This piece is running in newspapers in my very red congressional district (VA-06).
Trump supporters: Uncle Sam needs you.
If one could count on politicians to honor their oath of office, regardless of the consequences for their own political futures, you’d be off the hook. But despite the fact that an oath is supposed to be a solemn promise to be fulfilled regardless of the costs, politicians willing to sacrifice themselves in order to honor their oath are considered “profiles in courage,” and they are rare.
So here we are:
- America’s constitutional order is now more profoundly threatened than it has been for a century and a half;
- Only Congress has the constitutional authority to deal with such a threat;
- Congress is controlled by a party the majority of whose voters either are unaware of this threat, or do not care about protecting the Constitution.
The idea that Trump’s presidency is seriously challenging the constitutional order is not “fake news.” The increasingly fleshed out picture of these threats may not be visible on Fox News, but it is nonetheless growing clearer by the day right in front of our eyes.
Leave aside the unacceptable threats merely implied by this president challenging the legitimacy of the judicial branch of government (“so-called judge”) and the legitimate role of the free press enshrined in the Constitution (“enemy of the people,” “fake news,” “terrible people”). Although it is clear that these are part of this president’s strategy to weaken other sources of power and information in our founders’ system of checks and balances, the president, too, has a right to free speech, even irresponsible speech.
But there are two other areas that – with every passing week — appear increasingly likely to have crossed the line into the kind of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that, if verified by investigation, would call for impeachment.
First, there is increasing evidence that Trump is unconstitutionally using the presidency to increase his private riches.
As the first president in generations to refuse to divest himself or to make public his financial interests (through releasing his tax returns), Mr. Trump has blocked the public’s ability to see all his conflicts of interest. But despite Trump’s obfuscation, evidence is accumulating that suggest that major nations – like China and Russia — are using Trump’s private interests to curry favor with him in his public role as president, making payoffs to Trump and his family.
In this, Trump appears to be flagrantly violating an explicit clause in the Constitution – the emoluments clause. Unless Congress acts, such violations will be allowed to stand. But the only “action” the Republican-controlled Congress has taken so far, on this apparent violation, is to help Trump keep his finances hidden.
Still more disturbing is the mounting evidence that Trump and his people likely worked with the Russians to interfere in the 2016 election. We know that the Russians sought to help Trump become president, and we are learning more every day of the pattern of contact between the Russians and Trump’s inner circle during the campaign and since. And we know that, tellingly, two of Trump’s main lieutenants – Flynn and Sessions – have lied about such contacts.
Now, evidence is accumulating that Trump and his people have pursued policies that serve Putin’s Russia, while being injurious to American interests and values.
What an irony: that the billionaire President who boldly proclaimed he’d put “America first” appears to be selling America out in order to enrich himself still further, and to give aid and comfort to a regime in Russia that clearly wishes the United States ill.
As one who follows this news closely, I feel confident that the evidence already available – although largely circumstantial – would be enough to get an indictment under normal criminal law.
But dealing with a president is a matter of the highest seriousness. The situation clearly calls either for a Special Prosecutor or for a thorough and impartial investigation by Congress.
Which brings us to the importance of Trump’s supporters in the American electorate.
No Republican in Congress wants to run afoul of the voters he/she will need for re-election. So long as a large proportion of the Republican electorate supports this president, the Republican Congress may choose to drag its feet or just go through the motions.
That’s why the protection of the gift our founders gave us may depend upon you, the Trump supporters, to support our getting to the truth about this worrisome picture. Tell your representatives: “We will not punish you for honoring your oath of office.”