Donald Trump, a man unfit to be president, is not yet the president-elect. He is a president-in-waiting until the 538 members of the Electoral College cast ballots Dec. 19. They are not required to vote for the candidates chosen by their states, and American founding father Alexander Hamilton, in describing favorably the design of the Electoral College, said the ability of its electors to exercise their own judgement would ensure “that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”
Forget, if you wish, about the campaign — about everything Trump said and did through Nov. 8. People running for office do often behave differently when they hold an office. As many observers wrote that night, his success provided him the opportunity to reset the conversation — to indicate that that he would govern responsibly in accordance with the Constitution and on behalf of all Americans, those who elected him and those who did not.
Instead, the behavior of Trump and his loyalists since Nov. 8 alone — since the continuity of our government and the survival of our democracy began to depend on him — indicates that he must not take the oath of office.
So much has happened in the last three weeks that the electors would be forgiven for being overwhelmed by information. Trump himself has sown much of this confusion. Also, many liberals and progressives have complained about the conservative or Republican viewpoints of Trump’s advisors. It is understandable that Republican electors, who are the majority, would not have an interest in these concerns.
But electors need to take a step back and recognize that the most dangerous concerns about Donald Trump are nonpartisan, non-ideological and very real, and together, they are of a scope that jeopardizes the very future of the United States.
Here are 32 nonpartisan, non-ideological reasons that members of the Electoral College must elect as president anyone else eligible for the office besides Trump, his advisors or Mike Pence, the vice president-in-waiting who is complicit in Trump’s behavior.
These reasons are all tied to things Trump has done or information that has been revealed since Nov. 8, meaning that he cannot explain them away as campaign gimmicks. And Trump has not stepped forward to suggest that any of these 32 developments might have been misunderstandings or beginners’ mistakes. He has neither explained nor apologized for any of them.
We know for sure now who Trump is, and he must not be president.
As a progressive Democrat, I would now support the election of any Republican who is not Donald Trump, Mike Pence or a Trump advisor.
I pray that the members of the Electoral College — the last people who can stop Donald Trump from commanding a nuclear arsenal, the most powerful military force on earth, a law enforcement apparatus that could punish or intimidate his political enemies, a singular position from which to enrich himself and a pulpit from which to deliver the most hateful rhetoric — will deny him the presidency and save the republic.
Trump’s attitude toward our national security and our national interest, demonstrated after Nov. 8, is a clear and present danger to all Americans, marked by carelessness and a deference to Russia.
1. Trump has been skipping intelligence briefings since his win, a practice condemned by Republican and Democratic experts that puts every American here and abroad in grave danger.
2. Since Nov. 8, Trump has talked to Russian President Vladimir Putin more than any other world leader — more than the leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany or France, more than the leader of the state of Israel, more than the leaders of nations hosting our nuclear weapons overseas.
3. Trump’s first post-Nov. 8 call to Putin came before he talked to our own Pentagon.
4. Trump — surely aware of the post-Nov. 8 reports that Russian propagandists spread fake news during the election — has not commented on what should be an obvious concern, that a foreign power interfered with an election in which he took part.
5. Trump has rejected the assistance of our own State Department in preparing for conversations with world leaders and conducted calls over unsecured phone lines, creating a vulnerability that could be exploited by adversarial actors.
6. Trump has made no moves since Nov. 8 to release his tax returns from any recent years, making it impossible to evaluate the full extent to which he owes or is owed money by foreign or domestic banks, individuals or other entities. Foreign debts owed by Trump may compromise his decision-making regarding foreign powers, including adversarial ones, creating a vulnerability that could be exploited by adversarial actors.
7. Trump has selected as his national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn, who had a secret internet connection installed in a forbidden location at the Pentagon, disclosed classified information without approval, and has said Islam is “a cancer” and not a religion.
8. Trump urged that Nigel Farage be named ambassador of the United Kingdom to the United States. Farage is a rival of the U.K. prime minister, and Trump’s weighing in on the matter has been described as a “startling break with diplomatic protocol” — not with just any nation, but with our most important ally.
9. The prospect of working for a President Trump and the behavior of Trump’s advisors are causing military, diplomatic and intelligence experts to eschew service in his administration.
Trump’s attitude toward democratic norms, demonstrated after Nov. 8, indicates that he cannot be trusted to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.
10. Trump said “millions of people” voted illegally in the 2016 election without providing any evidence — undercutting the legitimacy of the literal foundation of our system of government and suggesting (even if we consider only Clinton’s supporters) that 64 million or more Americans may be subject to felony arrest.
11. Trump’s campaign manager appeared to threaten U.S. Sen. Harry Reid with legal action and said Trump is being “gracious and magnanimous” by not prosecuting Clinton. Setting aside Trump’s current lack of authority to prosecute someone, these incidents suggest Trump intends to use the United States justice system to settle scores against political enemies or that he expects to be seen in a positive light simply for not doing so.
12. Trump has derided post-election protests as “unfair”; said certain protesters should lose their citizenship; and demanded an apology from actors who delivered a statement from the stage to vice-president-in-waiting Mike Pence — suggesting Trump may be unwilling to uphold Americans’ First Amendment free-speech protections when those speaking are critical of him.
Trump’s approach to his current and future holdings, demonstrated after Nov. 8, has amounted to using the presidency to enrich himself and his family; he does not plan to stop doing so. Trump would be violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution from the moment he takes the oath of office.
13. Even if he had not devoted time to his businesses at all after Nov. 8, Trump is the physical embodiment of a global ethics failing and conflict of interest because of his investments and the leverage of his name as a brand in enterprises around the world, especially in Brazil (his “venture is embroiled in a criminal investigation”), India (his projects are “being built through companies with family ties to India’s most important political party”), Turkey (where Trump’s proposed U.S. ban of Muslims angered officials) and the Philippines (whose special envoy to the United States is Trump’s partner in a $150 million project). The Constitution instructs that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument [gift]… from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” It will be impossible for Trump to fail to violate this section of the Constitution, known as the Emoluments Clause, unless he separates himself entirely from his businesses.
14. Numerous diplomats and others accepted invitations to a post-election reception at a Trump-owned hotel in Washington, D.C.; “a dozen diplomats, many of whom declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak about anything related to the next U.S. president, some said spending money at Trump’s hotel is an easy, friendly gesture to the new president.” Trump is thus benefiting financially — in a real, ongoing manner, in the form of money received from foreign governments — from being president-in-waiting, meaning he will be violating the Emoluments Clause from the moment he takes the oath.
15. Even if they had not devoted time to Trump’s businesses at all after Nov. 8, three of Trump’s children (Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka), who are all involved at the highest levels with those businesses, are also involved at the highest levels with Donald Trump’s government transition process and thus are physical embodiments of conflicts of interest that result in Donald Trump violating the Emoluments Clause.
16. Trump, as president-in-waiting, asked a British leader (Farage) to oppose wind farms that might sully the views from one of Trump’s Scottish golf courses. In doing this, Trump used the office of the President of the United States to advance a personal business interest, and responsiveness or the appearance of responsiveness on the part of Farage would mean Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause.
17. Trump, as president-in-waiting, met with business leaders from India who are building a Trump-branded apartment complex in Mumbai. In doing this, Trump used the office of the President of the United States to advance a personal business interest, and responsiveness or the appearance of responsiveness on the part of these business leaders would mean Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause.
18. One or more of Trump’s children — who are expected to manage Trump’s businesses — were present for meetings with government officials from Japan, the Philippines, Turkey, Argentina and Japan. In doing this, Trump’s children leveraged the effect of the office of President of the United States to advance Donald Trump’s personal business interests, and responsiveness or the appearance of responsiveness on the part of these government leaders would mean Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause.
19. Trump has made no moves since Nov. 8 to release his tax returns from any recent years, making it impossible to evaluate the extent to which he owes or is owed money by foreign or domestic banks, individuals or other entities. Foreign debts renegotiated or credit terms extended in Trump’s favor would mean Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause.
20. Trump’s unwillingness to live full-time at the White House means the Secret Service apparently will have to occupy space at Trump Tower in New York. Protecting the president is the highest priority and cannot be questioned. The problem is that rent on this space would accrue to Trump, who has given no indication that he would forego it. Trump would thus benefit financially — in a real, ongoing manner — from being president, meaning he will be violating the Emoluments Clause from the moment he takes the oath.
Trump’s additional ethical failings, demonstrated after Nov. 8, disqualify from him from the presidency and would make it impossible for him to serve as president.
21. Documents released after Nov. 8 reveal Trump’s charitable foundation admitted to violating “a legal prohibition against ‘self-dealing,’ which bars nonprofit leaders from using their charity’s money to help themselves, their businesses or their families.”
22. Documents released after Nov. 8 reveal Trump’s foundation received $150,000 from a Ukrainian businessman in exchange for a speech delivered while Trump was a candidate for president.
23. Trump paid $25 million to settle fraud lawsuits against his Trump University real-estate seminar enterprise.
24. It was revealed after the election that Trump attempted to bribe Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly and other reporters in exchange for favorable coverage.
25. Trump added an Electoral College elector, Florida Attorney Gen. Pam Bondi, to his transition team. Bondi gained notoriety because she “personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump around the same time her office deliberated joining an investigation of alleged fraud at Trump University and its affiliates.”
Since Nov. 8, Trump has at least abided, arguably promoted and in any case served to encourage white supremacism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
26. Trump named as his senior strategist Steven Bannon, “a leading light of America’s white nationalist movement accused of using misogynistic, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, and barely hidden racist language throughout his professional life.” He is the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, whose main website “traffics in racism, anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant hysteria”; its links “are often spread on Twitter and Facebook alongside Nazi rhetoric and racial slurs.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Bannon “was the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill.” Numerous observers have described Bannon as a white nationalist or white supremacist. Court filings indicate he did not want his daughters attending a certain school because of its high Jewish population. He “occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners,” even if that would exclude many black voters.
27. Trump’s success Nov. 8 was celebrated in Washington, D.C., days later by a conference of white supremacists who shouted “hail victory,” the German translation of the Nazi-era proclaimation “Seig Heil!” Trump has said only, “I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group. It’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why.” He offered these remarks in a meeting with reporters where no cameras were present rather than in a setting that would be accessible to the majority of Americans.
28. More than 700 hate crimes have been reported since Nov. 8, mostly tied to white Americans physically assaulting or emotionally abusing nonwhite and/or non-Christian Americans or vandalizing property with messages of hate, including numerous depictions of the Nazi swastika. Provided with every opportunity to address the nation and speak to the nation’s anxieties — to tell those committing these acts to stop and to tell the victims of these acts that they have been wronged and are entitled to the protection of the law — Trump has remained silent.
29. Given opportunities to do so since Nov. 8, Trump and his advisors have not ruled out the creation of an unconstitutional registry of certain citizens due to their religion (Muslims).
30. A Trump surrogate cited World War II-era American internment camps of people of Japanese descent as “precedent” for a Muslim registry.
31. Trump is reportedly being advised as president-in-waiting by Frank Gaffney, a conspiracy theorist who has said Republicans and government workers have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, that Saddam Hussein was behind the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building and that President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya.
32. Trump said he would nominate for attorney general Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who has referred to civil rights groups such as the NAACP as “un-American” and “falsely charged three African American civil rights activists in Alabama, including a longtime adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., with 29 counts of mail fraud, altering absentee ballots and attempting to vote multiple times.”