The time to make the case that Trump is corrupt and abusing his power is now
Verily, I tell you: Democrats need to call for Donald Trump’s impeachment, despite the false hopes it might arouse, and they need to do it now.
I’ve been insisting that Democrats need to talk about impeachment since late February, despite knowing it’s not even a remote possibility until after 2018 House elections and being well aware that Democratic leaders will be reluctant if not completely unwilling to do so. And now I see the window of opportunity for Democrats to make their case could be closing.
As soon as possible, voters need to be bombarded with the notion that the Constitutional option for oversight is the only potential check we have on Trump. And it needs to be made equally clear that Republicans have abdicated all responsibility for checking the corrupt aspiring tyrant they elected with a minority of the popular vote.
We are veering an emergency that could be unlike anything we’ve experienced in American history and it demands unprecedented measures.
We’ve never had a president who has entered office so intent on rampant enrichment of himself and his family. And we’ve never had a president so committed to obstructing or obscuring inquiries into his misdeeds with the absolute complicity of his party’s leadership.
Republican-dominated House Committees have voted three times against demanding Trump’s tax returns. And dubious Devin Nunes, the still chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has done more to distract from a proper investigation into the Trump’s campaign’s embrace of Russian “active measures” and possible collusion with Putin’s government than to aid it.
If Democrats don’t seize this moment they may never have the opportunity to make a clear argument for Trump’s impeachment again. And this, unlike almost everyone on the Trump campaign, has nothing to do with Russia.
We’re less than 100 days into the Trump presidency and we’re probably closer to a nuclear war than we’ve been at any time since the Soviet Union dissolved. Vice President Mike Pence saying that the era of “strategic patience” with North Korea is over seems designed, in part, to prepare Americans for the prospect of a war with a nuclear power that could kill millions, possibly in a few hours.
The last few weeks should be a reminder of how much the media and much of the political establishment appreciate war as a spectacle that — from their comfortable distance — basks in a unholy glory that confers a legitimacy on the president, even when that president is Donald Trump.
The applause Trump has been soaking up for sending American soldiers into an ill-advised raid in Yemen and American missiles into Syria without any plan to avoid inevitable mission creep should terrify you and prepare you for the some of the implacable groupthink we will experience should Trump and Pence bumble us into a new full-fledged war.
At that point, the numerous investigations into the president will likely be cast by Republicans leaders as not only silly but unpatriotic. And we shouldn’t be surprised if nearly all Republican voters and much of America embraces that notion.
Let’s be clear: There is already a case for impeachment.
Harvard law professor Noah Feldman convincing argues that there are actually three cases for impeachment: corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of democratic norms.
In this episode of the Trumpcast, Feldman convincingly makes the case that the first two cases are already ample enough for the House to bring charges against the president.
Corruption is obvious and not just from violations of the Emoluments Clause and it’s not just limited to the president spending one fourth of his time as president directly enriching and promoting his own businesses at taxpayer expense. All we need is evidence that any of Trump’s businesses, which he still fully benefits from, is benefiting any additional ways from his presidency to argue for a conviction on this charge.
The abuse of power case against Trump is subtle but even more well documented. Trump has accused both President Obama and Susan Rice of crimes. Trump specifically acknowledged that the crimes he was accusing Obama of were “Watergate” or impeachment quality crimes. Not only have his claims been proven false, reports suggest Trump didn’t even understand the law he was accusing Obama of breaking.
“If the alleged action would be impeachable if true, so must be the allegation if false,” Feldman wrote.
Likewise, Trump has accuse the press of being an “enemy of the people” and suggested that “someone” investigate the Americans who protested demanding his taxes. As the leader of the executive branch, his suggestions aren’t idle threats. He can demand investigations by the Department of Justice and though he can claim that he was just calling for the press to investigate the protests, what would he expect happen if they “uncovered” wrongdoing?
The alleged collusion with Russia captures most of the attention from the left as it is both the most galling and Tom Clancy-like. But this charge would also be the toughest to drive into impeachment. Collusion before Trump took president would likely be criminal but are only questionably impeachable, unless he has delivered some “pro quo” to Russia as president.
All of these potential high crimes rise far above anything Bill Clinton did, obviously. And impeachment is the only remedy for a president who is untethered by precedent or morals.
Democrats may think that waiting and judiciously building a case is the prudent option. But given the glee with which the president is rushing toward war, we may be running out of time to use the one tool the Founders gave us to deal with a maniac who would “pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation or oppression.”
[Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr]