In a written statement celebrating the ruling, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared,"The Courts have been clear: the President’s insistence that he is above the law is an offense to our Constitution and to every American." Pelosi continued, “As the Court ruled, ‘It is hard to imagine a more significant wound than such alleged interference with Congress’ ability to detect and deter abuses of power within the Executive branch for the protection of the People of the United States.’ The judge concluded that, ‘Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings.’”
The ruling not only opens up the possibility that other witnesses will come forward; it strengthens an article of impeachment based on obstruction of Congress. The House might as well quote Jackson’s opinion denouncing Trump’s position: “Thus, blatant defiance of Congress’ centuries-old power to compel the performance of witnesses is not an abstract injury, nor is it a mere banal insult to our democracy,” Jackson wrote. “It is an affront to the mechanism for curbing abuses of power that the Framers carefully crafted for our protection, and, thereby, recalcitrant witnesses actually undermine the broader interests of the People of the United States.” That might serve as a fine opening to an article of impeachment grounded in obstruction.
Trump also got his comeuppance from former Navy secretary Richard V. Spencer who explained his decision to quit in a CBS interview. He denied that he threatened to quit over Trump’s decision to intervene in the case of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, convicted of posing with a corpse. Spencer’s candor was appreciated, especially since current and former national security officials, both military and civilian, have been so docile as Trump demolishes the military’s code of honor and discipline. CBS reported:
Spencer said Monday that he doesn't think Mr. Trump "really understands the full definition of a warfighter."
"A warfighter is a profession of arms and a profession of arms has standards that they have to be held to, and they hold themselves to," he said.
Spencer explained: “Well, what do I stand for as secretary of Navy? Good order and discipline of the United States Navy. That’s a prime tenet. This, in fact, erodes that.” His job is not merely to follow orders. Spencer reiterated, “Everyone should follow a lawful order.” (Emphasis added.)
Trump, who lacks any internal code of conduct or principles (i.e., a conscience), takes direction from hot-headed Fox News hosts who have never served in the military. They and he misunderstand that it is not “political correctness” but military discipline that requires punishment for conduct that violates our values and undermines good order. Trump should try listening to fighting men and women who know all service personnel must be held to a high standard of conduct.
In sum, Trump got rebuffed twice on Monday for failing to understand the constitutional limits and ethical obligations of the presidency. He is manifestly unfit to govern or even perceive what he is doing is deeply wrong and harmful to the country. He is operating blind — blind to standards of decency, to honor, to the Constitution and to his own inadequacies.
It will take resolute men and women from many walks of life and from every branch of government to protect the country, the military’s honor, the Constitution and the very notion of objective reality from the ravages of Trump and his enablers (who themselves engage in mind-numbingly dumb and inappropriate conduct). Even if Trump cannot see it, his less deluded supporters should recognize that he is being humiliated from multiple sides and losing with remarkable regularity. Let’s hope they tire of it — and of him.