Impeach Trump for Right Reasons

The Constitution suddenly seems to have bestirred itself and declared itself, through its many Washington spokespeople, to be in crisis.

I’m sorry, interjects the world, but what the hell took you so long?

We laid out the clear Constitutional violations of Trump’s financial and business interests on the day he became president (in the real sense, not the media event months later when “He finally became president” by bombing enough people) at ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org.

Since the later hours of Day 1 back in January through the present instant, the clear and documented (when not openly bragged about) Constitutional offenses have been piling up.

As of a 2015 disclosure to the Federal Elections Commission, Trump owns stock in the maker of the missiles he sent into Syria, Raytheon, as well as numerous other weapons makers, Canadian tar sands, etc. Trump has continued, escalated, and threatened numerous illegal and immoral wars. That he may be personally profiting from them just adds to the supreme international crime, which of course already violates the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, supreme laws of the U.S. under the Constitution.

Trump has unconstitutionally discriminated against refugees, been stopped by the judiciary, and immediately done it again.

Trump has pushed policies that will aggravate climate change, a crime against humanity that can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court even against a non-member. On December 6, 2009, Trump signed a public letter to President Barack Obama urging action to protect the earth from climate change. “If we fail to act now,” the letter read, “it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.” Trump is knowingly endangering all human (and many non-human) residents of the United States, right along with the other 96% of humanity.

Trump openly sought to intimidate voters prior to his election, and fought the counting of ballots where they existed, was elected with a minority of votes, was elected with numerous votes uncounted and numerous voters blocked from voting by the partisan stripping of the rolls and by ID laws, following a nomination principally decided by dramatically biased media coverage. If none of that put the Constitution into crisis, why keep the rotting document around at all?

Pre-presidency but still available grounds for impeachment, Trump violated, according to the list in Alan Lichtman’s book on Trump impeachment, the Fair Housing Act, New York charity law, tax laws, the Cuban embargo, casino regulations, the RICO statute, laws against employing undocumented immigrants, and of course laws against sexual assault. You don’t have to have never been in Congress to spot a pattern of criminality here.

Of course there is one charge against Trump that has not been proven, risks confrontation with a nuclear armed government, and needlessly adds a xenophobic excuse to the dozens of solid reasons that last year’s U.S. election was illegitimate. So of course this is the one everybody wants to focus on: blaming Russia for exposing the Democratic Party’s slanting of its own primary against its strongest candidate. Let’s remember that the people who have most vigorously pursued this approach are the same people who nominated possibly the only candidate who could have lost to Donald Trump.

Now we come to a charge of possible, conceivable, or an appearance of possible or conceivable obstruction of justice — and perhaps something or other at the base of the story around which justice was being sought. If we can remove Trump this way, by all means, proceed. And proceed with impeachment, not with a 2020 election campaign by some otherwise repulsive candidate who plans to win by virtue of not being Trump and somehow surviving four years of Trumpism.

But here are my concerns:

The coverup is not worse than the crime. Serious crimes are available as impeachment charges, and overlooking them effectively permits them going forward, along with any other crimes, as long as there’s no coverup.

We have yet to see any actual evidence of any actual Russian influence on the U.S. election. Toying with hostility toward a nuclear government is more reckless than anything (else) Trump has done. Can you impeach and try Trump for obstructing an investigation into what all the corporate media refer to as if it were established fact, without actually focusing on whether there is any evidence, and without demonizing Russia?

If some lesser crimes are proven that involve Russia in some way, can you try them without advancing the notion that the fundamental crime is friendship with Russians?

Can you keep in perspective the hypocrisy that all of this telegraphs to the earth? Barack Obama recorded a campaign ad for a French candidate in last week’s election, while Samantha Power was busy accusing Vladimir Putin of trying to influence the French election. The U.S. has openly sought to influence dozens of elections, including Yeltsin’s (the Trump of Russia?), not to mention overthrowing dozens of governments — still being pursued in Syria. How does this look? Wouldn’t it look better to at least add in a few articles of impeachment for the highest of crimes even if Russia isn’t involved in them?

And, yes, I mean even crimes committed by Obama and Bush and others before them. I’m not expecting consistency. While I supported impeachment for Bush and Obama as well as Trump, one cannot expect all Democrats to have gone that far in supporting the rule of law when Obama was drone master — although they may now ask Republicans to reach that higher standard of integrity. I understand that partisanship is strong poison. I just ask for at least the appearance of seriousness — even if only because going into a trial in the U.S. Senate with charges that are already proven makes a conviction far more likely.

The bigger concern, of tamping down the warmongering, of lowering the risk of nuclear conflict should be made to appeal to as many as can hear it.

Impeachment certainly should be pursued, and certainly cannot wait. But it will only establish the proper threat of impeachment for the next person to hold the office if it is done for the right reasons in the right way. The right way includes being led by the public. We, not Congress, must decide when there is a crisis.

Jimmy Breslin on How to Impeach Trump

The last time a U.S. president faced a strong movement for impeachment for actual impeachable offenses, one of the major road blocks was fear that an unpopular vice president would take his place, and this road block was removed when Spiro Agnew resigned in the face of criminal charges of cheating on his taxes.

As every American is aware, including even those who have never heard of impeachment, the primary problem with impeaching Trump is the horror of a president Pence. For a long time I tried to explain to people that this was stupid. Pence is already running the show. Impeachment is about placing the executive branch under the rule of law, not about the trivial matter of what individual holds what office for a few years. A President Pence with a Congress that impeaches people would be better than King Donald with Congress acting as court jesters. Impeachment and removal from office are two different things. Et cetera. It doesn’t matter how many reasons you provide, the U.S. public may never support impeachment of Trump as long as Pence is vice president.

I recommend reading a book by Jimmy Breslin about the impeachment of Richard Nixon called How the Good Guys Finally Won. The book is a hagiographic account of then Majority Leader Tip O’Neill’s role in pushing the impeachment of Nixon through the Congress. O’Neill does deserve great praise, in fact. It’s impossible to imagine any member of Congress fulfilling their oath of office to the same extent today. While we all know that the impeachment of Bill Clinton was rammed through Congress against the will of the people by the House Republican leadership, it’s perhaps less known how the House Democratic leadership pushed for the impeachment of Nixon. Members of Congress who moved to impeach Nixon, including the leadership, moved in response to public pressure.

Breslin’s book removes activism from the picture and falsely claims that there were no activist rallies or demonstrations demanding Nixon’s impeachment. (There were demonstrations in front of the Capitol with something we seem to have lost along the way: nude streakers.) Breslin sees history as shaped by a few great men. But his book provides some tips and warnings to us, despite its author’s views. When Congressman Robert Drinan first introduced articles of impeachment against Nixon, his party leadership was against it. In Breslin’s account, they wanted to wait until momentum had built, in order to avoid badly losing a vote on the House floor, which they thought would set impeachment back. So, rather comically, the Speaker, the Majority Leader, and the Whip took turns guarding the House floor at all times in order to be ready to table Drinan’s bill should the Republicans call for a vote on it. They did this up until O’Neill asked Minority Leader Jerry Ford if the Republicans planned to ask for a vote, and Ford replied of course not. The Republicans wanted silence on impeachment, not votes on it. And Drinan’s effort helped move the issue forward.

Another thing that helped move impeachment forward against Nixon was the ACLU asking the House to proceed. Of course, today’s ACLU is not the same organization. Today the ACLU favors banning torture again and again and again, each time pretending that it wasn’t already a felony. But a popular movement has called for impeachment, and who can say the ACLU won’t come around once impeachment appears likely?

It also helped that Judiciary Chair Peter Rodino issued a 718-page report on impeachment. Nixon’s goons went after Rodino and tried to tie him to the mafia. An early vote by Rodino’s Judiciary Committee authorized him to subpoena any agent of the government and that person’s papers, public or private. That’d quickly replace all the chatter about Trump’s tax returns with either Trump’s tax returns or a new impeachable offense. When Rodino was given that authority, almost all of Congress and even the public considered impeachment unlikely if not impossible.

Rodino hired John Doar as special counsel to work on the impeachment, intentionally choosing a well known and respected Republican. Then the House voted to give the Judiciary Committee a million dollars to spend on an investigation. The vote was 367-51. There were Republicans who saw no harm in an investigation, who thought impeachment wouldn’t get anywhere, who thought Nixon was innocent, but who thought Congress had a role to play in our system of government and a responsibility to fill out that role. They also were feeling pressure from their constituents to do their jobs in this matter.

Today the public pressure is there as well. But Trump’s guilt regarding emoluments is public knowledge (and unsubstantiated fantasies regarding Russia are supposed by Democrats to be public knowledge). But it would be helpful for the House to vote a fund for an “investigation,” because it would be part of the proper narrative. As Breslin stresses, facts and laws matter less than appearances.

It would also make sense to hire a special counsel. Doar found that when he looked closely at the information available on Nixon, nothing more was needed to prove his guilt. With regard to Trump, we already knows this. But who knows what an intense examination of the facts could turn up in the way of superfluous evidence? And the evidence isn’t the point. The point is political plausibility.

As soon as impeachment appeared at all plausible against Nixon, public pressure for impeachment – even in Breslin’s account – became intense, and Congress reacted to it. What helped tremendously was polling. The trick today is persuading the polling companies to do the polls, even for money. The few that have been done show the public about evenly spit on impeaching Trump, numbers almost certain to move in favor of impeaching Trump should members of Congress begin pursuing it.

Congress took Nixon to court for refusing to hand over audio tapes. In that case, a Supreme Court that could have been expected to back Nixon instead obeyed pressure from the public and the Congress. In Breslin’s account, however, Nixon would have been impeached whatever way the court ruled. The important thing was that the case was in court.

When the Republicans tried to censure Nixon instead of impeaching him, the Democrats said no. They knew that voters would not be satisfied with anything less than impeachment. That is true again already. Our job is to make Congress aware of it. As of now, unless a Trump offense can somehow be tied to Russia and to a claim that Hillary Clinton “really won,” Democrats in Washington will have no interest in it. Trump could in fact shoot someone on Fifth Avenue. It doesn’t matter. He will not be impeached.

Never mind the whole question of whether future presidents and vice presidents will be expected to obey any laws. It’s all about elections. The Democrats played this same game when Reagan was investigated in the Iran Contra scandal. The Democrats exercised restraint. In the end, they restrained themselves right into a defeat and created the Bush dynasty.

But things were handled differently in 1973. The Democrats made impeachment an issue. In fact, they made it THE issue. And the polls spoke loudly and clearly to Congress members of both parties. Some Democrats, such as Illinois Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, started out adamantly opposed to impeachment. But they were pretty easily brought around. The Majority Leader was a Democrat who saw being a Democrat as something noticeably different from being a Republican. Tip O’Neill’s role in the impeachment of Nixon is highlighted in Breslin’s book:

[O’Neill] came into this room in June with a new weapon, another mirror, a forty-page notebook put together by William Hamilton and Staff, pollsters, for William Welsh of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The topic sentence of the report said, “In April our study shows 43 per cent will vote for a Congressman who is inclined to vote for impeachment; 29 per cent would vote for a Congressman who would not be so inclined and 28 per cent feel the Congressman’s stand on impeachment would make no difference at this time.”

A further interpretation of the figures showed that “50 per cent of Republican voters will vote against a Congressman who is inclined not to vote for impeachment, while only 7 per cent of Democrats will vote for a Congressman who is inclined to vote against impeachment.”

… O’Neill went right up to Rostenkowski, because Rostenkowski is Mayor Daley’s play caller with the Illinois Democrats in Congress. A word from Danny is a word from the Hall. Deviation? Try Russia, not Cook County.

“Danny, ol pal, did you see this poll yet?” Tip O’Neill said.

“What poll?” Rostenkowski grumbled. He despises polls, but he had to ask about a poll because he is in politics and he is supposed to ask about a poll.

“It shows here that we could pick up as many as eighty seats the way it’s going now,” O’Neill said.

“Whew.”

“And it shows here that there is no way for a Congressman in an urban district to win an election against anybody if he doesn’t vote for impeachment.”

“Where does it show that?”

“Here, look. Only seven percent of the Democrats will vote for a Congressman who is against impeachment. That means a Republican could beat a Democrat in a city if the Republican is for impeachment and the Democrat is against it. Can you imagine that? Say, that’s right. You represent a city, don’t you, Danny?”

O’Neill began to show the poll around. He told Thaddeus Dulski, who comes from upstate Erie County in New York, that the poll showed all rural votes being lost to a Congressman who is against impeachment. “But you don’t have any farms in your district,” he told Dulski. Dulski grumbled. He had a religious belief in the presidency. He also had a lot of farmers in his district. Out on the House floor, when O’Neill saw Angelo Roncallo, a Long Island Republican, he said, “Hey, Angie, old pal. Geez, but you really love it down here, don’t you? Angie, I want you to know something. My door is always open to you, as you know. And to show you how much I think of you, Angie, my door is still going to be open to you next year when you’re not going to be in Congress because of this impeachment.” O’Neill gave a great, fun laugh. Roncallo laughed with him but not as much.

Here’s the part where your history teacher says: Compare and Contrast.

The first thing you’ll notice is that it was all about the damn elections back then, just the same as it is now. But somehow the Democrats saw winning the elections as dependent on doing their jobs, and in fact they won the biggest victories in many years and have never done as well since.

The second thing you’ll notice is that just about everything else was completely different. Elections were losable for incumbents. The Democrats had started impeachment proceedings and made it an issue before the polls compelled them to. The media covered the story. The polling companies did the polls and published them. A labor union was pushing impeachment. And a Congressional leader was lobbying his colleagues in the direction of impeachment. Those six facts appear today to have come from some bizarre parallel universe.

Yet, if we are dedicated to saving this republic, we will endeavor to find a way to substitute for them. We will recruit pro-impeachment challengers to incumbents. We will use civil disobedience, media activism, and legal bribery to lobby Congress as hard as possible to take up impeachment. We will organize in swing districts and commission polls in them. We will report the results on progressive radio and the internet. If we lose now, the good guys won’t have won much forty years ago.

Nancy Pelosi: Resister Without a Clue. A 10 point rant.

Sam Husseini just asked Nancy Pelosi why she won’t support an impeachment investigation for Trump. Her answer is on video.

The transcript is probably less embarrassing than the video for the former Speaker who was never much of a, you know, speaker.

SH – … And if I could, to Leader Pelosi, you said that there are no grounds for impeachment against Donald Trump, but legal scholars from Catherine Ross at GW to Laurence Tribe at Harvard say there is. Laurence Tribe recently said, “Congress cannot give consent to a President’s violation of the domestic emoluments clause.”

NP – We have to … the case is being made about the emoluments, and you have to have evidence, and the rest, but the case has not fully been made. The fact is, is that when I was Speaker, after we won in ’06, in ’07 people wanted me to impeach President Bush because the war in Iraq. But there’s a big – I’ve never recovered with the Left on this subject for not impeaching President Bush because of the war in Iraq. Well, you don’t impeach somebody because you don’t like their policies. When they break the law, that’s when you have grounds for impeachment. And at the time of the war I said, as a top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, “The intelligence does not support the threat,” and so did Senator Bob Graham. But the administration was making this strong case with the American people, and perhaps misrepresenting the American people could be cause for impeachment. If so, there’s plenty of grounds right now with the current President, but it just, just isn’t the case. That doesn’t mean nobody’s listening to cases that are being made in a very scientific, methodical way, as to whether there are grounds for impeachment. But the fact is, is that many of, we’re trying to unite the country, and many of the President’s supporters are just not ready to accept the fact that their judgment just might not have been so great in voting for him, and by the time the case is made perhaps they’ll be ready to accept that. It’s very hard, impeachment. It’s very, very hard.

Uh huh. Sort of like stringing words together coherently: very, very hard. But important.

Some basic lessons in law and history for Rep. Pelosi:

1. When we began the drive to impeach Bush it was over violations of law, including violations that traditionally Congress most gave a darn about, including the felonies committed when lying to Congress. We later produced dozens of articles of impeachment, and I published a book together with a former federal prosecutor outlining how to prosecute each of the dozens of crimes found in each of 60 articles.

2. High Crimes and Misdemeanors is not literally crimes, and an impeachment trial is not a criminal trial, which can follow in a court of law. At issue in impeachment is abuse of power, including crimes that violate the highest law of the land, the Constitution, without violating the U.S. Code.

3. The “left” that wanted Bush impeached consisted of roughly half the U.S. public in opinion polls even with zero action for impeachment on capitol hill and Pelosi warning everyone against it.

4. The purpose of impeaching Bush was not to spite Bush but to prevent the expansion of imperial presidential power that has continued ever since the failure to impeach Bush.

5. When we introduced the case for impeaching Trump at http://impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org it was based around violations of the rule of law that numerous legal scholars had predicted he would be violating as soon as he took office. The case was made before Trump became president. It has not been unmade.

6. Opening an investigation may require pretending the case has not already been made, but — by the same token — it does not require that the case have been made. It requires only that there be a basis for an investigation.

7. An impeachment investigation uses the power of subpoena to request relevant documents, such as Donald Trump’s taxes. By precedent, when such a request is refused, that refusal is an impeachable offense. A Congress without an understanding of how these powers work is a Congress that has cut itself off at the knees and then rolled Nancy Pelosi out to tell us how to win marathons.

8. Uniting the deeply despised Democratic and Republican parties as they exist in Washington D.C. is not the same thing as uniting the country. And many of us don’t give a rats behind about either cause in comparison with preventing climate change, war, starvation, poverty, mass-incarceration, and homelessness.

9. The way to educate portions of the population that you believe are lagging in understanding is not to sit back and do nothing until they magically become ready. It is to present your case to them. That’s what impeachment hearings typically have done.

10. That the public was opposed to impeaching Bill Clinton, at least for lying about sex, is as relevant to the general popularity of serious impeachment proceedings as Bernie Sanders’ crowds are to the public approval of the Democratic National Committee.

Nancy Pelosi Backs Bombings But Views Impeachment as Inhumane

The last time Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the proverbial table was 10 years ago. At that time, I reported on an unusual incident:

Stage set: a dining room at left, an office at right

A woman enters the office where the phone is ringing. She answers it.

NP: Hello? Why do you ask? Yes, I’m sure. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Impeachment is off the table. Now let me tell you about some new legislative proposals that I think you’re really going to like. I’ll give you what we’re going to pass in the first hundred seconds and in the first hundred months. Which one do you want first? Let’s start with…

The woman’s voice lowers but continues as lights go up in the dining room, where we see a cat jump off the table and wander into the office where the woman is hanging up the phone.

NP: Where were you sweetie? Was I ignoring you? Come here kitty kitty. I didn’t mean to ignore you.

The phone rings. The cat leaves.

NP: Hello? Yes, this is Nancy Pelosi. Yes, I know, but an investigation investigates. It doesn’t impeach. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Will you excuse me a second?

Nancy gets up and walks to door of dining room, where cat is sprawled on the table.

NP: Impeachment! Get off the table! Now!

The cat flees.

NP: I’m sorry. No. No. It was some, um. There were some stem cells, I mean a doctor about some stem – Dennis Hastert? Why would anyone want to clone Dennis Hastert? I don’t follow. Listen, impeachment is off the table. I assure you. Because we’ve been given a mandate to effect change and…

Nancy’s voice lowers and drones on as a bloody corpse enters the dining room and collapses on the table with a groan. Blood drips audibly onto the floor.

NP: …so those children will be covered with a low adjustible deductible payment during the first three years without illnesses. Can you excuse me a moment?

Nancy looks into dining room. Unfazed, she returns to phone, just as someone knocks at her office door.

NP: Hello? Yes, I’m going to need to call you back. Yes, off the table. That’s a pledge. That’s a blood oath, a pledge. Yes.

Nancy opens the door to greet two men with a television camera and a microphone.

Media: Are we on time?

NP: Yes, yes, come on in. Let me just get some notes. Have a seat.

Nancy goes into the office and closes the door behind her. She drags the corpse off the table, thumping its head on a chair and the floor, splattering blood everywhere, and shuts the corpse in a closet where we see that there are already several others. Nancy returns to the office.

NP: I’m sorry to keep you waiting. Why don’t we go into the other room where there’s more room? Let me get my papers. These are just a few of the bills we’re going to pass in the first hundred legislative minutes…

Nancy picks up a three-foot-high stack of papers and carries it into the dining room with the camera crew behind her. Nancy lays the papers out on the table, especially where the blood is. She puts some on the chairs and floor where the blood is. The paper soaks up the blood.

Media: May we begin filming?

NP: Yes, of course.

Media: Congresswoman Pelosi, on November 7th your home town of San Francisco was one of the cities where voters approved resolutions calling on Congress to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney. There are those here in Washington concerned that, being from San Francisco, you might support gay marriage, thereby lowering the supply of unmarried young men in need of drudge work to build their political resumes, which… I mean, let me rephrase that to be more clear. There are concerns that you might be influenced by the people who live in your district who want impeachment.

NP: That’s absurd. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Impeachment is off the table. And when I say off the table…

A naked man of Arab descent walks in and climbs onto the table on hands and knees.

NP:…I mean that we will be conducting investigations into a number of issue and policy areas, but an investigation is not an impeachment commission.

Six more naked men follow and they form a pyramid atop the table.

Media: With all due respect, I know that you’ve stated that position, but given the abundant, I mean the almost unavoidable fact that you are from San Francisco and do have the voting record of a terrorist-loving America-hating liberal radical, can you assure us that you will never ever pusure impeachment, for example around the sort of issues addressed by the Military Commissions Act?

Three men in dark suits, sunglasses, and ear microphones enter the office and begin setting up small cameras, searching through computers and drawers and a purse, planting recording devices on the phones, etc…

NP: I can promise you no articles of impeachment, no investigation into impeachment, and no reprieve for the enemies of freedom.

Media: Yes, but if you have an investigation and if for some reason that investigation is allowed to proceed to the point of, say…

The men in suits come into the dining room where they attach electronic devices to the naked men on the table.

Media: …of, say, questioning the President’s authority in time of war to create terrorism surveillance programs that don’t comply with a 30-year-old law…

The men in suits administer electric shocks to the naked men who scream in agony. The men in suits leave.

Media: I mean, in a sense, with Secretary Rumsfeld already having resigned isn’t it the Democrats’ turn to make a concession in the interests of the sort of bipartisan civility and cooperation that the voters showed they wanted last week?

NP: Yes, of course.

The naked men continue to scream and to fall off the table, dead.

Media: For some reason I continue to have the impression that you will not be able to avoid impeachment. Can you assure us that it is off the table?

NP: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Impeachment is off the table.

Cameramen leave. Nancy begins dragging new corpses to the closet.

 

David Swanson: Imagine Impeachment!

Exclusive to OpEdNews:
General News

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Joan Brunwasser     Permalink

 

 
opednews.com  
 
Become a Fan
  (83 fans)

 
David Swanson
David Swanson

My guest today is blogger, peace activist activist, author, David Swanson.

Joan Brunwasser: Welcome back to OpEdNews, David. We last spoke a few weeks before the election. I just read your new piece, Why Impeach Donald Trump? When you posted this, the guy had been in office two days. He clearly isn’t widely liked but aren’t you jumping the gun a bit?

David Swanson: Speaking for myself and not for colleagues or organizations, much less George Soros from whom I’ve never received a dime ever (though apparently connecting him to some activist campaign serves some people as a refutation of its demands), I’d say we waited much too long. Some impeachable offenses were guaranteed on Day 1, but we didn’t have to wait until Day 1 to know that. Under the Constitution, the president is not allowed financial gains or business favors from the U.S., state, or foreign governments.

Trump’s lease of the Old Post Office Building violates an explicit clause in the General Services Administration lease contract. Since 1980, Trump and his businesses have brought in $885 million in tax breaks, grants and other subsidies from New York State. China’s state-owned bank is the largest tenant in Trump Tower. It is also a major lender to Trump. These are a few examples of many.

Now, days later, Trump has discriminated against Muslims in a new way with his ban on immigration from certain countries. And he’s carried on the outrages of his predecessors with drone murders, bombing campaigns, and occupations. He’s even apparently threatened to send troops into Chicago. So, I think the impeachable offenses are beginning to pile up.

 

Chicago skyline
Chicago skyline
(image by romanboed)
  License   DMCA   Details

– Advertisement –

JB: Send troops into Chicago? I live in suburban Chicago. What did we do to deserve troops?

DS: @RealDonaldTrump tweeted and @POTUS retweeted: “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!” I tried hoping this meant lawyers, but everyone I asked assumed it meant soldiers. In addition Trump has announced an executive order to “target sanctuary cities” with Chicago chief among them. The details are unknown. He gets the corporate news coverage first, then tells you what the hell it actually is after.

By the way, in Chicago you should do this peace essay.

And sign this petition: Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago Must Divest from Weapons Dealers.

JB: Thanks for the suggestions and the links. Well, in all fairness, Trump is not wrong that the constant shootings are appalling. It would be nice if he came up with something real and substantial and potentially constructive. Are we going to turn the poor areas into policed camps? Yikes! Back to the impeachment argument. Why Trump? Is he a target because he’s so disliked? Is he worse than others before him?

JB: I can’t speak for all supporters of impeaching Trump. Most of them will have bad reasons, as most people have bad reasons for everything. Personally, I favor impeaching him for many of the same offenses, as noted above, for which I favored impeaching Obama and Bush. But the charges brought at http://ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.orgare unprecedented. His predecessors could not have been impeached for the same thing.

Is his offense morally worse than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton taking Saudi government and Boeing funds into her family foundation, and then working to waive legal restrictions on Boeing selling weapons to Saudi Arabia — weapons now being used to slaughter innocents? I don’t think so. But it’s in the same league and likely to be at least as deadly.

Still, for everyone asking me if Trump’s worse than those before him, there are 10,000 shouting at me that he’s better than the guy who would come after him — which, as with Cheney, misses the problem that Pence is already involved and seeing his agenda acted on. But the question of who is worse, Trump or Pence, is a very different question from this one: Who is worse, President Trump in an era of total unchecked power and immunity, or President Pence in an age of popular sovereignty with the threat of impeachment looming behind every high-crime-and-misdemeanor that comes up for consideration by the White House? I believe changing the office of the presidency into one that can be lost for substantive crimes and abuses — a radical change from its current state — would be more significant than the personality, ideology, or party of the presidents who come next.

I believe part of that significance would derive from the benefits of building the movement that imposes impeachment on a corrupt and partisan and reluctant Congress. Cultural change comes principally from movement building, and very little from the personalities of elected officials. If Chicago, for example, passes a resolution demanding Trump’s impeachment, it will be because a lot of people learned what was wrong and how to fix it. They won’t forget that the moment Pence or someone else swears to uphold the Constitution as president.

 

Donald Trump's current address
Donald Trump’s current address
(image by ThatMattWade)
  License   DMCA   Details

JB: Let’s talk pragmatically. How does one go about impeaching a president? And, politically speaking, with the Republicans holding both houses of Congress, how likely is it? They’re on a power trip of their own.

DS: Not too many days ago people told us asking for clemency for Chelsea Manning was pointless. Nothing looks possible until after it’s done. But no past impeachment has been strictly partisan, though the nonsense impeachment of Bill Clinton (who should have been impeached for legitimate reasons) came close. And even in today’s world of Absolute Partisanship there hasn’t been a Republican that the Republicans would be more willing to impeach than Trump. But if they think what follows will be corporate power and a docile public, they’ll be as wrong as were all the Democrats and all the television networks who thought promoting Trump as a candidate would be a really clever way to elect a really unpopular former Secretary of State.

Activism is not prediction. Making predictions and making demands are at odds with each other. I’m only involved in making demands here. And if we succeed, everyone will say it was inevitable, so having made predictions won’t be worth much anyway.

 

our nation's capital
our nation’s capital
(image by szeke)
  License   DMCA   Details

JB: You make an excellent point. Social change only looks inevitable when we look back in time. Let’s say that I agree with you. How to proceed? What’s the next step?

Sign the petition: http://ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org

Read my FAQ: http://firedonaldtrump.org

Share widely.

Take flyers to events.

Contact your Congress member.

Ask your town or city to pass a resolution.

Ask your organizations to support.

 

Women's March on Washington DC
Women’s March on Washington DC
(image by Mobilus In Mobili)
  License   DMCA   Details

JB: There were massive marches across the nation and worldwide the day after Inauguration Day. The turnouts everywhere were unprecedented, the largest we’ve ever seen in this country. What, if anything, does that add to the mix?

DS: Well, it shows opposition to Trump and to certain of his policies. It’s also full of flaws, failure to support the few good things he does, failure to oppose some of the worst things, and way too much support for the Democratic Party. But on the whole it is a very good sign, as is resistance within the EPA, the National Park Service, and various city governments. We just need to use this opposition wisely, including promoting a positive vision of where we want to be.

JB: How would the marches “support the few good things he does, failure to oppose some of the worst things”? How do marches pinpoint like that? And should they? Also, how did the marches demonstrate too much support for the Democratic Party? You lost me there, David.

DS: Speakers at the marches called him names, insulted his appearance, threatened violence, cheered for Democrats. Speakers included Debbie Wasserman Schultz who did more than anyone else to nominate the only Democrat who could have lost to Trump. This is a crowd much of which proclaims that ending the TPP had nothing to do with Trump, rather than encouraging him to do the same to NAFTA, but announces that restarting the DAPL and Keystone XL was entirely Trump with zero role by the previous president who left the door open. Many of these people want every anti-Russia/anti-Trump claim produced by the CIA taken on faith even as it undermines the idea of fact-based politics and even as it stirs up dangerous hostility between the US and Russian governments.

Torture prisons? The CIA is never wrong. Trump is never right. But they both want ’em. Aaaaarggh! What to think? Better ask the Democrats!

No. What we need is principled, policy-based activism that ignores party and personality and insist s on facts and accountability across the board, crediting the worst people when they do right and condemning the best when they do wrong.

JB: Got it. By the way, I wasn’t referring to the speakers at the marches. For the most part, no one could hear them anyway. I’m talking about the energy of the millions who came out not because they’re DNC or Washington apparatchniks. Anything you’d like to add before we wrap this up?

Imagine a movement to hold the U.S. government to account in the absence of the impeachment provision in the Constitution. Then imagine that one day we were granted the magical power to insert impeachment into history and into U.S. law. Wouldn’t we jump at it?

JB: What a tantalizing question! I enjoyed talking with you, David. You always make me stretch. Thank you.

***

FireDonaldTrump.org

David says: If I’ve persuaded you, or if you already agreed, please sign this petition .

Help support DavidSwanson.org, WarIsACrime.org, and TalkNationRadio.org by clicking here .

**

My previous interviews with David:

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 10.20.2016

Bernie and the Media: No Love Lost1.26.2016

War is So 2014!1.3.215

Exclusive Interview with Activist David Swanson 6.22.2009

 

– Advertisement –

View Ratings | Rate It

 
 

http://www.opednews.com/author/author79.html
Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more…)

Why Impeach Donald Trump

By David Swanson, FireDonaldTrump.org

What are the grounds for impeachment?

They will likely be piling up rapidly. President Trump did use Day 1 to advise the CIA that the United States should have stolen all of Iraq’s oil. But here is a place to start. We already have a president who is violating two clauses in the U.S. Constitution, one forbidding any gifts or benefits from foreign governments, the other forbidding the same from the U.S. government or any U.S. state. This is the result of Donald Trump refusing to separate himself from major business interests as past presidents have done. Those interests will also inevitably involve Trump in violating the STOCK Act which forbids the use of non-public government information to make a private profit.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states: “The President … shall not receive … any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.” This means that the President cannot receive personal financial gains from the United States government or from the governments of any of the 50 states while he is president. This restriction is absolute and cannot be waived by Congress. Trump is already in violation of it and will be more so with every law, rule, regulation, enforcement, or lack thereof that his subordinates, Congress, or any agency of the federal government enacts to the benefit of Trump’s businesses and possessions.

For example, Trump’s lease of the Old Post Office Building violates an explicit clause in the General Services Administration lease contract which states: “No … elected official of the Government of the United States … shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.” The GSA’s failure to enforce that contract is an unconstitutional benefit to Trump.

Or, to take a state-level example: since 1980 Trump and his businesses have garnered “$885 million in tax breaks, grants and other subsidies for luxury apartments, hotels and office buildings in New York.” Continuing or increasing those subsidies puts Trump in violation of the Constitution.

Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution says that “no person holding any office of profit or trust under [the United States government], shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” This is essentially the same ban as above, but applied to foreign governments.

The Trump Organization has licensing deals with two Trump Towers in Istanbul. Trump himself says, “I have a little conflict of interest, because I have a major, major building in Istanbul.” China’s state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is the largest tenant in Trump Tower. It is also a major lender to Trump. Its rent payments and its loans put Trump in violation of the Constitution. Foreign diplomats have begun shifting their D.C. hotel and event reservations to Trump International Hotel. The Embassy of Kuwait was reportedly pressured by the Trump Organization to do so. Pressured or not, Kuwait’s business at a Trump hotel puts Trump in violation of the highest law of the land.

In November, there were reports (denied by Trump) that Trump had asked the president of Argentina for help with a building permit in Buenos Aires. Whether he did or not, and whether he receives that help or not, President Trump will be frequently granted or denied similar approval for his business ventures from numerous foreign and domestic governments.

Why punish a successful business man?

We can set aside the legality and morality of Trump’s business success, and the question of how successful he has been. A campaign to impeach him for his violations of the Constitution can hold the position that Trump is perfectly welcome to keep all of his businesses and loans. He just cannot simultaneously hold an office in which they create gross violations of the U.S. Constitution. Past presidents have sold off their assets or placed them in a blind trust. A blind trust would not, however, be blind for Trump who would inevitably learn of the approval of new towers or the sale of properties. Selling (and using a truly blind trust to do so) was Trump’s only option other than not being president. He chose not to take his only Constitutional choice.

Is this partisanship?

A great many people do anything political for partisan reasons. As I’m unable to put an end to that, it is inevitable that people will favor or oppose impeaching Trump for partisan reasons. But they need not. The above charges against Trump are unprecedented. They should apply to him and any future presidents who engage in the same abuses, regardless of party. Someone who voted for Trump as a way out of corruption should want him impeached as much as someone who voted against him for the same reason. Trump is now the worst possible “insider” — using public office for personal greed.

Is this morally worse than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton taking Saudi government and Boeing funds into her family foundation, and then working to waive legal restrictions on Boeing selling weapons to Saudi Arabia  — weapons now being used to slaughter innocents? Some will think so and others not, largely along partisan lines. Personally I’m in favor of impeaching Clinton, Obama, and George W. Bush right now and imposing the penalties of a bar on holding future office and a denial of retirement benefits. But those efforts are simply not the same priority today as halting the presidency of the current president.

When I advocated for impeaching Bush I explained that if he was not held accountable his successors would expand further the abusive powers he had expanded. When I argued that Obama was in fact doing this and should be impeached, I was generally called worse things than partisan. But the longer presidents are allowed to act without a check on their powers, the more they will expand and abuse them. Numerous government officials and members of Congress would best serve the world by resigning. But the place to start is with an unprecedented and unique form and level of corruption in the single highest office in the land.

Is this personal?

A great many people focus their political interest on personalities rather than policies. They forbid themselves to praise a good action by a politician who mostly makes bad ones, or to condemn a bad one by a hero. They make heroes of whoever is not their enemy, and vice versa. They place greater importance on whether they’d like to be friends with someone than on whether that person will benefit or harm the world. Because I lack the strength to change this, many will support or oppose impeaching Trump based on whether they consider him obnoxious or inspiring. They shouldn’t and need not. President Obama oversaw activities that would have horrified his supporters had they not been so focused on his style. History does not look kindly on the impeachment of Bill Clinton for personal flaws, something the majority of the public opposed — while there were much better grounds on which to have impeached him. (History may also frown on Congress’s refusal to even attempt to impeach George W. Bush, something the majority of the public supported.)

Is the point to make Mike Pence president?

The question of who is worse, the president or the vice president, is a very different question from this one: Who is worse, President Trump in an era of total unchecked power and immunity, or President Pence in an age of popular sovereignty with the threat of impeachment looming behind every high-crime-and-misdemeanor that comes up for consideration by the White House? I believe changing the office of the presidency into one that can be lost for substantive crimes and abuses — a radical change from its current state — would be more significant than the personality, ideology, or party of the presidents who come next. I believe part of that significance would derive from the benefits of building the movement that imposes impeachment on a corrupt and partisan and reluctant Congress. Cultural change comes principally from movement building, and very little from the personalities of elected officials.

Why not impeach Trump for being a Russian agent?

Both an impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives and a trial in the Senate will require public evidence. The case made above relies on readily available and public evidence in great abundance that will grow daily, and may very well come to include benefits from the Russian government.

In contrast, if there exists any evidence of the Russian government hacking Democratic emails or of the Russian government giving those emails to WikiLeaks, it has not been made public. If there exists any evidence of Trump being complicit in those actions, it has not been made public. You may suspect that such evidence exists. If so, it could certainly become the basis for additional articles of impeachment once it is produced. Meanwhile the content of the DNC emails could arguably form part of the basis for a case against current or former civil officers among Democrats involved in manipulating their own primary.  

Why not impeach Trump for helping to destroy the earth’s climate, or many other reasons?

I’m in favor of it, yes. But it should wait at least a week or two to allow the damage to accumulate. Removing all mention of climate change from the White House website is not sufficient. And the case will never be as easy a sell to the House of Misrepresentatives. The Constitution does not prohibit destroying the earth’s climate, unless we so interpret the preamble — or so interpret the mythical language that a militarized government has rumored to exist in the Constitution creating a presidential duty to protect the country from danger.

Impeachment is a political process. Individuals and cities and towns and organizations can demand it. Representatives can pursue it. We can impeach for continuing or accelerating the destruction of our natural environment, even if presidential predecessors did the same or similar. We can impeach for war or torture or drone murders or warrantless spying or proclaiming the needs to steal oil or kill families or ban Muslims, or for any form of discrimination or cruelty that we find sufficiently intolerable. And I wish we would. But which charges can clear the hurdles of the House Judiciary, the full House, and the Senate is not a simple moral question.

Why impeach Trump when he could prevent war with Russia?

Yes, Trump seems to favor deescalating the dangerous cold war created under Obama. He may favor this for corrupt or environmentally destructive reasons. Regardless, any steps away from confrontations with nuclear governments are highly desirable. But Trump’s vision is one of greater, not lesser, militarism. His preferred targets just don’t include Russia. And impeaching Trump for abusing his power hardly sends a message to future presidents that they should pursue more wars. Holding one president accountable creates a certain level of accountability in the entire government going forward. And that tends to move us away from war, not toward it.

Is the point to empower the CIA and the corporate media?

That might be the point of going after Trump over Russian hacking rumors. The result might be a failure to impeach if there is no evidence. It might be greater hostility with Russia. And it might be a feather in the cap of a couple of institutions worthy of mountains of scorn. But these are not issues when Trump is impeached for public offenses visible to the naked eye with no spying or journalism required.

Do you really think Congress will impeach a president?

Yes, it certainly might, especially as the evidence of high-crimes-and-misdemeanors accumulates and Trump’s popularity sinks even lower than its current record level — an effect that just opening an impeachment process has usually contributed to (Bill Clinton’s unpopular impeachment being an exception to the rule). But even an unsuccessful impeachment, like Truman’s or Nixon’s can have seriously beneficial results, including ending the abuses for which Truman was almost impeached, and ending the war and presidency of Nixon.

Do you really think everything is normal and nothing radical is needed?

I think all potentially useful strategies are desperately needed and that impeachment is one of them. Others are marches, sit-ins, petitions, media production, legislation, strikes, refusals to cooperate with illegal actions, protection of those in danger, peace initiatives, local and global moves toward sustainable economies, boycotts, divestments, foreign exchanges, art work, parades, etc., etc. But a nonviolent movement seeking to overturn an abusive government would fantasize about an impeachment provision if it didn’t exist. It’s the best gift that the drafters of the Constitution gave us. Much of the rest of the document is horribly out of date, and many of the best parts of it are routinely violated. Continuing to neglect the power of impeachment would be a terrible waste.

Do you really think something as radical as impeachment is needed?

I think it’s needed in much less extreme situations than this one. If it’s not needed now, when would it be?

Wouldn’t our time be better spent holding marches or blocking pipelines or burning limos or educating children or building a new party or designing bunkers or . . . ?

Yes, there are lots of good ideas and bad. I’d like to see all of the good ones pursued, with people putting their energies where their passions and talents lie. But we cannot ignore an out of control government. Taking it (not “taking it back” since we never had it) has to be high on our list of priorities. It is still what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it was 50 years ago this spring: the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. Leaving that entity in the hands of an attention-starved man who wants primarily to personally profit from it is playing with fire.

If I’ve persuaded you, or if you already agreed, please sign this petition: http://ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org

*****

A song by Tom Chelston:

IMPEACH (Trump)

Yeah, the framers of our constitution
Fresh on the heels of revolution
Well they must have seen the writing on the wall
They constructed a tremendous avenue
In article one again in article two
To commence a presidential overhaul

Upholdin’ the public trust is a presidential duty
And it’s illegal to profit off America’s booty
But you’re still tappin’ the till behind the scene
And you’re a bright enough loser to know what them laws is
The foreign and domestic emoluments clauses
 You’re playin’ the People’s House like a personal slot machine

I M P E A C H
Seven little letters gonna set us straight
I M P E A C H
How much Trump are we gonna take
I M P E A C H
Time to clean the white house out

 We’re sendin’ the House a terrific resolution
To protect and defend the constitution
They’ll grab you by the Trump and you’ll be on your way
We’ll get a couple of witnesses and a few subpoenas
And “Your Fired” for High Crimes and Misdemeanors
We’ll watch your tremendous limo drive away
 
I M P E A C H
Seven little letters gonna get us straight
I M P E A C H
How much Trump are we gonna take
I M P E A C H
Time to clean the white house out
 I M P E A C H
Seven little letters gonna set us straight
I M P E A C H
How much Trump are we gonna take
I M P E A C H

Time to clean the white house out
You know it’s time to clean the white house out
Time to clean the white house out
Time to clean the white house out

©2017 TomSongs

Listen to the audio.

Past impeachment movements have been the focus of wonderful and voluminuous artistic creations: visual, dramatic, and musical.

Please send your ideas for chants and songs.

Here are some to get us started:
 

Which Side Are You On? with apologies to Bily Bragg and Florence Reece

Come all you good people
Impeachment we must seize
Trump’s using the White House
To enrich his companies
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?

***

IMPEACH, with apologies to Ottis Redding

What you want
Baby, impeachment
What you need
Don’t you know impeachment
All I’m askin’
Is for a little respect for the rule of law (just a little bit)
Hey baby (just a little bit)
The Constitution (just a little bit)
Mister President (just a little bit)
You’ve been taking all of our money
And we’re askin’ in return, Donny
Is to send you home now
I-M-P-E-A-C-H
Find out what makes America Great
I-M-P-E-A-C-H
The rule of law and love trump hate
Oh (emoluments, emolument, emoluments, emoluments)
A little respect for democracy
Whoa, Donald (just a little bit)
A little respect (just a little bit)

***

Goodbye Trump, with apologies to Gary De Carlo, Dale Frashuer, Paul Leka

He was never here to comfort and cheer you
He wanted your vote and what a surprise
He’s been using the White House to make a few bucks

You thought you loved Donald, so kiss him
(I wanna see you kiss him, I wanna see you kiss him)
Go on and kiss him goodbye, na na na na, na na na

Na na na na, hey hey, goodbye

Hey hey, goodbye
Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye
Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye
Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye

 

***

 

Send more!
Email: david [AT] davidswanson [dot] org

 

Fantasies About Russia Could Doom Opposition to Trump

To many Democrats for whom killing a million people in Iraq just didn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense, and who considered Obama’s bombing of eight nations and the creation of the drone murder program to be praiseworthy, Trump will be impeachable on Day 1.

Indeed Trump should be impeached on Day 1, but the same Democrats who found the one nominee who could lose to Trump will find the one argument for impeachment that can explode in their own faces. Here’s a “progressive” Democrat:

“In his dalliance with Vladimir Putin, Trump’s actions are skirting treason. … By undermining further investigation or sanctions against the Russian manipulation of the 2016 election, Trump as president would be giving aid and comfort to Russian interference with American democracy.”

There’s a bit of a nod there — in the word “investigations” — to the lack of any evidence that Russia manipulated any U.S. election, yet that manipulation is stated as fact, and a failure to support further sanctions as punishment for it becomes “aid and comfort.” What level of punishment exactly constitutes the absence of aid and comfort? And how does that level of punishment compare with the level likely to produce war or nuclear holocaust? Who knows.

Failure to sufficiently punish a foreign government, even for an actual proven offense, has never been a high crime and misdemeanor. The United States is in fact bound by the Hague Convention of 1899, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and the United Nations Charter to take any such dispute to arbitration and to settle it by pacific means. But that would require producing some evidence rather than mere allegations. Lawless “punishment” is much easier.

But further evidence can emerge to counter the claim. The lack of evidence for the claim can weigh ever more heavily on public opinion. And the dangers of creating further hostility with Russia can enter the consciousness of additional people.

Meanwhile, we have a man planning to be president later this month whose business dealings clearly violate the U.S. Constitution in terms of not only foreign but also domestic corruption. That’s a perfectly overwhelming case for impeachment and removal from office that doesn’t require opposing a single incident of mass murder or offending a single Pentagon contractor.

Beyond that, Trump is becoming president after election day intimidation, the partisan-based removal of voters from the rolls, and opposition to attempting to count paper ballots where they existed. He’s arriving with the stated policies of unconstitutionally discriminating against Muslims, murdering families, stealing oil, torturing, and proliferating nuclear weapons.

In other words, Donald Trump will be from Day 1 an impeachable president, and Democrats will have already spent months building their campaign around the one thing that won’t work. Imagine what will happen after all their hearings and press conferences, when their supporters find out that they aren’t even accusing Vladimir Putin of hacking into election machines, that in fact they are accusing unknown individuals of hacking into Democrats’ emails, and that they are then vaguely speculating that those individuals could have been sources for WikiLeaks, thereby informing the U.S. public of what was quite obvious and ought to have been widely reported for the good of the U.S. government, namely that the DNC rigged its primary.

By the time the Democrats beat themselves to the floor with this charade, more facts will likely have come out regarding WikiLeaks’ actual source(s), and more hostility will likely have been stirred up with Russia. The war hawks have already got Trump talking up nuclear escalation.

Luckily there is an ace in the hole. There is something else that Democrats will be eager to hold Trump accountable for. And give Trump a month and he’ll produce it. I’m referring, of course, to that greatest fear of Our Beloved Founding Fathers, the ultimate high crime and misdemeanor: the presidential sex scandal.