The latest revelations published by the New York Times that former Trump National Security chief, Michael Flynn, as well as additional members of Mr. Trump’s campaign were in frequent contact with Russian intelligence officers at a time when these same foreign officials were obtaining by illicit means materials damaging to Mrs. Clinton raises the awful specter of impeachment—even as the Trump administration is in its infancy.
Is Impeachment Warranted?
Impeachment, which is an indictment or charge and not a conviction, cannot be ruled out even without Mr. Trump’s direct complicity. While spokesmen may wish to make light of the possibility, in a way – given the recent revelations – Trump’s seeming cover-up of Flynn’s dishonesty – starting a formal impeachment inquiry may be the best means to show respect for the voters who gave Pres. Trump an electoral victory.
Suggesting that Mr. Trump face impeachment now, without unnecessary delay, is both fair to him and the American people. “We the people” are naturally concerned about the seriousness of what appears to be Russia, not America first. The damage and misunderstanding that this and related matters interject into foreign-policy and ultimately our domestic chances at prosperity are profound.
Avoiding a partisan investigation
We cannot afford to have the Congress debating for months the structure of the investigating agency. At the same time, whatever structure for investigation is agreed-upon it must be fair to Mr. Trump and equal in stature to the office that he holds. No partisan, self-interested investigation is fair to the people or to those who will be investigated... The newly confirmed Atty. Gen., meaning no disrespect, has an obvious conflict of interest. So too, the leadership of the opposing party on the intelligence and Foreign affairs committees.
A Presidential Grand Jury of His Peers
There is thankfully a credible alternative and that is recruiting the five living past presidents (Jimmy Carter, George H W Bush; William Clinton; George W. Bush and Barack Obama)to serve in essence as a special presidential grand jury to consider whether the evidence of impeachment is sufficient to be referred to the Senate for trial and possible conviction.
Yes, both the elder Bush and Mr. Carter have had recent illness, but they are also patriots. Moreover, what is needed is the stature of their collective, bipartisan judgment, not their personal legwork. The former presidents will be given the full assistance of the FBI, will receive whatever pleadings the Atty. Gen. and/or Mr. Trump wishes to submit, and likewise the submissions of the standing committees of the House, the body constitutionally denominated to consider charges of impeachment. To avoid the problem of competing hearings, or the compromising of evidence that might jeopardize a later criminal prosecution, the presidential grand jury should have exclusive authority to conduct public and executive session hearings into the matter. While the House might wish to retain the final say, it would be better if the House would agree in advance to be bound by the presidential grand jury finding. If the presidential grand jury recommends that charges be referred to the Senate, the Senate’s own rules would determine the conduct of the trial – again consistent with the rule of law and the plenary authority that the Senate exercises over impeachment trials as expressed in the Constitution.
I am confident that all Americans contemplate the necessity of a presidential grand jury with great reluctance and disappointment. But the gravity of the concern far transcends any policy difference on any subject, even Obamacare. The President cannot remain silent; impeachment is not a ‘Law and Order’ TV episode.
The reader should know that I am not an anti-Trump activist. I have served presidents of both parties. I headed the Office of Legal Counsel for Reagan, succeeding such conservative giants as Scalia, Rehnquist and Alito and went abroad for President Obama. In the interest of full disclosure, while I did not have an active role in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, I do value her friendship from my modest service as an ambassador. That said, as the election gained its post-Labor Day momentum, I, along with millions of other Americans, became increasingly attracted to the Trump message in behalf of overlooked and economically distressed middle income and working class families of America. Yet, I am certain no fellow citizen would place personal improvement in material things over integrity in government and keeping faith with the American spirit.
Mr. Trump is sometimes quick to see criticism as a personal attack. He should not view the limits of the law and the presidential oath as an unwarranted intrusion. Mr. Trump prevailed in the electoral college and it was my view from the moment of that determination that every American had an obligation to support our new president, to help find talented men and women to populate his administration, and even to volunteer their own time and service, as I and many others have done, and would happily continue to do – with one qualification that should not be necessary to say out loud; namely, that service to Mr. Trump not entail a betrayal of our national interest, including keeping faith with longstanding allies in Europe, Asia, the middle East and around the globe, Americans are prepared to make reasonable effort to overcome our difference and to pursue and secure the common good – especially for those who have been neglected. In this, President Trump opened our eyes to the great needs among us, but the means of rescue cannot turn on duplicity and dishonesty.
Putin, the leader?
To be sure, we have always been bewildered by Mr. Trump’s exaggerated adulation for Mr. Putin’s “leadership”― – especially as it overlooks human rights and national sovereignty as in the occupation of territory of others by force. Americans pride themselves on being fair-minded and if the contacts of the Trump campaign with Russian officials were concerned with the exploration of new alliance there would likely be nothing impeachable, even if many found such overture diplomatically questionable.
Flynn’s betrayal and Obama’s prudence: Why was Trump silent?
But this was not General Flynn’s messaging which was nothing short of a betrayal of American policy as it had been established by the incumbent President and Congress. To mitigate the impact of Russian interference, President Obama prudently exercised restraint and delayed sanction until the election was concluded. In this, Mr. Obama rose against his own partisan interest, and in all likelihood, helped candidate Trump. Obama’s delayed sanction likely bolstered Trump’s later and hopefully correct insistence that the Russian intrusion was without meaningful effect on the voters.
Mr. Trump is said to value loyalty. How loyal was it to allow your own Vice-President to be misled?
But was not Flynn’s lie and Trump’s silence just the opposite? Flynn’s conversations, and reportedly that of others leading the Trump campaign, were at the very times the Russians were stealing materials and selectively leaking them in ways that were unflattering to Mrs. Clinton.
A liar in charge of the nation’s security — Unbelievable
And knowing General Flynn’s complicity, President Trump appointed him the director of National Security? Yes, Trump has now removed the fox from the hen house, but our diet will be fowl for some considerable time to come; and our national security agency may be fouled indefinitely.
The blessings of liberty — a treasured legacy guarded by “so-called judges”
Mr. Flynn is fortunate, he is a U.S. citizen entitled to due process. These venerable words are not just clichés tossed about by “so-called judges” whose independence the President has sadly and wrongly impugned.
Could it all just be coincidence?
It is true that the interaction with the Russians so far disclosed does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that either Mr. Flynn or others in the Trump campaign were colluding with the Russian nationals to do harm to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and to the integrity of our election. Nevertheless, it has to be admitted that it sure looks that way. Donald Trump would fire an “apprentice” who could not see the obvious. Under the circumstances, even If all is innocent, Mr. Trump should welcome a grand jury of his presidential peers to give him a fresh start to clear his name. Of course, justice is obstructed, when someone wrongfully conceals the wrong of another as Mr. Nixon discovered about a far less consequential burglary at the Watergate.
Mr. Trump is said to value loyalty. How loyal was it to allow your own Vice-President to be misled?
Impeachment should never be spoken of casually, and even as the Trump administration is but 21 days old, the danger to the rule of law that has emerged makes this call to proceed with a presidential grand jury as necessary as it is deeply troubling, especially for those who admire how diligently Mr. Trump has been in stirring up the swamp, if not drain it, to make America better ―-hopefully for all.
The real art of the deal is to win honorably
President Trump is wished well by many of us of past presidential administrations and despite our now senior age, we have volunteered to lend whatever time left to his success. Perhaps Mr. Trump may recall the following paragraph which I drafted for the inaugural address:
No nation that wishes to deal with us as a friend, whether pursuant to a long-standing alliance or a newly reconsidered one, should think that the United States has grown complacent about the importance of the fair and free election that has yielded this inaugural moment. We have not. The peaceful transfer of power underscores that men and women of very different view nevertheless may govern themselves by democratic means. Any nation that doubts our seriousness about our continued embrace of democratic principles, or seeks to subvert those principles for its own ends, jeopardizes both our friendship and its standing among the free people of this earth.
The paragraph was deleted in its entirety. Why?
Mr. President, it was then, and still is, the only good answer to what otherwise is inescapably impeachable.