As the impeachment of Donald Trump unfolds, it is inevitable that comparisons are drawn to the Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton impeachments. This column in The Hill discusses the most notable distinction: the narrowness of case for impeachment. While Trump has long been portrayed as a type of perpetual criminal motion machine and many have claimed that an array of crimes are proven from the Russian investigation, none of the crimes discussed over the last three years will apparently be included in this impeachment. The question is why. Democratic members insisted after the Mueller hearings that the impeachable acts were now laid bear on the record. If such violations are so obvious and proven, it is unclear why the Democrats are insisting on proceeding on such a narrow basis — a decision that greatly reduces the chances of success in the Senate.
Those of us covering or listening to the Trump impeachment hearing yesterday may have missed the “other” impeachment story this week. At Gainsville, Florida, students are seeking to impeach student president Michael C. Murphy due to the invitation to Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend (and Trump campaign adviser) Kimberly Guilfoyle to campus for speeches on Oct. 10. The couple was paid $50,000 for the speeches. There are even allegations of “collusion.” Student senator Ben Lima declared that “Public records show that Michael Murphy colluded with a member of the Donald Trump campaign” on the event. However, a student newspaper is also reporting that Murphy also sought to have Bernie Sanders appear on campus.
In another example of our age of rage, Hoyt Hutchinson, 32, took a knife to the famous “Baby Trump” protest balloon that has followed President Donald Trump from England to the United States. Hutchinson reportedly stated on a video that “I’m going down here to make a scene, so y’all watch the news. This is pathetic. I’m fixing to get rowdy.” In a sign of our times, people have donated money to support him in this property destruction. Many now believe that they have a privilege to stop others from speaking. Conservatives have rightfully objected to such disruptive acts on campus, but this is a conservative who is being heralded for his own anti-free speech act. A similar act of destruction was committed by a woman in London who was upset with the protest balloon’s appearance.
The New York Times and other papers are reporting that Attorney General William Barr refused a request from President Donald Trump to hold a news conference to declare that Trump did not violate any laws in his telephone call with Ukraine’s president. I have known Barr for years and I am not surprised by the report. If such a call to Barr was made, it was inappropriate and shows that the President is still acting incautiously and impetuously in managing these scandals. With various investigations going forward on the Ukrainian matter, it would have been deeply troubling for Barr to make such a statement. While no crime has been identified, there could be potential criminal conduct related to the call as well as questions of the abuse of power. Trump has denied the report.
President Donald Trump’s personal spiritual adviser, Paula White, has previously made news with prayers that denounced the ‘demonic networks” and stating that Christians who vote against Trump will be called to account before God. A controversial “prosperity gospel” preacher, White will now lead the president’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative. In a prayer on a conference call White proclaimed “Lord, we ask you to deliver our president from any snare, any setup of the enemy, according to Ephesians 6:12. Any persons [or] entities that are aligned against the president will be exposed and dealt with and overturned by the superior blood of Jesus.” What troubles me most is the implied message that opposing Trump a sin or, at a minimum, an act that will bring divine retribution.
The divide over President Donald Trump was vividly demonstrated by two comments this week. Fox host Lou Dobbs declared Trump to be “the greatest president in the history of our country” while former Trump associate (and Communications director) Anthony Scaramucci called him a “cult leader” in the vein of Jim Jones.
I recently published a column on the effort by Democrats to get Facebook and other companies to implement a system of censorship of political ads, which would be entirely unconstitutional if carried out by the government. Now, Hillary Clinton has declared that Mark Zuckerberg “should pay a price” for the damage that he is doing to democracy. It is a curious argument since, according to Clinton, Zuckerberg is apparently harming democracy by not curtailing free speech by censoring political speech. I have previously criticized President Donald Trump for his own anti-free speech and anti-free press rhetoric.
Below is my column on the latest alleged crime by President Donald Trump: “Felony bribery.” The allegation shows not only a fundamental misunderstanding of legal standards but a fundamental failure in legal analysis.
As many of you know, I love Halloween and we put on an embarrassingly excessive display each year at our house. It may be for that reason that I found a story in Yahoo News so disturbing. Children who came to the White House for the annual Halloween party were reportedly asked to help “build the wall” by placing their own paper bricks onto a mural. If true, it was a remarkably low-grade move. Children should not be pulled into our politics or used for a prop.
Recently, a leading coroner declared that the autopsy of child abuser Jeffrey Epstein (who died in prison) was more consistent with strangulation than suicide. That proved material for jokes by Trevor Noah, the host of the Daily Show, with his guests Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. asked Hillary Clinton in an interview about conspiracies that suggest the Clintons have murdered people. Noah asked Clinton “I have to ask you a question that has been plaguing me for a while, how did you kill Jeffrey Epstein?” That led to a great laugh. However, it was a tad off-putting because they were discussing a child rapist and abuser who entertained Clinton’s husband repeatedly and reportedly flew him on Epstein’s infamous “Lolita Express” private jet. Ha, Ha . . . Thump. Or more accurately “Ha, Ha, . . . Trump.” The point was that the Clintons are the subject of wild conspiracy theories by Trump and his supporters — a fair point. However, when it comes to a sexual predator who was friends with your husband, Bill Clinton, there might be another source for late night humor.
I have previously disagreed with the overextended and unsupported claims of critics on allegedly clear criminal violations by President Donald Trump, including past statements by Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush and is a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. I am no fan of President Trump and have repeatedly criticized him for his language and actions in office. However, legal analysis continues to erode as analysts assure viewers that well-established crimes have been committed. The latest such example by Painter is that Trump continues to fundraise for Senators, a common practice of all presidents in election years. Painter insists that any such fundraising can constitute “felony bribery” since these senators will likely sit in judgment in any impeachment trial.
A Canadian library has become the latest flash point over free speech as hundreds of protesters tried to prevent others from hearing the views of a feminist writer who has been critical of transsexual laws guaranteeing equal access to bathrooms and other spaces. To its credit, Toronto Public Library held firm in favor of free speech and refused to be bullied into cancelling the event. Nevertheless, police had to escort the audience out the back to avoid threats from protesters who objected to event featuring Meghan Murphy. It is a disheartening scene in a city with a seal professing “Diversity our strength.” Apparently, diversity of ideas is not one of those strengthens according to the Mayor and city council.