A report released Tuesday accusing President-elect Donald Trump's team of communicating with Russia as it influenced the election caused some critics to question Trump's future in the White House. Though Trump has routinely denied such allegations, taking to Twitter to say the latest report was “completely false,” if Congress proves he was involved, it could eventually result in impeachment.
The grounds for impeaching a president can be found in Article II of the United States Constitution, which says an official must be convicted by a majority vote in Congress over “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Treason may be the most likely Russia-related charge to take down Trump.
Trump has become the target of impeachment efforts because working with Russian officials would make him vulnerable to compromising information that could be used to blackmail or influence him politically during his presidency.
A former British intelligence officer released a report, which alleged the Russian government had been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Trump for several years. A two-page synopsis of the report was given to both President Barack Obama and Trump, CNN reported Tuesday.
“That is a strong indication that these allegations should be taken seriously,” former NSA legal counsel Susan Hennessey told Forbes. “If there was any evidence that the Trump campaign actively colluded with Russia and committed crimes, that would be the most shocking political scandal in American history ... If sufficient evidence emerges that the FBI has substantiated the allegations or is preparing criminal indictments, then even hardline Republicans in Congress will likely call for Governor Pence to take the oath of office.”
Impeachment does not mean Trump would immediately be stripped of his presidency. If the House of Representatives were to agree he should be impeached, Trump would also have to go through a Senate trial. Then, two-thirds of the Senate would have to agree in order for him to be removed from office.’
Impeachment has been used a few times on presidents. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 over a political conflict stemming from the Civil War. More recently, former President Bill Clinton was impeached on Dec. 19, 1998 over perjury and obstruction of justice after he was found to have lied under oath about his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. However, both Clinton and Johnson were impeached for crimes committed while they were president.
Christopher Lewis Peterson, a law professor at the University of Utah, wrote a paper last year arguing Trump could be impeached immediately upon taking office — though not for treason. The report said the “high crimes and misdemeanors” clause for impeaching a sitting president in the Constitution applied to all "ordinary" citizens acting against U.S. law. Peterson claimed Trump could be on the hook for fraudulent activities related to false advertising for his real estate program Trump University.
Treason is equally unlikely some say to bring an impeachment. There have been fewer than 20 treason convictions in American history, and none since the 1950s. Most of those were tied to revolts or wartime espionage; none applied to a President. They contend Trump would, hypothetically, only face impeachment for bribery or for another unspecified crime, either before or during his time in the Oval Office — although some constitutional experts say there’s no precedent for impeaching a President for actions taken before they took office. I am inclined to think if the constant contact of Trump and his enablers occurred during the election process and Russia’s efforts to sway the election to him we have uncharted water and treason should certainly be included. Trump's most likely path to an impeachable offense, experts say, could come from this obscure anti-bribery clause in the Constitution.
Then there is the emoluments clause which says the President cannot “accept any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatsoever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” In other words: No gifts from foreign leaders or diplomats. With his tangle of business interests worldwide — and his refusal to officially cut ties with them — Trump may have been pushing the envelope on this ever since he won the election.
“The whole question now is whether he is going to be violating the Constitution on day one with the emoluments clause,” said John Dean, a former White House Counsel to President Richard Nixon. That would indicate another strong avenue for impeachment as many of his holdings continue to obtain considerable infusion of millions of dollars since his presidency began and he has not even revealed his taxes as every president has done in the past. His children are running much of his powerful assets around the world that continue to provide enormous wealth as no president before him accumulated and his presidency just began. Trump claimed through the campaign he would put his assets into a blind trust if he won. Instead, he revealed he handed the Trump Organization to his sons and will simply not involve himself in the business.
His handoff may be legal for the presidency — but it does little to keep the commander-in-chief away from conflicts of interest, especially since he has been inviting his children into meetings with foreign diplomats.
"With emoluments, presidents usually go out of their way not to have these problems," an authority named Libowitz said. "This is not something we've seen before. It brings incredibly serious issues."
The potential for impeachable conflicts is nearly as vast as Trump's empire. For instance, there are the meetings with foreign diplomats, sometimes from countries where Trump has deals pending, since the election. There are Trump's denials that he has ever done deals with Russia, despite one of his sons once claiming the family saw "money pouring in" from there. There is Trump's new Washington, D.C., hotel, which has been catering to foreign officials visiting the nation's capital.
Trump’s lawyer said earlier this month that’s not a violation of the emoluments clause because that applies to gifts, not business transactions like renting a hotel room. But ethics experts are unconvinced by that argument. For an impeachment, though, Trump would have to be caught explicitly exchanging a political deal for a business deal to be guilty of bribery.
“There would have to be facts showing a quid pro quo,” said Michael Gerhardt, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law professor who testified in a hearing for President Bill Clinton's impeachment. "It would be like Watergate — 'Follow the money.' We'd have to be able to follow the money to Trump to know what extent he might be corrupted." "There's a potential there," Gerhardt added, "that just has not existed with other presidents before."
Then there is the crime of perjury to consider. Along with his businesses, Trump brings another liability — literally — with him to the White House: He has been involved in more than 4,000 state and federal lawsuits, according to a USA Today analysis. As the leader of the free world, more than 60 lawsuits come with him that include disputes over contracts, taxes and even his campaign. All will be open and exposing him to scrutiny never before seen.
We have a president that now is openly using his power in ridiculously foolish billion dollar fiascos that could seriously fail such as his imbecilic wall. Many authorities find this concept flawed with no chance Mexico will pay for it despite Trump’s foolish belief they will. Many have said this wall can easily be scaled, or dug under. Meanwhile serious disruption of wildlife will result and twenty billion dollars squandered. If Bannon’s stated goal is to bring down the government, this gigantic boondoggle will be one of many reasons our government might fail with all on its early agenda.
WITNESS explores how the killing of four Kent State Students, maiming of nine more, by Ohio National Guardsmen, President Nixon’s invading neutral Cambodia, widespread anti-Vietnam protesting, and Seymour Hersh’s explosive reporting on the My Lai Massacre, shattered an enormous number of American’s support for prosecuting the Vietnam War. Clara Bingham’s unique enlightening interviews of 100 activists, vets, and officials, who pushed our country towards what Mario Savio called a revolution against “The Machine” referring to Henry David Thoreau’s essay “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.” “There’s a time when the operation of the Machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus-and you’ve got to make it stop!”
(Kent State Students where 4 were killed and 9 maimed by National Guardsmen bullets)
David Harris, one of many activists explains everything “grew out of the Mississippi taproot …when white college students went south to help voter registration and witnessed the heroism of the black people of Mississippi.” Other interviews included drug use, Woodstock, The Black Panthers, SDS, feminism, and Nixon’s lies stabbed most every thoughtful person’s conscience by the time Daniel Ellsberg published the Pentagon Papers. These policies caused the largest student strike ever with 2.5 million refusing classes and 700 colleges shutdown including Kent State. While an historian might question whether this massive civil disobedience constituted a revolution, this powerful book shows a major shift in thinking occurred when so many resisted the draft. It would have been unthinkable to the serviceman or public in World War II, however, resisting the draft was the favored choice of an enormous number of their children.
(Weathermen about to smash windows demonstrating their rage at the "Machine")
This disconnect is present today with the Trump supporters living in an alternative universe from that of Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. For example everyone in the Madison Police Department near Kent State when they heard of the shootings assumed the students were at fault from statements Spiro Agnew and the Ohio Governor made that vilified the protesters and urged the Guard to deal with them as scum. But the evidence was clear that the Guardsmen had violated their obligations to never fire on peaceful protesters as was common around the United States even if someone threw a rock or shouted obscenities. Allison Krause was killed by a bullet fired 343 feet away and while she took 45 minutes to bleed to death the medics were reserved for the Guardsmen and ignored her! Although no weatherman were present, elsewhere they had developed a strategy that included symbolic destruction of property like a Capitol bathroom with no one present. But it escalated into more serious bombings, hiding on the lam, and violence at demonstrations. Bingham says, “The sixties crested in 1968, with the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Dr. King, the Tet Offensive and Nixon’s victory.”
(Nixon under the influence of alcohol speaking with demonstrators who descended on the Lincoln Memorial in protest against the Vietnam War and Nixon's policies)
Nothing is more chilling nor remarkable than Seymour Hersh’s ferreting out the truth on the My Lai massacre by tracking down eye witnesses to a horrendous war crime. Vietnam Vets like Nick Turse submitted proof of at least 300 similar massacres. Many occurred in “free fire zones” where they killed “anything that moved.” The Village of Ben Suc by Jonathan Schell involved another massacre that made Jane Fonda say, “I was one person before I read it, and another person after I finished…that was the beginning of my outrage.” Hersh visited Calley’s attorney in Salt Lake City who called it a mistake as he was told defending Calley accused of killing 109 “Oriental human beings.” Over a few beers Calley called My Lai a “setup, just a firefight.” Ernie Medina, a Captain, refused to agree with Calley “how I had nothing to do with it!” Barry Romo explained the body count was “close to 500” with American casualties only “One self-inflicted.” Hersh learned of a photographer, Paul Medlo who told him of three pits with “hundreds of people”, and that Calley brutally killed a small child. Medlo admits he and Calley “Shot and shot” at the unarmed people. Medlo, one of “McNamara’s Folly”, who would have never qualified in the past because of tests he could not pass, the next morning had his foot blown off by a mine! He felt God punished him and would punish Calley. His mother said, “I sent them a good boy and they returned him a murderer.” Hersh found photographer Ron Haeberle who saved photos of the massacre reported by Ron Ridenhour who broke the story a year before. His graphic photos have been circulated worldwide.
(My Lai Massacre where more than 500 unarmed civilians were killed under orders by Lt. William Calley)
At Calley’s court martial he was sentenced to life imprisonment and hard labor at Fort Leavenworth. The next day Nixon ordered him transferred to house arrest at officer’s barracks pending appeal! His habeas corpus petition was granted by Judge J. Robert Elliot because of pre-trial publicity prejudice, refusal of the House of Representatives to release testimony taken in executive session, and inadequate notice of charges. Bingham’s focus is 1969-70 the “crescendo of the sixties, when years of civil disobedience and mass resistance erupted into anarchic violence.” Government sabotage as well as surveillance, theatrics in courtroom trials, massive police misconduct, and President Nixon’s late-night Lincoln Memorial meeting with protesters under the influence of alcohol when he tried to make them understand he wanted to end the Vietnam War. However, when he created the plumbers his days were numbered and brought his rapid much deserved downfall with Watergate.
(Jane Fonda and John Kerry speak at an Anti-Vietnam rally for Vietnam Veterans Against War)
BIO: Dan graduated Annapolis, navigated a jet, then a ship to Vietnam. He resigned, joined VVAW, and became a civil rights lawyer for Cesar Chavez's UFW, the ACLU and in private civil rights practice. His memoir, All the Difference, describes his change from a pawn in the military to crusader for justice. http://www.danielclavery.com (author website)
Soon the weather changed and snow covered the Duke University Campus. Snowball fights at Duke could turn dangerous. The snow fell on the campus in January leaving an opportunity to engage in snowball fights. Some fraternity brothers from KA were harassing freshmen and assaulting them with snow balls.
A huge football player, and future All-American, caught my attention as I had thrown passes to him as a freshman QB practicing with the varsity. 6' 9" tall and two hundred and forty pounds, he was also a vicious defensive end.
At the fourth floor freshman dorm bathroom with a good view of the quad beneath, I decided to alter the unfair bully-confrontation. From snow that had collected on window sills, I scooped enough to fill half a trashcan and made a pile of baseball-sized snowballs. As the beast attacked a small freshman, and tossed snow down his back, the boy’s books fell in wet mud and snow. My first throw hit the side of the monster’s face and had to sting.
“I’m coming to get you, you son-of-a-bitch,” he screamed enraged at my assault. He terrified me. Immediately, with just one throw, I had become the target of a dangerous muscular giant. But, he had to run up four floors to find me. He raced to the second floor raging like a wild bull. In seconds, he would appear on my floor. Streaking to my room, farthest from the stairway, luckily on the left, I hid under my bed listening to the damage he did room by room. He threatened mayhem and falsely accused many. I felt pity for those innocent ones caught in his tirade. He swung open my door, but did not notice me huddled under my bed with a blanket over me.
He slammed the door on his rampage. Every dorm freshmen feared his retaliation. While exposing my classmates to a fierce attack, I had made another narrow escape by using my intelligence, natural athletic ability, courage, and sense of justice that diverted a bully from further harming a helpless freshman.
(Billy Mitchell played "What a Wonderful World" at the Onion on piano)
Friends, anyone notice how dark internet communications have become as we face ISIS the scourge of humanity, whose cadaverous faces smile awaiting the next calamity they shall visit upon us while we twist in the wind discussing how to deal with ISIS. I sing in a Unitarian Choir that had a black activist, Billy Mitchell, turned jazz pianist from the 60’s speak to us awhile ago. He, with more reasons to be negative than most of us, said: “Rather than see the negative all around me in my community and our world, there are more people now than ever working for a better world,” Then he launched into this song Louis Armstrong sang when Blacks were suffering from segregation, beatings from southern sheriffs, and all seemed so very hopeless:
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
But what they’re really saying is I love you.
I hear babies crying and watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
Yes, I think to myself what a wonderful world.
Terrorism is just one of many dangers in the world, and shouldn’t be allowed to divert our attention from other issues. When President Obama describes climate change as the greatest threat we face, he’s exactly right. Terrorism can’t and won’t destroy our civilization, but global warming could and might. So how to respond to terrorism? Before the atrocities in Paris, the West’s general response involved a mix of policing, precaution, and military action. All involved difficult trade-offs: surveillance versus privacy, protection versus freedom of movement, denying terrorists safe havens versus the costs and dangers of waging war abroad.
Sometimes a terrorist attack slipped through.Paris may have changed that calculus a bit, especially when it comes to Europe’s handling the agonizing issue of refugees. Do you remember all the pronouncements that 9/11 would change everything? Well, it didn’t — and neither will this atrocity.
The goal of terrorists is to inspire terror, because that’s all they’re capable of. The most important thing our societies can do in response is to refuse to give in to fear and that is my point in using Louie Armstrong's wonderful song.
John Boyle O’Reilly (1844-1890) was an Irish-born poet who wrote the poem Crispus Attucks.
WHERE shall we seek for a hero, and where shall we find a story?
Our laurels are wreathed for conquest, our songs for completed glory.
But we honor a shrine unfinished, a column uncapped with pride,
If we sing the deed that was sown like seed when Crispus Attucks died.
Shall we take for a sign this Negro-slave with unfamiliar name—
With his poor companions, nameless too, till their lives leaped forth in flame?
Yea, sorely, the verdict is not for us, to render or deny;
We can only interpret the symbol; God chose these men to die—
As teachers and types, that to humble lives may chief award be made;
That from lowly ones, and rejected stones, the temple’s base is laid!
When the bullets leaped from the British guns, no chance decreed their aim:
Men see what the royal hirelings saw—a multitude and a flame;
But beyond the flame, a mystery; five dying men in the street,
While the streams of severed races in the well of a nation meet!
O, blood of the people! changeless tide, through century, creed and race!
Still one as the sweet salt sea is one, though tempered by sun and place;
The same in the ocean currents, and the same in the sheltered seas;
Forever the fountain of common hopes and kindly sympathies;
Indian and Negro, Saxon and Celt, Teuton and Latin and Gaul—
Mere surface shadow and sunshine; while the sounding unifies all!
One love, one hope, one duty theirs! No matter the time or ken,
There never was separate heart-beat in all the races of men!
But alien is one—of class, not race—he has drawn the line for himself;
His roots drink life from inhuman soil, from garbage of pomp and pelf;
His heart beats not with the common beat, he has changed his life-stream’s hue;
He deems his flesh to be finer flesh, he boasts that his blood is blue:
Patrician, aristocrat, tory—whatever his age or name,
To the people’s rights and liberties, a traitor ever the same.
The natural crowd is a mob to him, their prayer a vulgar rhyme;
The freeman’s speech is sedition, and the patriot’s deed a crime.
Wherever the race, the law, the land,—whatever the time, or throne,
The tory is always a traitor to every class but his own.
Thank God for a land where pride is clipped, where arrogance stalks apart;
Where law and song and loathing of wrong are words of the common heart;
Where the masses honor straightforward strength, and know, when veins are bled,
That the bluest blood is putrid blood—that the people’s blood is red!
And honor to Crispus Attucks, who was leader and voice that day;
The first to defy, and the first to die, with Maverick. Carr, and Gray.
Call it riot or revolution, his hand first clenched at the crown;
His feet were the first in perilous place to pull the king’s flag down;
His breast was the first one rent apart that liberty’s stream might flow;
For our freedom now and forever, his head was the first bid low.
Call it riot or revolution, or mob or crowd, as you may,
Such deaths have been seed of nations, such lives shall be honored for aye.
They were lawless hinds to the lackeys—but martyrs to Paul Revere;
And Otis and Hancock and Warren read spirit and meaning clear.
Ye teachers, answer: what shall be done when just men stand in the dock;
When the caitiff is robed in ermine, and his sworders keep the lock;
When torture is robbed of clemency, and guilt is without remorse;
When tiger and panther are gentler than the Christian slaver’s curse;
When law is a satrap’s menace, and order the drill of a horde—
Shall the people kneel to be trampled, and bare their neck to the sword?
Not so! by this Stone of Resistance that Boston raises here!
By the old North Church’s lantern, and the watching of Paul Revere!
Not so! by Paris of ‘Ninety-Three, and Ulster of ‘NinetyEight!
By Toussaint in St. Domingo! by the horror of Delhi’s gate!
By Adams’s word to Hutchinson! by the tea that is brewing still!
By the farmers that met the soldiers at Concord and Bunker Hill!
Not so! not so! Till the world is done, the shadow of wrong is dread;
The crowd that bends to a lord to-day, to-morrow shall strike him dead.
There is only one thing changeless: the earth steals from under our feet,
The times and manners are passing moods, and the laws are incomplete;
There is only one thing changes not, one word that still survives—
The slave is the wretch who wields the lash, and not the man in gyves!
There is only one test of contract: is it willing, is it good?
There is only one guard of equal right: the unity of blood;
There is never a mind unchained and true that class or race allows;
There is never a law to be obeyed that reason disavows;
There is never a legal sin but grows to the law’s disaster,
The master shall dropp the whip, and the slave shall enslave the master!
O, Planter of seed in thought and deed has the year of right revolved,
And brought the Negro patriot’s cause with its problem to be solved?
His blood streamed first for the building, and through all the century’s years,
Our growth of story and fame of glory are mixed with his blood and tears.
He lived with men like a soul condemned—derided, defamed, and mute;
Debased to the brutal level, and instructed to be a brute.
His virtue was shorn of benefit, his industry of reward;
His love!—O men, it were mercy to have cut affection’s cord;
Through the night of his woe, no pity save that of his fellow-slave;
For the wage of his priceless labor, the scourging block and the grave!
And now, is the tree to blossom? Is the bowl of agony filled?
Shall the price be paid, and the honor said, and the word of outrage stilled?
And we who have toiled for freedom’s law, have we sought for freedom’s soul?
Have we learned at last that human right is not a part but the whole?
That nothing is told while the clinging sin remains part unconfessed?
That the health of the nation is periled if one man be oppressed?
Has he learned—the slave from the rice-swamps, whose children were sold—has he,
With broken chains on his limbs, and the cry in his blood, ‘I am free!’
Has he learned through affliction’s teaching what our Crispus Attucks knew—
When Right is stricken, the white and black are counted as one, not two?
Has he learned that his century of grief was worth a thousand years
In blending his life and blood with ours, and that all his toils and tears
Were heaped and poured on him suddenly, to give him a right to stand
From the gloom of African forests, in the blaze of the freest land?
That his hundred years have earned for him a place in the human van
Which others have fought for and thought for since the world of wrong began?
For this, shall his vengeance change to love, and his retribution burn,
Defending the right, the weak and the poor, when each shall have his turn;
For this, shall he set his woeful past afloat on the stream of night;
For this, he forgets as we all forget when darkness turns to light;
For this, he forgives as we all forgive when wrong has changed to right.
And so, must we come to the learning of Boston’s lesson to-day;
The moral that Crispus Attucks taught in the old heroic way;
God made mankind to be one in blood, as one in spirit and thought;
And so great a boon, by a brave man’s death, is never dearly bought!