President Trump’s contempt for the Constitution is deepening at an accelerating pace.

How can I tell?

In a June 28 column, I updated the articles of impeachment, imagining as a thought experiment that the Senate had postponed action at the beginning of the year rather than voting to acquit. Based on Trump’s behavior in the intervening five months and what we had learned of his earlier actions, I argued that at least four new articles were warranted.

Now, only four weeks later, there’s enough misbehavior to lengthen the indictment just as much again.

To be clear: I am not suggesting that the House should again impeach the president. It’s up to the voters to render judgment, and we will have our chance soon enough.

But the thought experiment is valuable as a measure of whether Trump was chastened by becoming only the third president in history to be impeached, as some Republican senators assured us he would be — and as a warning of what we might expect if he is returned to office for a second term.

You will recall that Trump was impeached on two counts: abuse of power, for withholding aid and a White House meeting in a corrupt attempt to extort political favors from the president of Ukraine; and obstruction of Congress, for refusing to cooperate with the legitimate House inquiry into his scheme.

In June, I proposed four additional articles. The first was for willful endangerment of the American people, for political ends, with his fatally negligent response to the covid-19 pandemic.

The jockeying for the post-Trump future of the Republican Party has started, says Post columnist Max Boot. (The Washington Post)

Trump decided that his reelection depended on reopening, so he ignored his own scientists’ advice and undermined governors’ leadership with calls to “liberate” the states. The result: a pandemic out of control. In just the past six weeks, the number of cases has doubled from 2 million to 4 million.

Yet, as that has been unfolding, the White House engaged in a bizarre campaign to discredit the nation’s top infectious-disease doctor, Anthony S. Fauci. And Trump continues to belittle testing, the essential tool for reopening. Let’s add those to the indictment.

My month-old Article 2, abuse of law-enforcement powers, will have to be retopped, because the offenses I included a month ago pale beside the recent, reckless deployment of federal forces into U.S. cities for political purposes. As my colleague Ruth Marcus wrote, “Something terrible, something dangerous — and, yes, something unconstitutional — is happening in Portland, Ore.” — where, over the objections of the governor and mayor, unbadged federal agents have swept peaceful protesters into unmarked vans and detained them. All so that Trump can posture as a “law-and-order” president.

My Article 3, abuse of appointment power, will have to be updated, too, now that the courageous Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman has been not only drummed out of the White House but bullied out of the military altogether.

Article 4, abuse of power in foreign affairs, gets a new count. The original cited Trump’s acquiescence to China’s concentration camps in western China in exchange for the campaign help of promising to buy soybeans from Midwest farmers.

Now we would have to add his unexplained, and thus far inexplicable, supine acquiescence to Russia’s reported bounty payments for the killing of U.S. servicemen in Afghanistan.

And we would need some new articles as well, starting with Article 5: Abuse of power for personal enrichment. The New York Times reports that the U.S. ambassador to Britain told several people in 2018 that Trump was pushing him to get the British government to steer the lucrative British Open golf tournament to a Trump-owned resort in Scotland.

He hasn’t landed the tournament yet. But attempted sleaze is still sleaze.

But if you want actual payments, we have those, too, as Post reporter David Fahrenthold has helped uncover. In this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Trump’s campaign, Trump-affiliated committees and the Trump-controlled Republican Party have steered more than $4 million to Trump-owned businesses. Those aren’t tax dollars, true, but I would not want to be the defense lawyer arguing in the U.S. Senate that it’s perfectly fine to use donor funds and the political process to enrich oneself.

Article 6 would be abuse of the reprieve and pardon power. The Constitution allows the president to free felons, including one who has been convicted of lying to Congress and the FBI to protect the president. That doesn’t make it okay.

Finally, Article 7 would charge Trump with undermining faith in the electoral process. The president’s lies about the possibility of fraud in mail-in balloting, combined with his threats to disregard the results of the election, wouldn’t register as transgressions in the U.S. criminal code. But could there be any higher crime and misdemeanor than deliberately seeking to suppress the vote, seed chaos and lay the groundwork to obstruct a peaceful transfer of power?

Well, maybe. Come back in a few weeks.

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