President Trump and the Law
Every elected President has an agenda for the nation. Every President swears an oath to uphold the constitution in so doing. All Presidents get sued, but no President within my memory or knowledge has so consistently violated the nation’s laws and its very constitutional framework as President Trump has over the past 2.5 years.
We are a nation of laws and constitutional checks and balances divided among the three branches of government. The President’s Executive Powers are limited to his authority under the Constitution and the laws enacted by Congress. We do not elect a dictator for four years, but rather a President of constitutionally limited and circumscribed authority to implement and faithfully execute the laws of the nation. Our forebears put their lives and livelihoods on the line to put an end to one-man rule.
Sometimes when the nation is at war or in severe economic distress, Presidents have pushed up against and beyond constitutional limits as Lincoln (suspension of habeas corpus) and Roosevelt (internment of Japanese citizens) did, but in a time of national peace and economic prosperity, there is little excuse for the consistent and flagrant law breaking that has characterized this President.
He began with an effort to close the nation to travellers from majority Muslim nations. He has consistently ordered harassment of immigrants (both legally here and undocumented) from Central America and Mexico at the border and throughout the nation, resulting in deaths of some children and many cruel family separations. He has sought to undermine the nation’s environmental protections and its clean air and water. He has sought to take away health coverage from many millions of Americans. He has in call and response with his supporters encouraged physical violence against those who disagree with his policies and actions. He has threatened to begin armed hostilities with first North Korea, then Venezuela and now Iran. He has begun a mutually destructive trade war with China and imposed tariffs on our allies in Europe and North America under the false guise of national security. He has shut down the government, routinely insulted Republican and Democratic leaders alike, and the elected leaders of our most important allies. He has sought to coerce members of his Administration to award contracts and other favors to his friends and campaign contributors. He has lied to the American people multiple times nearly each and every day in matters large and small about his conduct of domestic and foreign affairs. He has engaged in unremitting warfare with those journalists, newspapers and news channels who seek to present unvarnished truths to the public about his Administration. He has tampered with witnesses against him and sought to impede an investigation of potentially unlawful conduct by his political campaign with Russian officials who were interfering in our elections. It is possible and from early reports not unlikely Congress will find during its investigations that he has cheated on his taxes in the past and acted fraudulently with his customers, financiers, contractors, and regulators in his private business affairs. His conduct of private business affairs with those foreign governments and their emissaries who frequent his hotels, golf courses and resorts while he is in office may violate the emoluments clause protections against personal enrichment. But all of that has yet to be fully investigated, let alone proven to the satisfaction of Congress and the American people.
In just the last week, federal judges twice found him in violation of the nation’s laws by refusing to turn over Congressionally requested documents, and then again by building a Southern border wall without the requisite Congressional appropriation and authorization because they prefer alternative and more effective means to secure our borders. He just this week ordered the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia without Congressional authorization and has ordered American troops, ships, rockets and planes into the Middle East without any Congressional notice let alone its approval, without any discussion of the merits and drawbacks of further and deeper military conflict in the Middle East with the co-equal branch of government that actually has the constitutional duty and power to declare war and make peace treaties. Increasingly, he is acting on his own against the express will and directions of Congress.
If Congress was so inclined, there is ample evidence to justify beginning the impeachment process detailed in the Mueller report; however, impeachment is ultimately a political exercise, and it will require the full-hearted support of Congressional Republicans, Democrats and the American people to convict and remove Donald Trump. That’s not there; until it is, a careful investigation and amassing and sifting of the truths and facts needed to convince and ultimately convict is what is required. Patience is essential; care is crucial, and vigilance by journalists, the nation’s legal and judicial system and Congress is absolutely critical.
Impeachment of the President would be a wrenching undertaking and a terrible distraction from the most important task of finding strong, inspiring candidates (in both parties) who can unite the nation and move us far beyond this corrupt and dishonest man and his remaining loyalist minions.
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin