Donald Trump could be found guilty of conduct unbecoming a president — should such a charge exists. It doesn’t. But under Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, such a conviction in the armed forces of “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman” is possible, where warranted. If Trump were covered under Article 133, as “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several states, when called into the actual Service of the United States,” as specified in the Constitution, he may well might find himself in the dock.
Clearly, acts committed by Trump in an official capacity have dishonored or disgraced him as a president, as well as compromised his character and standing as an official with constitutional power over our armed forces — elements necessary for a conviction.
That behavior can be found in the description of the nature of offenses that violate Article 133. Among them: acts of dishonesty, indecorum-rudeness, incivility and unfair dealings.
Review Trump’s behavior after nine months in office — his use of insulting and defamatory language to and about members of his Cabinet, congressional and foreign leaders, and the media. Recall the instances of Trump making false statements, arguably knowingly. Think of his use of Twitter for outbursts and rants, his false promises, and incitement of harm against those he dislikes.
Customs of the presidency are not set in stone. But based upon modern presidential conduct, there are observable standards of behavior below which a president should not fall: professional conduct in office; empathy and respect for citizens regardless of religion, culture, race; hold self and the office accountable; aim to be as truthful as possible.
Trump exceeds the limit of tolerance set by customary behavior of our modern presidents. True, there have been one or two glaring exceptions — a Republican and a Democrat — in that order — come to mind. But Trump belongs in a class all to himself.
If only we had a law.