By Ralph Nader
Today’s New York Times headline boldly exclaimed, “PRESIDENT IS ‘NOT ABOVE THE LAW,’ JUSTICES DECIDE.” But then the Supreme Court majority found a way not to apply the law to Trump’s defiance of Congress.
Didn’t this question get decided in 1776 and more formally in 1787 by our Founders?
In obtaining information for overseeing the Executive Branch, the plenary power of Congress neither needs affirmation by the courts nor can tolerate years of judicial delays. It is time for the illogical Justices, who find few limits to vast Presidential powers either domestically or in pursuit of undeclared wars of Empire, to stop shredding Congress’s constitutional authority.
The very conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, addressed the futility of Congress employing the courts to obtain information by subpoena for legislation, for example, strengthening the President’s financial disclosure obligations. The maximum congressional strategy for securing presidential documents is through use of its impeachment authority, he wrote.
An article of impeachment was voted against President Nixon in 1974 for defying a congressional subpoena that was not validated by a court. Trump has defied scores of subpoenas, dozens of formal Congressional demands for information and testimony by Executive Branch officials. Yet, apart from the Ukraine impeachment in December 2019 by the Democratic House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has kept eleven other serious ongoing impeachable offenses by Trump and his lawless regime on the shelf. You can read these impeachable offenses compiled by constitutional law experts, Bruce Fein, Louis Fisher, and me, and presented by Congressman John Larson (D-CT) in the December 18, 2019, Congressional Record H-12197.
Absent a robust defense of our democracy by the Supreme Court or Congress, the citizenry must mobilize a mass demand for Trump’s resignation – for all of America’s sake. Whether the case is made for the rule of law or against disastrous, dangerous, and delusionary policies from Trump’s Wall Street over Main Street White House, the support should be treated as non-partisan and as the essence of patriotism.
On June 5, 2020, the Portland (Maine) Press Herald called for Trump to resign, urging Trump to ask himself – “Can the country take five more months like the last five?” The editorial asserted that “your shortcomings are unleashing historic levels of suffering on the American people.”
When this staid newspaper took this position, it did not evaluate the prospect of success. That is not its responsibility. Nor should any such prejudgment of Trump’s rejection of resignation inhibit hundreds of Congressional lawmakers, civic group leaders, columnists, and editorial writers, who have made the overwhelming case against corrupt Donald Trump in great documented detail. But, unfortunately, most of these people have failed to reach the obvious conclusion from their convictions.
The case for Trump’s resignation should never be withheld by weighing the odds of that happening. The demand itself is the necessity of our times. Here are some reasons:
1. Trump’s ignorance and ego-driven bungling and obstructions of professional scientific management of the Covid-19 pandemic occur daily and often in open sight. After weeks of delay fatal to tens of thousands of Americans, his continuing abandonment of presidential leadership in assuring supplies, facilities and critical coordination for the states warrant removal of this flailing, failing, careening so-called chief executive. America cannot wait to stop the irreparable destruction that will occur from now until January 20, 2021.
2. The mass resignation demand highlights in an organized way the case for Trump’s removal (supported by 60% of women in a November 26, 2019, CNN poll) that Congress possesses and has failed to pursue in both the House and Senate.
No one so guilty of violating the basic laws of our land, so corruptly selling our government to giant corporations while asking CEOs for campaign contributions should disgrace our White House any longer. Trump’s increasingly shrill bigotry, pressing for selective voter intimidation and suppression, and incitements to violence illustrates what Alexander Hamilton meant by citing the “abuse of the public trust” as an impeachable offense.
3. The widespread discourse and debate pursuant to a mass resignation demand will highlight the specifics of Trump’s damage to our country. He arbitrarily declares another “economic emergency” so as to make corporate crimes worse by literally stopping enforcement of consumer, worker, environmental and economic protections. Big corporations over people again.
The resignation demand highlights his abuses against women over the years, his regime’s leaving young people defenseless against rapacious commercial universities and student loan exploiters, his support for freezing a $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage and other anti-worker slams that are all under-reported.
4. Because Trump doubles down on his many outrageous refusals to “faithfully execute the laws,” spending monies not appropriated by Congress, pursuing nine wars undeclared by Congress, giving his cronies lucrative government contracts, all the while daily distracting with his new-cycle-dominating foul-mouth tweets and personal attacks, the media has become jaded to the larger questions of why this madman is still in the Oval Office.
The reliance on the election in November afflicts many civic groups from pressing for Trump’s eviction now. “Me Too” activists still go after powerful misogynists but have given up on the 800-pound elephant in the room – Trump. Other citizen advocacy organizations cite their condemnatory reports, their press releases and their lawsuits against Trump. The failed gambling czar laughs at all this, even when the media reports on these meritorious efforts.
Trump will get away with everything until January 20, 2021, unless he is removed from office, whether by impeachment and conviction, or a massive public resignation demand that sinks his poll numbers, leading him to quit because he can’t stand losing the election.
5. Trump himself will nourish community-level resignation demands by his increasing interference with the rights of voters, leading the GOP to daily clashes with election officials, civil rights groups, and the people’s notions of fair play.
Already underway in GOP controlled states are pernicious efforts to obstruct voter registration such as the closing of precincts in minority areas, purging of certain voters, and crazed harassment of low-income voters, including requiring notarized mail-in votes or launching inappropriate challenges of signatures. There are neither prosecutors nor judges who can stop these and other dictatorial ravages in time for November 3, 2020.
With Trump still in office, prepare for an embroiling election crisis, as he unleashes street violence and harassing lawsuits before favorable judges citing the results as “rigged,” a “hoax,” and “stolen,” no matter his margin of defeat. With the pandemic of Covid-19 still taking casualties, why not try to get him out of the office and in the process inform and arouse the public? Genuine conservatives and current and retired military people are seething against Trump acting in their name and taking them for granted. They are ready to join the effort to protect our democracy and the rule of law.
The history of the Democratic Party, losing repeatedly to the worst Republican Party ever at the national and state levels, is not propitious for the coming months. Are Democratic operatives up to either a pre- or post-election day Trump and his unscrupulous GOP fanatics? The stakes are too high to rely on the Democrats.
It is our obligation as citizens to organize and demand Trump’s resignation and focus millions of voters on turning out the Trumpsters and their four-year Dark Age that is wrecking America.