Legal Speaks Home Debbie Hines Bio Blog TV Clips Practice Areas Res Ipsa Loquitur Links Contact
Blog Home

Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Time to Begin the Process to Pull the Plug on Trump

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017
Donald Trump, Public Domain

Donald Trump, Public Domain

 

 

The latest news surrounding Donald Trump has some persons calling for impeachment, removal or resignation of Trump as president.  In a memo made by then FBI Director James Comey, Trump allegedly asked Comey if he would end the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. It was allegedly made the day after Flynn resigned. Comey declined.  The issue is whether this request, if proven to be true, should be considered obstruction of justice and if so, what remedies exist.

 

Obstruction of justice is a federal statute that makes it unlawful to corruptly obstruct, influence or impede an official proceeding.  There are several key elements to proving the crime.  First, there must be an intent on the part of the person to specifically obstruct, influence or impede. The party must be aware that an investigation or proceeding exists. And the action must be one that attempts to obstruct, influence or impede.  In looking at the totality of the circumstances surrounding what is being alleged by former FBI Director James Comey, it appears that all criteria have been met.

 

The memo of Comey does not stand alone in a vacuum. Putting together the pieces of the puzzle is an easy one. First, there was a dinner meeting at the White House where Comey asserts that Trump allegedly asked him to pledge his loyalty to the President. According to Comey, he declined to pledge his allegiance to Trump.  Now there’s the Comey memo asserting that Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation against Michael Flynn.  Comey continued with the investigation. And of course, Comey was fired by Trump.  If a sitting president, having the power to end one’s career or position makes the request that Trump allegedly made, it would indicate that all criteria of the federal obstruction of justice statute have been met.  But that doesn’t end the matter.

 

Donald Trump is the sitting president of the U.S. with certain protections against criminal prosecution.  The Supreme Court has not ruled whether a sitting president can be charged with a federal crime in lieu of impeachment.  If any other politician had done the alleged actions, he or she would likely be facing a criminal indictment by a Grand Jury shortly.  But the President of the United States’ removal is based on impeachment or use of the 25th amendment under the Constitution.

 

Impeachment proceedings, as were done in the case of former President Bill Clinton, must be started with a majority of the House and then a full trial in the Senate with 2/3 members of the Senate in support.  With the GOP controlled House and Senate, impeachment is an option but a political one. And unfortunately, it’s still too soon to know if enough Republican law makers will pull the plug on their President. My mother used to have a saying that if you make your bed hard, you must lay in it. And Republicans may still prefer to lay in their bed with Trump, instead of formal impeachment charges.

 

The other method to oust a sitting president is found in Section 4 of the 25th amendment of the U. S. Constitution which states that a president may be removed if he or she is found unable to serve or to discharge one’s duties.  This option has never been used and likely won’t be used in Trump’s case—under our present circumstances. And it requires a 2/3 majority in the House and Senate to permanently remove a president.

 

We have likely only hit the tip of the iceberg here. And that’s where an independent commission or special prosecutor is needed.  At this point with Trump potentially asking officials to end investigations, we need a special prosecutor who can dig deep without fear of reprisal, recusal or removal.

 

And speaking of removal, the last method might be the president’s resignation. That would require many Republican leaders to convince Trump that he can’t continue to serve. Whichever method is considered, it won’t be an easy or quick fix.  Speaker Paul Ryan states he still has “confidence” in Trump, despite the newest allegations.  I suspect some Republicans are likely going through the five stages of grieving which are denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance.

 

One thing is for sure. More Republicans will be getting out of bed with Trump and saying enough is enough.

Debbie Hines appears on WUSA 9 with Bruce Johnson on May 17, 2017 to discuss Trump, Comey and special prosecutor:

http://www.wusa9.com/opinion/editorials/off-script/-offscripton9-can-trump-be-impeached-over-comey-memo-/440628580 

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former Baltimore prosecutor.

Comey, Trump and Our Constitutional Crisis

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Comey’s Firing and the Lingering Constitutional Crisis

AmericanflagDonald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey for what might appear to be Comey’s reluctance to end the Trump Russian collusion investigation and/or pledge loyalty to the President. Before being fired, Comey had asked for additional funds to investigate any Russian collusion with the 2016 presidential election. Instead of more funds, he was fired.

The reasons keep changing as to the reasons for the firing. At first, Trump stated he relied on the letters and memorandum of Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Nominee Rod Rosenstein which discussed Comey’s performance and duties. Attorney General Sessions, as many may recall, stated that he recused himself from the Russian collusion investigation over one month ago, due to his conflict of interest. Yet, he re-entered the investigation to weigh in on Comey’s performance into Russiangate. It’s as if the Trump administration violates its own rules whenever it deems necessary.

Trump later stated he intended to fire Comey all along due to how badly he treated Hillary Clinton. And within days after being sworn into office, Trump now alleges that he met with and dined with James Comey and asked if he was the target of the investigation. Trump insists that Director Comey advised that Trump was not being investigated. As the world turns, the facts change.

The legal issues involved are so immense in this scenario. If Trump intended to politically pressure Comey to end an ongoing investigation of any Russian involvement and/or involvement with the Trump administration, then a charge of obstruction of justice to impede an ongoing investigation might be warranted.

And meanwhile as the Comey firing issue was being discussed and dissected by the media, Trump was meeting with Russian officials at the White House with only Russian photographers present. All U.S. media were excluded by the President. It is as if this President is snubbing all rules of law, protocol, hijacking the U. S. for his own purposes and acting as the chief CEO of the U.S, in the process.

Meanwhile, the investigative process continues into the issue of Russian influence in the 2016 election. Without a FBI director, the investigation will continue despite Trump’s desires to the contrary. However, an independent special prosecutor needs to be appointed to avoid even the appearance of the ongoing impropriety. However, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejects the call for a special prosecutor. One must wonder if he has any involvement with Russiangate.

The real issue is whether we as American citizens and our lawmakers will continue to allow Trump to take us down the very dark abyss that he is leading us into. The task is not just for the FBI to investigate but for the many Americans who see democracy slipping from our grips to actively protest, resist, contact law makers and urge action to be taken. There comes a time when going down a slippery slope becomes impossible to climb back up. And we are inching towards the fall into the darkness. Democracy is not slipping away in darkness. It is occurring right before our eyes.

Please watch my discussion on the Bill Press Show on May 11, 2017 for a more detailed analysis at 38:00 min mark:

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor. She often appears on MSNBC, CBS News, PBS, Al Jazeera and Fox 5 DC.

I Marched the DC Women’s March in Honor of My Mother

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

 

Naomi HinesI was one of the more than 500,000 persons attending the DC Women’s March.  For me, the March was personal in honor of my mother, Naomi.

 

My mom was born in Mt.  Gilead, NC, a small town of less than 1500 persons in rural North Carolina.  Growing up in the Jim Crow South, she longed for a better life as discrimination was rampant and the way of life there. Like so many Blacks living in the south during that era, she, as a young woman, migrated north, first to Buffalo, NY and later to Baltimore.  During her lifetime, she experienced various forms of discrimination such as not being able to shop in stores due to the color of her skin, sit and eat in at many restaurants, live in many areas of Baltimore City, purchase homes in certain areas due to restrictive covenants preventing Blacks from living and buying homes in some areas.  And this was after she moved to Baltimore.

 

My mother fought for many health care reforms as an employee and later as a retiree of the Baltimore City Health Department.  Although, she on religious grounds did not support abortion for herself; she supported every women’s right to choose.  And she was instrumental in getting a health care clinic built in our community. She was a staunch supporter of her union, knowing that unions make life better for working Americans.

 

And she knew that education was key and crucial for her children who attended public schools and later obtained college degrees.   She and my father never failed to attend and become active in PTA meetings and our school events. Although my mother never mentioned the word “disability” in relationship to herself, she was born with an obvious physical disability.

 

When I saw many of the signs during the Women’s March supporting Planned Parenthood, the right to choose, unions,  women in wheel chairs  moving along the course during  march,  I felt like my mother was there with me in spirit.  One sign in particular reminded me of my mother. Growing up, at times when we misbehaved, she would say, “I brought you in this world and I’ll take you out.”  And one sign I saw online was a twist on her words, “Vaginas brought you in this world and vaginas will vote you out.”

 

All that my mother fought for during her lifetime is now in jeopardy with the Trump Administration.  We are facing possible setbacks in all areas of women’s rights including in areas of health, education, housing, civil rights, workers’ rights, disability rights and voting rights, to name a few.  And for those who say, we should take a wait and see approach to Donald Trump’s administration, I say that we cannot wait to take action.  And that’s why the more than 500,000 women marched in DC and many millions more marched in solidarity across the country and around the world.

 

The lyrics of the old gospel song state, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around applies to the new Trump era.  My mother lived to see many changes in her life that afforded me the many opportunities I now possess.  And on my watch, I will do all that I can to resist any efforts to turn around our rights.   I owe it to my mother who showed me the way.

 

 

DebbieFox5DC2017

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal and political commentator and former Baltimore City prosecutor.  She often appears on MSNBC, PBS, CBS, Al Jazeera and Fox 5 DC among others. Her op-ed writings appear in the Huffington Post, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Baltimore Afro American.

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 2017 Trump Era

Monday, January 16th, 2017

MLKMonumentOn December 31, 2016, I attended a watch night church service where Rev. Dr. William Barber led the service. During the service, I heard a rousing account from singer, activist and song writer Joan Baez about an event with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It bears relevance for today. Baez tells a story from when she was traveling with Dr. King and he fell asleep, making him very late for a speech.  The other ministers and activists could not wake him.  They asked Joan Baez to go in into the bedroom and sing a song to Dr. King.  As Baez finished her song, “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, Dr. King raised his voice and said, “Joan, sing another one”.   Today we need to waken the inner voice of Dr. King to fight the battles that lay ahead of us with the new Trump Administration.

 

As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King on his holiday and birthday, we are reminded, as King once wrote from his jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  And we see that even before Donald Trump’s inauguration, there are many new injustices facing the nation and affecting the world.  There are battles once fought that we must now fight again. As we see a new era with justice being dismantled for immigrants, women, people of color, LGBTQ community, civil rights and civil liberties being taken away, the Voting Rights Act being diminished, health care rights being challenged, religious freedoms at risk, sexism, racism and xenophobia on the rise, we must channel our collective inner Dr. King to rise from a sleeping bed.

 

It is not enough to quote Dr. King’s speeches on his birthday and watch his clips on TV, one day of the year.  Those of us who demand justice must now all rise to the occasion and continue the fight that Dr. King started.  And we must fight not on one day but every day. With the Republicans holding the three branches of government, House, Senate and Executive with the ability to forge a new Supreme Court era, the battle will not be easy.   As President Obama said in his farewell speech, change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.

 

And we must think beyond the norm, for the times coming ahead are anything but normal.  Rep. John Lewis, (D. GA.) the only remaining living person who spoke on the stage with Dr. King at the 1963 March on Washington, does not believe that Trump is a “legitimate president” as the Russians illegally engaged in the electoral process of this country.  Despite Donald Trump’s assertions that John Lewis is all talk, John Lewis’ record speaks for itself. And the intelligence data obtained by our various intelligence agencies express a real threat to our Democracy due to Russian hacking affecting the legitimacy of our incoming President.

 

As we go forth to remember Dr. King, we must now more than ever, be reminded that history repeats itself, if we allow it.  Everyone who respects and loves Democracy and justice must wake up from their slumber and stay woke.

 

Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal commentator and former Baltimore City prosecutor who appears on CBS, MSNBC, PBS, Al Jazeera, Fox 5 DC, BET, among others. Her op-ed articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Huffington Post and Baltimore Afro.

debbie-hines-reel-2015

 

 

 

 

The Trump Era and Justice for People of Color

Monday, December 5th, 2016

President Elect Donald Trump has nominated Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as his pick for Attorney General of the U.S. Sessions is a lightning bolt for anything related to civil rights and justice for people of color. Much of the progress seen in the Eric Holder era and now Loretta Lynch era may likely soon be erased with a much darker side taking its place. The prior history of Sessions speaking out in support of the Klu Klux Klan (“KKK”) in the past years, is troubling for civil rights advancement.

Some of the areas at risk are police consent decrees, federal police lawsuits for excessive force and death of unarmed individuals, immigration legislation deferring deportation of “Dreamers”, reduction of mandatory minimums, Voting Rights legislation, federal lawsuits opposing voter disenfranchisement and the Civil rights Division, itself. Sessions favors increasing the prison population. Former Attorney General Eric Holder favored decreasing the prison population by reducing non-violent drug sentences and reducing mandatory minimums. Sessions opposes reducing sentences, even if non-violent. Sessions is in favor of increased surveillance without the need for a search warrant. Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was notoriously known for wiring taping civil rights activists, Martin Luther King and anyone that deemed to speak out in favor of civil rights. And Donald Trump has previously stated he favors stop and frisk laws which were previously held unconstitutional.

Justice is at risk in the Trump era.

On the Bill Press show on December 1, I elaborate on the ways a Trump era Department of Justice may be a major setback for justice and civil rights for people of color.

Listen and Watch Here:

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former Baltimore prosecutor. She often appears on MSNBC, PBS, CBS, Al Jazeera, BET and Fox 5 DC.

Trump, Kim Kardashian and White Women Voters Who Love Them

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
Kim Kardashian via Instagram

Kim Kardashian via Instagram

In the one week since the historic election of Donald Trump, I like many others have been left wondering why or how the era of Donald Trump arrived.  And just one way to look at it is from the face of the most popular reality show—Keeping Up with the Kardashians and white women voters.  At least 53% of white women voters voted for President-elect Trump; whereas 94% of African American women voted for Hillary Clinton.  And 68% of Latino women voted for Clinton. This begs the question as to why there is such a great disparity between white women and women of color voters.

 

For white women voters, it is not so easy just to analyze them solely on the theory of the economy and the rural areas of the country—middle America doing poorly in relation to other parts of the country. One factor, not addressed before, is the Kim Kardashian reality show factor.  Kim Kardashian and the Kardashians are followed by many white women.  I don’t honestly know many black women who look up to Kim Kardashian or keep up with any of the Kardashians. There is a large segment of white women who follow the Kardashians. By way of background, the Kardashian factor came into popularity upon a 2003 leaked sex tape with Kim Kardashian and singer Ray J in 2007. It propelled her and her family members into almost instant success when their reality show began later in 2007—and hasn’t stopped since then.

 

 

Hillary Clinton and Democrats spoke of Donald Trump’s lewd 2005 sexist statements with Billy Bush, those about grabbing pu- –y anytime he wanted, his comments about Rosie O’Donnell being fat and ugly, ditto about a former Ms. Universe, in an attempt to resonate with women voters.   Some online supporters of Hillary Clinton posted nude modeling photographs of Melania Trump posing with nude women before her marriage. The obvious attempt was to compare Melania Trump’s image to that of Michelle Obama.  And another reason was to malign Melania Trump as a potential First Lady.

 

And here’s where the Kim Kardashian effect comes into play.  Any attempt at shaming Donald Trump  on his sexist remarks  or body shaming his wife  failed with some white women voters.  There was an overall  disconnect with the segment of white women voters who faithfully follow Kim Kardashian either on air, on Twitter with  her 47 million followers,  Instagram with 78 million followers or Snapchat. Kim Kardashian, a married mother of two children, constantly posts selfies of her almost and sometimes naked body in an attempt to “break the Internet”.

 

Reality shows have become a way of life for many TV watching persons.  I would surmise that more people faithfully watch reality shows that the news driven media.  Next time, a reality star runs for any office, national or local, or for that matter any political candidate, it would make sense for candidates, pollsters and political scientists to research reality shows and their effect on the population. It will give a glimpse into how our reality show driven nation and its voters will vote and why.  Those Kim Kardashian supporters could likely care less about Trump’s sexist remarks or nude photos of Melania  Trump as  many voted for Donald Trump.

 

 

Unfortunately, there is no reality in Trump’s Apprentice show or Keeping Up with the Kardashians.  There are only real life consequences for actions taken by the future President. If Hillary Clinton had appeared on Keeping Up with the Kardashians and been endorsed by Kim Kardashian, she might have won the white women vote—and maybe the election.

 

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former Baltimore prosecutor.  She frequently appears on air on MSNBC, Al Jazeera, BET, CBS, Fox 5 DC, PBS among others. Her op-ed articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Huffington Post and Baltimore Sun.