Friday, May 12, 2017

Is it time to talk impeachment?

Published in all editions of the Sky Hi News  5/19/17
The goings on in Washington, D.C. this past week with the firing of FBI Director James Comey have rekindled the talk of impeachment of a president. Often  in media discussions there have been historical references to the Watergate Scandal, a potentially similar situation , 1972-1974, it resulted in the resignation of Pres. Richard Nixon.. The issue of obstruction of justice could be what the cases have in common.
Unlike Watergate where an actual crime had been committed for which Nixon was charged with a cover up and  obstructing justice,   this year there  has been no  evidence presented to the public that a crime had been committed by a US person. All intelligence agencies do  agree the Russians had interfered in the 2016 elections.   The Trump administration is leaving the impression that it is covering up something and trying to end the Russian investigation quickly by intimidation with threats of and/ or firing and replacing those leading serious investigations with his preferred
picks.. .
For those of us who remember  Watergate and the resignation of Nixon in face of certain impeachment,  the political atmosphere  has the same feel now as it did then in the early stages of Watergate .  The public is on the outside looking in and trying to connect dots, wondering   whether there is no there there as Trump claims.   Or is there is a possibility there is evidence not yet uncovered that could lead to impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump himself? Before impeachment, convincing evidence   must be found that he is  culpable of high crimes and misdemeanors , including obstructing justice by misleading or quashing an investigation. That was the first article of impeachment which brought Nixon down.

Whether or not Trump tried to intimidate FBI Director Comey at a dinner or whether the conversation constituted obstruction of justice sufficient to impeach ,the timing of Comey’s firing  is enough to raise suspicion that there is something damaging there yet to be discovered that could implicate Donald Trump himself. The action of firing Comey is intimidating by itself  to  investigators. It sends the message "if you  show you are not on Trump’s side, you can get fired ".. The investigation last week was at a critical juncture. Grand jury and congressional bodies  investigating the Russian connection began  issuing subpoenas and a report from the Financial Crimes unit of the Treasury department was due to the Senate intelligence committee concerning money laundering,  Trump had already replaced Preet Bharara,  the  federal  district  prosecutor .who had been investigating US and Russian  money laundering activities. The head of the FBI was fired just as he was asking for resources to expand the investigation.

The political reality is that Republicans  control whether impeachment proceedings will happen, since they have the majority in both Houses of Congress and the House initiates impeachment (Indictment) whille the Senate holds the trial and convicts with a 2/3 vote.  The Senate approves the appointments of the Attorney Generaland the FBI. going forward. The Deputy Attorney General , Rod Rosenstein, has now appointed a special counsel to conduct an investigation of the Russian connection, taking the control out of the hands of both the Justice Department and the White House. The Justice Department is the only entity with the power to appoint a special prosecutor.

Who may be other participants in this historical drama?  As in Watergate, it will be a free, courageous  media  and   whistle  blowing Deep Throats  that can contribute their findings.  Voters still wield power at the ballot box with the ability to change the majority in the House in 2018..


What seems to me most likely is that Trump's business dealings with Russia, loans and investments in his businesses, may have compromised Trump himself, opening him to blackmail.  That could also explain his “bromance” with Putin and his campaign advocacy for policies in synch with  Russia’s, denial that there was any Russian interference in 2016 elections in spite of all intelligence agencies testifying to the contrary. It also explains why he as taking been great pains to keep his tax filings secret.

Rachel Madow in her MSNBC show Thursday, May 11, speculated that either Mike Flynn or Paul Manfort could be "flipped" by the FBI to become witnesses of any of Trump's collusion with Russia during the campaign.. They would be in a position to know if such happened.

James Clapper on Jake Tapper's interview Sunday, May 24: "our instutions are under assault by Trump", referring also to checks and balances, and he said he did not even know the FBI had an investigation into the Russian connection or campaign collusion in 2016 until FBI Director Comey verified it before the House committee March 22. In his position of DNI, the focus was not on that issue so he could not attest to whether it was true or not.

Since so much of the news reports about Watergate dribbled out for 2 and a half years, as I lived through those times, I did not fully grasp the significance of the scandal untill I put it all together by reading the book All the President's Men by the investigative reporters who blew upen and reported it. The movie based on the book I found to be a very accurate recounting as desribed in the book by the same name, For those who want a greater understanding, required reading would be the book,

All the President's Men

by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
avaailable on Amazon in a variety of devices and in paper.

and the movie based on the book. it can be streamed with a subscription on Amazon.

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