Even before Donald Trump had taken the oath of office, some House Democrats, apparently stunned at the election results and bruised by being left entirely out of the Washington power structure, were suggesting impeachment was in order. The movement has only grown stronger more than a month into the Trump presidency.
It is centered around two alleged violations that Trump critics maintain rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors.
“I mean on day one he was in violation of the Emoluments Clause,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN.) said in a recent CNN town hall.
The Emoluments Clause to which Ellison refers, reads in part, “…no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
Ellison’s charge is based on Trump’s children now running his businesses. With no blind trust in effect, some believe there is a risk of bribery. “I think a reasonably strong case can be made and a number of constitutional scholars have made that case, says Julian Epstein, former counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the Clinton impeachment.
Bruce Fein, a Deputy Attorney General during the Reagan Administration, agrees. “If you can prove bribery by circumstantial evidence or something that a foreign government is patronizing the Trump Hotel in exchange for some benefit in trade or military sale, that’s bribery. That clearly satisfies the impeachment standards, leaving open the possibility of bribery,” he says.
The second potential violation is the charge Trump team’s had Russian connections. “This President absolutely was in collusion with the Kremlin and Putin and Russia during the campaign,” alleges Rep. Maxine Waters,D-Calif.
Fein believes Waters’ argument is weak, noting Trump had not been sworn into office when the alleged violation occurred. “Obviously what he did wasn’t corrupting government, he wasn’t even president yet exercising presidential powers. It verges on frivolity, in my judgment,” he says.
Indeed, Republicans say the charges of a Trump-Putin collusion thus far are based on anonymous leaks and hearsay. “We don’t have any evidence that they talked to Russians,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said during a press briefing on Monday.
But impeachment is more than a legal process, it’s a political one, too, something that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, noted in a panel discussion with radio talk show host Mark Levin at last week’s CPAC Convention.
“Do the Democrats understand that they need to control the House of Representatives to impeach somebody?” Levin asked of Cruz.
Cruz replied to uproarious applause, “The Democrats right now are living in an alternative universe.”
Epstein believes that may change.”The president’s support is a mile wide but an inch deep,” he says. “If the president’s approval numbers, which are in the low 40s right now, dip into the mid- 30s or the low 30s or the high 20s, then you could foresee a situation where Republicans could begin to think that Mike Pence is a much better alternative,” he says.
Epstein cautions against impeachment, citing his own experience. “Impeachment is a little like war,” he says. “People tend to romanticize the idea of impeaching a president when the opposition party is in the White House. I have lived through an impeachment and it’s an incredibly divisive fight that leaves wounds that sometimes takes years and years to heal,” he says.
Doug McKelway joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in November 2010 and serves as a Washington-based correspondent. Click here for more information on Doug McKelway.
- After candidates’ dust-up over “qualifications,” CNN asked contributors for their take on key qualifications for President
(CNN)As they campaigned over New York in recent days, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton found themselves in an escalating war of words over which of them was “qualified” to be President. The dust-up has died down, and the candidates have moved on–but the issue is now on the table. What does make a candidate qualified to be President?
David Gergen: The ability to collaborate
Juliette Kayyem: Calm in a storm
David Axelrod: Nimble and decisive
Anne-Marie Slaughter: Standing up to a fight
H.W. Brands: A vision of the American dream
Hugh Hewitt: A nose for the right talent
Paul Begala: Seeing world through others’ experience
Aaron David Miller: A handle on history
Van Jones: A strong internal compass
David Boaz: A firm grasp of reality
Some of the GOP primary candidates have condemned Donald Trump’s signature rhetoric, which they say is encouraging violence in and around his campaign.
Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich roundly accused Trump of “contributing to the climate” of violence that reportedly resulted in a massive protest at Trump’s rallies in St. Louis and Chicago on Friday.
Shortly after Trump canceled a scheduled rally in Chicago because of protests at the event, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas accused the Trump campaign of inciting the unrest.
“A campaign bears responsibility for creating an environment where the candidate urges supporters to engage in violence,” Sen. Cruz said.
On a separate occasion last month, Trump spoke to his audience about another protester, saying, “Knock the crap out of him, would you? Seriously, OK, just knock the hell — I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”
In Cruz’s remarks after the protests Friday night, he said he wants to “appeal to civility in the democratic discourse.”
“We can have genuine differences but can do so in a way that appeals to our better angels, not our worst,” Cruz said.
Cruz also threw some of the blame at President Barack Obama, accusing Obama of using moments of crisis over the course of his presidency to “divide” the country.
In a separate interview on CNN, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said “Donald Trump is responsible for his own rhetoric … there are consequences to words.”
Rubio also appeared to defend Trump by criticizing the protesters for “denying someone their First Amendment right to speak things in America.” He quickly turned back to the GOP frontrunner, saying, “the tone and tenor of Donald Trump’s rallies … has been disturbing to a lot of people.”
In a statement that Gov. John Kasich’s campaign released Friday night, Kasich said “the seeds of division that Donald Trump has been sowing this whole campaign has finally bore fruit, and it was ugly.”
Democratic primary frontrunner Hillary Clinton said in her own statement Friday night, “The divisive rhetoric we are seeing should be of grave concern to us all.”
Clinton’s primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, weighed in during his own campaign event in Illinois, declaring that America won’t let “Donald Trump or anybody else divide us up.”
US presidential hopeful Donald Trump has doubled down on previous comments about Islam, saying there is “tremendous hatred” towards Americans from Muslims.
Asked on Thursday during a televised debate in Miami, Florida, if he meant all Muslims, the frontrunner to be the Republican party nominee for president said: “I mean a lot of them”.
Trump once again invoked the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington and added there is “something going on”, without elaborating.
Marco Rubio, another candidate for the nomination, and Trump were tangling over what the US stance towards followers of Islam should be, with Trump telling the Florida senator: “You can say what you want. You can be politically correct if you want. We have a serious problem with hate”.
Rubio countered: “I’m not interested in being politically correct. I’m interested in being correct.”
The Florida senator noted that there were grave markers in Arlington National Cemetery that have “crescent moons,” which connote the Muslim faith.
He said “they love America”, and that the US will need healthy relations with Muslim nations to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.
Trump, who has voiced scepticism about US military involvement abroad in the past, for the first time said America’s effort against ISIL might need between 20,000 and 30,000 US troops, a number similar to what some Republican hawks have proposed.
Earlier in the campaign, Trump called for a “total and complete” block on non-US Muslims entering the US.
A statement from Trump’s campaign team in December said the halt on Muslims entering the country should remain in place “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”.
Trump also defended his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that while “there’s nobody that’s more pro-Israel than I am”, in order to make a deal with Palestine he would have to make them believe he was somewhat neutral.
Trump said striking a peace deal with Israel and Palestine would be “maybe the toughest negotiation of all time”.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has been engaging with Trump more than Rubio or Ohio Governor John Kasich, said it would be wrong to be neutral toward Palestine.
In contrast to previous presidential debates, the candidates largely managed to present their arguments without vitriol.
Trump shook his head and declared at one point: “I can’t believe how civil it’s been up here.”
The businessman, though, clearly was intent on projecting a less bombastic – and more presidential – image.
His closing message: “Be smart and unify.”
“We’re all in this together,” he said early on, sounding more like a conciliator than a provocateur as he strived to unify the party behind his candidacy. “We’re going to come up with solutions. We’re going to find the answer to things.”
Trump’s rivals, in a desperate scramble to halt his march to the nomination, gradually ramped up their criticism as the night wore on.
Rubio’s overarching message: “I know that a lot of people find appeal in the things Donald says. The problem is presidents can’t just say anything they want because it has consequences around the world.”
Florida is the biggest prize in a five-state round of voting on Tuesday, and all 99 of the state’s delegates will go to the winner.
In all, 367 Republican delegates will be at stake, with voting also occurring in Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and the Northern Mariana Islands.
In the race for delegates, Trump has 458, Cruz 359, Rubio 151 and Kasich 54. It takes 1,237 to win the Republican nomination for president.
Source: Al Jazeera And AP
The tone of the Republican debate discourse shifted drastically Thursday night, as the candidates repeatedly declined to attack one another as harshly as they had previously.
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump quipped more than 30 minutes into the debate, “So far I cannot believe how civil it’s been up here.”
Trump in particular has been known for his relentless criticism of his foes, especially when they attack him first. But he shrugged off attack after attack on Thursday night.
During a discussion about Social Security benefits, Sen. Marco Rubio jabbed and said Trump’s numbers didn’t “add up.”
The debate moderator invited Trump to respond.
Trump, who in the previous debate had derided Rubio as “Little Marco,” then did something new: He largely ignored Rubio’s attack and simply repeated his claim that there were entitlement savings to be found.
“I’ve been going over budgets and looking at budgets — we don’t bid things out,” he said. “We don’t bid out, as example, the drug industry, the pharmaceutical industry.”
Later, when ethanol mandates came up, Sen. Ted Cruz took a shot at Trump. Cruz suggested that the frontrunner had pandered to Iowa’s corn industry. But the back-and-forth was anemic compared with that of past debates.
“When I went to Iowa and campaigned against ethanol mandates, everyone said that was political suicide: ‘You can’t take on ethanol in Iowa,'” Cruz said. “And my opponents on this stage not only didn’t do the same, they attacked me.”
Trump accused Cruz of changing his stance on ethanol, but his language was toned down significantly from past attacks. In almost every stump speech leading up to the debate, Trump had repeatedly referred to Cruz as “lyin’ Ted.”
But on Thursday night, Trump simply said:
If you look back to Iowa, Ted did change his view and his stance on ethanol quite a bit. He did — and at the end — not for long, but he did change his view in the hopes of maybe doing well. And I think everybody knows that, it was a front-page story all over the place, and he did make a change.
The rest of the debate mostly conformed to this theme, with the candidates taking weak shots at one another but keeping it relatively tame compared with their past fireworks.
After the debate, Trump praised the tone of the debate.
“I thought it was a very elegant debate, I thought it was very substantive … and I thought folks did a great job,” he said on CNN. “We needed this kind of debate, we needed this kind of tone, and I’m glad it took place tonight,” he added.
As Trump comes closer to clinching the Republican nomination for president, he has started sounding more like a general-election candidate.
At a news conference on Tuesday night celebrating two additional primary wins, Trump said he would help other Republican candidates, mentioned a conversation he’d had with House Speaker Paul Ryan, discouraged the crowd from booing Mitt Romney, and talked about beating Hillary Clinton in the general election.
The candidates are heading into another round of big primaries on Tuesday.
It’s a Democratic tie: Clinton scores in Mississippi, Sanders in Michigan. On the Republican side, Donald Trump emerges as the winner once again. The US primary race is still undecided, writes Ines Pohl.
And, once again, anything is possible. While Hillary Clinton was able to win the important state of Mississippi in the latest round of primaries, she suffered a surprising defeat against Bernie Sanders in Michigan. This will be especially stinging for Clinton because her opponent succeeded in weakening her with deliberate attacks against her economic platform.
Michigan and its industrial hub Detroit have hemorrhaged tens of thousands of well-paying jobs over the past decades. In a state where labor unions are traditionally strong, its members apparently feel that a market with stricter regulations would keep more jobs in the United States. There are many reasons why those losing out to globalization are receptive to the economic promises made by Sanders.
Clinton does not yet need to worry about having lost the Michigan delegates. What should worry her, however, is the fact that she does not connect as well with white working-class voters as she hoped she would.
As a consequence, it won’t be easy to come up with a political strategy that attracts votes from Sanders’ ideological base without scaring off her support from business and industry.
Bernie Sanders for his part does not need to be concerned about balancing different loyalties. Strengthened by his latest success, he can now switch into full attack mode.
A new candidate emerging?
Similarly, this election night also leaves Republicans with key questions unanswered. Donald Trump was able to score decisive victories against his opponents in Mississippi and Michigan.
But it is becoming increasingly likely that at the end of the primaries, he will not have won enough votes to secure the Republican nomination. The party could then nominate another candidate, even if Trump were to win the most votes.
Consequently, it’s now time for the election math wizards to weigh in. The headlines will be dominated by the question whether it would be better for Marco Rubio to drop out or stay in the race despite a likely defeat in his home state of Florida. Or whether it would hurt Donald Trump even more if John Kasich – who, like Rubio, has no real chance of getting the nomination – remained in the race.
Another question is of course who a potential dark horse candidate could be – a figure who would be able to simultaneously edge out Trump without tearing the party apart.
Next week the primaries continue in Florida, and it certainly looks like we won’t know who the nominees are – even after the next round of primaries.
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