Below is my column in the Cincinnati Enquirer in response to a column criticizing Sen. Rob Portman for his vote to acquit former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial. Portman (who recently announced that he will not run for reelection) is one of the most thoughtful and decent figures in Congress. James Freeman Clarke once said “A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the next generation. A politician looks for the success of his party; a statesman for that of his country.” I have spoken with Sen. Portman on constitutional and legal issues for years and he always epitomized what Clarke meant about a true statesman. His decision not to seek reelection was a blow for the Senate as someone who was eager to work with the other party on finding solutions to our growing national problems. That is why I felt I had to respond to a recent column by Opinion Editor Kevin Aldridge. I have no doubt about Aldridge’s good-faith disagreement with the verdict. However, we need to reach a place where we can disagree on such issues without questioning each other’s integrity or honesty. To that end, I want to thank the Cincinnati Enquirer (and Mr. Aldridge) for having the integrity of running my column. This is the essence of dialogue and we may find that what divides us is not nearly as great as what unites us as citizens.
Here is the column: Continue reading “Portman’s Principled Stand: A Response To The Cincinnati Enquirer”
Below is my column in the Hill on the lingering questions over decisions made in Congress before the Capitol riot on January 6th. The analogy to Pearl Harbor drawn by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer may be more telling than intended.
Here is the column:
Continue reading ““A Date Which Will Live In Infamy”: The Other Scandal From The Capitol Riot”
We recently discussed the legal and political implications of the effort by Mayor Bill de Blasio to close Trump-operated rinks and golf facilities. While the city lawyers were developing viable rationales for closing the Wollman Park and Lasker Rinks, de Blasio staff went out of its way to make clear that the effort was political retaliation against Trump. De Blasio’s spokesperson proudly announced that “Trump has been impeached from operating the ice rink.” Now, de Blasio has reversed his decision after backlash over a petty move that would not only cut off ice skating early for residents but throw employees out of jobs weeks early. The question is how the reversal will impact other legal efforts targeting the Trump Organization. Continue reading “On Thin Ice? De Blasio Reverses Closures of Trump-Operated Ice Skating Rinks”
Mayor Bill di Blasio has ordered the closure of the two ice rinks in Central Park, the Wollman Park and Lasker Rink. The mayor’s staff clearly wanted to the reason for the closure to be clear and public. Various groups have pushed for the city to cut all ties with the Trump organization and the city moved against the organization last month on the contracts. De Blasio’s spokesperson announced that “Trump has been impeached from operating the ice rink.” That statement might not be welcomed by city lawyers since it suggests that the closures were an exercise of selective bias against a company for political purposes. Despite the unpopularity of Trump in New York, the use of city contracts for raw political retaliation should be unacceptable to most citizens (particularly when the cost is borne not just by the public but more importantly employees who were laid off early). The spokesperson’s words could now be the focus of litigation over any losses by the Trump Organization. Continue reading ““Trump Has Been Impeached From Operating The Ice Rink”: De Blasio’s Cancelation of Trump Concession Contracts Raises Questions Of Political Retaliation”
The Lincoln Project is facing rising allegations of ignoring sexual harassment claims against co-founder John Weaver, profiteering on donations, and even violating federal law in posting private messages by another co-founder. Now, in an effort to show that it is addressing the Weaver allegations fully and openly, the Project announced that it has retained a law firm to do an independent assessment of the controversy. However, the Project selected Paul Hastings, which has leading members (including a managing partner) who supported the Project financially. The support of lawyers for the Project is particularly troubling given its campaign to harass other lawyers to get them to drop Donald Trump or the Republican party as clients in election challenges. Continue reading “Lincoln Project Scandals Highlight The Role Of Lawyers As Donors”
Below is my column in the Hill on second Trump trial and how core values quickly became the extraneous to the purpose of this constitutional process. The final chaos triggered by Rep. Jaime Raskin (D., Md) only highlighted the procedural and legal irregularities in a trial that seem increasingly detached from values like due process.
Here is the column:
Continue reading “Mutual Destruction: How Trump’s Trial Became A Tale Of Constitutional Noir”
There was a palpable sense of relief in Washington as the Trump trial came to a chaotic but final end. The verdict is in so now the vilification can begin. Both Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi immediately weaponized the verdict and demonized those who voted to acquit. While the Democrats insisted that all senators should “vote their conscience” that only meant if their conscience supported their side. Pelosi denounced opposing senators as cowards while Schumer lashed out at them for holding an opposing view of the evidence or the process. While groups are targeting members on both sides of the trial, our leaders should be calling for unity and civility after the trial. Instead, they are fueling the politics of division.
Continue reading “A Return To Rage: Schumer and Pelosi Attack Members Who Voted To Acquit As Political Cowards and Shills”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced yesterday that he would leave the question of whether to call witnesses to the House managers to decide. In the meantime, various Democratic senators said that there is no need for witnesses despite the House repeatedly acknowledging that it does not know critical facts related to Donald Trump’s state of mind. The position of Schumer and the Democrats is in strikingly contrast to their positions in the last two impeachments. Continue reading ““We’ve Heard From Enough Witnesses”: Democrats Oppose Calling Witnesses While Schumer Leaves It To The House Managers”
Below is my column in USA Today on the lack of a strategy by the House to secure conviction in the trial of former President Donald Trump. As I have previously noted, the House managers did an excellent job in their presentations and many of the videotapes rekindled the anger that most of us felt over the riot. They also reinforced the view of many (including myself) that former president Donald Trump bears responsibility in the tragedy that unfolded due to his reckless rhetoric. Yet, there was a glaring omission in the substance of the House arguments. The managers did not lay out what the standard should be in convicting a former president for incitement of an insurrection and only briefly touched on proving any “state of mind” needed for such a conviction. That is why I have referred to their case as more emotive than probative. It lacked direct evidence to support the claim that Trump wanted to incite an actual insurrection or rebellion against the United States, as alleged in the article of impeachment. I do not believe that an acquittal was inevitable in this case, but it was all but assured by critical decisions made by the House in this impeachment. The unforced errors discussed below raise the question of whether the Democrats “tanked” the trial.
Here is the column:
Continue reading “Did The Democrats “Tank” The Second Trump Trial?”
Below is my column in the Hill on how the second Trump impeachment could become a trial over reckless rhetoric in America. The House managers may be playing into that very danger by selecting some managers who have been criticized in the past for their own over-heated political rhetoric. As managers were replaying the comments of former President Donald Trump from prior years to show how his words fueled divisions, critics were pointing to similar statements from the managers themselves. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the leading impeachment manager, was chided for using “fight like hell” in a 2019 interview with The Atlantic — the very words replayed repeatedly from Trump. He also used that phrase repeatedly in prior years to ramp up his supporters in fighting for Democratic control of Congress. Speaker Nancy Pelosi blundered by appointing managers like Eric Swalwell who is notorious for his inflammatory rhetoric, in a trial where such rhetoric would be the focus of the managers. Swalwell’s comments not only include disturbing legal claims, but highly personal and offensive remarks like mocking threats against Susan Collins, R-Maine. Swalwell declared “Boo hoo hoo. You’re a senator who police will protect. A sexual assault victim can’t sleep at home tonight because of threats. Where are you sleeping? She’s on her own while you and your @SenateGOP colleagues try to rush her through a hearing.” Pelosi picked not only a member who has viciously attacked Republicans but one of the Republicans most needed by the House in this trial. If this trial boils down to irresponsible political rhetoric, the public could find it difficult to distinguish between the accused, the “prosecutors” and the “jury.” That is the problem with a strategy that seems focused not on proving incitement of an insurrection but some ill-defined form of political negligence.
Here is the column:
Continue reading “Reckless Rhetoric Is A Reckless Standard For An Impeachment Trial”
When the House moved to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time, I wrote a column on the similarities to the William Belknap impeachment in 1876. The vote of the Senate to continue the trial despite a constitutional challenge over the use of a retroactive trial bore striking resemblance to that earlier decision. That should be good news for Trump. The Senate declared the trial constitutional and effectively over by its 56-44 vote. Continue reading “The Belknap Margin: The Senate Decision Shows Not Much Has Changed Since 1876”