March 2, 2018
The Week in Impeachment heads to England — the land that inspired US impeachment law
by Barbara A. Radnofsky
This is the week President Trump was scheduled to travel to London to see our great ally, England. As I leave for that same city, news confirms that Trump in anger or frustration so alienated the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who consistently has refused to pay for Mr. Trump’s “wall,” that the Mexican President’s trip to Washington this month is cancelled.
As for Trump’s canceled trip to London, recall that in November, he retweeted false and hateful content from the ultra-nationalist British alt-right, then touted his continuing ignorance of their full context. The UN Human Rights chief asked of Trump’s action, “Why take us to a place where what can accrue from this is immense violence?”
After the initial episode, Trump was asked about the tweets in an interview with Piers Morgan. At Salon, Jeremy Binckes described his response:
“If you’re telling me there’s horrible people — horrible, racist people,” Trump said, not admitting that the Britain First crowd is quite literally horrible racist people, “I would certainly apologize if you’d like me to do that. I know nothing about them.”
Note that there was no apology whatsoever.
In advance of the visit originally scheduled for this week, Trump complained about “negative coverage” by the British press and said he’d visit England only if Prime Minister Theresa May would somehow ensure he would not be greeted by protests. May had to explain to Trump that this is not how British law operates.
For the past several days, I have been enjoying the city in Trump’s absence. He doesn’t know what he’s missing.
For instance: the most gracious host imaginable, the Queen, kind enough to greet a visitor in a snowstorm.
If he visited the House of Commons and House of Lords—or even just the US Senate website, for that matter—he might learn three historic grounds used in English impeachment and adopted by our founders: oppression, bribery, and fraud, explained in more detail in my book, A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment. I tell the story of how the Founding Fathers learned from history—in particular, a foreign government bribing King Charles II—as persuasive evidence during the Constitutional Convention debates of the need for a “regular” process by which US presidents could be impeached; the Founders recognized corruption as a serious risk, even if the president came to office with great wealth or received a handsome salary.
Meanwhile, he has continued to engage, intentionally or negligently, in harmful maladminstration that justifies his impeachment.
Here are examples of impeachable conduct in which Trump has engaged this week, while I’ve enjoyed the historical antecedents of US impeachment (to which President Trump, too, could have gained admission):
He chose to sanction North Korea, but not Russia, despite the fact that Russia currently poses an existential threat to our system of government. (Source)
- He has delegated to his daughter Ivanka—who has neither the appropriate qualifications nor a permanent security clearance—the job of briefing South Korea’s president on the North Korean sanctions. (Source)
- He has prompted mass booing of Senator John McCain over the assertion that any healthcare law should be “a product of regular order in the Senate.” (Source)
- By straightforwardly misquoting news reports to reverse their meaning, he has deceived the public, betraying their trust, harming the integrity of his office, and interfering in the administration of justice. (Source)
- Trump continues to own a business empire profiting from his presidency from foreign sources, and persists in total opacity about those foreign profits, even as he claims to be donating them entirely to the US Treasury (which doesn’t solve his impeachable problem of having received such profits). The attorneys general of Maryland and DC, who have filed a lawsuit against the president for violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, wrote that recent donations to the Treasury, which the president has refused to quantify, “seem to confirm that they accepted payments from foreign governments,” adding that “whether the Trump Organization donated the proceeds from those foreign emoluments is irrelevant to our case.” (Source)
- News reports now indicate that the private business of Trump’s son-in-law and close advisor Jared Kushner, with tremendous conflicts of interest, received large loans from a huge bank and a major private equity firm. (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!