Hot on the heels of demanding a recess appointment to the Supreme Court for Garland Merrick, now the left is demanding that Trump be immediately impeached. Leading the charge is the always nutty Robert Kuttner of the leftwing loony bin, American Prospect.
From a fairly reasonable beginning:
Donald Trump is wildly unfit to be president, and he will demonstrate that in ways that break the law and violate the Constitution. Since the election, there have been three wishful efforts to keep Trump from the presidency: a recount doomed by a lack of evidence; a futile campaign to flip Trump electors; and an even more improbable drive to get the Supreme Court to annul the 2016 election.
We go right off the rails:
There is only one constitutional way to remove a president, and that is via impeachment.
What’s needed is a citizens’ impeachment inquiry, to begin on Trump’s first day in office.
The inquiry should keep a running dossier, and forward updates at least weekly to the House Judiciary Committee. There will be no lack of evidence.
The materials should be made public via a website. The inquiry should be conducted by a distinguished panel whose high-mindedness and credentials are, well, unimpeachable.
There needs to be a parallel public campaign, pressing for an official investigation.
Let’s stop for a moment and catch our breath. Impeachment is a political act. An impeachable offense is exactly what the House of Representatives and Senate says it is. If the requisite majorities in both Houses decide that bad hair and an orange complexion are impeachable offenses, then Trump is a goner even if he governs like Solon. If he runs Robert Kuttner down in his Cadillac Escalade on Pennsylvania Avenue at high freakin noon and Congress says, “meh,” then that is not impeachable. No amount of “citizen inquiries” change anything so long as 218 members of the House of Representatives say no to impeachment.
Beyond that, because impeachment is a political act, there is really no conceivable panel — at least at this state of play — which would be anything other than highly partisan and more than slightly deranged Democrats. Kuttner goes on to give examples of why Trump’s impeachment should start NOW!!1!11!
Trump has already committed grave misdeeds of the kind that the Constitutional founders described as high crimes and misdemeanors. With his commingling of his official duties and his personal enrichment, Trump will be in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which unambiguously prohibits any person holding public office from profiting from gifts or financial benefits from “any king, prince or Foreign state.”
Except that it isn’t all that clear cut. In fact, several legal authorities disagree. Not liking something is not an offense unless the House agrees they don’t like it either.
Trump, who has entangled his business interests with his political connections at home and abroad, has already declared his contempt for these Constitutional protections. He declared, “The law is totally on my side, meaning the president can’t have a conflict of interest.” Oh, yes he can, and this president will.
Except there really is no Constitutional issue here. George Washington, himself, held extensive land holdings in areas where his actions as president increased their value. Not to compare Trump with Washington but Washington’s “conflicts of interest” were accepted practice of the time and Trump is right, federal law specifically excludes the president from federal conflict of interest statutes. Even the Washington Post’s Fact Checker agrees:
The law doesn’t say the president can’t have a conflict of interest. But Congress, under Title 18 Section 208 of the U.S. code, did exempt the president and vice president from conflict-of-interest laws on the theory that the presidency has so much power that any possible executive action might pose a potential conflict.
“As a general rule, public officials in the executive branch are subject to criminal penalties if they personally and substantially participate in matters in which they (or their immediate families, business partners or associated organizations) hold financial interests,” the Congressional Research Service said in an October report. “However, because of concerns regarding interference with the exercise of constitutional duties, Congress has not applied these restrictions to the President. Consequently, there is no current legal requirement that would compel the President to relinquish financial interests because of a conflict of interest.”
While spoken in classic “Trumpese” that fails to capture the nuances of the law, the president-elect did rightly point to an exemption for the president and vice president in conflicts of interest laws. And while such an exemption exists, the theory was that the presidency has so much power that any policy decision could pose a potential conflict.
And this is my favorite if for no other reason the rabid, anti-Trumpistos on my side keep coming back to it:
In his dalliance with Vladimir Putin, Trump’s actions are skirting treason. John Shattuck, former Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and former Washington legal director of the ACLU has pointed to the constitutional definition of treason: a crime committed by a person “owing allegiance to the United States who… adheres to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort.” 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.
The implication here is that there is some official list of American positions. Was Nixon’s visit to China and breaking of diplomatic ties with Taiwan treason? Was it treason when a Democratic Under Barack Obama we acted to give Iran access to technology that will inevitably result in an Iranian nuclear weapon. Is Iran at least as much an enemy as Russia? Well, at least Russia has never sacked our embassy, taken our embassy staff hostage, kidnapped and tortured American citizens, and blown up a USMC barracks. If Donald Trump wants to move the US closer to Russia many of us might be dismayed and think it profoundly unwise, but that position would become the foreign policy of the United States. (By the way, it is always amusing to find people from the ACLU talking about “treason” given that during the Cold War they were little more than a wholly owned subsidiary of the USSR.)
Ooooh, and this is my other favorite:
For instance, Trump will very likely use agencies of government to punish political enemies. The Articles of Impeachment against Richard Nixon explicitly cited Nixon’s political misuse of the CIA, the FBI and the IRS.
Where has this assclown been for the last eight years?
There are two facts these people need to get used to. First, Trump will become president on January 20. Period. You don’t have to like it or support him but if you can’t accept that you probably need to call the nice people in white suits to come get you. Second, you disliking something doesn’t make it illegal, immoral, or unethical, it just means you don’t like it.
I will stipulate that no other man in history has shown the propensity Trump has for screwing the pooch. On live television. But unless he does something utterly heroic in that regard, a GOP House is going to protect him because the fallout of impeaching their own president is just too, too much to undertake when 2020 is just around the corner. And if the House won’t impeach, then nothing else really matters.