Home National Politics Bob Goodlatte’s Violation of His Oath of Office

Bob Goodlatte’s Violation of His Oath of Office


This is running in several newspapers in VA-06.


In early April, I issued a public challenge to Bob Goodlatte to debate me on the proposition:

The American people have probable cause to believe that President Trump represents a threat to our constitutional order.

Goodlatte is not only our representative in Congress (and not only someone I debated three times during the 2012 election campaign). He is also the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, a position that carries great responsibilities in times like these. Because it is there, in that Committee, that inquiry into possible impeachable offenses is supposed to begin.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Goodlatte never responded to me. It’s not surprising because any congressman who is making news for avoiding his constituents, as Goodlatte is, is hardly likely to agree to a public forum in which his failure to honor his sworn oath to “protect and defend the Constitution” will be exposed.

Goodlatte did give a reply of sorts when pressed by the media, but it was wholly non-responsive. It failed even to mention either of the two crucial matters I was raising– ignoring both the issue of possible (or even probable) impeachable offenses committed by President Trump, and the issue of what Mr. Goodlatte’s oath of office requires of him in this situation.

Anyone attentive to the news should know: there are good reasons to believe that President Trump has violated the constitutional system our founders gave us.

One good reason concerns financial corruption, and in particular the “emoluments clause” of the Constitution. Just on the evidence already before our eyes, there are strong reasons to suspect the president is sacrificing the interests of the United States in favor of his own private financial gain.

The second matter is, if anything, even more significant: the possible collusion by Mr. Trump and his inner circle with Russia — i.e. with a nation hostile to the United States — to tilt the presidential election of 2016. (The integrity of our elections is, of course, at the heart of our constitutional system.) The evidence for such collusion is already substantial, and growing.

This is not a small matter, and in my challenge to Goodlatte I already indicated that I would not let it drop. I declared that if he neither agreed to debate me, nor publicly agreed with the above proposition, nor began appropriate hearings in the House Judiciary Committee, I would proceed to issue another challenge.

This challenge would be to the Republican’s 6th District Committee, and it would be for them to designate any person of their choice to debate me on the proposition:

Representative Bob Goodlatte is violating his oath of office to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

I have now issued that challenge. In a letter sent to the Chair of that Committee, Scott Sayre of Rockbridge County, I propose that the debate take place in the Board of Supervisors’ room in the Rockingham County Government Building, 20 East Gay Street in Harrisonburg, at 7:30 on Thursday evening, May 11.

If they send no one, I will present my position to the assembled members of the public and the media who have come to witness the event.

An oath is supposed to be an absolute commitment. Not “if it’s convenient.” Not “if it’s compatible with my political ambitions.” But “no matter what.” That’s why our founders put that oath into the Constitution itself.

A lack of absolute proof of guilt is no excuse for inaction. At the time of Watergate, back in 1973-74, the House Judiciary Committee began its investigations before it had evidence directly connecting President Nixon with the crimes that had been committed. It was the Committee’s investigation that uncovered that evidence.

Investigation comes first. A bill of impeachment – if it proves warranted after the facts have been discovered – is the final step the House would take.

It is the Committee Rep. Goodlatte leads whose responsibility it is to begin the appropriate investigations into these possible – even probable – impeachable offenses. (That’s not the job of FBI or the Intelligence Committees: they have different agendas to match their different responsibilities.)

The Republican Party has long postured about caring about the Constitution. But the Republicans in Congress are revealing that to be mere hypocrisy. With few exceptions, they are choosing to protect the president and not the Constitution they’ve sworn to defend.

We have seen how the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee – Rep. Kevin Nunes – has compromised himself in just that way. Nunes is now the object of investigation by the House Ethics Committee. It now appears that the Republican Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee – Sen. Richard Burr — is similarly stonewalling any progress on that investigation.

It is time now to shine the spotlight similarly on Rep. Goodlatte, who at a time of genuine crisis for American democracy, is likewise putting loyalty to Party ahead of loyalty to America.

Over the generations, Americans have died to protect the constitutional system our Founders gave us. No real patriot should stand by and allow that system to be degraded and dismantled by those the public have entrusted with the task of protecting it.






  • RobertColgan

    There is SO much about this administration that defies Constitutional order……..
    nearly every Republican in Congress could be said to be in collusion with those backing moneyed corporate and private powers whose primary meaning to Congresspersons is self-enrichment. Growing fat at the public’s expense.

    Deregulating safeguarding protections for the environment (air, water, soil), for the health and well-being of the citizenry, for education, for economic stability, for infrastructure ——-for the safety of every American, and by extension for everyone in the world——– goes well beyond insult to Constitutional mandate:
    “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

    George W Bush wasn’t referring to people in foreign lands when he made that malaprop———- he meant anyone intending harm….AND, he rightfully included his colleagues in Congress. His subconscious mind told the truth.

    Would that it were only a member of the Judiciary Committee….or this or that Cabinet person——but across the board what we have right now is collective will by the members of the Executive and Legislative branches of government to do what looks best for themselves….and not give a damn about the effects on everyone else.

    It seems the major and overriding problem with DC: the sense of entitlement/right to self aggrandizement/greed in its purest form that ultimately infects even morally sound and grounded people if they stay too long in that miasma has been given the Green Light by the mercenary machinations of narcissist Trump.
    Congress’ own protective regulations against ethics violations have been loosened, if not removed—–and for them, whatever works to insure their OWN agenda….is the current Good.

    Goodlatte isn’t singularly evil in this—merely a cog in a much larger assembly of parts working against the best interests of constituents in a representative republic by ignoring common sense and best practices—
    But they ALL need to be called out for what they are doing.
    Nothing will change until the mentality of having that Green Light has been altered….an alteration it appears Congress hasn’t the ability to self-impose.

    Kudos to you, Mr. Schmookler !!
    Don’t ever stop fighting for what’s right.

  • Andy Schmookler

    Now I’m pushing Senator Warner, in another piece– but with the same goal in mind, which is to fight to protect our democracy from being damaged. Maybe a good PR person would be able to sell me, with enhanced credibility because he fights for the same thing — to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States in view of what we know and what we suspect about Trump and the Russians.

    Going after a Republican and a Democrat helps underscore the non-partisan nature of the battle against what Trump is doing to the country.

    The partisan issues have become almost secondary, for we are talking here about a whole amoral spirit, that seemed to be open to making common cause with a powerful adversary for help in becoming president.

    We are talking about law and treason and greed and utter irresponsibility. We are talking about the one thing that our Founders requited of those elected to public office: to protect and defend the Constitution. If what looks true about Trump and the Russians proves to be true, what would that mean to the state of the Constitution that such a man be President of the United States, having got there with such a wholly unconscionable alliance with the enemy.

    This also could provide a means of bringing in his attacks on the press and on the independent judiciary. While they may not be “crimes” in themselves, they are clearly attacks on our constitutional system. They show a “pattern of conduct” that reveals how little respect he has for the Constitution that the founders required he take an oath to protect and defend.

    If Trump did collude with the Russians, we see a dangerous pattern of behavior that clearly calls for impeachment. No American president has behaved with such reckless disregard for the constitutional system as Donald Trump. Trump does not have an attitude of obedience toward anything. He is utterly defiant of being limited by any shoulds or norms or laws or even the Constitution.