For the past several weeks, we’ve watched our President embarrass the nation. We’ve looked on as he callously tramples upon our democracy, using the Oval Office for his own personal gain, desperately clawing for power to satisfy an engorged and fragile ego. We’ve listened his shameful, often incoherent attempts to defend his actions, bullying foreign leaders and suggesting violent suppression of those who would bring — heaven forbid — accountability to his office. We’ve seen our supposed leader, our commander in chief elected to uphold and enforce the nation’s laws, apathetically disregard even the pretense of following them.
We’ve seen enough. Donald Trump should be impeached.
In a phone call with the Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky earlier this year, Trump asked for what he simply called a “favor.” He implored Zelensky’s government to “investigate” and unearth dirt on his 2020 general election’s most likely opponent, Joe Biden, citing supposed concerns over corruption and conflicts-of-interest between Biden’s then vice-presidential office and his son’s executive position within a powerful Ukrainian corporation. These allegations have since been determined unsubstantiated. Many downright false.
Already, this constitutes a clear misuse of power: using the powers and diplomatic connections of the presidency in attempts to, well, stay there. But Donald didn’t stop there. At the same time, he slow-rolled and effectively blocked $391 million in congressionally allotted US defense aid from reaching Ukraine until Zelensky complied. In doing so, Trump subverted and negated congressional policy on a mere whim, using $391M of American taxpayer money to extort a foreign government into assuaging his political vulnerability.
It’s worth mentioning that some, especially Trump’s Congressional cronies, disagree. The executive branch, they said, held this crucial defense funding for reasons unrelated to Trump’s requests: there was no “quid-pro-quo.” It was merely a coincidence.
Frankly, that’s just plain stupid. It requires toddler-like naivete, an unscrupulous act of self-deception to believe that this aid “just-so-happened” to stall just prior to Trump’s phone calls with Ukraine. And if it were by some miracle coincidental, why would Trump’s personal legal team, including Rudy Giuliani, have been in on the call, and asked to collaborate with Ukrainian officials on the Biden inquiry? No. This was personal. In fact, two of Giuliani’s henchmen were arrested just days ago, accused of directly enlisting covert Ukrainian political assistance in Trump’s 2020 campaign.
But Trump’s illegal coercion and blatant bribery wasn’t confined to Ukraine. Trump was suspected of and later publicly admitted to seeking intelligence from China and Australian officials in similar fashion.
Trump didn’t just break the law. He knows he did it. Publicly confesses to it. And still doesn’t care. He thinks of himself as above prosecution and responsibility.
It’s no surprise then that the President’s horrifying rhetoric makes a mockery of democratic norms, our notions of justice and decency.
He’s never denied allegations of collusion, meddling, obstruction, etc. Instead, he’s attacked the whistleblower who first brought his conduct to light, baselessly accusing them of treason and invoking a return to the “good old days” when such individuals were executed.
Sorry Mr. President. But despite your innermost aspirations, this isn’t an autocracy. You can’t hang a man for trying to keep you accountable.
And yet, Trump has done everything in his gradually expanding power, inside and outside the law, to avoid culpability. He’s over-classified sensitive, incriminating intelligence of his collusion with foreign governments out of the reach of House inquiries or Intelligence Department oversight. He’s stonewalled Congressional subpoenas and orders, prohibiting executive department officials with potentially damaging intel from ever making it to the witness stand. He’s conflated his personal legal team with the Justice Department of the United States in trying to cover up and carry on illegal political operations.
So as to reground a sense of perspective, let’s recap.
Via whistleblower memos, released transcripts, and other continually forthcoming information, President Trump has committed election interference and meddling, using the department tasked with election security to defraud and corrupt for personal advantage; bribery and extortion of foreign nations to do so, using extensive taxpayer money; subverting and refusing to carry out government policy as required, blocking congressionally approved funding/legislation; collusion with foreign governments to exhume false or uncorroborated accusations of corruption against a political rival and obstruction of justice by over-classifying damning intelligence and preventing problematic witnesses and information to go public.
Outside of criminal offenses, Trump has admitted — explicitly or otherwise — to many of the above crimes, including solicitation of collusion with China and acceptance of any advantageous intel from foreign governments, including US adversaries. He wistfully suggested the hanging of whistleblowers who are exposing his deeds. He behaved repulsively immature and disrespectful in meetings on the matter with foreign heads of state. All the while, in attempt to distract from his political and legal peril, Trump suggested that the border patrol “shoot migrants in the legs,” and put a moat with crocodiles along the US Southern border.
Against all advice, even from members of his own party and cabinet, he pulled US forces out of Northern Syria, almost immediately sacrificing longtime US Kurdish allies to despotic Turkish military ambitions.
Upon his election, many hoped that Donald Trump wasn’t as bad as he seemed. Maybe, we wishfully thought, he doesn’t mean what he says. Maybe, he’s just a bumbling, abrasive dude from New York, not, at bottom, a terrible guy.
We were wrong. Political biases aside, you cannot read that laundry-list of criminal and degenerate behavior without seeing Trump as a power-hungry man with authoritarian tendencies and even Draconian instincts, willing to resort to any and every practice that might allow his return to the White House.
And sure, he probably won’t be impeached. Barring a party-wide epoch, or perhaps a presidential axe-murder on the White House lawn, Senate Republicans will vote down any measure that strips their caucus and platform of votes.
But that isn’t a reason to refrain. As divisive and polarizing as the impeachment issue may be (although recent polls indicate an increasing majority of Americans in favor), it would be more harmful to let such unabashed corruption go unchecked. Doing so would signal to future officials that, given sufficient political clout and governmental authority, there isn’t much that American voters won’t stomach.
Instead, push articles of impeachment through the House, and let Senate Republicans go down in the history books as enablers and close constituents of those who would defile our democracy.
Many of us will be voting in the next election. All of us will inherit the political system, the country we shape in this critical moment. Are we willing to accept presidents as larger than the law, able to behave however they want given enough political support?
If not, we should do out part to dethrone Donald Trump. We should show our leaders that at the end of the day, although they have office and we don’t, although they have age, money, and authority and we don’t, power in America still lies with the people.