January 26, 2018
The Week in Impeachment: 1/20/18 — 1/26/18
by Barbara A. Radnofsky
In this first installment of our new weekly series, The Week in Impeachment, Barbara A. Radnofsky, author of A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment, takes a look at some of the potentially impeachable executive behavior that’s made headlines over the past seven days. Read it, as they say, and weep.
This week, we’ll be looking at three possible grounds for impeachment: oppression, harm by appointees, and corruption.
First Charge: Oppression
Trump may be susceptible to charges of oppression on the basis of what’s sometimes been called the “Trump Effect,” the promotion of oppression, animus, and even violence on the basis of race, nationality, gender, or sexuality, as well as attacks on the freedom of the press.
Examples this week:
- Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon, explained that the name “Trump!” has been shouted at him as a public taunt. (Source)
- The FBI has accused Michigan’s Brandon Griesemer of threatening a massacre against employees of CNN. CNN is a frequent target of President Trump’s public animus, and Griesemer used Trump’s signature invective for them, “Fake news!”, during the threats. (Source)
- Trump’s voting commission sought reporting from Texas that singled out voters with Hispanic surnames; the data was never delivered because voting rights advocates sued to prevent the hand-off. (Source)
- The Trump administration released a report that conflated “immigrants” with “terrorists,” based on claims sourced to the Department of Homeland Security; employees at the DHS said they neither possessed the data nor had performed the analysis on which the (highly misleading) report was predicated. (Source)
Second Charge: Harm by appointees
The president can also be impeached for harms caused by the Executive Branch, including through the acts and omissions of his appointees.
Examples this week:
- At the World Economic Forum, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao declared that in the past “America has been the chump,” and responded to questions about changes in American policy by saying attendees “should feel very flattered” Trump had chosen to address the gathering, adding, “Those who don’t want to listen to him can leave.” (Source)
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau abruptly dropped a years-long investigation into a payday lender that had contributed to the congressional campaign of acting director and (Office of Management and Budget director) Mick Mulvaney. (Source)
- After declaring a ninety-day opioid emergency in October, Trump appointed twenty-three-year-old Taylor Weyeneth, with no professional experience, to a senior post in the White House Office of National drug Control Policy; as the ninety days close, Weyeneth appears to have taken no action and is being forced to resign under the pressure of multiple highly unfavorable revelations by journalists. (Source)
- Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s situation is unique and remarkable because he has been given lengthier access to the president’s daily briefing than anyone in history without full security clearance. He has dealt with foreign officials while at the same time urgently seeking to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, incautiously circulating policy statements by foreign governments, and continually evading responsibility. (Source)
Third Charge: Corruption
Unsurprisingly, the president can be impeached for corruption, conflicts of interest, and ethical misconduct — his own or those of his appointees. James Madison envisioned the possibility of one form of corruption many are contemplating right now: that a president “might betray his trust to foreign powers.”
Examples this week:
- While Trump has been president, the Trump Organization has drawn huge profits from his political activities, including a number of trademark deals with foreign governments, free publicity for Trump properties he continues to visit, and stays in his hotel by lobbyists and other powerful people who visit Washington to meet with him. (Source)
- In particular, it’s been reported that spending by political committees at Trump properties has increased more than twelvefold since he assumed office. (Source)
- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was revealed not to have disclosed that he was a shareholder in a Montana gun company, with whose representatives he met, providing updates on operations and information on opportunities for government contracts. The company has received much access and at least one government contract. (Source)
Barbara Ann Radnofsky is a mother, wife, teacher, mediator and arbitrator. A lawyer since 1979, she was the first woman Texas Democratic U.S. Senate nominee and later the first woman Texas Democratic Attorney General nominee. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Houston and the University of Texas School of Law, she was honored as the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas in 1988 and has been listed for more than 25 years in “Best Lawyers in America" in multiple areas. She lives in Houston, where she is one of many co-owners of the Brazos Bookstore, and is the author of A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment, available now. Follow her at @TXBarbaraAnn!