Trump’s Captivation with Oligarchs, His Right Wing Base, and His Determination to Weaken and Then Destroy Both Democrats and Democracy is in Plain Sight
The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States has opened a new chapter in the question whether the United States Constitution can continue to protect the freedom of speech and ideas; the separate role of Congress as a guardian of the nation’s laws; the independence of the nation’s courts with a Supreme Court as a final arbiter of the law; and the presidency, which has broad and increasing power to influence these unique institutions. Donald Trump’s presidency has shaken the foundation of these institutions created by the founding fathers and embodied in the United States Constitution to shield this country from the kind of tyranny that has long existed in the world’s history.
Trump has shown himself capable of saying or doing anything, regardless of the truth, the facts, the law, common sense or harm to the United States. So long as he can feed his base with hatred, anger, and lies that they and he needs, our society will wither as the common good sinks away. Thus, it is tyranny that Trump worships to cripple Democracy. The Constitution of the United States is ignored by Trump. It is defamed by his actions, his speeches, his ignorance of our Constitutional framework and its laws. When Trump threatens to lock out those who have run from tyranny, he ignores our history, which had long remained a welcome haven for immigrants who in desperation fled from tyrants in order to seek peace, work, family and freedom. Ellis Island in New York has been a passageway to freedom and democracy. In New York’s harbor, the Statue of Liberty extended a welcome to those who had fled tyranny, suffered poverty, knew little or no English, and sought only a safe place to work, to sleep, to eat and to raise their children. The Statue enshrined our Country’s welcome: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! The open arms that this Country offered to shield and welcome the “poor” and “huddled masses” now finds a president who seeks to reverse that pledge and that opportunity. Ignorant and disdainful of our immigrant history, Trump wants to build walls high enough and long enough to block the “huddled masses”, including by posting our military to prevent desperate people who flee with fear from the despots of their countries, only to find that Trump, a putative despot himself, would turn them away at the border – apparently for good and regardless of their grief and fear.
Not only has Trump abandoned any sense of decency for desperate immigrants, he has denigrated the Constitution in a most dangerous way. For example, the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights addresses how freedom of speech is protected for the people: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Yet, Trump has mercilessly attacked “the freedom of the press” and has recently booted a well-respected CNN reporter from the White House press briefings only to run afoul of a judge who defended the First Amendment. Trump also has inoculated his base with his own brand of bigotry, lies, and a kinship with White Supremacists. So too, Trump has broken a world record for hiring and firing those who have offended him; those who have worked for him and have been the subject of investigations or indictments by federal authorities; those who have sought or received Emoluments banned by the Constitution; and those who have used their offices to make money above and beyond their government salaries. If ever there was a basis for impeachment, Trump has certainly qualified. As stated by Laura K. Donohue, a senior Scholar at the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, Trump’s actions “basically” stand for the proposition that he “is above the Constitution.” It is in this context that a review of Trump’s actions in the aftermath of his election deserves a careful assessment. It is also in this context that one sees a continuing denigration of democrats, of the courts, of judges that have rejected many of Trump’s actions, and of agencies that have been critical to the national welfare. Moreover, the degree to which Trump’s administration has been the subject of criminal investigations—including twenty indictments (and climbing) brought by Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, including against members of the
Trump team—is unparalleled. Topping off his misconduct, Trump has shown comfort with the Klu Klux Klan, consistent with his father’s membership in that body of racist thugs and of Trump’s own view that students or other protestors are no better than the Klan and its members. The record of Trump lies and misrepresentations grows daily. For example, the Washington Post was able to catalogue nearly 5,000 Trump lies or flat out misstatements. Such conduct demonstrates that the word of this president cannot be trusted to defend democracy as intended. Under Trump, truth does not matter, only fealty to his lies. His misconduct includes paying hush money to porn stars along with other adulterous affairs. Perhaps even more harmful is his willingness to declassify highly sensitive materials for purely political reasons and without regard to the damage that would be caused by his actions. As shown below, the list of Trump’s dangerous threats to the U.S. Constitution increases daily and the grounds for impeachment continue to rise.
Trump’s lack of moral compass and care for democracy is highlighted by his
attack on his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for indicting two Republican candidates running for congressional seats. The indictments were brought after a criminal investigation by the Justice Department determined that Chris Collins, a New York Republican, should be charged with 13 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements related to an alleged insider trading scheme. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican, was indicted for using campaign funds for personal use and was charged with counts of wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign violations and conspiracy. Trump’s sarcastic reaction displayed his lack of regard for the rule of law: “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff…” Apparently, Trump expected the Attorney General and the entire Department of Justice to ignore the law just so that Trump could have two more Republican seats in Congress. Senator Ben Sasse, Republican from Nebraska and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that “These two men have been charged with crimes because of evidence, not because of who the President was when the investigations began.” Senator Sasse said pointedly that “The United States is not some banana republic with a two-tiered system of justice – one for the majority and one for the minority party.” The President’s ire was at its highest after the midterm election when he fired Sessions after fuming over his recusal from the Mueller investigation. 2.
The disparagement of critics, rivals, and non-worshippers also has been a Trump
trademark. Insults have been the grist of the Trump style, as has been clear to a broad audience listening to the campaigns for the presidential election. Thus, Ted Cruz was “lying Ted”; Marco Rubio was “little Marco”; Hillary Clinton was “crooked Hillary”; Mitt Romney was a “stiff”, a “catastrophe”, a “nasty guy” and a “spoiled brat”’; and Carly Fiorina, who Trump demeaned by
exclaiming: “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next President?” Another innocent bystander, Serge Kovaleski, a disabled reporter, was mocked by Trump for his disabilities. 3.
The Trump history of his cabinet hirings not only reflect a lack of competence and
experience, but also the usual Trump cycle of firings, as if these were just like a T.V. experience. Thus, we have seen Trump’s advisor Paul Manafort fired, jailed for his crimes and then given a plea deal; the Secretary of State fired and replaced by Mike Pompeo; the resignation of Scott Pruitt who had overturned the efforts of past administrations to preserve clean water and clean air and left the EPA in shatters; and an eighteen month period, during which there were three different national security advisors, three press secretaries, two chiefs of staff, two secretaries of HHS and Homeland Security, and two EPA Administrators, the most recent of whom, Andrew R. Wheeler, “has been instrumental in seeing through rollbacks of major environmental policies.” New York Times, November 17, 2018. However, after announcing the declassification of the national security experts, Trump was forced to retract his decision based on the urgent pleas of these experts. 4.
John McCain, a Naval Academy graduate, flew dangerous missions in the
Vietnam War and suffered captivity and torture for five and a half years, leaving him unable to raise his arms above his head. Upon his return to the U.S., McCain was greeted as a war hero. Trump was an exception. His response was to belittle McCain’s captivity, to make fun of his damaged arms and to refuse credit for McCain’s contribution to a new law. Upon McCain’s death, Congress honored his contributions by, among other tributes, flying the American flag at half-mast. Trump, however, resisted this token of respect by at first only lowering the flag for one day and then, only under pressure from Congress, agreeing to lower it again while offering
barely perfunctory praise for a man deserving high honors for his profound contributions. While Trump remorselessly disparaged a war hero, Trump made no mention of how he managed to escape his own military service. 5.
The degree to which Trump has stooped far below Presidential status, is
highlighted in a New York Time’s op-ed article.1 As reported in that article, John McCain’s recent death brought forth the best in America – members of Congress, the armed services, the judiciary, and yes members of the Office of the President and former Presidents – all to celebrate the contributions of a war hero, who refused enemy offers to end his captivity at the expense of his comrades. The only missing official was Trump himself, who from his campaign forward, had inexplicably managed to disparage one of our bravest soldiers and honored member of the United States Senate. b.
By contrast, “Former Presidents George W. Bush [a Republican] and Barack
Obama [a Democrat], the two men who thwarted Mr. McCain’s ambitions to become Commander in Chief, stood one after the other…to honor the man they beat, extolling him as a one-of-a-kind figure the likes of which will not be seen again anytime soon.” The fact that these men were asked to speak, not Trump, spoke volumes about “John McCain, the tributed war hero”, who could hardly be contrasted “to the current occupant of the Oval Office”. As Mr. Obama stated, “[I]t’s … politics that pretend to be brave, but in fact is born of fear. John called us to be bigger than that.” In a similar vein, “Mr. Bush
Bret Stephens, Straining to Keep Faith With America, NEW YORK TIMES, August 31, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/31/opinion/mccain-america.html.
praised Mr. McCain for his ‘courage and decency’, an exemplar of the storied American values of standing up to bullying and oppression.”2 c.
Meghan McCain made even clearer the distinction between the valor of real
sacrifice and “the …rhetoric from men who never come near the sacrifice that [John McCain] gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who lived lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.” Rejecting, indeed “mocking” Trump’s favorite slogan, Meghan McCain “declared” that “the America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.” d.
Mr. Bush, for his part underscored that John McCain “could not abide bigots and
swaggering despots” and the “abuse of power” – all attributes of “a conservative commentator” who claimed “that the scandal here is a politico state” and a “conspiracy to spy on Mr. Trump.” Trump himself had argued that “the DOJ and FBI are completely out to lunch.”3 e.
The Trump offense to democracy also included his defense of “white nationalists
at Charlottesville as ‘some very fine people.’” Before John McCain’s death, he saw “the hardening of resentment we see toward immigrants” and “understood that the willingness to separate truth from the lie” was undermining the American spirit and its unique principles as set forth in the U.S. Constitution. 6.
The Trump assault on the First Amendment to the Constitution (which preserved
freedom of speech for all Americans) has sought to stifle debate, most notably and recently by seeking to muzzle a former CIA Director, John Brennan, who criticized Trump’s efforts to
Peter Baker, In McCain Memorial Service, Two Presidents Offer Tribute, and a Contrast to Trump, NEW YORK TIMES, September 1, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/01/us/politics/john-mccain-funeral.html. 3 Katie Rogers, Washington Mourned John McCain. President Trump Played Golf., NEW YORK TIMES, September 1, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/01/us/politics/trump-john-mccain.html.
undermine democracy. Trump’s response, ignoring the First Amendment, was to punish the expression of the views of a former high ranking CIA officer whose knowledge and judgment had been widely valued by Trump’s predecessors. Trump was determined to crush any criticism of his policies regardless of their lack of merit or their source. Taking pages directly out of dictator playbooks, Trump aimed to silence any and all dissent. In this regard, Jeffrey H. Smith, who served as the General Counsel of the CIA from 1994 to 1995 (and currently is senior counsel at the Arnold & Porter law firm) has written the following: “It is hard to conclude that Mr. Trump’s actions are anything other than a ‘sanction’ to punish and intimidate Mr. Brennan and others who dare to speak out. Fear of the state’s unconstrained power is what Vladimir Putin and other autocrats use to govern. But fear is no way to govern a democracy.”4 Indeed, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution underscores the very freedoms that Trump seeks to trample: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of people to peacefully assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.” Trump’s actions to stifle speech is a further ground for impeachment. 7.
As reported in the New York Times on August 18, 2018, Trump threatened to
expand efforts to rid mid-level officials that he believed could undermine him. Trump threatened, without any justification, to revoke the security clearance of Bruce Ohr, a longtime career civil servant, in order to extinguish his capacity to serve in the Department of Justice and to warn DOJ civil servants not to undermine Trump’s personal interests. The move also was
Tim Weiner, Trump Is Not a King, NEW YORK TIMES, August 17, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/17/opinion/illegal-trump-revoke-brennan-security-clearance.html.
apparently made to cut deeply into the ranks of officials like John Brennan and to weaken the government’s ability to substantiate Russian interference in the Presidential election. a.
On August 27, 2018, it was reported that the President had revoked the security clearance of former CIA director, John Brennan, and had threatened the revocation of seven more CIA officials. According to the Times, “Former intelligence officials uniformly denounced the decision…”
Again, on August 27, 2018, the New York Times published John Brennan’s views that “Mr. Trump was… encouraging a foreign nation (Russia) to collect intelligence against a United States citizen…[and] openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.”
In the same article, “Mr. Brennan strongly urged Robert Mueller, and his team of investigators be allowed to complete their work without interference – from Mr. Trump or anyone else – so that all Americans can get the answers they so rightly deserve.”
On August 22, 2018, Trump invoked fear, hatred and lies to inspire thousands of supporters during a rally in Charleston, West Virginia. He began by stating that “a vote for any Democrat in November is a vote to eliminate immigration enforcement, to open our borders and set loose vicious predators and violent criminals.” According to Trump, these people “would be all over our communities. They will be preying on these communities.”
Trump repeatedly demonized all Democrats as “coddlers of lawbreakers who would take the country down a dangerous path” and also were “left wing haters
and angry mobs” who would “tear down our institutions, disregard our flag, demean our law enforcement, denigrate our history and disparage our great country…” f.
Trump continued his rant to say that “Democrats want to turn America into one big, fat sanctuary city for criminal aliens, and honestly, honestly, they’re more protective of aliens – the criminal aliens – than they are of the people.”
The Second Amendment to the Constitution has found a friend in Trump.
Notwithstanding the continuing loss of life caused by gun violence in schools, at concerts, in mass meetings, in the streets, and against law enforcers, Trump has done nothing and will do nothing to adopt any meaningful gun restrictions. The only voice to be heard so far has been that of Betsy DeVos, the country’s Secretary of Education, who suggested that teachers bear arms in schools. But arming school teachers makes no sense, particularly since teachers will make law enforcement more difficult. This thoughtless proposition also makes a mockery of Justice Scalia, who stated clearly in his seminal Supreme Court opinion that the remedy to dangerous weapons is gun control, not more guns. As Justice Scalia wrote: “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” It “was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” By way of example, Scalia went on to say that “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms to felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualification on the commercial sale of firearms….and “the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”5
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, at 595, 626-627.
The admonitions of Justice Scalia have obviously escaped the thinking of Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos. Rather, (along with the National Rifle Association), they treat all gun ownership and use as a protected right in stark contrast to, and ignorance of, Justice Scalia’s opinion. In other words, Trump will always put his “base” above reason, the law, and the Second Amendment.6 9.
Then there are Trump’s tweets, which at first count numbered 43,000 and spanned
the period from May 4, 2009 through July 31, 2018. The following are representative of Trump’s thinking. a.
On February 9, 2017, Trump tweeted that the press or the people should “join in line at the Oval office for the swearing in of our new Attorney General”, adding that “THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE”.
On March 3, 2017, Trump tweeted that “Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong.”
On July 27, 2017, Trump tweeted “Why A.G. Sessions replaced Acting FBI Director, Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who is in charge of Clinton’s investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the swamp.”
Trump is president in name only. His own actions make that clear: every one of
his statements, including his tweets, his rants and his threats are aimed at elected Democrats, indeed all Democrats, with no thought that the duty required of his Office is conciliation and
On May 4, 2018 Trump tweeted: “I want to thank all of our friends and patriots at the NRA. We will never fail and will always protect your Second Amendment! God Bless you and God Bless America.” Whatever Trump may believe, he has not read what Justice Scalia, writing for the Supreme Court, made clear in the Court’s opinion.
leadership, not disparagement of democratic principles. In short, in the Trump world all Republicans are good and all Democrats are bad. 11.
Trump shows by his own actions that he is president of those who, like his father,
follow the Klu Klux Klan or, as in Trump’s case, sees no greater evil in the Klan’s destructive actions in Charlestown than he does in the peaceful demonstrations in response to the KKK. 12.
Trump has sought to bar legitimate immigrants from entering the U.S. and to
punish and separate families seeking safety in the U.S.. 13.
Trump favors citizens who are white, who don’t care for the poor or unemployed,
who don’t care about the environment, who don’t want to regulate guns, who don’t care about the welfare of abandoned children, and/or are racists. 14.
Members of Congress, including some Republicans, and of the intelligence
community have determined with certainty that Russia interfered with the Presidential election by using various means to steer the vote count to favor Trump. Post-election, U.S. intelligence agencies discovered that Russia continues to use various methods to undermine free elections. To date, those agencies have managed to thwart those actions. It is clear, however, that Russia remains an enemy, not a friend, as Trump seemed to imagine in his first meeting with Putin. 15.
In this regard, Michael B. Mukasey, a former federal judge and U.S. Attorney
General, wrote a commentary entitled “Trump, Putin and the Montenegro Question.” In the July 30, 2018 Wall Street Journal, General Mukasey wrote: “… the recent actions of the U.S. and Russian presidents suggest they may have discussed the role and ambitions of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, taking steps toward a rebalancing of power that should worry Europeans and Americans alike”. General Mukasey goes on to write that “Putin’s actions since the summit also have evidenced his renewed aggression toward trans-Atlantic solidarity – on a different
front.” General Mukasey warned that “Americans must at least take seriously the possibility that Mr. Trump diminished the U.S. commitment to Europe.” Such diminution, together with Russia’s continued interference with the U.S. electoral process, underscores that Trump’s admiration of Putin weakens the U.S. and strengthens Russia. 16.
Without any basis, Trump has claimed that Google intentionally suppressed
conservative news outlets supportive of his administration. According to Trump’s twitter at 5:24 a.m., he wrote “In other words, they have rigged, for me and others, so that almost all stories of news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent” and “they are controlling what we can & cannot see”. On the same day, the Wall Street Journal reported Trump’s same accusation.7 17.
Following the earlier charge made by Trump, the Times reported that
“Essentially, conservatives want to create a world where objective information and right-wing disinformation are treated equally.” Again, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring that Congress make no law “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” stands as a barrier to those like Trump who seek to decide which and whose speech is the only speech for citizens to hear. In other words, Trump would want his followers to read and listen only to what the Trump messages and directives allowed. In such a world, the erosion of the First Amendment inevitably would follow and slowly but surely lead to tyranny.8 18.
The assault on free speech referenced above leads to an even darker future
highlighted by Paul Krugman. As explained in his article, Poland and Hungary, both EU members, have maintained “the forms of popular elections but have destroyed the independence
Adam Satariano, Daisuke Wakabayashi, Cecilia Kang, Trump Accuses Google of Burying Conservative News in Search Results, NEW YORK TIMES, August 28, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/28/business/media/google-trump-news-results.html. 8 Michelle Goldberg, Trump Whines That Google Isn’t a Safe Space, NEW YORK TIMES, August 30, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/30/opinion/trump-assault-google-facebook.html.
of the press, institutionalized large scale corruption and delegitimized dissent”, with one-party rule the “foreseeable future”. Krugman identified examples of his predictions after a Democrat won the North Carolina governorship: “Republicans used the incumbent’s final days to pass legislation stripping the governor’s office of much of its power.” In Georgia, “Republicans tried to use transparently phony concerns about access of disabled voters”, and the placement of “polling places in a mainly black district.” And, “in West Virginia, Republican legislators exploited complaints about excessive spending to impeach the entire State Supreme Court and replace it with party loyalists.” In short, Trump is seeking to fashion a country of “white nationalism”, of a single party, and of indefinite tenure. By his actions, Trump seeks to create a threat to the Constitution of the United States and of the Country’s allegiance to its great design.9 19.
Trump by his own admission has attempted to use “the specter of violence at the
hands of his political opponents and to fan the flames of cultural divisions in the country.” He described his adversaries as “violent people”.10 20.
In another context, Robert B. Zoellick, a former U.S. trade representative,
explained how Trump has high-jacked Congressional authority over trade. As Zoellick explains, “Article I of the Constitution grants Congress the authority ‘to regulate commerce with foreign nations” and “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imports, and excises”. As Zoellick further explains, “Congressional conservatives concerned about the administrative estate should not permit the executive to bypass Congress’s own determinations”. Notwithstanding that “Past Congresses have championed their prerogatives assertively,” in today’s environment,
Paul Krugman, Why It Can Happen Here, NEW YORK TIMES, August 27, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/opinion/trump-republican-party-authoritarianism.html. 10 Michael Shear, If G.O.P. Loses Hold on Congress, Trump Warns, Democrats Will Enact Change ‘Quickly and Violently’, NEW YORK TIMES, August 28, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/28/us/politics/trumpevangelical-pastors-election.html.
Republicans, as well as Democrats, have abdicated their responsibilities under Article I of the Constitution and thereby have undermined the Framers’ clear intentions.11 21.
In short, Trump has created a culture that generates anger, hate, insults, chaos,
fear, threats, inconsistency, lies, fabrications, and divisions. The Trump actions conform to those that resulted in the impeachment and resignation of Richard Nixon. “Nixon fell because he believed ‘his silent majority’ would permit him anything – would suffer his firing Cox, or stonewalling Congress, or resisting subpoenas, or pyramiding lies to sustain himself in office; it was the hubris of power, and at measures, and this time the politicians for once were running a jump ahead of the reformers. Electoral 1974 became the autumn of reform…in American politics; it became commonplace for candidates to publish their tax returns, or to turn away big givers, or to equate incumbency – particular Republican incumbency – with the moral ruin of Nixon’s Washington”.12 Unfortunately, the Nixon impeachment process has failed to prevent the current President from following in his steps. The reforms sought in the Nixon aftermath have disappeared: companies are able to give money to candidates without limits or transparency; presidents can withhold tax returns from public view; taxes are heavily skewed to benefit the wealthy; Republicans are commended by Trump for ignoring and withholding important information from Democrats; the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, increasingly is to be swamped with hard-right lawyers, regardless of their merit; and the President seems to prefer, if not seek, the demolition of the unique Constitutional framework created by the Founders and to replace democracy with autocracy. It is the “people” who must prevent this result.
Robert Zoellick, Congress, Don’t Let Trump Usurp Your Power Over Trade, WALL STREET JOURNAL, September 3, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/congress-dont-let-trump-usurp-your-power-over-trade1536010601 12 Newsweek Archives, How to Remove a President: What Nixon Might Tell Us About Trump's White House, NEWSWEEK, July 20, 2017.
President Trump has clearly obstructed justice (18 U.S. Code Section 1505),
failed to Take Care that the Laws [of the United States] be faithfully executed” (U.S. Constitution Art. I, Sec. 3), and otherwise undermined the rule of law. a.
Trump admitted on national television that he fired FBI Director James Comey in order to terminate or adversely impact the investigation by the FBI into allegations that the Russian government attempted to influence the 2016 Presidential election and that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians in this criminal behavior. He admitted shortly thereafter to the Russian ambassador that the firing was intended to alleviate pressure that the investigation posed to his Presidency. In that regard, Trump had also asked Comey to decline to pursue Flynn for his lies to the FBI about his discussion of sanctions with the Russian Ambassador before Trump’s inauguration.
Trump has repeatedly put pressure on the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General to take steps to curtail or end the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He has repeatedly and publicly berated and threatened to fire each of them if they did not curtail the Mueller investigation. He has repeatedly urged the Attorney General to violate the recusal policies of the Department of Justice and to “unrecuse” himself, precisely so that he could limit the Mueller investigation. The President allegedly threatened to fire Mr. Mueller and was only deterred when his White House Counsel threatened to resign rather than to carry out that order. Now that Sessions has been fired after the midterm elections, Trump has filled this position with a successor – Matthew Whitaker – who, contrary to practice, has never been reviewed and approved by the Senate.
Of course, Trump cares nothing about Senate rules, much less about a careful review of a novice successor to Sessions. c.
By his agents, his own words and his actions, he has dangled the possibility of pardons to individuals who likely possess information material to the Mueller investigation, including his former campaign director, Paul Manafort. After Manafort’s conviction of serious federal crimes adversely affecting the U.S. government (including evading millions of dollars in federal taxes), the President publicly praised Manafort for his refusal to cooperate with Federal prosecutors and investigators. Such praise has been superseded by Manafort’s plea bargain.
Trump had sent a message to his former lawyer Michael Cohen and his former campaign manager, Mr. Manafort, that they should not cooperate with federal investigators and prosecutors. He has publicly stated that the long-standing federal policy of seeking to “flip” individuals to testify truthfully against others when facing federal criminal charges should be outlawed. A reversal of this policy, which is specifically endorsed in the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the U.S. Attorney’s Manual, would severely impede all federal law enforcement efforts. The only reason for this public statement was to promote Trump’s personal interests and to disserve the federal justice system.
Trump personally impeded the Mueller investigation when he authored a false and misleading public statement about the July 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that included his son, his campaign manager and his son-in-law, a senior adviser to the campaign and the Administration. The Presidentially-drafted press release falsely claimed that the primary purpose of this meeting with Russian personnel
was to discuss the adoption policy of the Russian government. Instead, subsequently released e-mails, which were available to Trump at the time of the statement, revealed that the principal purpose of the meeting was to receive adverse information about his opponent for the Presidency, Secretary Hillary Clinton. (In addition, Trump’s public statement in the days immediately after this Trump Tower meeting about an upcoming speech laying out “dirt” on Hillary Clinton made it imperative that an investigation determine whether the then candidate was aware before or just after the meeting about its principal purpose.) f.
Trump also made false public statements about other matters under Federal criminal investigation. He claimed publicly that he knew nothing about hush money paid to porn actress, Stephanie Clifford (aka “Stormy Daniels”) just before the 2016 elections, when in fact his former attorney, Michael Cohen testified under oath that he had been authorized by the President to make the payment, and his current attorney Rudy Guiliani admitted on national television that Trump had personally reimbursed Cohen for the payment. This hush money payment is currently being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York as a possible violation of federal campaign financing laws and may have been a fraud on the voters of the United States in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump and his agents, particularly lawyer Guiliani and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have repeatedly defamed and denigrated Robert Mueller and his dedicated staff of attorneys and investigators. Trump’s goal was to demoralize and turn public opinion against them in the hopes of diminishing the
credibility of the indictments that have returned and any report that might be sent to the Department of Justice in the future. h.
Trump jeopardized our national security when he kept Michael Flynn in his position as National Security Adviser for 18 days after being advised that Flynn was in a position to be blackmailed by Russia because he had lied to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador during the transition after the November election and before the inauguration. Flynn falsely claimed to the FBI that he had not discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Ambassador, and since the Russians knew this was false, the Department of Justice warned the White House of Flynn’s vulnerability. Not only has there been no explanation for the fact that Flynn was thereafter retained until press accounts surfaced, but these facts create the suspicion that Trump may have authorized such communications to the Russians in violation of the Logan Act. This is of particular concern in light of Trump’s public congratulations to Mr. Putin for following the advice that Mr. Flynn had passed on to the Russians in that period.
Trump has misused the Department of Justice by urging the Attorney General to investigate the author of the op-ed piece anonymously published by the New York Times criticizing him. It is clear from the text of the article that no crime was committed when the author exercised his (or her) First Amendment right to speak and publish. No classified information was revealed. However, Trump has undermined all Americans’ rights to free speech and to protest, when he suggests that protests should be unlawful, that protesters should pay for their protests, that athletes should not be able to take a knee during the playing of our national
anthem, and that our libel laws should be loosened despite their constitutional underpinnings to allow public officials more easily to sue the media. j.
At the Helsinki summit with Russian President Putin, Trump publicly rejected the unanimous findings of the American intelligence agencies that the Russians had interfered with the American 2016 Presidential elections in favor of the ‘strong” denial by Putin. Not only did this colossal misjudgment damage the morale of American intelligence operatives, on whose safety all Americans depend, but also put in jeopardy our democracy.
In the September 24, 2018 issue of Time magazine, Admiral Stavridis (Ret.), the
16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, expressed his grave concerns about Trump’s conduct. The Admiral wrote that Trump’s behavior had created “the impression abroad of an Executive Branch in near free fall” and that the Admiral had “never seen our prestige at such a nadir.” The Admiral also stated that “Trump has managed to personally alienate every key U.S. ally” and “has been dismissive and disdainful of important NATO leaders.” Finally, the Admiral identified the harm that would be caused to the United States as a result of Trump’s “withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have constructed the largest free-trade-zone in history and excluded our key competitor, China.” Given the Admiral’s conclusions, there is every reason to believe that Trump’s presidency will continue to harm the United States. 24.
In an extraordinary and understandably anonymous Op-Ed essay in the New York
Times dated September 5, 2018, a senior official in the Trump administration, has confirmed the efforts of other officials to “frustrate parts of [Trump’s] agenda and his worst inclinations.” Indeed, the senior official underscores that the “president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic”; that such actions are and must be taken to “preserve
our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office”; and that “the root of the problem is the president’s amorality”. The problem, as stated, could not be more dangerous to the Country, particularly because Trump’s “impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic”, and his “leadership style” is “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” He engages “in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in halfbaked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.” The President “flip-flops” on major decisions “he’d made only a week earlier.” He “shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jon-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations.” The President remained “reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies”, complained about being “boxed into further confrontation with Russia”, and “expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior.” “Given the instability many witnessed there were early whispers within the cabinet” to “invoke the 25th Amendment”. 25.
Consistent with the findings and legal analysis presented above, Lawrence Tribe
and Joshua Mats have published a book titled To End a Presidency, The Power of Impeachment. Their book tracks actions by Trump, such as those described above, which can be reasonably seen as impeachable offenses. For example, the authors wrote that “since taking office, Trump has ostentatiously refused to fulfill one of his most basic duties as President: protecting the nation and its political system from damaging cyber-attacks by a hostile foreign power.” See p. 59. a.
The authors cite the firing of Comey after Trump demanded “loyalty”; after denigrating him “over his handling of the Russia investigation”; after “bragging
about firing Comey in a meeting with the Russian ambassador”; and then making “multiple inconsistent statements about why he had fired Comey in the first place.” To the authors, “this highly irregular pattern of behavior cries out for congressional scrutiny”. See p. 61. b.
The authors also highlight that “Congress has the absolute power to impeach the President for abusive or corrupt exercises of the pardon power”. Id. at 63. For example, we are reminded that “Trump might have crossed that line when he pardoned Joe Arpaio (the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona)” even though a U.S. District Court Judge “had found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt of court … and willfully and repeatedly violated a federal judicial order requiring him to respect the rights of undocumented immigrants.” Against a background of “terror and atrocities against vulnerable Hispanics”, “Trump’s decision to pardon Arpaio was widely seen as a presidential endorsement of violent racism.” Id. at 63.
The authors further explain why Trump’s pardon could “qualify as an impeachable offense. First, it amounted to a frontal assault on the judiciary’s ability to enforce the Constitution.” Citing Professor Noah Feldman, the authors agreed that…“If the President blocks the courts from making the sheriff follow the law, then the President is breaking the basic structure of the legal order.” Moreover, the authors point out that “it would be extremely troubling if Trump’s motive in pardoning Arpaio was to dangle a get-out-of-jail-free card” for those “who might testify against him”. Id. at 64.
The authors also explain that “Trump’s alleged high crimes and misdemeanors” included “Trump’s support for ‘white supremacy, bigotry, racism, anti-semitism, white nationalism, [and] neo-Nazism, and was the “first resolution calling for his impeachment.” The resolution failed notwithstanding that the House of Representatives was well aware of Trump’s support for “white supremacy, bigotry, racism, anti-semitism, white nationalism, [and]neo-Nazism”…as well as his own incitement of “hate and hostility” and his “sowing discord among the people of the United States, on the basis of race, national origin, religion, gender, [and] sexual orientation.” Id. at 64.
As the authors further state, Trump has consistently attacked…[the] First Amendment which categorically protects free speech. Ignoring the Constitution, Trump has assailed the news media as “the enemy of the American people”; has urged employers to “fire employees for their political speech”; has “threatened to punish businesses that don’t support him”; has denounced his own Justice Department and the [FBI] as “the deep state”; and has “retweeted inflammatory anti-Muslim videos.” In short, Trump’s public comments have included the violation of “the Free Speech Clause, the Free Exercise Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause.”
The authors also detailed how Trump violated the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits the President from “accept[ing] any present, emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatsoever, from any King, Prince or foreign state, unless Congress consents”. The Domestic Emolument Clause forbids the president from receiving “any other Emolument from the United States or any of them”. Id. at 66. Finally,
the authors have found that there is “a widespread consensus that Trump is violating” these laws and that “by undermining the wall of separation between his family business and the US government…Trump has acted more like a thirdworld dictator than the leader of a democratic nation.” Since taking office, he has used Twitter to attack journalists who have criticized his properties; he has repeatedly visited and promoted Trump-branded restaurants, hotels, and golf clubs; and he has threatened the business interests of prominent critical critics. As corruption expert Seva Ganitsky notes: “This is the kind of thing you see in broken states”. Id. at 67. 26.
Another recent book titled Fear and authored by Bob Woodward, tracks in
extraordinary detail the chaos created by Trump in his determination to bully and debunk allies, to destroy democratic norms, to undermine or repeal laws that protect the environment, that protect the electoral college, that would marginalize access to good schools, medicine and hospitals, and that would otherwise create chaos, anger, fear, distrust of immigrants, and a favoritism for Republicans and a repulsion of Democrats. What follows are a sample of the author’s findings. a.
Gary Cohn, who was Chairman of the National Economic Council, said of Trump that “things are crazy here. They’re so chaotic. He’s never going to change. It’s pointless to prepare a meaningful, substantive briefing for the President…Because you know he’s never going to listen.” See p.271.
In a small group meeting in Kelly’s office, Kelly said of the President, “he’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazy town. I don’t even know why any of us are here.” See p.286.
Trump was “very much like a 14-year-old boy who felt he was being picked on unfairly”...“Many times he watched six to eight hours of television a day.” Bannon “claimed he used to say to Trump, ‘cut the fucking thing off.’” See p.299.
Kelly, McMaster, Tillerson and Mattis “joked darkly that it was inexplicable that the president was voicing more ire at South Korea than our adversaries – China, Russia, Iran, Syria and North Korea.” See p.304. Indeed, on January 19, 2018, in the Situation Room, Trump asked Tillerson, Mattis, Kelly, McMaster, Dunford and Cohn: “What do I get by maintaining a massive military presence in the Korean peninsula?” “What do we get from protecting Taiwan,” “Why are we even friends with South Korea, he asked again.” Mattis and General Dunford had to explain that the “benefit was immense”, that it gave the US “stable democracy” in the region, and that South Korea had “a population of 50 million people”…with “an economy that was the 11th largest and a GDP of $1.5 trillion, the same as Russia.” Trump also had been told that the U.S. could detect a “North Korean missile launch in seven seconds versus 15 minutes from Alaska” – an advantage that even a teenager could understand. See p.305.
Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, was a well-respected lawyer and had a wide range of experience in criminal law. Dowd was adamant that his client should not testify to a grand jury run by Robert Mueller, the appointed Special Counsel to the Trump investigation. Dowd made himself crystal clear: “Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit. If it’s decision time, you’re going to go forward, I can’t be with you.” See p.353. The author wrote that “Trump had one
overriding problem that Dowd knew but could not bring himself to say to the President”…”What he knew was true.” “You’re a fucking liar.” See pgs. 353357. 27.
Of great concern is the “flow of dark money into closely contested campaigns”
which have “distorted the electoral process even further.” “Because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Com’n, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) now corporations can use their money to support candidates by enhancing the ability of wealthy individuals to support corporate and conservative positions and to outspend rivals.” Ibid. The result is increasingly to relegate Democrats to find “still-win state elections in the major blue states” but “become increasingly irrelevant in elections for the presidency and Congress”. Id. 28.
Max Boot, a well-known and long standing conservative, now recognizes the dark
path being followed by today’s Republicans. As Boot sees today’s world, “the history of modern conservatism is permeated with racism, extremism, conspiracy-mongering, ignorance, isolationism and know-nothingism”. Washington Post, October 10, 2018 at A 1. a.
According to Boot, “in 1964 the GOP ceased to be the party of Lincoln and became the party of Southern whites”. Given these events, Boot became “convinced that coded racial appeals had at least as much, if not more, to do with the electoral success of the modern Republican party than all of the policy proposals crafted by well-intentioned analysts like ‘himself’.”
Boot sees that “Phyllis Schlafly’s best-selling tract, ‘A Choice Not an Echo’, …portrayed the very idea of bipartisanship as evidence of incipient
treason.” Thus, Boot finds that Trump’s claim to “Make America Great Again” … “is simply an echo of Schlafly’s rants.” c.
Boot describes Trump’s actions in dictator terms with the Republican Party hosting “Trump’s dark, divisive vision, with his depiction of Democrats as America-hating, criminal codling traitors, and his vilification of the press as the ‘enemy of the people’…”
The Armageddon as seen by Boot would require that the “GOP as currently constituted ‘be’ burned to the ground… in order for there to be any chance to build a reasonable center-right political party out of the ashes.”
Trump’s efforts to burn down the walls of progress are clearly seen: the many
losses or firing of persons hired by Trump; the cascade of criminal offenses caused by Trump personnel and prosecuted by Robert Mueller; and Trump’s need to wreck or weaken the many services and institutions supported by previous administrations. These include the reductions of State Department staff with long-standing experience, and the weakening of the Environmental Protection Act created by a Republican Congress and President Richard Nixon. In the New York Review of Books, dated December 6, 2018, Michael Lewis discusses the substance of a book about Trump written by Fintan O’Toole for a Norton publication. Based on the book, Lewis details Trump’s determination to destroy or disable certain important government services. For example, according to the author, “As of October 22, 2018, …a tracker maintained by the Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service” found that “almost two years after his election, Trump” [had] “failed even to put forward a nominee for 139 of the top 704 positions requiring confirmation by the Senate.” P.6. As shown, the list of failures is substantial.
The Agriculture Department (USDA) “has no Undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services, notwithstanding that this department managed “a budget of $112.2 billion in 2015”. P.6. As a result, the lack of an Undersecretary imperiled the food stamp program for millions of Americans, the federal nutrition assistance programs, including for school meals, and the Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants and Children. P.6. Instead, Trump filled the “lower echelons of the USDA with patronage appointees described by Lewis as a “long-haul truck driver, a clerk at AT&T, a gas company meter reader, a country club cabana attendant, a Republican National Committee intern, and the owner of a scented-candle company.” P.6. “What’s going on here is easily enfolded within the terms that the narratives of the Trump presidency offer us: chaos, ignorance, incompetence”. “Alongside malign neglect,” Trump had “a second option: appoint the worst possible person,” i.e., those who would be “openly antagonistic to” or “completely ignorant of the very cabinets they would run – Wilbur Ross (Commerce Department); Betsy DeVos (Education); Scott Pruitt (Environmental Protection Agency); Ben Carson (Housing Department); and Rick Perry (Energy Secretary).” Needless to say, Trump’s approach has been to reject excellence in return for mediocrity and for loyalty. 30.
On October 15, 2018, Robert J. Samuelson published his assessment of the
present and future effects of global warming. Samuelson cites the “latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.N. group charged with monitoring global warming”. According to the IPCC, “a future of rapidly rising temperatures…will destroy virtually all the world’s coral reefs, intensify droughts, and raise sea levels, as a result of greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxides, methane and others).” According to the IPCC, emissions need to be cut 45 percent from the present levels by 2030 and virtually eliminated by 2050.” Yet, “the reality is that global carbon emissions are rising not falling.” Indeed, according
to the World Bank, “Emissions today are about 60 percent higher than in 1990.” The author also details the significant burdens that hinder progress, e.g., the lack of needed technologies, of political will, and of world-wide cooperation. Perversely, Trump’s reaction has been to ignore those warnings and instead decided to withdraw “from the Paris agreement’s commitments to reduce emissions.” While there is no doubt that a war on global warming would require a global effort, Trump has not only rejected a leadership role to save the world, he has opted to take actions affirmatively harmful to the environment, such as encouraging greater carbon protection. 31.
On October 15, 2018, Zachary Karabell, wrote a Wall Street Journal article
entitled “Tariffs Are Like a Knife In a Gun Fight.” a.
As the author shows, Trump’s tariff war is a sham that does nothing except to weaken U.S. trade. The author demonstrates that the 1972 Trade Expansion Act and the 1974 trade Act, which “serve as the basis for tariffs on more than $250 billion of Chinese imports,” are no longer relevant in today’s world: in short, they are toothless.
First, in 1960 “the U.S. represented 40% of global economic output; today it comprises barely 20%.”
Second, “although China has a $700 billion trade relationship with the U.S., it has a $3 Trillion trade relationship with the rest of the world.”
Third, “the world today is much richer” and “making the U.S. market less accessible and rejiggering deals will no longer send allies and adversaries scurrying to make nice”.
Fourth, the statutes on which the Trump administration relies are vague, old and notably unilateral…and fit for a world of an American dominance that no longer exists. Moreover, in Trump’s efforts to bully adversaries he “is, as the adage goes, bringing a knife to a gunfight” in which “all Americans will be losers.”
In the New York Times Op-Ed filed October 12, 2018, Paul Krugman described
Republican efforts to tear down the pillars that have supported healthcare for all citizens. For example, the Republicans, including Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan have tried in various ways to prevent, weaken, or end Medicare. Trump, no doubt, has and will support any effort or opportunity to destroy the healthcare progress created by Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. 33.
With respect to education, Trump appointed Betsy DeVos as his education chief.
As reported in Vanity Fair, October 2018, at p. 140, DeVos was the offspring of billion dollar forbearers who were “devotees of Norman Vincent Peale”, (p. 167), of “Christian Zionism”, (p. 142), of ridding the country of labor unions (p. 143), of supporting private, for-profit schools rather than public schools, of pushing for minimum standards…and cutting funds for everything from career and technical education to teen pregnancy prevention” (p. 166), and of being in the “forefront of Trump’s campaign to strip down federal agencies.” (p. 168). In brief, DeVos, like her forbearers and Trump, disdained those young and older people needing help in favor of those who could take care of themselves and support the Trumps of the word. 34.
Equally baffling is Trump’s “crazy attacks” on the Federal Reserve. See The
Washington Post, Sunday, October 28, 2018 at G.3. The author, Allan Sloan, explains that “Trump has been using the Fed as a whipping boy to explain the recent decline in the stock
market, which is down considerably from its highs a few weeks ago.” His objection was that “Obama had zero interest rates and I [Trump] have almost normalized…interest rates.” Forgotten or ignored by Trump were hard facts, namely that when Obama took office in 2001, there was “a financial panic” where the stock markets “were plummeting”, and “the economy was weakening.” Trump’s situation was drastically different – stock markets were high, unemployment was low and the economy was “on a roll”. Trump ignores the facts that “our debt and our budget deficit are both rising rapidly not because the Fed is boosting short term interest rates”, but because they are “the only rates the Fed controls.” If Trump wanted to blame someone, it should have been himself. For it was Trump who caused the rise in debt and deficit “in good part because of the huge corporate tax cuts in the 2017 tax bill” and because Trump and the Republicans have “reduced federal income tax revenue by hundreds of billions of dollars”. Complaining, not thinking, is Trump’s strong suit. 35.
Dana Milbank, in the October 11, 2018 Washington Post, explained how “Racism
Basks in the World of Trump”. a.
Milbank leads off by stating that the acting head of the EPA is “the latest administration figure found to have trafficked racist imagery.”
As reported by the Huffington Post, Andrew Wheeler showed a “like” for “a 2013 post showing President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama looking lovingly at a banana held by a white hand.” Wheeler’s answer was only that he didn’t recall the incident.
As Dana Milbank reports, there has been a cascade of venomous and hateful comments by Trump advisors, including for example when the
“Chief White House economic adviser” in August “hosted a publisher of white nationalists.” d.
Milbank also reports that “Trump’s closing themes for the 2018 mid-terms is becoming a grim reprise of white nationalist themes that propelled him in 2016.” i.
“Destroying our heritage” is not only a “common theme of white nationalists”, “Trump has deployed a variant six times in the past three weeks”: A vote for Republicans is “a vote… to reclaim America’s true heritage and righteous destiny.”
In Iowa, Trump “mocked” Democrats, including Senators Elizabeth Warren (dubbed “Pochantas with high cheekbones”); Cory Booker (who purportedly “ran Newark into the ground”); Richard Blumenthal (who Trump dubbed “Da Nang Dick”); and Diane Feinstein (whose audience chanted “Lock her up”.)
Trump also singled out “California Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters”; threw a shot at Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer; and “ridiculed two Democratic women running for Congress before prompting another ‘Lock her up’ chant for Hillary Clinton.”
The White House speechwriter “resigned in August over his participations in a white-nationalist conference.”
A homeland security advisor…”quit in August over emails with white nationalists using Nazi terminology.”
“Another homeland security advisor…called black people lazy and promiscuous.”
“AmeriCorps spokesman…disparaged blacks, Muslims, gays, women and immigrants.”
A “counterterrorism advisor…wore a medal from a Hungarian Nationalist organization with Nazi ties.”
A “former deputy campaign manager…told a black man on TV that ‘you are out of your cotton pickin mind.”
An Energy Department official used “social media accounts called Obama a Kenyan and his mother a ‘fourth-rate po*n actress and a w@!re’.”
Other officials, at the Department of Interior and Defense…championed the ‘birther’ movement.”
Healthcare for ordinary Americans (who vastly out-number the wealthy members
of society) has worked only because of programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. These security nets are now at risk because of Trump and his followers. Paul Krugman has explained the reasons for this threatened disaster in the October 19, 2018 New York Times Op-Ed Piece. The reasons are straightforward. a.
Krugman traced this dark outcome to what he calls the “biggest tax scam in history”.
The scam arises from a “soaring deficit” that Trump created when he ordered drastic cuts in taxes for the wealthy, which in turn lowered revenue.
Now Trump and his Republican allies seek to lower the “soaring deficit”, but by cutting “Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security”… in short by helping the rich and harming the rest of society. Indeed, House Speaker McCormack has recently supported dismantling these long standing societal benefits.
The indisputable fact is that Trump and the Republicans, not Democrats, have, by orders of magnitude, vastly increased the deficit oblivious to the harm to the Nation that they will have caused.
In the October 25, 2018, New York Review of Books, Christopher Browning
highlights actions by Trump that have begun the process of “Dismantling Democracy”, comparing 1933 with 2018. The author lists and explains actions that Trump seeks to take to dismantle the most important pillars of U.S. history and U.S. commitments: a.
Trump “seems intent on withdrawing the U.S. from the entire post-World War II structure of interlocking diplomatic, military, and economic agreements and organizations that have preserved peace, stability, and prosperity since 1954”. (id at 14)
Trump has opted “for bilateral relations, conceived as zero-sum rivalries in which he is the dominant player and ‘wins’.” Ibid
Trump threatens “trade wars with allies and adversaries alike…”and has increased tariffs on longstanding allies. Ibid.
Trump has shown unabashed “admiration for…authoritarian leaders” such as Putin and other dictators many of whom are growing rapidly, like Turkey’s Erdogan, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Victor Orban in
Hungary and the so-called Crown Prince in Saudi Arabia. The same trend can be observed in South America, where dictators are continuing to grow. e.
Trump has embraced “huge tax cuts for the wealthy” (which has caused our Country’s deficit to increase to nearly one trillion dollars, an amount that alone can collapse the economy); “financial and environmental deregulation”; the endorsement of two new conservative Supreme Court appointments; and the “significant reductions in government sponsored health care.” Ibid. In short, he has radically reversed progress in health care, environmental protection, clean air, medical care, longstanding alliances and the trust of allies.
On October 27, 2018, The New York Times at A16 reported the ongoing concern
that Republicans continue to seek a way to eliminate or weaken entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or the Affordable Health Care Act (i.e. Obamacare). Republicans apparently applauded these efforts as needed to offset “the $799 billion deficit for the 2018 fiscal year,” a blind eye to the fact that Trump had urged and obtained a drastic cut in taxes for the rich. How and why the rich somehow needed any help at all was never explained and frankly cannot be. Presumably, a safety net for the elderly, the poor, and the average U.S. citizen is, in Trump’s world, an underserved entitlement compared to the apparently welldeserved tax reduction for a way to make the rich richer. 39.
On February 28, 2018, Andrew Griffin of The Independent had reported that
Trump had “suggested the Jewish people might be committing anti-Semitic hate crimes to make himself look bad.” Trump repeated “a neo-Nazi conspiracy theory that has claimed the attacks are ‘false flags’.” Supporters of such belief included David Duke (leader of the Klu Klux Klan)
who believed that Jewish people are creating a falsehood to “undermine the White House”. When Pennsylvania’s A.G., John Shapiro, raised the threat “about a wave of threats to a Jewish community center,” Trump said that they had been designed to make “others to look bad” and stressed that “that the attacks might be perpetuated by Jewish people.” 40.
In the Washington Post of October 28, 2018, Max Boot says it like it is: “How
can we live in an America where a gunman can barge into a synagogue and open fire, reportedly screaming “All Jews must die.” Boot reminds us that America is based on “freedom of speech, press, assembly and religion”; that “we are a nation of immigrants…”; “that all men are created equal…”; “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”…; including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” As Boot makes clear, these fundamental rights make “no exception for liberals or Jews or critics of the President.” Boot rightly “insists” that “tolerance for political and religious differences is a non-negotiable part of the social contract in the United States.” “Political differences” are settled “through debate followed by voting,” not by “political terrorism and sectarian voting”. Contrary to the Trump rants about the media, the First Amendment to the Constitution preserves the right of “Free Speech”, not a right for a president who “lies with impunity and abandon;” who says that there “were fine people on both sides in Charlottesville”, including specifically the white supremacists who have a history of lynching black Americans. In sum, we have a so-called president who is deliberately “risking wide spread political violence so that he and his Republican supports can hold on to office.” 41.
On October 23, 2018 Paul Krugman wrote an article in the New York Times
entitled “Arms and the Very Bad Men”. In it Krugman explains how Trump was avoiding condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s “torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi” in order to prevent endangering “$100 billions in sales.” Krugman makes clear that “Trump’s claims about the
number of jobs at stake – first it was 40,000, then 450,000, then 600,000, a million – are lies”. Moreover, according to Krugman, “there is no $100 billion Saudi arms deal.” “Trump’s rationale for going easy on Saudi Arabia is a shameful lie.” Trump is “willing to forgive torture and murder”, because, according to Krugman, “Trump seems more comfortable with brutal autocrats than with the leaders of our democratic allies.” Krugman further notes that “the Saudis have funneled tens of millions of dollars to Trump personally and are continuing to do so.” Somehow, the Republicans have blinked the fact that “the Emoluments clause of the Constitution prohibits the President from accepting any such favors…” These actions, in Krugman’s words, is a “debasement of our Nation.” 42.
October 27, 2018, was another day of gun violence when a Trump supporter,
Cesar Altieri Sayor Jr. was arrested for planting bomb packages designed to kill Democrats. See New York Times, October 27, 2018. The targets of the bomber included: former President Barack Obama; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.; representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat; former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.; John O. Brennan, a former C.I.A. Director; the actor Robert DeNiro; George Soros, the billionaire Democratic donor; Cory Booker, N.J. Senator; Kamela Harris, California Senator; James Clapper, former National Intelligence Director; and Tom Steyer, who has called for impeachment. a.
Trump’s responses, if anything, reflected a desire to maintain his base, regardless whether his rhetoric had stoked hatred of Democrats, and a license to kill or to act like a mob willing to harm those who would disparage Trump. Indeed, Trump himself is more concerned that “the
early voting” for Republicans would be hampered because as Trump tweeted:
“Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows.” b.
In short, Trump values Trump more then he does the United States, its citizens, its allies and its honor.
Fast forward to the Sunday, October 28, 2018, Wall Street Journal which erased
any doubt or excuse by Trump concerning the ongoing threats to Jews. As reported, Federal prosecutors “filed hate crime charges against a Pennsylvania man they say stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue and opened fire killing 11 people.” The shooter was Robert Bowers who “made antiSemitic statements during the shooting and targeted Jews on social media, according to a federal law enforcement official.” “The attack” was “believed to be the deadliest on the Jewish community in U.S. history,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.” Bowers was “charged with 11 counts of using a firearm to commit murder” and “multiple accounts of two hate crimes”, which could result in the death sentence. 44.
Trump’s response to immigration was well described in the November 1, 2018
Wall Street Journal front page article, written by Nancy A. Youssef and Alex Leary. As reported, Trump said he will “deploy as many as 15,000 troops to the Mexican border…” A. 4. Trump has stated that “they (the refugees) are not coming into our country”. Trump next invented an “executive order to end automatic citizenship for children born in the U.S.” such as undocumented immigrants. Notwithstanding his pledge, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject 39
to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” Speaker Ryan stated his own view that “birth-right citizenship couldn’t be ended by executive order.” Nor has the White House provided “evidence that criminals or gang members are hiding among the migrants.” 45.
On November 1, 2018, the New York Times International, posted the report by
Kendra Pierre-Louis concerning recent findings with respect to climate change in the World’s oceans. A.10. As reported, “Climate change is warming the World’s oceans, killing off aquatic organisms…that anchor entire ecosystems.” Warmer waters also have caused rising sea levels and hurricanes. Id. Dr. Respland said her work did not upend I.P.C.C. warnings that “humanity has only a couple of decades to ward off some of climate change’s most catastrophic effects.” 46.
On November 5, 2018, Philip Rucker, wrote an article entitled “’Full Trumpism’:
President’s apocalyptic attacks reach new level of falsehood”. a.
His rant begins by “portraying his political opponents as desiring crime, squalor and poverty.”
Trump claims that Democrats “want to erase the nation’s borders and provide sanctuary to drug dealers, human traffickers and MS-13 killers”… “who destroy the economy, obliterate Medicare and unleash a wave of violent crime”… “would transfer the United States into Venezuela with socialism run amok.”
In Huntington, W. Va., Trump called “immigrants predatory” and the “worst scum in the world.”
Trump “floated the idea of signing an executive order to end birthright citizenship,” utterly ignorant of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution”,
which “protects the right to citizenship for any child born in the United States.” e.
The Washington Post’s fact checker found that “in the seven weeks leading up to the election, the president made 1,419 false or misleading claims, an average of 30 a day”.
During the first nine months of his presidency, the tally of “false or misleading claims” numbered “an average 30 a day that compares with 1,318 false or misleading claims.”
On November 14, 2018, Allan Smith reported an extraordinary Trump tweet that described Rep. Adam Schiff of California and likely incoming Intelligence Committee Chairman as “little Adam Shitt.” By contrast, Trump not only flattered Matthew Whitaker as the new A.G., but he also dismissed the standard review process required by committee tradition. A man of honor he is not.
Now, Trump Republicans have adopted the practice in states like Wisconsin to
use the “lame-duck legislative session to drastically curtail these offices’ power, effectively keeping rule over the states in the hands of the G.O.P.-controlled legislature.”13 As Krugman sees it, these tactics effectively turned Wisconsin “into Hungary on the Great Lakes, a state that may hold elections, but where elections don’t matter, because the ruling party retains control no matter what voters do.”14 Indeed, the same practice has been followed in Michigan, together
Paul Krugman, The G.O.P. Goes Full Authoritarian, NEW YORK TIMES, Dec. 10, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/10/opinion/trump-gop-authoritarian-states-power-grab.html . 14 Id.
with “what looks like outright electoral fraud in North Carolina.”15 In short, Trump has given comfort to states that yield to electoral fraud in order to block the will of the people.
The truth is that Trump is an inveterate liar who cannot distinguish between what is right and what is wrong; who denigrates anyone who disagrees with him; who ignores, dismisses, and degrades all Democrats, not some but all; and who has picked dozens of persons to work in the White House only to find themselves either dumped from the Office, under investigation, or indicted. In all events, Trump has made sure that the rich get richer, that the climate worsens, that the waters become increasingly polluted, that treaties are broken, and that the Putins of the World are admired. As Paul Krugman has described it, “What Donald Trump and his party are selling increasingly boils down to white nationalism – hatred and fear of darker people, with a hefty dose of anti-intellectualism plus anti-Semitism, which is always part of that cocktail.” New York Times OpEd, November 9, 2018. The same will hold for the next candidate. Then there is Robert Mueller who has diligently and carefully prosecuted many of Trump’s longtime allies and appointees for a variety of violations. Now that Trump has forced the resignation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, he installed Matthew Whitaker as acting A.G. without confirmation by the Senate and now appears to be substituting another candidate (William Barr) who previously had been Attorney General for President George H.W. Bush. As explained by Neal K. Katyal, an acting solicitor general under President Obama and George T. Conway II, a litigator at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Trump’s appointment without Senate confirmation is “illegal.” These experts explain that, without undergoing the Senate’s usual and
required process, “there has been no mechanism for scrutinizing whether he has the character and ability to evenhandedly enforce the law. The public is entitled to that assurance, especially since Mr. Whitaker’s only supervisor is Trump himself, and the president is hopelessly compromised by the Mueller investigation”. New York Times, November 9, 2018. The bitter truth about Trump was underscored when on November 21, 2018, the Associated Press reported that the Chief Justice Roberts of the United States “bluntly rebuked the president for denouncing a judge who rejected his migrant asylum policy as an Obama judge.” To underscore the point, Chief Justice Roberts stated: “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.” Unfortunately, Trump does not know how to be the president of a democracy. Finally, it must be acknowledged that because of Trump our Country has suffered a cruel and unusual fracture that has divided its citizens deeply, threatened the preservation of the United States Constitution, and has created a rain of fear for those who are weak and need help. Our politicians and ordinary folks must reject the hate, greed, and suffering that threatens to swamp the greatest Democracy conceived by mankind. Despite Trump, we must live by the Constitution, by fairness, and by a society that until now has always been a sanctuary for opportunity and fairness. **** Written By An Anonymous Lawyer For Those Who Seek To Save Our Democracy; To Reject Trump, His Minions, And His Advocates; And To Restore Truth, Justice, And Fairness For The People Of The United States of America.