“The President … shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
- United States Constitution, Article II, Section 4
As indicated in these pages close to a year ago, as soon as I read the word, “Biden,” in the White House Memorandum of the call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which undisputedly showed an American President pressuring the leader of a vulnerable foreign ally to help him politically against another American, Mr. Trump’s despicable conduct – call it a “high Crime” if you prefer; I considered it Treason — was ample evidence that he was unworthy of the office he holds, and of the American people. While he was impeached in the House of Representatives, the Republican sycophants in the Senate refused to remove him from office, more concerned about their own careers than about the good of our nation, Congressional responsibility, and our democratic processes.
“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”
- United States Constitution, Amendment XXV, Section 4
A number of trustworthy news outlets have recently reported that during the past week, President Trump inquired about the feasibility of a scheme, offered on a conservative media outlet by his convicted and now pardoned former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, that Mr. Trump impose martial law in the swing states won by President-Elect Joe Biden and have the military redo the presidential election in those states. It has also been credibly reported that Mr. Trump has suggested that the Department of Homeland Security should seize voting machines in swing states in order to investigate baseless claims of election fraud thrown out across the country by judges of every judicial philosophy. If the reporting is accurate, these and other far-fetched strategies have been, thus far, shut down by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who have been two of the President’s staunchest loyalists – hardly pillars that give one confidence that our Constitutional safeguards will hold.
We have no idea at this point whether Mr. Trump actually believes the lies regarding election fraud that he has so perniciously spread over the last six weeks. His niece, Dr. Mary Trump, stated in her book, Too Much and Never Enough, “The people with access to [Mr. Trump] are weaker than Donald is, more craven, but just as desperate. Their futures are directly dependent on his success and favor. … His pathologies have rendered him so simple-minded than it takes nothing more than repeating to him the things he says to and about himself … to get him to do whatever they want …”
Most charitably, the President has come to believe his own fantasies, and is now dangerously unbalanced. More malevolently, he knows his claims are lies and simply seeks to hold on to power at any cost. (Although such intent would constitute treason, there is no longer time for Congressional impeachment and removal proceedings, even if such had any prospect of success.) In either event, Mr. Trump is manifestly “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” (For as steadfast a defender of the President, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, to stage as abrupt a reversal as he has in recent weeks – first indicating that there was insufficient evidence of fraud to affect the outcome of the presidential election, more recently declaring, despite the President’s protestations, that Russia was responsible for the recent deep and widespread hack of federal government systems and adding that there was no ground for the federal government to seize swing state voting machines or for a special prosecutor to investigate Hunter Biden or the election – makes one ponder whether Mr. Barr has noted something increasingly disquieting in Mr. Trump’s conduct since the election.) Despite all of this, can we have any hope that Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of Cabinet officers will have the courage to institute proceedings under Amendment XXV to protect our nation? To ask the question is to answer it.
I am tired of Donald Trump. I am tired of writing about Donald Trump. (Something of which the President himself is only too well aware: he shrinks without a spotlight.) This should be the time focus on the myriad of daunting substantive domestic and foreign policy concerns that will confront us upon Mr. Biden’s inauguration. That said, we may still be facing the most perilous 30 days that our nation has seen since the darkest days of World War II, or perhaps the Cuban Missile Crisis – brought upon us not only by Mr. Trump’s deformed psyche and his enablers, but by the rank cowardice of so many Republican office holders that could – as a group, if not singly — have stood in the breach and defended our nation, but have not.
‘Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.’”
- William Shakespeare: Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II