Politics

WHAT ACTUALLY IS THE PROCESS OF IMPEACHMENT?

Before we get started: the only truly funny part about this impeachment is every reputable news outlet having to write a headline like, “The peach emoji isn’t just for butts anymore!” Like I didn’t know that I needed WaPo to write about the “sexy” peach emoji until it did. Just goes to show you.


If you’re anything like me, you’re sick of hearing about impeachment at every hour of every day, but you also can’t get enough of the d-r-a-m-a. And if you’re also like me, you haven’t bothered to research the actual process of impeachment until you decided to write about it for your blog. And if this paragraph applies to you, you need to back off. This is my thing.

As with a lot of things revolving around politics or science or culture or news, you can be an avid news-watcher and get a lot of the “latest” without really ever understanding the background or context.

So what is it?

Impeachment involves the lower house (in this case, the House of Representatives) of a bicameral government bringing forth charges against an elected official for alleged committed “high crimes or misdemeanors.” After that goes through, the impeachment then moves into the upper house (in this case, the U.S. Senate) as a trial, the result of which either finds the aforementioned government official convicted or not, and thus removed from office or not.

Before Trump, there were three instances of impeachment proceedings: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998.

Presidents (as well as other government officials) can be impeached for things that are technically legal. A president does not have to break the law to trigger an impeachment process.

In fact, Alexander Hamilton, in the 65th Federalist paper, identified impeachable offenses as public misconduct, or the abuse/violation of public trust. Essentially, the creators of the impeachment process recognized that even non-criminal activities by the person occupying the highest and most powerful seat in the country could have damaging or negative ramifications.

It’s the same logic as to why if I complained about a Postmates driver stealing my food, no one would care, but when Lizzo complains, that driver gets death threats. People in power have impact that I don’t.

Impeachment does not necessarily mean ‘the removal from office.’ That’s why Trump could possibly be our third impeached president, though none have ever been removed from office. That’s because while the impeachment was approved and moved through the House, the Senate acquitted both President Bill Clinton and President Andrew Johnson via their respective trials.

This happened before?

In 1868, Andrew Johnson was impeached (primarily) for violating the Tenure of Office Act when he removed Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and replaced him with Brevet Major General Lorenzo Thomas. The larger context was the tension between Johnson and Congress over how to incorporate the Confederacy back into the Union, but I’m not your history teacher. Read a book.

Johnson was aquitted in the Senate trial, and set the precedent that Congress cannot remove a president from office because they disagree with his policy, style or administration of office.

The impeachment process began in February 1868 and concluded in May of the same year.

Despite the fact that Richard Nixon’s is the only impeachment process to not result in a Senate trial, his was also the only one to result in a president leaving office. Nixon was not actually impeached.

The process to impeach Nixon started after an investigation into the Watergate scandal (when burglars broke into the Democratic office at Watergate), and the Nixon administration’s attempt to cover up their involvement. The money paid out to the burglars was connected to a fund for Nixon’s re-election; in addition, Nixon and his aides discussed how to delay the FBI’s investigation in the Smoking Gun Tape.

However, impeachment seemed costly, publicly erosive and unpopular until the Saturday Night Massacre on Oct. 20, 1973, when Nixon fired both the attorney general and deputy A.G. for refusing to fire Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. After all three were fired, the desire for impeachment swelled rapidly.

In late July, 1974, the Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment (obstruction of justice, contempt of Congress and abuse of power). By early August, one of the subpoenaed phone call transcripts – the Smoking Gun Tape – had completely destroyed the rest of Nixon’s political goodwill. On the tape, Nixon was heard agreeing that the FBI should be approached to halt the investigation. On August 9, 1974, he resigned from office before the House of Representatives could officially vote on impeachment.

Nixon’s impeachment process started in late October, 1973 and ended with his resignation in August, 1974.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached on two articles (obstruction of justice and lying under oath) after Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, sued the president for sexual harassment. During the Jones suit, Clinton was asked about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and lied under oath.

The Jones suit came when independent counsel Ken Starr, investigating the Clintons for financial dealings with the Whitewater Land Company, learned about Ms. Jones during the investigation. During the investigation, Linda Tripp provided taped conversations between her and then-intern Monica Lewinsky where Lewinsky discussed her relationship with Clinton.

In a January 1998 sworn deposition, after Starr had received the tapes from Linda Tripp, Clinton lied under oath and denied any relationship with Lewinsky. Clinton was impeached in December of 1998 but acquitted in the following Senate trial when neither of his charges received the necessary two-thirds majority to convict.

The impeachment process began in October 1998 and concluded in February of 1999.

What’s the rub, currently?

On September 24, 2019, an impeachment inquiry started after a whistleblower flagged a conversation between U.S. President Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.

During the call, Trump also asked for ‘a favor’ from Zelensky, to investigate the debunked conspiracy that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In the call, Trump brought the conversation to include the actions of Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden who had business in Ukraine, and possibly enlist Zelensky and the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens. In the call, Trump alleged that Joe Biden had stopped prosecution of his son in Ukraine for his involvement in Ukrainian business. There is no evidence of this.

A second whistleblower came forward in early October with ‘first-hand’ knowledge of the Trump-Zelensky call. In the weeks before the call, Trump, through acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, had halted Congress-voted military aid to Ukraine. The first whistleblower also included the (proven to be true) moving of the phone transcript from the routinely used database to one that was much more high-security and typically only used for matters of grave consequence.

Essentially, House Democrats are claiming that Trump used the call, and potentially withheld financial aid to Ukraine, to pressure a foreign power to investigate his political rival.

It should be noted that the Trump administration denied that any pressure was being applied to Ukraine, and that the delayed financial aid was unrelated (that aid has since been given to Ukraine).

As the inquiry advances, more things will probably come out, so I don’t really want to get bogged down with too much detail, but the inquiry has brought Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani (who supposedly acted as an agent of the State Department, according to himself), Giuliani’s now-arrested associates and Attorney General William Barr (who was on the Ukraine call).

Literally, things keep happening.

When talking to reporters on October 3rd (he asked me what day it was, it was October 3rd), Trump said that China should also investigate the Bidens. Trump has made several statements asserting that the impeachment inquiry is a political coup, that the whistleblowers are guilty of treason, and that there was nothing wrong with the call. On the 17th of October, Mulvaney told reporters to ‘get over it,’ when he said, and later walked back, that the military funding had been withheld and then given, but only in relation to the Ukraine-Crowdstrike part of the conversation. Hours later, he said that his remarks had been misconstrued.

If I really went into every detail, I’d drive myself insane. Based on past impeachment processes, we could be at the beginning of a weeks- or months-long process. But now, at least, you know a little bit more.

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2018, Politics, television

SAMANTHA BEE AND THE THEORY OF PUNCHING DOWN

Header: TBS via Vulture

Two things can be true at once: that’s the case when I’m eating McDonald’s (happy and sad), the case for Schrodinger’s Cat (both alive and dead), and it’s the case with Samantha Bee, comedian and host of TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, calling Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, a “feckless c*nt.”

It is completely inappropriate, wildly disastrous to the point Bee was making about the treatment of migrant children, and annoyingly hypocritical of liberals to be more forgiving; it is also, at the same time, categorically different than Roseanne Barr comparing Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to then-President Barack Obama, to an ape. These two things can both be true.

In the outrage news cycle of coverage surrounding Samantha Bee, many conservative pundits are calling for TBS to cancel Bee’s show, citing liberal indignation and demands for cancellation of Roseanne. The ABC reboot was cancelled a few hours later. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders herself called for TBS to cancel the show.

“Her disgusting comments and show are not fit for broadcast,” she said in a statement, “and executives at Time Warner and TBS must demonstrate that such explicit profanity about female members of this administration will not be condoned on its network.”

Re the Roseanne Barr controversy, Trump only commented to say that he was owed an apology by Disney CEO Robert Iger for the “HORRIBLE statements made and said about [him] on ABC.” When asked about Trump’s statement, which focused on himself rather than Barr’s comments, Sanders said, “The president is simply calling out the media bias; no one’s defending what she said.”

Here’s the thing: I hate what Bee said. I really like her show, and I enjoy her as a comedian, so I was disappointed and upset by the words she used. I was watching CNN this morning, anchor Poppy Harlow and CNNMoney Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcey said that Bee’s wording made the story about that, rather than the policy. I agree with that: I think that was probably part of the reason why Bee said it, but I also think that Bee is smart and cutting enough to have made her point without resorting to the c-word.

However, there are several things that separate what Bee said from what Barr said. First, Ivanka Trump works in her father’s White House administration. Several people were calling for Bee to separate the child from the father, but when the child literally works with the father, I don’t think it’s unfair to call her out. Additionally, Ivanka Trump has made the “working mother” her platform, so a policy that brutally separates asylum-seeking migrant mothers from their children would fall under Ms. Trump’s purview.

Secondly, there is the theory in comedy of “punching down” versus “punching up.” When making jokes, “punching down” refers to making fun of people who are more oppressed than you; “punching up” is making fun of people who are more, categorically, powerful than you. Roseanne Barr, a white woman, making fun of Valerie Jarrett, a black woman, using bigoted racial stereotypes is “punching down” because Barr is a racial majority in power and she is using the same logic used to condone slavery to make fun of a racial minority. Samantha Bee, a white woman with a platform, calling Ivanka Trump, another white woman with a platform, a c*nt is not punching down; it’s punching up, or at least punching sideways. Bee, unlike Barr, does not have the continued support of the President of the United States. And if we are to hold people accountable, we need to hold everyone accountable: including the president. Because while liberals can be hypocritical, if you don’t have an issue with the president bragging about grabbing women by the pussy, then why do you have a problem with Samantha Bee?

Thirdly, there is a difference between using a curse word and invoking a racist, bigoted myth used as justification for oppressing an entire race of people.

What Bee did was crass and unfortunate. What Barr did was racist and evocative of horrors that the United States allowed in the not-too-distant past. Lindy West, a contributing columnist for the New York Times, wrote this: “Chattel slavery in America ended 153 years ago. I am only 36 years old, and when my father was born, there were black Americans alive who remembered being the property of white people. Slavery is not our distant past; it is yesterday.” Racism pervades today, arguably as strong as ever. It’s not even hidden anymore; people are openly racist. It’s the reason why, as West points out, Flint, Michigan still does not have clean water; it’s why Trump took such an issue with black players in the NFL peacefully protesting for Black Lives Matter.

Bee made a horrific, rude joke, but it’s not comparable to Roseanne Barr. You can be outraged by what Bee said but still understand that it’s different to Roseanne. Two things can be true at the same time.

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celebrity, Politics, pop culture, social media

BE OUTRAGED ABOUT SEAN SPICER AT THE EMMYS AND ALSO THE GRAHAM-CASSIDY MEASURE, THE NEW ACA REPEAL

If there’s one thing I hate about the media, it’s the voracious rapidity with which one thing becomes a story across every, single outlet and eclipses everything else. So last night, former Press Secretary Sean Spicer made an appearance at the 2017 Emmys, everyone was (rightfully) pissed-off and weirded-out and annoyed at Hollywood. And while it’s important for everyone to express their outrage and disgust, it’s also super-important to keep an eye on everything else going on, like the new ACA repeal – the Graham-Cassidy Measure.

First, the Graham-Cassidy measure. Put together by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the measure would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. It would be a “last-ditch attempt to repeal Obamacare before the GOP’s power to pass heath care legislation through a party-line vote in the Senate expires on Sept. 30,” according to Politico.

Apparently Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is seriously considering putting the bill to a vote, if he can be assured of the support of 50 Republicans in the Senate (the GOP has a majority of 52). Currently they do not have the support of 50 votes, but Graham has publicly begged Trump to support the cause and private rallying has gone on. If passed by the Senate, it would require being approved by the House with no changes – a steep ask.

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Opinion, Politics

FLIP-FLOPS AREN’T JUST FOR YOUR FEET—Trump’s Ever-Changing Positions on DACA and What That Means

Header Source: Wikimedia Commons


In a move that probably caused the simultaneous bursting of a thousand-thousand Republican aneurysms, President Donald Trump took to Twitter more than a week after his administration announced the end of DACA, the Obama-era program that gave temporary two-year work visas to immigrants who came to the country illegally as minors.

“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…..” said Trump in two Tweets. “…They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own – brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security.”

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Essay, Opinion, Politics

KATHY GRIFFIN’S NOT APOLOGIZING ANYMORE, PRESIDENTIALITY AND HIGHER STANDARDS

Header source: Wikimedia Commons

When Trump’s actions are getting increasingly damaging to vulnerable minorities, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine why we should expect people like Kathy Griffin to keep apologizing.


Kathy Griffin, the comedian who faced massive backlash from a May 30th photo she posted of her holding up a mask of President Donald Trump covered in fake blood, styled to look like his decapitated head, is refusing to apologize anymore.

She was the subject of a recent article from The Cut, months after the fallout that cost her 15 live performances, her gig hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcast and an endorsement deal – not to mention the thousands of death threats.

The story, which takes place in late June, opens with a description of Trump’s Twitter rant that day: denouncing Robert Mueller’s investigation, mocking House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and calling Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “Cryin’ Chuck.” The nickname came from Schumer getting emotional when discussing the Trump immigration ban.

“Why are people still expecting me to apologize and grovel to a man that tweets like this?” Griffin “vented” to the piece’s author Bashar Ali. “I’m a comedian; he’s our fucking president.”

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Opinion, Politics

THE PRICE OF POPULARITY IN POLITICS

The members of Congress who have not disavowed Trump are actively cosigning on everything he does.


On Friday, the New York Times news podcast The Daily – posted an episode that centered on Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and his criticism of President Donald Trump, as well as Trump’s open rooting for Flake’s defeat from public office in a 2018 race.

In Trump’s Phoenix rally, he ranted against the state’s two Republican senators – John McCain and Jeff Flake – of course, refusing to mention them by name as an attempt at…coyness? Trump’s anger towards Flake stems from the Arizona senator’s new book, Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle. The book takes aim at the Republican Party with a plea to return to its bedrock politics, which are directly at odds with a Trump presidency.

Because of this, Trump has attacked Flake both in speeches and on Twitter, for being “weak” on immigration and crime, and openly encouraging his defeat at the hands of opponent, Dr. Kelli Ward. Ward is self-identified as standing with Trump and seeking to “make Arizona great again.” Trump also railed against the “one vote” that stopped the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a thinly-veiled attack at John McCain whose vote, alongside Senators Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine), prevented the Senate Republicans from passing the repeal.

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Opinion, Politics

OPINION: WE CAN’T KEEP EXPECTING HILLARY CLINTON TO SAVE US

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She was ready to be our champion, so don’t criticize her because America picked someone else


In a recent interview with Fox & Friends, Kellyanne Conway, advisor to President Trump, had this to say (unpromoted) about Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democrat nominee for President and former New York Senator, after being asked to address those who call Trump mentally unfit:

“Look at the crack-up of the major left. You’ve got Hillary Clinton, who, Democrats are whispering all over this town wish this book [Clinton’s upcoming book What Happened] didn’t happen, that she would just either make herself useful or fade out of the limelight…Where is her bipartisan effort to try to help with infrastructure and meaningful tax reform, or the opioid crisis that I work on in the building behind you every single day? We haven’t heard from her. She failed to make history and she succeeds at making excuses, and that is emblematic of the Democratic Party now that is so bereft of ideas and issues that they have to then play armchair psychiatrists. We’re not going to let it happen; it’s outrageous.”  

There are few people that make me as angry as Kellyanne Conway, the type of person, much like Mike Pence, who would submit people to undeniable tortures and struggles and claim that it was for their own good. I have no doubt that Kellyanne Conway knows how unhinged her president is; I have no doubt that Pence knows his own bigotry towards LGBTQ people and uses religion as a blanket shield. And I have no doubt that they ignore these truths and barrel on in the face of their own interests. Money, power, control.

“Where is Hillary?” Kellyanne wonders, on the opioid crisis, women and children, bipartisan efforts. Well, Kellyanne, she is not president. She does not have to do anything. That Kellyanne would even bring up Hillary’s name, blame her for any inaction or expect her to be spearheading anything is beyond ludicrous, it’s insulting.

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