One of the main reasons most Americans, along with political pundits, have difficulty understanding the Trump presidency is that we have never seen anything like it before. We have seen sitting Presidents impeached before; Andrew Jackson for firing a Cabinet member and Bill Clinton for obstruction of justice (perjury). Even Richard Nixon who resigned rather than face certain impeachment.
Although Trump may or may not be under investigation by Robert Mueller, the greatest danger he poses for our country is his attitude that the rules simply do not apply to him. Ignore his campaign, which broke with traditional political wisdom, yet somehow succeeded. Even before he was sworn in as President he made it clear that the rules don’t apply to him.
He did not sell off his business interests (too complicated he said) or even place them in a blind trust as his predecessors have done. Nope, he just “officially” turned over the running of his vast empire into the hands of his two sons. Family members with whom he maintains constant contact. Family members who were “supposed” to be non-political, although Donnie Jr. and Eric have no problem appearing on news shows to express their views on all things Trump and political.
And that pesky Emoluments Clause in the Constitution which prohibits the Chief Executive from accepting foreign money without the permission of Congress. At first Trump said that any money paid by foreigners staying at his government-owned Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. would be carefully reported. Except that it hasn’t – because it is “too complicated.”
There are clear rules and guidelines regarding nepotism (hiring your relatives to work for you) in government. These rules were enacted after President John F. Kennedy appointed his own brother to be the U.S. Attorney General. So why do Trump’s daughter and son-in-law not only have high-ranking positions within the White House, but also still have security clearances? Jared Kushner may have set a record for the number of times he has had to update his security clearance forms because of information that he “forgot” to include. And Ivanka isn’t far behind.
The chief of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) finally threw in the towel earlier this year and resigned. It wasn’t just Javanka who was causing him headaches, but the shady “exemptions” given to members of the White House staff, people like Steve Bannon, that finally proved too much for him.
Trump has conducted foreign policy on social media and even tried to re-negotiate the NAFTA trade agreement with Canada and Mexico using Twitter. That particular ploy failed because the heads of state of both countries refused to play his game. Just this week he leveled criticism at one of our oldest and closest allies, the United Kingdom, by quoting inaccurate statistics about the level of crime and its cause in that country.
Speaking of social media, Trump has also taken the Art Of The Lie to new levels. Americans do not expect the presidents to tell them everything, but they do expect that what they say is true. Or at least a reasonable facsimile of the truth. Trump doesn’t even come close to that. He lies about things that can be easily disproven, and then lies more about his previous lies. And he keeps doing it because possible for the first time in our history, we have a person sitting in the Oval Office with absolutely no sense of shame.
Then there is the Russia Sanctions Bill that was overwhelmingly passed by both houses of Congress. Trump had no choice but to sign it. However, October 1st was the deadline for him to report on actions he has taken to enforce this legislation. To date, his has ignored it. This goes beyond just ignoring the rules; this is a clear violation of his oath of office to “faithfully execute the laws of the land.” But he gets away with it because the spineless Republican leadership in Congress will not hold him to account.
Recently it was reported that several of his major nominees for high-level positions in the government have already started working, and attending White House meetings, before any hearings have been scheduled to confirm their appointments. This is unheard of. Ever. By any president.
Now we have learned that Trump is personally interviewing potential candidates for the vacancies for the office of U.S. Attorney in both New York and Washington, D.C. While he might legally have the right to do so, as some have argued, this presents an awkward and again, unheard of, potential conflict of interest as Trump’s main businesses are located in those areas. Certainly the President has the final say on who is appointed to these powerful positions, but in the past it has always been to give final approval. It also raises the question if Trump is demanding a personal loyalty oath to him as a condition of approval.
None of these actions rise to the level of an impeachable offense, with the possible exception of his blatant violation of the Emoluments Clause, but they definitely demonstrate a Chief Executive who believes that the rules, the laws, the Constitution do not apply to either himself or his family.
These examples represent just a fraction of the rules that Trump and his administration have ignored. So what are we, the people of the United States, do about a President who won’t follow the rules. Our first expectation should be that Congress with either hold him to account or, if he refuses to do so, begin impeachment proceedings. Yes, I said earlier that none of these were impeachable offenses, but in fact an impeachable offense is a political one not necessarily a legal one. Congress can find a reason to impeach if they really want to do so.
But as we’ve already seen, most the of the Republicans in Congress either are too scared or simply don’t care what Trump is doing to our country. Forget about the 25th Amendment. That just is not going to happen.
But we do have another option available to us. Vote the spineless bastards out of office. Replace them with representatives and senators who will hold the president accountable for EVERYTHING he does wrong. Block his appointments until he agrees to faithfully execute the law. Speak out against him. That may mean that many life-long Republicans will find themselves having to vote for a Democrat.
The mid-term elections in 2018 will be upon us quickly. But before that happens there are two significant races that could change the tone in Washington and stiffen some Republican backs. The first is the race for Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia between Republican (Trump endorsed) Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam. The second is the December 12th election to select a replacement in the United States Senate for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. For the first time in decades, a Democrat has a chance of beating the Republican, although it helps that the Republicans decided to choose the looney tunes Judge Roy Moore as their candidate. Trump’s candidate in the Republican primary lost, so one can only hope that his endorsement of Moore will be just as effective.
While the Virginia race will not doubt prove interesting, should the Democrats flip the Alabama Senate seat blue, it will send tsunami-sized shock waves throughout the Republican Caucus in D.C. The Democrats are already smelling blood, given Trump’s extremely low approval ratings, and are now fielding candidates for seats they had not fought for in previous years.
And that, my friends, is how we deal with a President who simply ignores the rules.