A plea to impeach President Trump: By Jane Collins / For the Transcript
A president can be impeached only for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” However, Bill Clinton was impeached for the lowest of low crimes: cheating on his wife. Donald Trump is cheating on America.
The impeachment process was designed to protect this country from corruption at the highest level. The “high crimes” referred to in the Constitution must be related to the president’s official duties and present a danger to the nation. The phrase has been interpreted to include treason, abuse of authority, intimidation, misuse of assets, dereliction of duty, and conduct unbecoming to the office.
When the House Committee asked President Clinton whether he had sex with his intern, if he had just responded that it was none of the Committee’s business, the impeachment process might have ended there. Instead, he lied to the Committee under oath, thus committing the real crime of perjury. What got him in trouble in the first place, though, was still ordinary monkey business that did no harm to the American people.
On the other hand, there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence that Trump and his campaign team colluded with agents of the Russian government in order to gain him the presidency. It remains to be seen whether Putin’s involvement in the election was motivated solely by his hatred of Hillary Clinton, or whether Trump promised some quid pro quo like lifting sanctions against Russia.
So Trump might well have committed treason. He has certainly undermined many of the institutions on which democracy depends, like the Judiciary, as when he called the person who put a temporary stay on his Muslim travel ban a “so-called judge.” Calling the free press “the enemy of the American people” should be enough reason to impeach him, all by itself.
Anybody who has read a random sampling of his tweets knows that he frequently abuses his authority by threatening or attempting to intimidate anyone who criticizes him. As for “conduct unbecoming,” whole books could be written on the subject. For example, we all know how he once completed the phrase, “grab them by the ...”
“Dereliction of duty” might include Trump making his completely unqualified real-estate-developer son-in-law, Jared Kushner, his primary broker for peace in the Middle East, relations with China, the border wall with Mexico, the reform not only of the criminal justice system but the whole federal government, and more. Dereliction might also describe appointing a person who denies the reality of climate change to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a person who knows and cares nothing about public schools to head the Department of Education, and a white supremacist as his Attorney General.
Then there is his war-mongering. Trump claims to have bombed the Syrian airbase to stop Assad from using poison gas on his own people. But this is the same president who won’t allow Syrians trying to escape from Assad into our country as refugees. This is also the same guy who wants to make deep cuts in programs to feed the hungry, take health care away from 24 million people, and get rid of environmental regulations that keep our air and water clean and safe. The compassion excuse just doesn’t hold up.
Evidence continues to mount of Trump’s incompetence; dishonesty; use of the presidency to enrich himself and his family; support for tyranny and contempt for democracy; and nepotism. Perhaps worst of all is his eagerness to move the country’s assets from keeping our people healthy, adequately nourished, well-educated, and gainfully employed to expanding a military budget that is already bigger than the next seven largest militaries combined.
The danger Trump poses to the American people, and all people, grows every day. Maybe he is ramping up the war machine in hopes of reviving his plummeting popularity. People tend to support the president in wartime, at least at first. But it is unlikely that Trump actually understands anything about the Middle East or American complicity in the horrible wars in that area.
Trump lacks any knowledge of history or personal sense of humility that might make him reasonably cautious. Instead, with a blithe disregard for the possible consequences, he is playing chicken with another unstable nuclear-armed narcissist, Kim Jong Un of North Korea. He encourages our enemies by creating chaos at home, and alienates our allies with his rudeness, ignorance, and arrogance. He would rather get his news from Fox & Friends than from intelligence briefings.
There are more than enough grounds for impeachment hearings. But the impeachment process starts with allegations voted by a majority in the House. Unless House Republicans begin to fear that they will go down with the ship in the 2018 elections, they are not likely to begin impeachment proceedings. Even if they did, the Republican majority in the Senate would have to find the President guilty of the charges in order to get him out of office.
Getting rid of this disastrous president will be a long slog. We should begin to call for impeachment now. It might take a couple of years, and we’d still have to deal with Pence unless the Russiagate scandal pulls him down too; but the more we demand it, the more likely it is to happen.
We have to insist that our representatives pursue this option. We have to keep emailing and calling them. We can get to know their aides well enough to have conversations, and convince them we’re serious about this. We can go to their district meetings, get involved in party politics to bring pressure from that direction, even run for office on an impeachment platform. There are lots of useful suggestions at www.IndivisibleGuide.com and elsewhere. And let’s remember to take care of ourselves so we don’t burn out.
Meanwhile, many states are criminalizing protest. All it would take is a few provocateurs paid to throw a few rocks, and we could start seeing mass arrests and the increased use of force against demonstrators. We must not be deterred.
We need to hit the streets so often, and in such numbers, that we make it absolutely clear to Trump, his cabal, and politicians of all stripes, that we believe Trump’s administration poses unacceptable dangers to the American people, and he has to go. Let’s make democracy work for us while we still can.