The president continues to attack the First Amendment, including suspending the press pass of Playboy’s White House correspondent Brian Karem. This month, Trump directed the Defense Department to reconsider a contract with Amazon, whose founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Post, as part of his continuing pattern of retaliation and intimidation of media outlets.
Trump defied Congress, declared a phony “emergency” and moved funds from military construction projects. (A hearing on a case filed on this issue is set Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in El Paso.) He now plans to commandeer funds from disaster relief to build his wall. These efforts seek to interfere with if not abolish Congress’s Article II powers.
He has demanded a foreign government, Israel, deny access to two congresswomen seeking to conduct oversight, a critical function of Congress.
He has repeatedly refused to comply with lawful subpoenas base on spurious claims of immunity and directed individuals to refuse to respond to subpoenas.
And this week, Trump reached a new low in corruption and self-enrichment. Aside from all the money collected to date from foreign governments in violation of the emoluments clause, he is now seeking to locate the next Group of Seven summit on his Doral property, a blatant and egregious case of profiting off his presidency.
Constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe observes, “The president’s post-Mueller report stonewalling of Congress by directing all present and former White House employees to defy congressional subpoenas appears to be impeachable conduct under the Nixon Article III standard.” He adds, “Beyond that, the president’s deliberate ongoing defiance of the foreign emoluments clause by accepting financial benefits from foreign governments — and by inviting further such benefits — without congressional consent is impeachable, as is his dereliction of duty vis-a-vis Russia’s continuing attacks on our electoral sovereignty.”
Finally, The Post reported Tuesday that “President Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the 2020 presidential election that he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules. … He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly, those officials said.”
Former prosecutor Joyce White Vance tells me, “The problem with Trump and impeachment is that there is a veritable smorgasbord of misconduct to choose from. Just in the last 24 hours — offering pardons to people who will break the law to achieve his reelection aims on time? That would have ended any previous presidency if it got out.”
Congress should not forget about the evidence of obstruction outlined in the Mueller report. But if the purpose of impeachment is to reaffirm constitutional lines and prevent further damage to the structure of our government, these additional “high crimes and misdemeanors” should be included in an impeachment investigation.
Remember, impeachment is appropriate for conduct that violates the law (obstruction, bribery, suborning perjury) as well as conduct that does not violate the law but amounts to a gross dereliction of duty, a violation of the president’s oath of office and/or an attack on our constitutional system. Trump’s constitutional crime spree continues, and it is necessary for Congress to signal that he gets no pass on these additional affronts simply because he committed more stunning and obvious ones in the past.