February 16, 2018

The Week in Impeachment: 2/10/18 — 2/16/18


In this weekly seriesThe Week in ImpeachmentBarbara 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, scream into a pillow, and go get organized.


This week, the president reinforced our knowledge that he is damaging our country. On February 14, after seventeen Americans died in a school shooting (the eighteeneth this year), he appeared paralyzed. He did not or could not speak to the country in the aftermath, instead tweeting his ineffectiveness in achieving a goal: that no one “should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” His press secretary used the tragedy to cancel her press briefing.

Thus, this week’s installment of The Week In Impeachment will focus on President Trump’s inability to execute his office due to negligence, incompetence, incapacity, and norm-breaking behavior that is, in the language of the first impeachment conviction in US history, “degrading to the honor and dignity of the United States.”

This week, the president has failed to faithfully execute his office through his own actions, as well as the selection and retention of officials who threaten our national security, have engaged in oppression and corruption, and have failed to protect and defend America from foreseeable foreign attacks.


First Charge: Selection and retention of officials who threaten our national security

The president violates his oath to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, as well as the “Take Care” Clause, whenever he negligently or wantonly selects or retains officials who endanger our national security.

Examples this week:


Second Charge: Oppression and corruption

In his negligent selection, retention, and supervision of officials, President Trump violates his constitutional duty to “take care” that the law is faithfully executed. He is impeachable for the harmful effects of his conduct, including what’s sometimes been called the “Trump Effect,” the promotion of oppression, animus, and even violence on the basis of such factors as race, nationality, gender, and sexuality, as well as attacks on the freedom of the press.

Examples this week:


Third Charge: Failure to preserve, protect, and defend the US from foreign attacks

Harm is the bedrock of impeachment charges, and President Trump’s failure to even acknowledge the Russian threat, to enforce US laws, or to faithfully execute his office does grave and ongoing harm to the nation.

Examples this week:



At this moment, our system of government and society are sustaining massive damage daily.

In addition to the national security threats and harms documented above, the lying, corruption, negligence and official incompetence caused by a lying, negligent, incompetent, or corrupt president cause substantial constitutional violations, harm to our system of government, and appropriate loss of trust in the rule of law. The common knowledge that our president places his and his family’s personal and financial interests above those interests of the United States only worsens that harm. As Greg Sargent wrote in the Washington Post last week, “Trump’s original refusal to release his tax returns, his refusal to divest in his holdings and the nonstop continued self-dealing have produced a situation in which we cannot know how much he and his family are directly profiting off of many facets of his actions in office.”

Trump and his allies are causing US citizens to lose faith in the institutions of government. Trump’s abuses of power and interference with investigations, the administration of justice, and Congressional work through his “ongoing assaults on law enforcement, and his active encouraging of outside allied efforts such as the Nunes memo,” too, continue to harm the country as morale at the FBI plummets; “….serious damage has already been done. Public opinion among Republicans has turned against the FBI as an institution…. Republicans have either gone along with, or actively participated in, efforts by Trump and his allies to prepare a large swath of the country to dismiss the legitimacy of any outcome in which serious wrongdoing is discovered and accountability is meted out in kind.”



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!