By Ralph Nader
Will the Democrats move to impeach Trump for a narrow brace of violations and accept that the Senate Republicans will keep this outlaw in the White House? Or will they present the Senate with the President’s many proven impeachable offenses, thereby requiring the Senate Republicans, before live national television, in a public trial to defend Trump’s indefensible behavior?
Let’s start with the signal statement by Trump: “Then I have Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.” For almost three years, he has proceeded to engage in monarchical unconstitutional behavior in far more repeated, brazen ways than any preceding president. It is not even close.
The “abuse of the public trust” was stated by Alexander Hamilton as one definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” or an impeachable offense. Trump’s abuses provide deep evidence that he is (1) a serial, chronic, daily liar on matters of state, (2) a serial sexual predator, (3) a racist bigot, as demonstrated by his programs and policies, and (4) one who incites violence at rallies and in his tweets. Taken together, these abuses as an article of impeachment should be put before the Senate for them to defend. Millions of citizens will understand from their own core values that our country should shed this arrogant disgrace from our White House – through removal from office in the impeachment trial.
Another impeachment article should deal with Trump’s corruption in appointing henchmen to head health, safety and economic protection agencies with the objective of dismantling and disabling the laws enacted by Congress. Trump is bad for you when you breathe the air, drink the water, eat chicken, beef, pork, vegetables and fruit or work in hazardous places. Children are being exposed to dangerous pesticides, borrowers are being ripped off by financial companies and students are snagged by student loan traps and for-profit colleges. Trump sides with corporate criminals and fraudsters, and he expands crony capitalism with corporate welfare with your tax dollars. This is no mere de-regulation here and there. This is wholesale removal of the federal cops from the corporate crime beat and leaving you defenseless. Openly rejecting his constitutional duty to “faithfully” execute the laws is a major impeachable offense.
Then there is the loud desire to enrich himself by using the magnetic power of his office to attract patrons to his hotels and other properties in search of favors. Unlike past presidents, Trump defiantly retains direct profit seeking ownership of his businesses, leading to violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
These are continual impeachable violations that the House of Representatives can make graphic and persuasive to millions of Americans who believe in the rule of law.
Important as the crooked attempt to bribe Ukraine to enhance his re-election campaign is – something Trump will continue to pursue given his past requests that Russia and China help him against his electoral opponents, this gross behavior has not moved the needle of public opinion. It is viewed as remote from the “kitchen table” concerns of voters. This is not the case with other documented impeachable offenses.
Here are two examples: Appointing “acting” henchmen to head agencies who have not been confirmed by the Senate and spending money prohibited by Congress by shifting funds approved by Congress thereby violating two federal statutes, in addition to the Constitution.
He has also threatened unilateral wars, which can only be declared by Congress, not by him, under our Constitution. He illegally sends armed forces anywhere he wants to destroy anyone he wants – prosecutor, judge, jury and executor all in one. More and more Americans are turning against the bankrupting military policies that only create more enemies and quagmires. Even conservatives are upset by Trump’s imperialistic acts.
Of course the contempt of Congress is Trump’s marquee unconstitutional outrage. Our founding fathers would have had him impeached after a few defiances of Congressional subpoenas, not to mention dozens of such rejections for witnesses and documents starting soon after his inauguration in January 2017 and intensifying during this impeachment period. Trump thinks he can strip-mine the basic oversight and investigative authority of Congress with impunity.
Bruce Fein, a constitutional scholar and litigator, asserts that the impeachment power given to Congress must operate under a greater urgency in 2019 than in 1781 when the federal government’s main employees were postmen. Now the Executive Branch is immensely larger and more dangerous. Without regard for the Constitution and the separation of powers between Congress and the judicial branch, this White House has weaponry and might that can destroy the Earth, install dictators and retard the world’s response to deadly climate disruption. Domestically, the President can accelerate the emergence of a fascistic, corporate state.
Fein says the founder’s view of impeachment as a proactive deterrent heading off worse situations, is given more urgency by the towering size and power of the executive branch today.
Going with a full, strong impeachment case in the House will galvanize the affected constituencies to support this effort. It will put the Senate Republicans in a very tight spot of choosing between their political futures and Constitutional duties or the political fate of Donald Trump.
Failure by Congress to prevent devastating precedents from being invoked and followed by future presidents will create a legacy of disgrace for Congress. Above all, for Speaker Pelosi, a broad and compelling indictment of Trump will move the citizens otherwise described by Abraham Lincoln as the “public sentiment,” to sustain an impeachment verdict by the Senate.