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.
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.
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.
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.
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.