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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,947
December 13, 2018
Trump Should Be Impeached
By Mike McManus

President Donald Trump should be impeached, which I first called for in June, 2017.

Trump urged then FBI Director James Comey to stop his investigation of Michael Flynn, his former National Security Director. Comey refused, and was fired. Trump acknowledged on NBC that he fired Comey because of "this Russia thing" which he called a "made up story."

That is what led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose primary task is to research whether Russia influenced the election of Trump in 2016.

A total of 16 people who helped Trump's campaign had Russia connections. One was George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor to Trump, who admitted lying to the FBI about his relationship with Russians. Mueller also indicted Paul Manafort, Trump's one-time campaign manager, and his assistant, Robert Gates, who were unregistered agents working on behalf of pro-Russian entities from 2005-2016.

In December, 2017 the U.S. indicted Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador, the first senior White House official to cut a cooperation deal with Mueller.

These officials are examples of Trump's "obstruction of justice" which was the major charge against Nixon in his near impeachment.

Earlier columns also put a spotlight on the action by the Attorneys General of Maryland and the District of Columbia to charge Trump with violating anti-corruptions laws through his ownership of companies, like the Trump Hotel in Washington, which have accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments.

The Constitution prohibits a U.S. office holder from accepting "any present Emolument...from any King, Prince or foreign state."

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh charged, "It is unprecedented that the American people must question day after day whether decisions are made and actions are taken to benefit the United States or to benefit Donald Trump. The President's conflicts of interest threaten our democracy."

Trump asked his White House attorney, Donald McGahn, to fire Robert Mueller, but McGahn refused and threatened to quit in protest. That attempt to obstruct justice parallels Nixon's attempt to end Watergate by firing Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.

Nixon did not want to release tapes of his conversations in the White House with his top aides about Watergate. Instead, Nixon offered a written summary of the tapes. Cox rejected that proposal and said he would go to court to compel Nixon to release the tapes.

In 1973, Nixon asked his Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Cox and abolish his office. Richardson refused and was fired. Nixon then asked Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. Similarly, he resigned as well. This was the famous "Saturday Night Massacre."

On July 24, 1974 the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to turn over the tapes. In less than a week, the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment: obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress.

Within days Nixon resigned.

A similar scenario is possible for Trump. This week his attorney, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison for collaborating with Trump to pay $130,000 to Stormy Daniels and a similar sum to a former Playboy model to buy their silence about their affairs with Trump - just before the election.

Cohen indicated in open court that the payments were made "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" and "for the principle purpose of influencing the election." He was clearly talking about Donald Trump.

It is illegal to conspire with someone to make an excessive illegal contribution. A contribution to a political campaign must be less than $2,500. As Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis put it, "If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?"

There are two steps to impeach a President. First, the House of Representatives must vote by a majority for his impeachment. Then the Senate must vote by two-thirds to convict him.

After Democrats won 40 new seats in the House last month, they have enough Members to vote for impeachment. However, Republicans, who already controlled the Senate by one vote, added two more Republican Senators. That would seem to block impeachment.

However, some Republicans who are up for re-election in 2020 might vote to impeach Trump. This week 40 former U.S. Senators, including 8 Republicans such as William Cohen, John Danforth and Alan Simpson - cosigned a letter to the Senate published by The Washington Post expressing concern that "we are entering a dangerous period" with "serious challenges to the rule of law."

Trump could be impeached - and should be.

Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.

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