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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,896
December 21, 2017
Evidence Mounts for Trump Impeachment
By Mike McManus

I wrote a column last summer arguing that "Trump Should Be Impeached" on two major grounds. First, there was an "obstruction of justice," in his firing of FBI Director James Comey in an attempt to stop FBI's investigation of his campaign's collusion with Russians to be elected. As Trump told NBC's Lester Holt, Comey was fired because of "this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story."

Second, I noted the Attorneys General of Maryland and Washington D.C. filed a lawsuit accusing Trump of violating anti-corruption laws through his ownership of companies that have accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments. The Constitution prohibits a U.S. official from accepting "any present Emoluments from any King, Prince or foreign State." Nearly 200 Members of Congress and Senators filed a similar lawsuit.

I was criticized by many in calling for his impeachment - for being "premature." However, much more evidence has surfaced in recent months of the apparent "collusion" between his campaign and Russia.

Top campaign officials and Trump family members dropped everything to meet with Russian operatives when they believed they could get useful opposition research on Clinton. In June 2016 Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, then Trump campaign chairman, met with a Russian operative who promised dirt on Clinton. When asked to set up the meeting, Trump Jr., wrote back, "If it's what you say, I love it..."

Undoubtedly, they learned that Russia stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Hundreds of them were carefully released over months through WikiLeaks, to maximize damage to Clinton's campaign. Russians planted fake news to help Trump. The Podesta emails were dribbled out in the campaign's final weeks, making them irresistible to the press.

There is not yet "hard evidence" of actual collusion between the Trump operation and Russia. But the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming.

Add to that the actions of special counsel Robert Mueller. He has secured a guilty plea and criminal indictment of George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor to Trump, who was eager to collude with the Russian government. He admitted to lying to the FBI about his relationship with a "female Russian national" with links to Russian government officials.

He also lied about his relationship with Joseph Mifsud, Director of the London Academy of Diplomacy who promised "dirt" on Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails" of Podesta, hacked by the Russians. With Trump encouragement, Papadopoulos continued talking to Russians through August, 2016.

Mueller also indicted Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, and his associate, Rick Gates, who for a decade tried to influence American politics on behalf of pro-Russian entities in Ukraine without reporting their lobbying to the Justice Department. The two men have been charged with conspiracy, money laundering, failing to file required financial reports to the government, acting as unregistered agents of a foreign power, and making false statements.

The indictment is that Manafort and Gates were unregistered agents who worked on behalf of pro-Russian entities from 2006-2016 and "directed a campaign to lobby United States officials on behalf of the Government of Ukraine...a multi-million lobbying campaign."

On December 1, President Trump's former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador, becoming the first senior White House official to cut a cooperation deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.

The New York Times called it "a politically treacherous development for the president and his closest aides."

Flynn promised to provide prosecutors with information on "any and all matters," which suggests why Trump asked then FBI Director Comey to let the Flynn matter drop, to avoid revealing the involvement of Flynn with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislylak. Prosecutors said they would delay Flynn's sentencing, a signal that their investigation was not over and they had not exhausted Flynn's cooperation.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow recently posted the pictures of 19 Russians involved with the Trump campaign, which does not prove "collusion," but powerfully suggests it.

Mueller has not issued his final report on Trump's receipt of millions of dollars from foreign, state-owned corporations in apparent violation of the Constitution's Emoluments Clause - nor on the apparent collusion of his campaign with Russians.

If it does so in a few months, the Republican Congress is unlikely to impeach Trump. However, Democrats only need to pick up 24 seats in 2018 to gain the majority. Clinton beat Trump in 23 Congressional Districts. Many of those Republican Congressmen might vote to impeach to secure their seats from Democratic challengers.

The evidence for his impeachment is mounting.

Copyright (c) 2017 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. For previous columns go to Hit Search for any topic.

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