February 23, 2018
The Week in Impeachment: 2/17/18 — 2/23/18
by Barbara A. Radnofsky
In this 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, then make sure your friends are registered to vote in November.
This week reinforced what we know about the Russian attack on our electoral system with new evidence, and brought to light ongoing dangers to our democracy and existential breaches of duty by a lying president who is unwilling or unable to protect us. We will focus on two areas of impeachable conduct: the president’s undermining the integrity of his office, to great harm; and his responsibility for the corruption and negligence of his appointees and associates.
First Charge: Undermining the integrity of his office, betraying his trust, lying to the public, breaching his oath to “preserve, protect, and defend,” and interfering with the administration of justice, to great harm.
The president has continually undermined the integrity of his office. He and his aides have issued false denials, attacks, and other claims about the ongoing Russia investigations, and have interfered with these investigations where possible. They have ignored accurate predictions of attacks by previous administrations and the legislature.
Examples this week:
- Following sixteen indictments for Russian attacks on the US electoral process, Trump and his agents lied openly about these attacks. (Source) (Source) (Source)
- When National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster deemed the evidence of Russian interference in the election “incontrovertible,” the president publicly criticized him, claiming he “forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems.” (Source) (Source)
- The media made clear that the president had failed to blame Russia for its own conduct — pointing fingers instead at a range of targets, including the Department of Justice, the FBI, General McMaster, Representative Adam Schiff, President Obama, and Oprah Winfrey. (Source)
- The president assailed his own attorney general—who is recused from the investigation—for his failure to investigate President Obama, against whom he measured himself as “much tougher on Russia,” despite the fact that he has failed to implement even those sanctions on Russia that Congress passed, which he signed but which remain unenforced by the Executive Branch. Representative Don Beyer noted that “Trump greeted Putin’s expulsion of US diplomats with praise, sided with Putin repeatedly over US intelligence, and he gave Russians highly sensitive intelligence from our ally. He still hasn’t acted on the sanctions we passed.” (Source) (Source) (Source)
- Trump referenced a Facebook executive, who apologized for his claims minimizing Russia’s role, ignoring massive re-posts and the complex Russia strategy attacking our democracy: shifting seamlessly from divisiveness, to weakening Hillary, to end-sprinting, helping Trump with laser-focus on key vote areas; Trump aides continued presidential themes attacking media and Democrats as “causing more chaos” than Russia. Trump falsely claimed Russian indictments exonerated him from campaign collusion allegations. (Source) (Source) (Source)
- Trump continued to claim that he did not know he would be running for president when Russian interference started in 2014, even though he trademarked the slogan “Make American Great Again” in 2012 and tweeted “#Trump2016” in 2013, and intelligence from the early period of Trump’s 2013 Moscow trip reportedly demonstrate the connection. (Source)
- Numerous lawmakers and public officials have called out the delegimitizing and destabilizing effect of the president’s failure to take a seriously a dangerous attack on American democratic institutions. (Source) (Source) (Source)
- US allies are now being told by officials to ignore the president’s tweets. The German Foreign Minister openly expressed that he is unsure where to turn for an understanding of American policies and actions. (Source)
Second Charge: Massive corruption, and conflicts of interest that compromise the country
It is obvious that massive corruption at the highest levels of government works serious harm against the US, as do conflicts that prevent officials from focusing solely on the good of the nation. The president is liable for the conduct of subordinates he appoints or retains.
Examples this week:
- The media reported the president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., “shilling condos” in India; one report says that “Trump’s company is literally selling access to the president’s son overseas.” (Source)
- Reporters continue to discover information missing from the disclosures of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a high-level advisor, despite more than forty updates to those disclosures. Recent updates from Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, show that he has borrowed millions of dollars in recent months, which may indicate that his business is failing. The family faces litigation accusing them of illegally omitting information for thirty-two companies with the potential for hidden conflicts of interest. (Source)
- Kushner with an interim security clearance as of recent Washington Post reporting, “issues more requests for information to the intelligence community than any White House employee” outside the National Security Council. (Source)
- Even though his responsibilities do not require it, Kushner seeks to retain the ability to review even the most classified information, despite efforts by Chief of Staff John Kelly to limit him. (Source)
- Kelly himself has admitted to sub-standard performance and “shortcomings” after the Rob Porter fiasco was revealed by media. (Source)
Corrupt, conflicted, and incompetent, President Trump engages in serious derelictions of duty, to our country’s great harm. Under the conditions he has created and plans to foster by his neglect and dereliction of duty, we can no longer trust our election process.
As former George W. Bush advisor David Frum recently observed in the Atlantic, regardless of whether the ongoing investigations prove Russian collusion from a ready and willing Trump campaign (“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer”), Trump’s inability to counter a real Russian threat means “leaving the door open to Russian intervention on their behalf in the next election. You might call it collusion in advance — a dereliction of duty.”
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!