We must ask more why questions

We have a national security issue which is right in front of us. I sent the following to my Congressman and select Senstors. Please feel free to use and adapt.

We are not asking enough why questions.
– why is the president running a shadow diplomacy with Rudy Guiliani, who has not been vetted by the Senate?
– why does the president ignore the seasoned diplomats and intelligence officials to chase conspiracy theories postulated by editorialists on Fox?
– why are diligent, experienced, courageous and honorable public servants focusing on helping Ukraine gain better footing, when the president is so focused on his campaign?
– why is there obstruction of documents and witnesses? The president cries foul, but he is blocking witnesses. He can’t have it both ways.

As an independent and former Republican voter, I am deeply concerned by what has transpired in the White House with Ukraine. I am also concerned by an over zealous protection of someone who needs greater scrutiny, not less. I fully support the impeachment hearings. What witnesses are testifying under oath at great risk is very troubling.

It is also troubling that Devin Nunes is leading the GOP efforts. He cited on Thursday a partisan report that GOP Senator Richard Burr asked Nunes and Speaker Paul Ryan not to release as his Senate committee did not agree with its conclusions. Plus, we cannot forget that he had to step down as Chair of this committee as he informed the White House what they were investigating. So, I must confess I feel he lacks credibility and that is unfortunate.

Help us Americans get to the bottom of this.

Follow process on justice nominee

Any time legislators or the executive branch do not follow normal processes, take it to the bank, it is political. Currently Senate Democrats are debating whether to fight the nominee for the Supreme Court. My advice is to conduct due diligence as you are supposed to without preconceived notions. If the nominee does not meet your approval, do not vote for him. But, also look down the finalist list and know none of the nominees will be perfectly meet your needs. So, the Democrats need to come to grips with one of the candidates.

Scrolling back two years to Obama’s final year, I also find fault with what the Senate Republicans did by refusing to have a vote on the President’s nominee This was highly inappropriate and violated normal process. All the rationalization in the world does not detract that normal process was not followed and this was an injustice.

I also think going from a need for 60 votes to a simple majority last year on judicial nominees was a poor move. It prevents a more reasonable candidate being offered. Now, a majority party can push through a more strident nominee. I can assure you the GOP will complain when a Democrat majority does the same. At the end of the day, I want thoughtful jurisprudence sans political viewpoints.

But, it is not just judicial nominees. One of the more egregious violations occurred earlier this year when the House Intelligence Committee did not allow the customary annual briefing from the intelligence agencies as did the Senate counterpart. Congressman Devin Nunes, the chair, has made this Committee hyperpartisan to support the President in his claims of a witchhunt. His unethical leadership of the Committee has been so egregious, Republican Senator Richard Burr, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, broached his concerns with Speaker Paul Ryan.

It should be noted the Senate report on Russian meddling agreed with the findings of the Intelligence leaders that Russia did attempt to influence the election in an effort to abet the current President. The hyperpartisan House produced two separate reports, which again is not normal process.

So, normal process is important to guard against partisan politics. Both sides have been partisan and violated this covenant. As an American citizen, I find fault with either party when they do not do what they are supposed to do. It harms our democracy.

Ain’t no witch hunt, but this witch better watch out for falling houses

President Richard Nixon resigned in August, 1974 because his Republican confidantes said he would be otherwise impeached. He said two things over and over before his demise. The first was “I am not a crook.” He was. The second was to refer to the Watergate investigations as a “witch hunt.” They were not.

President Trump uses the same second phrase over and over again, with his confidantes, sycophants and subordinates echoing the line. The Russian thing is a “witch hunt” or it is a “Russian witch hunt.” As with Nixon, this is not a witch hunt. Robert Mueller has indicted thirteen Russians and five people, four of whom have some relationship to Donald Trump. Three of the four have confessed to lying to the FBI, with one serving jail time. The most egregious offender per the indictments thus far, will stand trial.

But, as we consider the thirteen Russians indicted, help me understand that if this was a witch hunt, why did the US government include those thirteen people in specific sanctions when the President finally succumbed to pressure to act? Call me crazy, but that seems to be a direct admission by this administration that Russian meddling occurred. So, how could that be a witch hunt?

One of the sad truths about what is transpiring is the House Intelligence Committee making intelligence gathering political. The leader of this committee, Congressman Devin Nunes, has done several unethical things and had to step aside for awhile as one action was investigated as a breach. While cleared of wrongdoing, it did not erase the lack of ethics in the first of several questionable actions by Nunes to mask the truth.

His lack of ethics was the subject of a conversation between Senator Richard Burr, the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committee and Speaker Paul Ryan. Burr told Ryan his committee did not support the conclusions or the release of the famous Nunes’ memo on a report he never read. Burr also said that Nunes had defamed with false accusations another Senator who happened to be a Democrat.

Yet, the purpose of Nunes’ politically partisan efforts was to give the President a prop to waive and tweet about. Fortunately, the Senate committee has been far more thorough and bipartisan. And, the Senate Judiciary committee has passed a bipartisan bill to give a fair hearing to Robert Mueller if he is fired by this President. It is sad the Mitch McConnell won’t bring this bill to the floor for a vote, which is highly political as well.

But, the one clear action of the President over the last sixteen months is to consistently change his story about things related to the Russian meddling. Why? Quoting Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy, “if the President is innocent, it would help his case of he acted like it.” Gowdy answers his own statement in the first part of the phrase.

Just paying attention to this issue and what the President and his confidantes have said, I see a man who is guilty of obstruction of justice at a minimum. His own words and changing story to as late as yesterday indicate this. I see a man, at a minimum, who is an unwitting participant in Russian meddling, so says a CIA agent who testified in front of Congress. Yet, I will not be surprised if he is guilty of worse. A man who cares about his image and what people think of him would be interested in what was going on around him to get elected. Plus, there are those many financial relationships between Trump and Russian investors.

So, this is not a witch hunt. The FBI and Justice Department are not the bad guys. I find Trump’s attack on honorable law enforcement people a disgrace. But, I will say, if someone has done witchy things like this President does and appears to have done, he may want to watch out for falling houses.