IMPEACH!

It seems to me….

It is the duty of the Chief-Magistrate, in order to enable himself to do all the good which his station requires, to endeavor, by all means, to unite in himself the confidence of the whole people.” ~ Thomas Jefferson[1].

It is only fair to preface these remarks with the admission of not being able to be totally objective in any personal remarks or consideration involving Trump: I consider him to be the only person of whom I am aware totally devoid of any laudable attributes or characteristics. There is essentially nothing of which he has either said or done which I can commend. In the spirit of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, I consider him to be a moron and fail to understand how anyone can support him. With that admission, some might find my recommendation regarding impeachment somewhat surprising.

It should be remembered that Trump actually is a minority President having lost the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes to Hillary Clinton (Clinton had the largest popular vote margin of any losing Presidential candidate in history). He also won only 57 percent of the available votes in the Electoral College placing him in the bottom quarter of Presidents. It later was claimed that he had the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration both in person and around the globe even though the crowd size was substantially less than President Obama’s and, even more embarrassing, less than for the Women’s March on Washington the following day.

For those not totally familiar with the U.S. process of impeachment, it is the method by which a legislative body levels charges against a government official and is limited to those who may have committed “Treason, Bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” [2]. Impeachment in itself does not remove the official from office; it is the equivalent to an indictment in criminal law and therefor only a statement of charges against an official. Once an individual is impeached, they must then face the possibility of conviction on the charges by a legislative vote, which is separate from the impeachment but flows from it. Only a judgment which convicts the official on the articles of impeachment would entail the official’s removal from office. Article One of the U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachments of officers of the U.S. federal government.

The Federal Election Commission should have disqualified, or at a minimum chastised, then candidate Trump for soliciting Russian assistance during his campaign even prior to the election. He has then repeatedly committed offenses normally sufficient for either reprimand or removal from office. Unlike the impeachment battles involving Andrew Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Bill Clinton, the current debate involving Trump centers on whether a President can solicit or accept assistance from other nations to advance his personal political fortunes and the separation between national and personal interests.

The only impeachment involving foreign policy came in the case of Republican senator, William Blount, who was accused in 1797 of scheming to transfer parts of Florida and the Louisiana territory to Britain[3]. The House impeached Blount but he fled Washington and the Senate opted to expel him rather than convict him at trial.

The Mueller Report[4], officially titled “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election”, is the official report documenting the findings and conclusions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, allegations of conspiracy or coordination between Trump’s Presidential campaign and Russia, and allegations of obstruction of justice. It probably constituted the greatest threat so far faced by the Trump administration.

Volume I of the report concluded that the investigation did not find sufficient evidence to positively conclude that the campaign “coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities”. It did state that the high amount of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election was illegal, occurred “in sweeping and systematic fashion”, and was welcomed by the Trump campaign as it expected to benefit from such efforts.

Volume II of the report addressed obstruction of justice but stated its belief that a sitting President cannot be forced to stand trial. The report clearly stated that though it was unable to exonerate him, that investigators were therefore prevented from reaching any official recommendation. The report further stated that Congress should subsequently decide whether Trump obstructed justice and accordingly take appropriate action regarding impeachment. This has not progressed as Trump has used a “protective assertion” of executive privilege effectively blocking subpoenas by the House of Representative.

Now there is a new charge stating that Trump, and other members of his team including Attorney General Barr, crossed Constitutional ethical limits by pursuing a debunked conspiracy theory supposedly perpetrated during the 2016 election to investigate Trump’s rivals in the upcoming election.

It was disclosed by a complaint filed under the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act that Trump asked the President of the Ukraine in a phone call to investigate his political rival at the same time the U.S. was withholding military aid. This was a months-long coordinated campaign involving the President’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and high-ranking U.S. diplomatic officials according to text messages between U.S. officials selectively released by Democrats. Officials discussed withholding a Washington meeting with Trump until President Zelenskiy of Ukraine made a public commitment to investigate.

Weeks before the whistleblower’s complaint became public, the CIA’s top lawyer made what she considered to be a criminal referral to the Justice Department about the allegations that Trump abused his office in pressuring the Ukrainian President. The move by the CIA’s general counsel, a Trump appointee, meant she and other senior officials had concluded a potential crime had been committed, raising more questions about why the Justice Department later declined to open an investigation.

Now, Trump’s efforts to publicly identify his accusers in clear violation of the Whistleblower statute should in itself provide sufficient justification for impeachment.

Aside from any and all legal justifications for removing Trump from an office for which he is morally, ethically, and temperamentally unsuited, anyone holding our highest office should set a personal example of moral behavior. Honesty and truthfulness are two of the most vital personal characteristics we possess – characteristics of which he is totally devoid. None of us are equal to one another. Some are more wealthy, intelligent, attractive, athletic, taller, thinner…. Regardless, we still are judged on our fundamental attributes. As an Air Force aviation cadet, I fully bought-into the honor code and have attempted to always live by those ideals: “We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does”. It also is that code by which I measure our elected representatives.

Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly agree (91 percent) that political leaders should be honest and ethical though there are partisan differences over whether several other qualities – such as maintaining a tone of civility and respect and working well under pressure – are essential for political leadership[5]. 96 percent of Democrats disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job as President while 80 percent of Republicans approve. 94 percent of Democrats say they trust what Trump says less than what prior Presidents have said, while 58 percent of Republicans say they trust what Trump says more than what prior Presidents have said. Nine-in-ten Democrats say the ethical standards of top Trump administration officials are poor or not good, while around three-quarters of Republicans (76 percent) say the administration’s ethical standards are excellent or good.

Trump lies every time he speaks or tweets (and claiming other politicians do the same is not an acceptable excuse). Fact Checker’s database analyzes, categorizes, and tracks every suspect statement uttered by Trump[6] confirming his penchant for prevaricating, evading, sidestepping, fabricating, inventing, dissembling, misrepresenting, distorting, warping, embellishing, embroidering, exaggerating, inflating, misleading, or deceiving. By last year, 1 August 2018, on his 558 day in office, he had made 4,229 Trumpian claims – an increase of 978 in just the previous two months. That’s an overall average of nearly 7.6 mendacities a day which has shown no indication of decreasing. No other President has been so distrustful. Authoritative lying debases the truth.

A President who spreads outright lies on Twitter nearly every day, a swath of GOP yes-men who live in fear of crossing Trump’s voter base, a devious Russian President who has used his KGB-honed wiles to shake the foundation of election systems in several countries including the U.S.: we live in a world where falsehood and misrepresentation have regrettably become the strange new norm. The postmodernist argument that all truths are partial (and a function of one’s perspective) leads to the related argument that there are many legitimate ways to understand or represent an event. Supposed “alternate facts”, however, remain just lies regardless of what they might be called.

Trump endorses his base’s contempt for Washington by treating opponents as fools or, if they dare stand on honor or principle, as lying hypocrites. Cynicism drags democracy down, parties fracture and head for the extremes, and populists persuade voters that the system is serving them ill and undermine it further.

It is time for all politicians to cease fearing Trump and no longer rationalize his irresponsible behaviors and that in today’s constantly shrinking flat world he poses a threat to everyone on the planet. Personal moral rectitude must be more meaningful than criticism or reelection.

One through-line of the Trump Presidency has been his attempt to dissociate himself from the numerous people around him who have been linked to a controversy or alleged crime. The English proverb “Birds of a feather flock together” seems totally appropriate considering Trumps considerably checkered past. Personally, being from Atlantic City, NJ, and knowing about Trump since 1990, everyone knew he was corrupt and if not Mafia himself, was then at least an organized crime associate. Many of his business associates and dealings have confirmed this including his admissions to the New York Grand Jury or reports by the New Jersey State Gaming Commission. He has essentially made a career of successfully avoiding prosecution for criminal associations and allegations of criminal involvement.

Trump has led a consequence-free life despite enormously self-destructive behaviors over time. He is an egotistical misogynist totally devoid of ethics or morals apparently believing sex is something women owe men; his divorces were marriages he wanted out of. His numerous bankruptcies mostly impacted his lenders, not him. Regardless, all of his malodorous behavior ended with him winning the Presidency in 2016. And the Mueller obstruction inquiry ended with no definitive answer as a result of his obstruction.

Trump has insulted our allies and friends while lending support to Russia and other autocratic rulers. In spite of overwhelming evidence, he continues to question whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election and constantly attempts to end any investigation into that interference. He denigrates U.S. intelligence agencies which are led by Republicans HE appointed. Having worked with people in those agencies, I can personally vouch for their dedication and integrity.

Trump constantly demeans what he calls the “fake media”. Freedom of the press in the U.S. is legally protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment is generally understood to prevent the government from interfering with the distribution of information and opinions. Simply because someone disagrees with some aspect of the media does not imply that the coverage is in error; it frequently is only a difference in perspective.

Trump’s supporters on Capitol Hill mostly just need something to say, something to throw back in the faces of Trump’s accusers. He’s producing that narrative for them.

Trump is seemingly intent on destroying all that our country has always stood for. While Trump might not be the devil personified, his behavior typifies what possibly might be expected of either a Manchurian Candidate or an Aaron Burr.

Trump supporters constantly extol all of the good he supposedly is doing – most of us have not seen it. The most critical threat the world faces is the exponentially increasing effects of anthropomorphic induced climate change and he has withdrawn from the Paris Accord, cancelled clean air initiatives, and encouraged dependence on carbon fuels. And then in spite of overwhelming evidence, denies the reality of global warming. Trump, in addition to outright lies, boast of his many supposed accomplishments since coming into office which primarily only consist of exaggeration and self-aggrandizement.

Republicans haven’t any choice other than to rally around Trump this late in the coming Presidential election cycle regardless of how repugnant they might consider him. They haven’t any other option as no knight is available to charge in and save the day. Censure might have a possibility of being approved in the Republican-controlled Senate, conviction does not.

Congressional Republicans have similarly rallied around populist demagogues in the past. Though they knew then Senator Joseph McCarthy was corrupting the political system for his own personal gain, they feared his attacks and withheld their condemnation. We once again have a similarly corrupting politician, this time as President, threatening the very basis of our democratic system of government. It is time for all politicians to take a stand and denounce what is a spreading cancer in our society.

I felt there was sufficient justification for impeachment at the conclusion of Trump’s inauguration speech and even more so in the days immediately following but today, at the beginning of the election cycle, favor censure rather than impeachment which most Republican Senators would find more politically acceptable. Now, with elections once again approaching, it seems far preferable for him to be removed by a consensus of the voters.

The current impeachment hearings are only the latest piece in the ongoing mosaic of incompetence and corruption Trump believes is justifiable simply because he believes laws do not apply to him. He apparently believes that the U.S. justice system is his personal system that he is able to use for his political benefit. While he would much prefer to be Emperor rather than merely President, this is the democratic republic of the United States of America where such flagrant abuses of the Constitution are supposedly not tolerated.

Trump has willfully and intentionally flouted laws and mores. There is nothing about him worthy of respect. He has eroded the rules-based International Order, the basic foundation of the international rule of law, which has prevailed since the end of the Second World War enabling nations to prosper basically in peace.

While I continue to prefer approval by both houses of Congress of a motion to censure for his obvious ethics violation, if impeachment is pursued, it should over the broader issue of contempt of the Constitution of the United States of America, his defiance of a Congressional subpoena to release his personal tax returns, and both his personal refusal and his direction to other White House staff to not cooperate with an investigation clearly delineated as being a responsibility assigned to Congress.

Trump’s trademark truculent imperiousness inevitably casts him as an unreasoning extremist. He is an egotist, a chameleon willing to change his beliefs to whatever he believes is most beneficial to him at the time. Words do matter. As leader of the most powerful nation on the planet, his voice carries the most weight. He has the choice of using that voice for good – or for bad. So far he has chosen wrongly.

That’s what I think, what about you?


[1] Thomas Jefferson was a U.S. statesman, diplomat, architect, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and Founding Father who served as the 3rd U.S. President from 1801 to 1809.

[2] Impeachment, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment, 4 October 2019.

[3] Blount Expulsion, United States Senate, https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/expulsion_cases/Blount_expulsion.htm.

[4] Mueller Report, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mueller_Report, 3 October 2019.

[5] Gramlich, John. Partisans Agree Political Leaders Should Be Honest And Ethical, Disagree Whether Trump Fits The Bill, Pew Research Center, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/30/partisans-agree-political-leaders-should-be-honest-and-ethical-disagree-whether-trump-fits-the-bill/?utm_source=Pew+Research+Center&utm_campaign=d394e26fb8-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_01_31_06_48&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3e953b9b70-d394e26fb8-400092341, 30 January, 2019.

[6] Kessler, Glen, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly. President Trump Has Made 4,229 False Or Misleading Claims In 558 days, Fact Checker, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/08/01/president-trump-has-made-4229-false-or-misleading-claims-in-558-days/?utm_campaign=politics&utm_content=20180908&utm_medium=email&utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_term=.5073a21ed960, 1 August 2018.

About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
This entry was posted in Andrew Johnson, Attorney General, Bill Clinton, Clinton, Clinton, Congress, Constitution, Credibility, Election Interference, Elections, Electoral College, Hillary Clinton, House of Representatives, Impeach, Impeachment, Joseph McCarthy, Mueller, Nixon, Obama, Obama, Politics, President Zelenskiy, Rudy Giuliani, Russia, Senate, Trump, Ukraine, William Blount, William P. Barr and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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