Presenting here one important foundation-stone for my campaign to move the Democrats toward dealing more effectively with the Trump Crisis.
The situation we’re in I see as follows:
- the “Trump Crisis” represents the greatest threat to the American constitutional order since the Civil War,
- which makes the impeachment of Donald Trump a virtual necessity– required to protect the nation, and to fulfill the oath of office every member of Congress has taken– and also good politics; which means that
- the Democrats in the House under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi are on a disastrously wrong course– for the nation and for themselves.
Being convinced of all that (and believing that my many years of studying the unfolding of the crisis, into which –starting in 2004 — I’ve watched this nation descending ever-deeper, have given me a clear perception of the dynamics and the stakes in this Trump crisis), I’m embarked on a campaign to persuade all I can reach to join in pressing for the Democrats to fight the necessary fight.
What follows here is one essential component of the case, one to which I expect to be referring frequently in the course of that campaign.
That “essential component” is a picture of Trump as someone who needs to be impeached not just because he has committed a few particular “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but still more urgently as someone who has demonstrated complete contempt for the Constitution and the law, and thus someone whose wielding of the great powers of the Presidency poses a clear and present danger to the very foundations of American democracy.
Here is a partial list of the diverse ways in which Trump has demonstrated that contempt.
- the obstruction of justice described in the Mueller Report;
- violations of campaign laws in coordinating with Russians attacking the American election to help Trump win (see “Mueller Missed the Crime” by constitutional scholar Jed Shugerman on Mueller’s failure to see how what he described constitutes a crime);
- the violations of the Emoluments Clause;
- the usurpation of the Congress’s power to decide what will be spent for which purpose (the Wall funding);
- the usurpation of the Congress’s power over tariffs (bogus declaration of Canada as a “national security threat”);
- the across-the-board defiance of congressional subpoenas, and general denial of Congress’s constitutional authority and responsibility to conduct oversight of the executive branch;
- the specific violation of the clear legal obligation of the executive branch to turn over any tax return requested by the congressional authorities designated in clear black-letter law;
- the violation of the federal laws regarding asylum seekers;
- the abuse of the President’s Pardon power;
- using American law enforcement against political opponents;
- continual lying to the American people;
- the overriding of the security professionals of their denial of security clearances for Trump family (and other questionable associates) thought to pose a risk to American national security;
- Cohen Co-conspiracy (Individual-1) plus wire fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud, conspiracy, the illegal disguising of the $420,000 reimbursement to Cohen;
- Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ($50 million Putin Penthouse bribe).
The phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” had a clear meaning to the framers of the Constitution (according to Cass R. Sunstein)– namely “egregious misuse of authority.” Not every crime is an impeachable offense, and not every impeachable offense is a crime. So there are plenty of other instances of “egregious” presidential conduct that I’ve not included but for whose inclusion a reasonable case might be made.
Do the various ways that — almost daily– Trump has trampled on American political norms belong on this list?
Regardless of how many instances and forms of misconduct are to be included, the picture is clear: this is a President who will do whatever he wants if he thinks he can get away with it. And the more he is allowed to get away with his crimes and violations of the Constitution, the more emboldened and thus the more dangerous to America’s basic constitutional order he becomes.
Do instances of Trump’s criminality before becoming President, or before even running for the presidency, qualify as grounds for impeachment? Regardless, any such pattern of criminality — e.g. the likely money-laundering, financial fraud, tax evasion, etc. — helps substantiate the main point:
Trump is a man who has no respect for whatever limits — legal, constitutional, normative — might constrain him in his determination to do and get what he wants.
Every day such a President remains in office damages the nation, and threatens the preservation of our constitutional order.
Not impeaching such a President is not optional — for anyone who has taken an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
And it is not optional for any American patriot. To make no effort to bring such a presidency to an end would, in itself, do great damage to the nation.