If they do, it ought to be for what he has actually done, not imaginary crimes.
By Philip Giraldi
The number of Democratic congressmen favoring initiating impeachment against President Donald Trump is growing and soon might be difficult for the party leadership to ignore. The constitutional authority for impeachment is that the president must have committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which is, of course, subjective. In reality, the grounds for impeachment of Trump that have surfaced somewhat depend on who is doing the explaining, but they come down to one major issue as well as several broad categories of alleged malfeasance.
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler, who has called Trump “disgusting and racist,” foresees the House moving toward consideration of formal impeachment proceedings by the end of the year. He elaborated on the grounds for impeachment, saying in an interview: “The fact is, the president accepted help from the Russians to attack our election to work with his campaign to work with the Russians, that is undisputed. He worked hard to cover up those crimes and committed more crimes in order to cover them up by urging others to lie to investigators. So he just tried to change the subject which what he usually does. [sic]”
Nadler, who will be the key player in any impeachment attempt, cited repeatedly Trump’s “failure to defend the Constitution against continuing Russian attacks,” a claim that very much will depend on the reading and analysis of the full text of Robert Mueller’s report. Mueller and the Democrats, as well as many Republicans, clearly believe that there was some Russian interference in the election, though most would agree that it had no impact. As of right now, the allegation about collusion by Team Trump with the Russians is just that, based on little in the way of solid evidence. Nor is there any actual evidence to suggest that Moscow has plans to interfere more decisively in 2020, a bit of fearmongering that is being circulated to continue to blame the Kremlin for Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016 while at the same time criticizing Trump’s alleged leniency toward Russian wrongdoing.
Perhaps recognizing the weakness of the “Russiagate” case, Nadler has also cited the emoluments clause, which is the restriction on using one’s office for self-enrichment. It is being claimed that Trump has used his hotels and resorts to house visiting foreign dignitaries as well as government staff members, thereby generating profits for those entities. The emoluments clause is in some sense a curiosity that is rarely enforced since most congressmen benefit materially from their offices in one way or another, but it is a useful club to beat Trump with, as it can be reduced to numbers on paper, which are hard to deny.
Nadler concluded: “We are investigating whether to report or approve articles of impeachments. We have impeachment resolutions before the [House Judiciary] committee. We are conducting investigations to determine whether we should report those to the House or whether we should draft our own and report them to the House.”
Another liberal congressman who also favors impeaching Trump has a somewhat different take on the issues, though he also raises the emoluments issue. Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia emphasizes: “First, the gravity of the revelations in the Special Counsel’s report and testimony before Congress should trouble all Americans. The report details at least 10 instances in which the president of the United States obstructed justice. Further, it chillingly warns, ‘The protection of the criminal justice system from corrupt acts by any person—including the president—accords with the fundamental principle of our government that ‘[n]o [person] in this country is so high that he is above the law.’
“Second, I have seen firsthand the Trump administration’s across-the-board defiance of Congress’s legitimate investigations and subpoenas on everything from adding a citizenship question to the census to this administration’s cruel and inhumane child separation policy. . . .
“Finally, I caution that we cannot allow ourselves to become so desensitized to the president’s behavior that there are no consequences. This is a man who continues to debase the office he holds. He has instilled fear and incited violence. He has called American communities infested, he has told members of Congress to go back to where they came from, he stoked the flames of white supremacy by repeatedly referring to an invasion of foreigners, and he has questioned the allegiance of our fellow Americans. At every moment, whether it was in the aftermath of Charlottesville or El Paso or Dayton, he has failed to heal our country and call us to our better angels. Instead, he has stained the Oval Office with his racism, xenophobia, and bigotry.”
Connolly’s language is extremely strong but most of the offenses he refers to are reflective of his own worldview and perception of the proper role of president, something that Trump and many American voters do not share.
I would not like to see Trump impeached because that would make hard-core Christian Zionist Mike Pence president, but if Trump were to be tried by the House of Representatives, I would prefer that it be for some of the things he has indisputably done:
- Trump has twice attacked Syria with cruise missiles based on flawed intelligence without a declaration of war and without Damascus representing an actual threat. That is a war crime, and the stationing of American soldiers in Syria without the consent of that country’s government is also illegal.
- The Trump administration’s “Justice” Department is seeking to extradite truth-teller Julian Assange so he can be locked up for life or killed in prison like Jeffrey Epstein.
- America’s secretary of state and national security advisors are implementing policies that impose punitive sanctions that have served to starve or otherwise kill thousands of Venezuelans, Iranians, and Yemenis.
- Far from being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s patsy, Trump has unnecessarily escalated tensions with Moscow more than any American president since the end of the Cold War by moving NATO troops up to the Russian border and arming Ukraine, putting our nation and much of the world at risk of a nuclear exchange whether by accident or design.
- Trump has unnecessarily withdrawn from an Iranian nuclear agreement and from two arms treaties with Russia as well as from a climate agreement, all of which, in my opinion, were beneficial to the United States.
- The Trump administration has continued to support the Middle East’s two kleptocracies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, no matter what they do. The tilt toward Israel has been particularly depressing to witness, as it could lead to a major war in the region with the United States placed right in the middle.
And last but not least, Trump has triumphed in the theater of the absurd by recently sending his official hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien to Stockholm to obtain freedom for an American rap musician, ASAP Rocky, who was in jail after having gotten into a fight with some local boys.
The Trumpster did not actually know the lad, but he was vouched for by the likes of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, both of whom have had nice things to say about the president. Trump also exercised his usual disregard for diplomatic conventions by tweeting furiously against Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Lofven, over Rocky’s detention. The negotiator was instructed to threaten Sweden that if they did not release Rocky there would be “negative consequences” for the bilateral relationship.
As the suffering U.S. taxpayer had to pay for the O’Brien trip and as the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm is fully equipped in its Citizens’ Services section to assist an American who is facing trial, I would consider impeaching Trump for the ASAP Rocky case alone.
Threatening Sweden, which has a judicial system that functions better and more fairly than that in the United States, is bad enough, but, worse still, the president of the United States should understand clearly that the money he is wasting on shoring up his political position with trash like the Kardashians is actually our money. If he doesn’t understand that he understands nothing.
Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. His other articles appear on the website of “The Unz Review.”