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Trump versus Congress and our Constitution

Donald Trump is the most impeachable president in American history. Many Democrats, however, are running away from the word “impeachment” for tactical political reasons. Some Democrats say they have a sworn duty under the U.S. Constitution to present articles of impeachment for a vote in the House of Representatives, regardless of the refusal by the Republican-controlled Senate to hold a trial.

The six major House Committees are investigating issues ranging from his tax returns and business dealings to the documented serial obstructions of justice documented in the Mueller Report. As these investigations move well beyond what is already on the public record and more Americans learn their contents, there will be more than enough to substantiate numerous articles of impeachment. Plus a new one of Trump’s own creation — the wholesale, broadside obstruction of all these congressional investigations, defying subpoenas for sworn testimony and documents, amounting to a gigantic contempt of Congress — itself an impeachable offense.

Trump is trying to bar key witnesses from testifying. He is suing his own accounting firm and Deutsche Bank to shield his sordid business relationships and potential tax violations.

I’ll bet he’s never even read our Constitution — he says out loud that whatever Congress does on impeachment, the Supreme Court will rescue him. He does not seem to realize that when  it comes to congressional impeachment and conviction, the decision by Congress is final.

The House Democrats can strengthen their case with the American people by connecting impeachable offenses with actions that endanger the lives, health and economic well-being of adults and children.

For starters, Trump and his henchmen have openly refused to faithfully execute the laws of the land as required in Article 2, section 3, of the Constitution. By not enforcing the law, he has opened the floodgates for deadly emissions from various industries that are getting into the lungs of millions of Americans. He has jeopardized the health of millions of Americans by allowing more pollution into water, air, food and workplaces of the American people by immobilizing, if not firing, the federal cops on the corporate crime beat, pulling back on existing enforcement, eliminating critical safeguards on the books and cutting enforcement budgets. 

For the first time ever, life expectancy in the United States is declining. This lawlessness is way beyond what should be excused by “prosecutorial discretion.” 

Trump’s defiant wholesale repeal of the rule of law begs for impeachment. Impeachable offenses include violating Article I, section 8 by conducting wars of choice without a congressional declaration and other provision of the Constitution (Article 1 section 9 clause 7) and statutes banning spending tax monies without congressional appropriation. Consider the support of the war on Yemen and bombing of Syria with immense civilian destruction as illustrations.

Then there are Trump’s campaign finance violations, his tax frauds and his threats to use blanket pardons of Trump associates who are now convicted criminals. Not to mention Trump’s “indifference to wrongdoing,” in the words of Charles Black, the late, eminent constitutional scholar. Such “indifference” Black declared “may be in effect equivalent to ratification of wrongdoing.”

Recall the five-week shutdown of the U.S. government by our pouting, juvenile president over not getting his porous border wall funded. Trump’s actions shut down critical, life-saving governmental services. That tantrum alone should be an impeachable offense.

The Congress was handed a mass of evidence by the Mueller Report and congressional hearings are likely to find this evidence will provide a solid basis for impeachment. Bear in mind, Mueller decided he couldn’t recommend any criminal enforcement due to his hands being tied by a Justice Department “opinion,” not a law, that sitting presidents could not be criminally indicted. Instead he punted his damning report to Congress with such statements as “Our investigation found multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations.” Over a dozen listed acts, to be specific.

As the laws start catching up with Trump, he will resort to raucous mass rallies where he will warn of violence in the streets, as he did during his campaign in 2016 when discussing his potential loss. He will start military actions, which explains why he had to pressure former generals, Mattis and Kelly, to resign from the Department of Defense and White House. Trump doesn’t like generals who advocate restraint.

Our lying, lawless President is about to face the laws of the land, backed by our Constitution. It is time for Republicans to start looking at themselves in the mirror of history. And it is time for all Americans to challenge their elected officials to stand tall and uphold the rule of law.

Safeguarding our democracy requires nothing less. 

 

Consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader grew up in Winsted and is a graduate of The Gilbert School. He is the founder of the American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted.