By Ralph Nader
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader McConnell:
As we warned last year, the narrow and anemic impeachment articles filed against President Donald Trump and his rapid acquittals have emboldened him to more appalling continuing lawbreaking and worsening violations of the public trust, both impeachable offenses according to Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 65.
As during the Watergate crisis, the Constitution summons both Republicans and Democrats to transcend partisanship to defend our constitutional Republic from Mr. Trump’s escalating aggressions. In this landmark instance, the nation is deeply indebted to Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, and House Minority Leader John Rhodes for speaking unvarnished truths about impeachment to President Richard Nixon in the White House. Resignation soon followed.
President Trump has issued scores of pardons for corrupt motives: to reward die-hard political supporters or colleagues who refrained from incriminating him or his 2016 presidential campaign with Special Counsel Mueller; and, to retaliate against the military and its discipline for insufficient obsequiousness to his person. Mr. Trump’s pardons have sent a signal that persons who commit crimes to shield him from the law or to assist his endeavors will be protected against criminal punishment, a promise morally indistinguishable from bribery and witness tampering.
With the fury of King Lear on the heath, President Trump is breaking all the china in the Oval Office as he exits the White House. After engaging in unprecedented voter suppression and inciting violence among his supporters, he entertained martial law, seizure of voting machines, and contemplated new balloting in battleground states to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Mr. Trump is escalating military tensions with China over Taiwan and the South China Sea and Iran. In the remaining weeks of his administration, Mr. Trump seems eager to issue blanket pardons to himself, his family, Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon, and cronies or future business partners, casting further disrepute on the rule of law and evenhanded justice.
It is difficult to conceive of more flagrant self-serving presidential violations of the public trust in plain view during an interregnum. The Constitution’s framers envisioned impeachment as prophylactic, i.e., removing a president from office who has demonstrated by words and deeds a clear and present danger to our liberties and the rule of law. Each additional day President Trump remains in office is a roll of the dice with the nation’s immediate present and future. The alarming, unchecked powers of the White House that have spiked in past decades are a constant temptation to the mentally unstable and volatile President to manufacture any number of crises to shred our constitutional order and to devastate the general welfare.
This emergency makes time of the essence. Notwithstanding uniform rejection of electoral fraud allegations by scores of courts, Mr. Trump refuses to concede defeat or acknowledge his constitutional obligation to depart office on January 20, 2021. Facts and corrupt presidential motives are not in dispute. The House should quickly vote to impeach President Trump and the Senate to convict him of the “high crimes and misdemeanors,” of serial lawbreaking, and of grave violations of the public trust. Otherwise, Mr. Trump’s irreparable vandalizing of the Republic’s constitutional edifice and subjecting the American people to avoidable cruel privations will continue.
Bruce Fein, Esq.
Ralph Nader, Esq.