ignored numerous warnings prior to 9/11 and led our nation into war under false pretenses, President Obama has done absolutely nothing to warrant impeachment. And, just one year ago, voters had the ultimate opportunity to remove him from office.

It’s called an election.

Unfortunately for Teapublicans, they lost…badly. Nevertheless, Teapublicans continue to blame the president for their own failings. They ran up the debt with their wars and tax cuts and blamed it on Obama. They collapsed the economy and blamed Obama for unemployment. They created the debt crisis in 2011 and blamed Obama for the damage done. They have used the filibuster to nullify many of the president’s initiatives and to block many of his appointments and nominations.

They cry that Obama “refuses to defend our border” despite the fact that the Obama administration has doubled the size of the Border Patrol and invested billions in a border fence. They forced our government into sequestration then howled when the cuts resulted in long lines at airport screening. Most recently, they shut down our government then blamed Obama for parks and monuments being closed.

They continue to complain that Obama was foreign born (he was not) though their most vociferous whiner and presidential wannabe, Ted Cruz, was born in Canada. They attacked Obama for attending a “radical” black Christian church yet claim he’s a Muslim (as if that’s something bad). They howl about the start-up issues with the ACA website despite the fact that they have done everything in their power to sabotage it. They not only withheld much of the funding needed for its creation, Teapublican-controlled states refused to implement their own health insurance exchanges, forcing millions more Americans to log onto www.HealthCare.gov to find health care coverage.

Now Teapublicans are back home holding town halls and giving speeches about the evils of Obamacare. They are also inviting people to bring their “horror stories” about Obamacare. One can only imagine that they will spend their last 8 working days of 2013 reading these anecdotal, and likely false, stories into the congressional record and voting to repeal the law for the 48th time. And don’t be surprised if, next year, Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. Paul Gosar and others use these stories as the basis for impeachment.

Knowing that impeachment is doomed to fail unless they gain control of the Senate, Teapublican congressmen are also continuing their attempts to destroy the Obama presidency by refusing to negotiate a budget and refusing to raise the debt ceiling which would force the US treasury into default. Never mind that such a move would have severe and long-lasting consequences for the world economy and our nation’s ability to borrow. It might even cause the world to replace the dollar as the world’s prime currency. But in the minds of many Teapublicans, such realities are dwarfed by their dislike for President Obama.

Teapublican hatred has no bounds.