The Campaign to Impeach Donald Trump Now, a growing national movement for an impeachment investigation of President Trump, announced today that Justice Fernande (Nan) R.V. Duffly, who retired last summer from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, has joined its Legal Advisory Board. The campaign, launched on Inauguration Day and led by two public interest organizations, Free Speech For People and RootsAction.org, is calling on Congress to start this investigation based on the President’s direct and ongoing violations of the two anti-corruption provisions of the US Constitution and based on the President’s apparent interference with a criminal investigation by his improper attempts to influence, and his ultimate firing of, FBI Director James Comey.
. . . . “The US Constitution extends rights and freedoms to the people that are protected by limits placed on those in power, including the President,” says Justice Duffly. “Congress must act now to investigate mounting evidence that the President has abused his power through violations of the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses, and obstructed or interfered with the administration of justice. The strength of our democracy depends on it.”
Although it’s a bit difficult to take an organization that launched on President Trump’s Inauguration Day seriously, the calls for Trump’s impeachment/removal from office are saturating the mainstream and left-leaning media.
An article published by Robert Reich, co-founder of American Prospect and advocate for a universal guaranteed income giving “millions of people more free time to do what they want to do instead of what they have to do to earn a living,” appears in Newsweek.
Reich argues that there are grounds for impeachment, and that it’s just a matter of time before Republicans put country over party and follow through.
The question is no longer whether there are grounds to impeach Donald Trump. It is when enough Republicans will put their loyalty to America ahead of their loyalty to their party.
Trump’s statements last week about his firing of former FBI director James Comey provide ample evidence that Trump engaged in an obstruction of justice – a major charge in impeachment proceedings brought against Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton.
Admitting that the current GOP-majority House is unlikely to impeach Trump, Reich floats the 2018 midterms as the chance to flip the House and insert a Democrat majority who will pursue impeachment proceedings. He then says that’s just too long to wait, so it’s time to pressure Republicans in the House to “do the right thing.”
In my experience, most elected politicians have two goals – to do what they consider to be the right things for the American public, and to be reelected (not necessarily in that order).
If Trump’s poll numbers continue to plummet – particularly among Republicans and Independents – twenty-two House Republicans may well decide their chances for being reelected are better if they abandon him before the 2018 midterms.
Paul Ryan and the House Republican leadership might make a similar calculation, at least enough to put a bill of impeachment on the table.
Most House Republicans prefer Vice President Mike Pence to Donald Trump anyway. As one said to me several months ago, “Pence is a predictable conservative. Trump is an unpredictable egomaniac. Most of us are more comfortable with the former.”
Reich correctly notes that Republicans won’t toe the impeachment line unless American voters “decide they can’t abide him anymore.”
Donald Trump doesn’t have the character or the temperament to be president of the United States. But this obvious fact isn’t enough to get him fired.
He’ll be fired when enough Americans decide they can’t abide him anymore.
Then, maybe in an impeachment proceeding, it will come out that Trump did something incredibly stupid – like give a nod of approval to one of his campaign bottom feeders like Roger Stone to tell a Russian operative to go ahead with their plan to interfere in the 2016 election.
These statements are somewhat shocking for their honesty. Reich acknowledges, however backhandedly, that there is no evidence at all that President Trump has engaged in the impeachable offenses of treason, bribery, and/or “high crimes and misdemeanors.” This evidence of wrong-doing, he contends, will undoubtedly come up in the impeachment proceeding. “Maybe,” he hopes.
This is in-line with the general “impeach Trump” movement. Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) famously stated that an investigation is needed . . . in order to find evidence for impeachment.
The Impeach Trump Now organization began on the assumption that the president’s business interests were a conflict of interest (this is where the Emoluments clause Duffly mentioned above comes into play) that needed to be investigated for impeachable offenses. Indeed, the group’s proposed Resolution (embedded below) urges the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether or not sufficient grounds exist for the president’s impeachment.
Representative Al Green (D-TX) has no qualms about insisting unequivocally that the impeachable offense has already been committed and that the president “must be charged.” Green is the second Democrat—Waters was the first—to overtly call for Trump’s impeachment.
A Democratic congressman called for impeaching President Trump on Monday, saying Congress must prove to the country that the laws apply to everyone.
“President Trump is not above the law. He has committed an impeachable act and must be charged,” said Rep. Al Green, Texas Democrat. “To do otherwise would cause some Americans to lose respect for, and obedience to, our societal norms.”
Mr. Green said the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey last week was an attempt to intimidate and obstruct the bureau’s probe into potential illicit connections between Trump campaign figures and the Russian government. [emphasis added]
The problem, of course, is that there is—again and as usual—exactly zero evidence that the president fired Comey to obstruct justice. At best, there is a basis for debate in the president’s public statements, all of which can be interpreted as either ominous or innocent.
Indeed, two Harvard law professors, both Democrats, have entirely different views of the charge that firing Comey constitutes an obstruction of justice.
There might be a smidgen of tension in the Harvard Law School faculty lounge.
Two of the school’s most renowned senior professors — Alan Dershowitz and Laurence Tribe — have taken diametrically opposed positions on whether the dismissal of James Comey as FBI director establishes the crime of obstruction of justice perpetrated by none other than the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
Tribe, the Hill continues, sees “a series of high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Professor Tribe, in a televised interview, emphasized several aspects of the swirling controversy: first, unnamed “associates” of Comey reportedly have said that President Trump had asked then-director Comey if he could count on his “loyalty,” and Comey had not given an affirmative answer.
Secondly, in an interview on NBC, Trump himself said that he had directly asked Comey if he (Trump) was under investigation, and had been told he was not. In that same interview, Trump also said the Russian investigation was a factor in his decision to fire the director.
In that larger context, Tribe believes that asking for Comey’s “loyalty” is the equivalent of asking for a promise that Trump will not become a target of the investigation. That, according to Tribe, is an “impermissible” request, which “on its face” is an obstruction of justice.
Indeed, Tribe goes so far as to say that the entire sequence of events is “a series of high crimes and misdemeanors” that would justify articles of impeachment.
Dershowitz, on the other hand, contends that the president has “undisputed authority to fire” the FBI director for whatever reason he sees pertinent, and Dershowitz notes that “motive alone should never constitute a crime.”
The Hill continues:
Professor Dershowitz has an entirely different view on obstruction of justice. He thinks that the idea that Trump is guilty of obstructing justice is “a dangerous argument … being put forward by some Democratic ideologues[.]” (I told you the faculty lounge at Harvard Law was tense, didn’t I?)
Dershowitz rejects the obstruction of justice argument because it is undisputed that the president has the legal authority to fire a director of the FBI. Comey himself made exactly that point in his farewell letter to the FBI staff, where he wrote that, “I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI director for any reason, or for no reason at all.”
In light of the president’s undisputed authority to fire the FBI director, Dershowitz makes this argument: “Even assuming that Trump was improperly motivated in firing Comey, motive alone should never constitute a crime. … Otherwise the crime would place the defendant’s thoughts on trial, rather than his actions.”
Ultimately, what constitutes impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors” can only be decided by each individual elected Representative in the House.
This is not lost on the media, of course, so now we are hearing about unnamed Republicans who are “afraid of Trump” and “want Trump out.”
Prominent Republicans who used not to be frightened are now scared of Trump after the past week, which means that the door is now opening for a serious bipartisan movement to oust this president and his administration.
During an appearance on CBS’s Face The Nation, The Washington Post’s David Ignatius relayed the growing fear of Trump among Republicans, “Talking this week to several prominent Republicans, people who have not been sharp critics of Donald Trump, I heard the same thing, which is: This guy scares me. And I think the reason that people were scared this week is that they saw impulsive behavior, they saw a kind of vengeful, brooding about past slights. They saw a willingness to be — to be — just basically to lie to the country, not to tell the truth. And I think — one person said to me, there are no guardrails on this presidency. Another person said, this is Richard Nixon on steroids. In other words, this is kind of a hyperactive — so, I think that’s where we are at the end of the week. A lot of people are scared. And they wonder, how do we get out of this?”
The whispers that Republicans are looking for a way out have been getting louder off the record ever since the President accused Barack Obama of wiretapping him.
Anonymous sources are the lifeblood of journalism in part because high level sources have valid reasons for not wanting their identities disclosed, but with the growing public distrust in media, such sources are not taken as seriously as they may once have been.
Whispering, unnamed Republican sources may hope that there is growing support for the president’s ouster, but Congressional Republicans would do well not to believe everything they read. Trump supporters are disgusted by the vile innuendo, calling for impeachment investigations to locate misdeeds that are currently unknown, and the all-too-clear feeding frenzy surrounding the president. They are going to close ranks and circle the wagons to protect Trump.
While this is expected, what the “impeach Trump” movement may not realize (yet) is that their blind, hope-something-sticks mud-slinging and flailing around is alienating the all-important “reluctant Trump voter.” This is me and the millions of Americans like me who wouldn’t have chosen Trump to be our great nation’s president but who saw him, quite rightly it turns out, as a far far better option than Hillary Clinton.
Of the reluctant Trump voter, FiveThirtyEight notes:
But not every Donald Trump voter was quite so enthusiastic. While we’ve always known his core base was a loyal one, Trump made it to the White House thanks in no small part to a group of voters who didn’t necessarily like him but were willing to give him a chance. Nearly 20 percent of voters in the 2016 presidential election had an unfavorable view of both Trump and Hillary Clinton, according to exit polls, and Trump won that group 47 percent to 30 percent. That made the difference. [my emphasis]
The key here is that we were (and still are) willing to give him a chance. Because of this, there may be a heightened animosity toward a movement seeking to impeach, without clear cause, the president we chose, however reluctantly, and truly want to succeed.
The Impeach Trump Now movement—started on Inauguration Day, advocating “accuse now, find evidence later,” and therefore engaging in what can only be seen as a witch hunt—is further alienating the very Trump voters they need to turn the tide of public opinion to support their efforts.DONATE
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