News & Politics

If Impeaching Trump Is About Preventing Him From Holding Future Office, Why Is Democrat Alcee Hastings So Powerful in the House?

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

To hear Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats explain why they’re still hellbent on impeaching Donald Trump despite the fact that he’s no longer president, they say it’s about what he might do in the future. She and the Democrat caucus wants to make sure he doesn’t hold office again. The media picks up that part of the story frequently.

In near-daily meetings, Democratic impeachment managers and lawyers have been discussing how to best make their case to the narrowly divided Senate — focusing on the seventeen Republicans required to convict Trump and the desire to bar him from seeking office in the future. The vote to bar Trump from holding any elected office would require a simple majority, following a vote to convict from two-thirds of the Senate.

Emphasis added.

Everyone knows they’re not going to get the votes to convict, which makes the vote over holding future office moot. But it’s not even altogether clear that if they did convict, they could hold Trump from holding federal office again.

As evidence, I give you Alcee Hastings.

Hastings was appointed to be a federal judge in 1979. In 1981, he was accused of soliciting bribes and obstructing justice in the trial of an associate.

In 1981, a federal grand jury indicted Judge Alcee L. Hastings, appointed to the federal district court in 1979, along with his friend William A. Borders, a Washington, D.C. lawyer. Hastings was charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice for soliciting a $150,000 bribe in return for reducing the sentences of two mob-connected felons convicted in Hastings’ court. A year after Borders was convicted of conspiracy, the result of an FBI sting effort, Hastings’s case came before the criminal court. Despite Borders’ conviction, and the fact that Hastings had indeed reduced the sentences of the two felons, he was acquitted in a criminal court in 1983 and returned to his judicial post.

Subsequently, suspicions arose that Hastings had lied and falsified evidence during the trial in order to obtain an acquittal. A special committee of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals began a new probe into the Hastings case. The resulting three-year investigation ended with the panel concluding that Hastings did indeed commit perjury, tamper with evidence, and conspire to gain financially by accepting bribes. The panel recommended further action to the U.S. Judicial Conference, which, in turn, informed the House of Representatives on March 17, 1987, that Judge Alcee Hastings should be impeached and removed from office.

He was impeached by the United States House of Representatives and convicted by the Senate. He was kicked out of his judgeship in 1989.

So what happened after Hastings’ shameful episode in which he was convicted of serious criminal corruption in office? Was he tossed out of polite society never to be heard from again? Did the Democrats shun him and prevent him from ever holding federal office again?

Sadly, no. Four years later he ran for the U.S. House — a federal office — from Florida and he won. He joined the House Democratic caucus and is still in the House to this very day.

So to recap, Hastings had a federal office — he was a federal judge, appointed by President Jimmy Carter and confirmed by the Senate. He was impeached and convicted on serious and substantiated charges of public corruption, and he was removed from that office.

The Democrats pretend Hastings was never impeached and have had no problem counting him among their number ever since he won his House seat in 1993, going on 28 years now. He’s not just a rank-and-file member. Hastings is one of the Democrats’ more powerful members.

Seriously.

As Vice-Chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over determining the terms and conditions (known as “special rules” or “rules”) under which legislation is considered, Hastings plays a leading role in moving democratic priorities through the legislative process. The Committee also considers “original jurisdiction” measures, which commonly represent changes to the standing rules of the House, or measures that contain special rules.

As a Senior Democratic Whip, Mr. Hastings continues to be a leading voice in the Democratic Caucus, underscoring his commitment to work closely on a bi-partisan basis with his colleagues in both the House and Senate. He is also Co-Chairman of the Congressional Everglades Caucus. In addition, as Dean and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation, Mr. Hastings works closely with his Florida colleagues on issues of particular importance to the State.

Nobody is forcing the Democrats to make Hastings — a convicted and impeached federal judge — so powerful and influential.

Well, you might say, Hastings’ ethical problems were a long time ago. Perhaps he’s reformed.

Or, perhaps he’s the same corruptocrat he always was. This story is from the dark ages of…2019.

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., who is facing a House ethics probe for engaging in a relationship with a subordinate staff member, has been paying his girlfriend the highest salary among his staffers for nearly a decade, according to House disbursement records.

Patricia Williams, Hastings’ girlfriend of at least 25 years, has been a congressional staffer in his office for 27 years, Hastings has said in press reports. Library of Congress records show that Williams was an aide to Hastings from 2002 to 2006, before transitioning into her role as deputy district director, which she held from 2006 to 2018. She is now the district director.

Hastings, who makes $174,000 a year as a congressman, paid Williams $168,411 in 2018, the maximum congressional staff salary. That was more than Hastings’ chief of staff at the time, Arthur W. Kennedy, made despite being Williams’ boss. Kennedy received a salary of $166,978 that year.

There’s more.

Hastings also employs Williams’ daughter in his Broward County, Florida, office, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Who does this guy think he is, Ilhan Omar?

Nobody is forcing Pelosi to accept Hastings into the Democrat caucus and make him so powerful. Nobody is forcing the Democrats to keep Rep. Eric Swalwell, who may be compromised by his former relationship with an alleged Chinese spy, on the House Intelligence Committee. Pelosi stands by both of them and says nothing about Omar’s many ethical issues.

Going by the evidence, the Pelosi Democrats really don’t care about public corruption at all. They don’t even care about keeping up the appearance of a tight ethical ship.

They care about power. And they still fear Donald Trump. They’ve impeached  — twice! — because they’re scared of him.

They’re probably not self-aware enough to know that their fear, manifested in this show trial they’re putting the country through, is likely to make him stronger — especially after that TIME article.

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