The Very Impeachable Donald Trump

Perhaps it would be useful to many to demonstrate just how impeachable President Donald Trump is. I’ll introduce three clear examples of impeachable offenses. I will also introduce the most problematic offense, obstruction of Congress, but I move that to ‘strongly subjective’ as conservatives maintain that issue is up to the courts to decide.

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Emoluments Clause

I remember watching the inauguration of President Donald Trump with a certain level of awe: it was the first time that a president was in violation of his oath to country and constitution as he took his Presidential oath.

It was surreal.

President Trump refused to divest in his business interests, and refused to put his business dealings into a blind trust. This creates a layer of separation between business and the Presidential office, and removes many conflicts of interest that could arise. (Imagine owning an oil company and signing legislation that lifts the ban on offshore drilling.)

The emoluments clause states that no person in office can receive payments or gifts from a foreign government. It’s not hard to understand why this is specifically inked into our constitution: you don’t want foreign leaders lining the pockets of politicians to influence that could be to the benefit to their country, and the detriment of ours.

United States Constitution Article 1 §9.8:

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, 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.”

Contrary to what conservative pundits would have you believe, it makes no exceptions for, as an example, a sprawling hotel enterprise. (It should be noted that in 2017, the Department of Justice released an ‘updated’ interpretation of the emoluments clause that permitted payments so long as they were derived from legitimate commercial dealings. It should also be noted that the Department of Justice is administered by the Attorney General, appointed by, naturally, Donald Trump.)

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Jeff Sessions, Trump appointee for Attorney General. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

This isn’t a moot point or a what if: more than 22 foreign governments have enriched Trump through activities at his hotels. And while that may not influence policy, it may have — and that’s exactly why the Founding Fathers explicitly barred this with the now tainted emoluments clause.

To argue that Trump is not openly violating the constitution here is to rely on a brand new interpretation of a centuries old clause by, essentially, the Trump administration themselves. Otherwise, it’s objectively a gross constitutional violation.

Objectively impeachable, pending a judicial decision that correctly asserts the Constitution makes no exceptions in the emoluments clause for commercial business dealings.

Campaign Finance Violations

Much has been written on this, and it somehow is still “hotly debated”. Here’s the bottom line: Michael Cohen is in jail for campaign finance violations stemming from hush money payments on behalf of Donald Trump to two women with whom Trump had affairs with. Fact.

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A quite guilty Michael Cohen. (John Angelillo/UPI)

Donald Trump himself directed these payments, and admitted as such. Fact.

The only reason he has not been charged as a co-conspirator in this matter is that you cannot indict a sitting president. (That’s what the process of impeachment is for.) Fact.

If Bill Clinton can be impeached for lying under oath, Trump certainly can for being part of campaign finance violations.

Objectively impeachable.

Inviting Election Interference

Interesting to note that Trump is not being impeached for the two previous examples. It’s above my pay grade to understand why Pelosi and Co. have decided that those are not worthy of debate, so I won’t speculate.

Instead we move to the two articles of impeachment currently sitting in the House.

The first stems from conduct and conversations between Trump and his agents with their counterparts of the Ukraine. Check out this article for a detailed breakdown of these offenses, but here’s the gist of it.

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President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (Fox News)

President Trump, in speaking with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, asked him to investigate the Bidens — a political opponent — and withheld $400M of aid as leverage to compel them to announce said investigations. Put simply, President Trump used the power of the Presidential office to compel a foreign government to interfere and do harm to a political opponent.

It’s the most direct abuse of power one can think up.

Objectively impeachable.

Obstructing Congress

Over the course of his first term, President Trump has obstructed a staggering number of congressional investigations. Many flew well under the radar: here’s a list of 21 different investigations the Trump administration is standing in the way of, from Hurricane Maria response, to the matter of Jared Kushner and 20 others security clearances, issued despite the protest of top intelligence officials.

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President Trump, thinking about what to obstruct next, presumably. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)

This culminated in recent weeks with Trump’s refusal to allow subpoenaed witnesses to testify in the House regarding the Ukraine incident, and refusal to turn over documents on the same issue.

President Trump has claimed executive privilege — that he can withhold anything if he deems it would be against public interest to disclose what’s being asked of him. But, from the Nixon impeachment, the Supreme Court ruled, unanimously, that executive privilege is not absolute, and that Trump would have to prove “the valid need for protection of communications between high Government officials and those who advise and assist them in the performance of their manifold duties”.

It would seem unlikely that every communication Trump has blocked would rise to that rather high standard.

But, because that is a matter for the courts to decide, which they have not yet, I can’t rightfully assert that my opinion of this claim is the same as an objectively impeachable act.

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It would be interesting to see how impartial the conservative leaning Supreme Court would be here. Based on the Nixon precedents, I think even they would struggle to support Trump fully. (Progress Pond)

Subjectively impeachable, but incredibly likely, based upon the precedents from the Nixon impeachment.

So there you have it. Three and a half reasons Trump has engaged in behavior that rises to and beyond the impeachable threshold.

If we’re being honest, these make Watergate and Clinton look like child’s play. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Politics, philosophy, culture. Just trying to make the world a better, place. BS Finance. Follow me everywhere @MFrancisWrites. “I know that I know nothing.”

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