May 4, 2018

The Week in Impeachment: The Trump Effect pervades


This week brought fresh perspective from government servants, historians, and state legislators of the Trump Effect,  the promotion by the president of oppression, animus, and even violence on the basis of race, nationality, gender, or sexuality — as well as evidence of executive corruption, lies, cheating, incompetence threatening national security, and  interference with law enforcement investigations and witnesses.

This week President passed the 3,000 mark in lies and misleading claims.

Mike Hayden, who has served as director of both the CIA and NSA, explains in a recent New York Times editorial the existential threat presented by President Trump — unique among presidents in his inability and unwillingness to distinguish facts from lies. President Trump has normalized lying: “What do you do with someone who does not distinguish between truth and untruth … we have never served a president for whom truth really doesn’t matter.”

Hayden analyzes a president incapable of focusing and discerning a fact.

The unique danger: If there is “no truth,” the president cannot be challenged, Hayden writes:

We have in the past argued over the values to be applied to objective reality, or occasionally over what constituted objective reality, but never the existence or relevance of objective reality itself.

In this post-truth world, intelligence agencies are in the bunker with some unlikely mates: journalism, academia, the courts, law enforcement and science — all of which, like intelligence gathering, are evidence-based. Intelligence shares a broader duty with these other truth-tellers to preserve the commitment and ability of our society to base important decisions on our best judgment of what constitutes objective reality.

Hayden continues, citing historian Timothy Snyder:

“To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. Post-truth is pre-fascism.”

The abandonment of truth dovetails this week with emboldened, lawless actions observed by Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes, who commented on a much-publicized episode in which a group of black women were asked to leave a golf course, of which they were members, for “playing too slowly.” Over this “offense,” the course owner called the police.

Hughes described our current predicament, pointing out, “Then you have the additional layer of it in 2018 and dealing with the resurgence, or emboldenment, of people just speaking out and doing things and acting in ways that are unlawful, but [that] reveal their hidden and true feelings.”


First Charge: Harmful lies, corruption, and negligence, including the negligent selection and retention of corrupt or risk-laden officers and the ratification of their corrupt practices


Second Charge: Interference with investigations, witnesses, and the administration of justice


Third Charge: Harmful oppression



The vice president blindly succumbs to Trump’s corrupt influence, too, honoring Sheriff Joe Arpaio, pardoned for (and proud of) his contempt of court and continued, illegal and unconstitutional racial profiling.

Journalist Radley Balko reflected on Vice President Mike Pence’s placing the disgraced Sheriff Arpaio on the highest footing and declaring it an honor to be with him:

Reminder: Joe Arpaio once faked an assassination attempt, then framed a man for it — all to win sympathy for his reelection campaign. The innocent man spent 4 years in jail. Taxpayers footed the $1 million settlement.

Clearly, the Trump Effect is being felt all over, from the lowliest golf course owner to the second-highest office in the land.



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!