A flip-flopper is someone who moves from being in favor of something, before turning against it, to finally favoring it, again. That’s me. It is painful to say this, but, I believe the House should begin impeachment inquiries.
This contradicts my May 6 column “Skip spectacle; get to work,” that ran in this paper.
In my naivete, I thought that Congress might actually attend to critical issues, such as health care, immigration and our environment, if it avoided impeaching the president. I misjudged the situation. I thought leaving the obstruction of justice allegations against the president, with its investigations and hearings, in the hands of the courts, would free Congress to attend to its myriad jobs.
Obviously, I was wrong. Impeachment, or the “I” word as it is frequently referred to, is still the dominating topic. Plus, Congress does not seem anywhere near buckling down to work. Also, it feels as though media are obsessed with impeachment. Some politicians are fixated, too. However, the one individual who is totally transfixed and is talking about impeachment, endlessly, is the president.
It is remarkable that President Donald Trump seems riveted by the topic, especially given that the 448-page (Robert) Mueller report did not exonerate him of obstruction.
In fact, in Volume II, Page 8, the report stated, “Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent present,difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we,would so state.”
Obviously, Special Counsel Mueller, in his report, did not find enough evidence to declare the president innocent of obstruction of justice. Mueller reiterated that same statement in his brief press conference, May 29.
Since a redacted version of the report was released to the public April 18, the president has avowed that he will ignore all subpoenas and has made it abundantly clear that he will not cooperate with any further investigations.
Rep. Ted Deutch, Fla-D., chair of the House Ethics Committee, told CQ Roll Call, “... what the administration is trying to do is unprecedented, both the way they’re trying to prevent anyone from testifying and the blanket like refusal to comply with subpoenas, the blanket (claim to) executive privilege, which is totally unfounded. It’s a dangerous combination of obstruction of justice and obstruction of Congress.” -CQ Roll Call, May 20. (Congressional Quarterly Inc., or CQ, is part of a privately-owned publishing company called CQ Roll Call.)
Given the president’s vehement refusals to cooperate with Congress in terms of reviewing and clarifying Mueller’s report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, the House has little choice. It must begin impeachment inquires.
Actually, Russia very well may have interfered with the 2016 elections and kept Trump totally out of the loop. Although, on May 30, the president, in a slip of the tongue, acknowledged that Russia helped him win the presidency. Nevertheless, it is possible, that at the time of the campaign, President Trump was oblivious to Russia’s influence.
However, from the beginning of the investigation, “Trump made Russian influence a personal issue. He made it his issue.” -Steven Nevada.
The president appeared distressed about an investigation into Russian meddling. He appeared concerned that if, indeed, Russia was found guilty that would invalidate his election.
In fact, if from the outset of the meddling investigation the president had been forthright and cooperative, the entire obstruction charge would, probably, never have materialized. Voila, no need for the second section of the Mueller report, the obstruction portion.
That is assuming that the president really has nothing to hide in terms of Russia’s influence in the 2016 election.
Either way, from May 9, 2017, when the president fired the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, until today, obstruction appears to be the president’s standard response.
Rep. Veronica Escobar, Texas-D, explained to CQ Roll Call, “We are on this dangerous precipice … I personally feel like we cannot tolerate this level of obstruction, that if we do, then we have lowered the bar to the point where any criminal can be president of the United States and that should be unacceptable to all of us.
“And history will judge this moment. It’s the tone and the example we have set for future generations and for what is acceptable and what is not.” -Roll Call, May 20.
Despite all the talk about impeachment, the procedure appears unclear.
According to Wikipedia, impeachment is a process by which the House issues charges against a civil officer of government for alleged crimes. (It is analogous to a grand jury indictment. Grand juries only decide if there is enough evidence to support a case. They do not render final verdicts.)
Then the charges are heard by the Senate. After private deliberation, the Senate votes. The Constitution requires a two-thirds supermajority to convict the person being impeached.
It is time for the House to begin the impeachment inquiry. Regrettably, the entire process will be an ugly side show. It is a spectacle that I, and many folks I know, had fervently hoped to avoid. It will further side track Congress from its vital work.
It will obscure other important issues. It will be terribly distasteful. Yet, the entire impeachment issue has dominated and will continue to dominate the news. The only way to resolve the impeachment quandary is to address it head on. Some confrontations cannot, and should not, be avoided.
Beyond all else, Rep. Escobar is correct. It is vital that we retain the high standard that we have held our presidents to.
“Avoiding impeachment, is to operate outside the intent of our founders, which has been adhered to successfully, thus far.” -Steven Nevada.
For the House to cede its presidential oversight powers is a dangerous move. The constitutionally ensured balance of governmental powers is imperative to our democratic-republic’s survival. We must be certain the balance of powers is retained.
Sadly, we must prepare to endure an ugly side show.