Donald Trump said he believes the Constitution lets him do “whatever I want as President.” In over two and a half years, Trump has been a serial violator of the Constitution, unmatched by any president in American history. Just about every day he is a constitutional outlaw.
Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein has documented twelve categories of major constitutional transgressions. Some are also statutory crimes. Many of these involve Trump overpowering the critical separation of powers that our founders rigorously established to assure that the president does not become a monarch like King George III.
The framers were very clear that Congress and only Congress can appropriate monies for the Executive branch to spend; that only Congress can declare war; that the president must faithfully execute the laws; and that the Congress has the full authority to investigate the executive branch for abuses, irregularities, illegalities, or the need for new laws. Trump totally defies Congressional subpoenas for documents and witnesses. That grave overthrow of constitutional government is alone enough for eviction from office.
When he is not openly violating the Constitution, Trump lies and commits impeachable offenses.
The most recent violation was in seeking from a foreign power—Ukraine—assistance in influencing our presidential election in his favor by investigating a major challenger—former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son. He dangled a $250 million military aid package (maybe more) to Ukraine by suspending it before speaking to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the telephone.
This “betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s words, finally moved the reluctant House leader. After being AWOL on all the other serious, repeated flouting of constitutional behavior, she is now focusing on Trump and Ukraine.
Much has been reported about Trump’s chronic lying. He lies daily, sometimes hourly, with his tweets and public blather. The Washington Post has catalogued over 12,000 prevarications and false statements since January 2017. Not enough, however, has been made of the aggregate effects of such lying as a living. Trump creates illusions about himself, about his alleged achievements, and about conditions in the United States and world. He spreads constant lies and transmits the lies of others. Often these are monstrous lies, which slander innocent people and trick his supporters into believing him because they think no president could possibly lie like that to them. These are dangerous obsessions for a president.
Trump says he wants everyone to have “beautiful” health insurance, yet he pushes Congress to change Obamacare, stripping twenty million people of health insurance without any substitute program.
Trump brags about consistently defying Congressional statutes by dismantling federal agencies established to protect all Americans where they live, work, and raise their families.
Trump says we have the cleanest air and water ever, yet his henchmen are running these agencies into the ground and repealing or weakening life-saving pollution controls. The result is more toxic air in your lungs, more child asthma, and dirtier drinking water.
Trump lies about voter fraud, about not using his office to enrich his business, and about all the new factories coming to the U.S. He even lies about the weather, damaging the credibility of the National Weather Service. He denies his sexual exploits and hush money payments. He rejects without evidence ten serious obstruction of justice actions documented in the Mueller Report.
Trump denies that his cuts in food stamps will leave over half a million children without a free school lunch. He denies that his tax cut overwhelmingly benefited the super-rich and major corporations.
Trump says his nominees are extremely qualified. In reality, whether it is the EPA, the public lands agency, the Department of Labor, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Trump has chosen lawless people whose main qualification was urging the abolition or weakening of these federal law enforcers against corporate crimes and abuses.
Trump falsely says that climate disruption is not scientifically established, but a “Chinese hoax,” while our country in plain sight is being battered by record breaking heat waves, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and tornadoes.
Trump says coal, oil, and gas are better for America than wind power (which he says causes cancer) and solar energy, which are cheaper and safer.
Trump is actually increasing deadly greenhouse gases as a result and worsening the climate crisis that the Pentagon calls a national security risk.
Trump keeps promising to control soaring drug prices while refusing to get that job done.
Trump lies about the massiveness of his wealth, yet opposes any release of his tax returns.
Trump says brutal dictators are doing great for their people, ignoring the obvious facts.
Trump operates in a vast cocoon of falsity and refuses to read and consult with people who are not sycophants. This is an egomaniacal, narcissistic illusionist who could start wars, has his hand on the nuclear trigger, and believes he is about the law and Congressional controls.
Trump regularly calls legislators investigating him “sick,” “treasonous,” “crooked,” and “low-IQ.” Truthfully these are descriptions of him.
Trump, unlike Clinton who was impeached by the House in 1998, has successfully resisted testifying or being questioned under oath. He is a many sided fugitive from justice, one or more steps above of the law.
Pelosi is making a mistake if she doesn’t go forward with the full articles of impeachment against Trump. Relying on the Ukraine betrayal is not enough to counter the attack by Trump’s avalanche of lies, phony distractions, and possibly a “wag the dog,” desperation overseas.
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Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest books include: To the Ramparts: How Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency, and Why It Isn’t Too Late to Reverse Course, How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress, Breaking Through Power: It’s easier than we think, and Animal Envy: A Fable.
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