Number 1 in a Series (stay tuned for more)
Based on the Mueller Report, which I have read, including all those footnotes, it’s obvious that President Trump obstructed justice multiple times. Based on the Michael Cohen convictions, it’s likewise obvious that Trump probably violated campaign finance laws. Based on his on-going use of his properties for personal vacations and public business, it’s obvious that Trump violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Based on the opening statements by witnesses before the three committees looking into abuse of power concerning Ukraine, it’s obvious that Trump believes it’s fine to coerce a country for personal political gain. All those Trump behaviors are probably reasons for impeaching him, but they are not the primary one to me.
“High crimes and misdemeanors” as referenced in the Constitution refers not to crimes we associate with the criminal code, as many members of Congress would wish, but to actions that misappropriate public trust. If the President fails to uphold his oath of office, he needs to be impeached. And that oath is fairly simple: I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Generally, when we look at the words “faithfully execute,” we mean that our President ensures that laws are put into effect. For that reason, it’s sometimes called the “take care clause.” The President is charged with taking care that the laws are executed, even if he disagrees with them.
But I think of “faithfully execute” as more than simply putting a law into effect; I think of it as requiring some measure of being faithful, of being true to the meaning of laws. Being “faithful” suggests steadfastness, conscientiousness, and truthfulness. For example, there are facts to which we must be faithful. I think the President should be impeached, because he does nothing faithfully. He is a constant and often mean-spirited liar, whose language abuses the public trust in both certain individuals and our institutions.
He lies so often that there are now multiple Internet sites that keep a running total. He came into the Presidency as a serial liar, but the oath he took demanded another standard when he became our symbolic First Citizen. Before taking office he certainly lied about his fortune, his marriages, his affairs, his authorship of multiple books, and his predecessor, Barack Obama. He even lied periodically about lying.
On his first day in office he lied about the size of his inauguration crowd and sent his minions to the media to repeat those lies. He lied about voter fraud to cover his popular vote loss to Hilary Clinton. He lied about Mexico paying for the wall that is, as yet, not built. He lied about the nature of people seeking asylum, about Muslims, about separating families at the border, about hurricanes, about Puerto Rico deaths and recovery efforts, about climate change.
He lied about the nature of the Mueller investigation, calling it “a witch hunt.” He is currently calling House oversight a “coup.” If you are James Comey, once a registered Republican whom Trump loved when Comey criticized Hillary Clinton, you become “a terrible director” and “crooked,” when you fail the President’s loyalty test. If you are Robert Mueller, another registered Republican, you become “highly conflicted” and have a “gang of Democrat thugs” destroying people. However, your report is “beautiful,” since it found “no collusion” and “no obstruction,” neither of which is a fair reading of what Mueller found.
Trump, according to himself, is “the most transparent President in history.” He doesn’t “do cover-ups.” His daughter “has created millions of jobs.” He has “perfect” telephone conversations. The mainstream media publish “fake news;” only Fox is a beacon of truth, except, of course, when it isn’t. And it isn’t when it criticizes Trump. Democrats are committing “treason.”
During the 2016 campaign he bragged about being able to become the most Presidential of all Presidents; his mean-spirited fabrications were simply electioneering tools. Yet once in office he made ad hominem attacks on everyone he believes is against him, even individuals he praised months earlier. Pelosi is “a very sick person.” Mattis is the “world’s most over-rated general,” except, of course, when Trump appointed him Secretary of Defense. Warren is “Pocahontas.” Biden is “a loser” and “a dummy.”
He believes Putin, not our intelligence officers. He thinks Kim Jong-un writes him such “beautiful letters” that they “fell in love.” He tells us that China is paying our tariffs, that the economy is the best it’s ever been for everybody, NATO is ripping us off, the United Nations is irrelevant, and the Kurds are happy. And, making all of the hyperbole and lies ever more dangerous, he is surrounded by people who applaud what he says and who repeat it on Sunday talk shows.
Public trust in the institutions of our government and in the people who work in those institutions is dependent on truth-telling and facts. Once that public trust is gone, so, too, will those institutions and non-partisan officials be gone. What Donald Trump has done, starting even before his run for the Presidency, is deal in conspiracy theories designed to erode trust. He’s gone from birth certificates to trading arms for political dirt, from promising to drain the swamp to making it the swampiest it has ever been.
Donald Trump is a peerless grifter, a con man, a snake oil salesman who doesn’t care if the snake oil makes blind the losers who buy it. A P.T. Barnum for our time, whose penchant for exaggeration, misspoken lines, and lies would be amusing were they not so perilous.
Benjamin Franklin argued that honesty is the best policy. The Bible commands us not to bear false witness. Shakespeare wrote, “no legacy is so rich as honesty.” Are there parents that willfully teach their children to lie to them? Yet we now have a President that lies to all of us on a daily basis, consciously, I fear, using those lies to sow discontent, division and derision.
Everyone misspeaks sometimes. Everyone gets something wrong now and then. But most of us strive to be truth-tellers and believe there exists a common set of facts. I’d impeach him for those lies; they are more a danger to our national honor, our politics, and our democracy than most of the other crimes he has committed.