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Caught between the Calcified GOP and the Gruelling Trump

On December 19, 1998 the House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, one for perjury before a grand jury and one for obstruction of justice. Clinton was found guilty of lying under oath (perjury) and trying to cover up (obstruction of justice) his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

The only other president to be impeached was Andrew Johnson in 1868, who, like Clinton a Democrat, was impeached by a House controlled Republican Party (though it should be stressed that the pro-slavery and anti-Reconstruction Southern Democrats and the Radical Republicans, opposed by Moderate Republicans and conservative Republicans of Johnson’s time were quite different from the Democrats and Republicans of today). My point is, however, that the impeachment of two presidents was decided by their opposing party. If their own party had controlled the House, it would have been very unlikely that impeachment proceedings would have reached the floor.

Of course, we can’t forget Richard Nixon, who would have, if had he not resigned first, been impeached by the House and, unlike Johnson and Clinton, would have been found guilty and removed from office by the Senate. And while the House and Senate were controlled by the Democrats, it was Republican Party leaders who went to the White House to tell Nixon the game was up. It’s hard to imagine the Grand Old Party of today – a bizarre collection of misfits, armatures, pre-enlightenment, anti-science, religious fundamentalists and right-wing idealogues– marching to the White House and telling Trump to pack his bags. The GOP lost its moral and ethical heart long before Trump came on the scene.

It is worth noting that Nixon was never conclusively found guilty of the burglary of the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate building. The burglary alone did not lead to Nixon’s resignation. However, it was clear that he did ordered the cover-up and was thus guilty of obstructing justice. Likewise, having sex in the White House with an intern is not an impeachable offence. It was not sex that lead to Clinton’s impeachment. Perjury and obstruction of justice did. We do not actually know that Trump and/or his team colluded with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton during the election. But we do know that Trump fired the FBI Director because of, what Trump called, the “Russian thing.” We know this because Trump told us. It is possible, that the “Russian thing” may not bring Trump down, but his obstructing the investigation potentially could.

Trump with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak in the Oval OfficeNeedless to say it has been a crazy week in U.S. politics and the life of the nation, and it’s only Wednesday. Once again, it is necessary to remind ourselves what Trump has been up to, simply because if we saw it on a TV political drama, we wouldn’t be able to suspend our disbelief. So, for the record:

  • We learned that Obama warned Trump against appointing Michael Flynn.
  • Trump asks the FBI Director James Comey if he, Trump, was being investigated by the FBI.
  • Trump fires Comey.
  • Trump announces in an interview that he fired Comey because of the “Russian thing.”
  • Trump threatens Comey in a tweet warning him not to speak publicly about their conversations, implying he might have “tapes” of those conversations. Unfortunately, Trump’s mendacity is so complete there is no way of knowing at this time if tapes actually do exist.
  • Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak in the oval office. U.S. media are excluded from the meeting. The picture of Trump, Kislyak and Lavrov comes compliments of a photographer for the Russian news agency, TASS, who was in the room and released the photos.
  • We learn that Trump revealed high level intelligence concerning ISIS terrorist plans with Lavrov and Kislyak in the oval office, thus threatening the informant on the ground and trust of U.S. allies. The information is considered highly valuable, was difficult to obtain, and was not to be shared even with close allies. Trump’s National Security Adviser Lt. General H.R. McMaster, apparently in the room at the time,  says, “It didn’t happen.” Trump tweets that he had every right to share intelligence with the Russians.
  • We learn that Trump asked James Comey to halt the investigation into Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russian agents.
  • We learn that Trump asked Comey to arrest journalists and his own staff who leak information.

It’s an amazing list of events, and accomplished in a few short days. The fact that Trump asked Comey, then the Director of the FBI, if he, Trump, was being investigated by the FBI, that he asked Comey to cease investigating Flynn’s link to Russia, and that he actually said to the entire world that he fired Comey because of the FBI’s investigation of Trump and his team’s collusion with Russian agents to alter the outcome of the general election, could lead to articles of impeachment – most obviously obstruction of justice and abuse of power. That’s before we even get into the issue of revealing classified information to Russia, no less. Each occurrence alone is impressive.  But put them all together and it’s breathtaking. Clinton lied about sex and was impeached. Trump may have colluded with a foreign country to interfere in a U.S. general election and did fire the Director of the FBI because he didn’t like the FBI’s ongoing investigation. So, where is the GOP?

I don’t believe impeachment is on the cards simply because the Republican Party are in control both the House and the Senate. I agree with Thomas L. Friedman’s article in the New York Times on May 16, 2017 entitled It’s Chicken or Fish. Friedman says that impeachment is a liberal fantasy because the GOP will never abandon Trump. Asking if anyone will stand up to Trump’s abuse of power he writes: “The G.O.P. never would have embraced someone like Trump in the first place — an indecent man with a record of multiple bankruptcies, unpaid bills and alleged sexual harassments who lies as he breathes — for the answer to ever be yes. Virtually all the good men and women in this party’s leadership have been purged or silenced; those who are left have either been bought off by lobbies or have cynically decided to take a ride on Trump’s Good Ship Lollipop to exploit it for any number of different agendas.”

It’s all about power, raw power. The only thing that could possibly move the Republicans to act against Trump would be the threat of losing their jobs in both the House and the Senate at the midterm elections on November 6, 2018. The late night monologues are great fun. The marches are uplifting and important. Organizing is a must. Participating too. sign petitions and make phone calls. But if you want to stop Trump, then vote. That’s it. We have to let Republicans no we are going to fire their asses. We have to vote.

Copyright © 2017 Dale Rominger

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