As the Democratic leadership dithers — caught between the potential political pitfalls of impeachment and a progressive base demanding immediate action in the face of the overwhelming evidence of President Trump’s criminal obstruction of justice — the delay in holding the president and his administration accountable for their refusal to honor lawful subpoenas is undermining the rule of law and emboldening Trump to stray further from the norms of constitutional behavior.
Jonathan Chait, a columnist for New York Magazine, noted the president’s growing impunity in an article that pointed out five different new actions that Trump has taken in just the past week that rise to the level of impeachable offenses, on top of everything already documented in Mueller report.
Included in Chait’s list are items that each on their own would be a major game-changing scandal in any other administration but, in the Trump regime, represent just a typical Tuesday.
Chait starts his enumeration of malfeasance with the actions that the president has taken to transform the formerly apolitical Justice Department — now under the leadership of the pliant and accommodating hand-picked Attorney General William Barr — into a weapon of retribution against his political opponents by calling for the department to launch an investigation into the beginnings of the FBI’s own investigation into his campaign.
That constitutional atrocity was followed by the revelation this weekend by The New York Times that officials at Deutsche Bank purposefully refused to file the required suspicious activity reports after its lower-level internal team tasked with ferreting out illegal transactions and money laundering discovered suspect transactions in accounts associated with both the president and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Next on the list is Trump’s reported plans to pardon American soldiers considered war criminals for their extra-judicial killings of civilians just in time for Memorial Day in a repudiation of both international and domestic laws that will threaten the future safety of American troops worldwide.
Then there is the news that Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow directed the president’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen to lie during his initial congressional testimony about the date that the Trump Organization ceased its attempts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, changing the date to a time prior to the first Iowa caucus to shield then-candidate Trump from accusations of conflict of interest as he was launching his primary campaign.
Cohen’s testimony that Sekulow told him that the president had seen a draft of his testimony with the false chronology and had approved it opens President Trump to credible charges of suborning perjury, an offense punishable by up to five years in prison.
As if all of the preceding wasn’t enough to shock the nation, Trump went even further in demonstrating his contempt for congressional oversight of his administration and in claiming a status above the rule of law that every other citizen of the land must adhere to by ordering his former White House Counsel Don McGahn — now a private citizen — to ignore a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee claiming executive privilege that had already been waived when Mcgahn freely submitted to questioning by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Chait points out that Trump compounded his defiance of Congress by utilizing what amounts to financial blackmail by threatening to have the Republican party cease hiring the law firm where McGahn currently works which would cut off a major source of income for the GOP-tied firm.
All of the items cited by the New York Magazine writer just highlight how much evidence congressional Democrats have to begin impeachment proceedings without even needing to see the redacted portions of the Mueller report to confirm the obstruction of justice by the president.
With even one courageous Republican congressman bucking his party to call for the president’s impeachment, the hesitancy of the Democratic leadership to begin a formal impeachment proceeding against Trump is looking increasingly cowardly and politically calculating rather than being merely cautious.
With Trump becoming more unrestrained in his actions every day, the importance of beginning impeachment becomes more crucial with each passing moment. It’s time for the Democratic leadership to ignore political expediency and stand up for constitutional principles before that founding document becomes an irrelevant piece of parchment.
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Original reporting by Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine.