A searing question hung over the process of drafting Articles of Impeachment against President Donald J. Trump.
Should the Articles take a narrow focus and zero in on the very provable crime of bribery involving aid to Ukraine?
Or should the impeachment process take a broader view and bring other issues, including certain findings of the Mueller Report, into the Articles?
Narrow focus is doomed to failure
The House of Representatives made its decision – and it is the wrong one. The narrow focus approach is doomed to failure.
If the U.S. President has demonstrated one skill during his term in office, it is that he can commit one crime after another without any single one of them rising to the level of impeachment.
Trump´s solicitation of a bribe from Ukraine is clearly a serious infraction. The only defense in this matter is to claim that the crime doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment, which may well turn out to be a winning argument.
In the court of public opinion, the Ukraine matter is simply not tangible enough – or big enough — to affect people’s opinion of Trump, which is already set in stone.
Significantly, prosecuting the Ukraine matter in isolation only ends up obscuring the bigger point. And that is that the current President of the United States is a sociopath, an individual who has no respect for law and order and who has engaged and continues to engage in serial abuses of power.
The long and winding road to the White House
This is no political exaggeration. In fact, sociopathic behavior has been a hallmark of the President’s entire career. He has been sued over 3,000 times, mainly by contractors and tradesmen he sought to avoid paying the money that he owed them.
Trump is a serial bankrupt, having used bankruptcy protection for his companies over a dozen times. He lost an airline, a football team and, as improbable as it may sound, several casinos.
Trump has committed fraud time and again throughout his business life, whether in bilking his eponymously named charity or preying on the desperate optimism of those seeking a better life through Trump University. His roster of con jobs goes on and on.
And of course, he has committed serial acts of sexual abuse, including allegations of rape that he has covered up with hush money.
Donald Trump brought this long history of sociopathy into the White House with him. Since he took office, he has continued to flagrantly abuse law and proper order at every turn.
The crime wave continues
Since taking office, President Trump has committed the crime of obstruction of justice on at least 20 occasions. Ten of these instances were clearly documented in the Mueller Report, who was prevented from prosecuting them as felonies by a Justice Department rule prohibiting the prosecution of a sitting President.
Trump has also engaged in witness tampering and witness intimidation. He has dangled pardons in the face of those convicted of Trump-related felonies to gain their loyalty and silence.
Since taking office, President Trump and his family have also engaged in serial violations of the emolument clause, using various Trump real estate and hospitality enterprises to gain financial reward – much of it from foreign entities.
In his election campaign, he committed clear-cut violations of campaign finance laws, illegally directing money to pay off and silence people who might say something to cost him the election.
Fittingly, it didn’t take long for Trump to start breaking the law. His inauguration itself was rife with payoffs and campaign finance violations.
The Ukraine saga
And of course, he openly solicited a bribe when he asked an ally to announce an investigation into a political enemy in exchange for vital military aid.
To make matters worse, he solicited political aid from multiple foreign adversaries, most famously from China and Russia. And then he obstructed Congress in its investigation.
But the impeachment of President Trump is not about a single high crime or misdemeanor. It is about serial abuse of power. It is about all of the above.
In the long annals of American democracy, it represents a peculiarly singular form of sociopathy that somehow compels this President to push, and often exceed, the limits of the law.
It is more than just criminal activity
The term “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” not only embraces certain violations of the U.S. criminal code. It also addresses the possibility of non-crimes – acts that simply undermine the status and credibility of the U.S. Presidency.
Of the President’s non-crimes, his biggest offense centers around his pattern – indeed, an intricate Flemish tapestry – of lies and deceits, promulgated by him to gain political advantage.
Simply, one must ask: Is it acceptable for the President of the United States, as the voice of the American people, to exceed the historical norms of political discourse? Is it acceptable to flat-out lie to the American people in the face of the truth?
According to the Washington Post, the President has lied over 3,500 times since taking office.
Breaking all records
Many of these lies have involved hyperbolic boasting, which is typical of most politicians. Another set of lies has involved his marshalling of the facts to support his arguments, also a tactic used by most politicians.
But in over 300 instances, this President has lied outright. This is something few politicians, certainly in democratic countries, have ever done, if for no other reason than for fear of being called out in the media for it.
The fact is that this President since taking office has used that office and the bully pulpit attached to it over 300 times to deliberately mis-state the facts to support his own political agenda.
No President — no politician for that matter — has ever lied with such frequency and tenacity in the entirety of American history.
The only way impeachment works
Democrats need to understand that impeachment is not only about putting Donald J. Trump on trial. It is about putting the entire Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate in front of the jury.
Only by making Republicans in the Senate defend the rot that has taken over the U.S. Presidency will Democrats make headway. Only by making Senate Republicans defend the corruption that pervades every facet of the Trump Administration will they prevail.
Only by making Senate Republicans defend lying, by making them tell their children and grandchildren that lying is OK, will Democrats begin to right the wrongs that have recently afflicted American democracy.
Many Americans believe that American culture is on a clear path to decline. It is incumbent upon Democrats to prove that Donald J. Trump is the very embodiment of that belief.
Trump has demonstrated that he can commit one crime after another without any of them rising to the level of impeachment.
Trump´s solicitation of a bribe from Ukraine is a serious infraction. The only defense is to claim that the crime doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment.
The impeachment of President Trump is not about a single high crime or misdemeanor. It is about serial abuse of power.
Is it acceptable for the President of the United States to flat-out lie to the American people in the face of the truth?
Impeachment is not only about putting Trump on trial. It is about putting the entire Republican caucus in the US Senate in front of the jury.
Only by making Senate Republicans defend the corruption that pervades every facet of the Trump Administration will Democrats prevail.