GOP obstruction may get Trump killed
“…what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?” —Thomas Jefferson
In ancient Rome on January 24 A.D. 41, a group of Praetorian Guards led by Cassius Chaerea came upon the Roman Emperor Caligula in an underground hallway in his palace as he addressed a young acting troupe. Without saying a word, Chaerea stabbed Caligula and the others followed suit, stabbing the Emperor some thirty times. The assassins later sought out Caligula’s wife and stabbed her to death and killed his young daughter by smashing her head against a wall. Thus ended the reign of a tyrant.
In Rome’s 500 year history, about 20% of its emperors were assassinated. Why? Because there was no formal mechanism to remove an emperor. While senators could be impeached, emperors could not. This was the primary reason Benjamin Franklin supported an impeachment clause being inserted into the Constitution. He recognized that if there were no legal way to remove a president who abused the office or was unfit, the only option left to an angry population was assassination.
But for impeachment to work, the Congress has to work. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 65 that impeachment was about saving the republic from one who violated the public trust and injured our nation. But he knew it wouldn’t be easy. He wrote:
The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.
The Founders knew impeachment would be difficult. It’s hard holding someone to account after they’ve won high office and have the backing of the masses. The Founders expected partisanship and rancor. They feared small men with small agendas could shirk this responsibility. But they also expected men of good will to rise up and do their duty and weed out those who would abuse their office, break the law, flout the Constitution’s prohibitions, and seek to divide the nation. They never suspected a gangster president would be enabled and protected by a cowed complicit Congress.
The Democrats can hardly be accused of rushing to judgment. While true there are those who wanted to impeach Donald Trump the day of his inauguration, that’s not the way the House has moved. The House voted down articles of impeachment earlier this year. They refused to impeach when Donald Trump was named an accessory to felonies by the Southern District of New York. They refused to impeach after the Mueller report documented multiple instances of obstruction of justice and abuse of power. They didn’t impeach when the Trump administration refused to hand over documents and instructed witnesses to ignore subpoenas. While there’s no doubt the Democrats relish impeaching Donald Trump, they’ve held off until he committed egregious acts with obvious evidence.
It is indisputable that Donald John Trump solicited damaging information on a political opponent from a foreign government. And this week’s testimony by Acting US Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor seals the deal that aid approved by Congress for Ukraine’s defense was used as a bargaining chip to pressure Ukraine to do the president’s personal bidding. Everything from military aid to an official White House visit was contingent on the Ukraine president helping Donald Trump politically. That’s an outrageous abuse of power and breach of public trust.
Most Americans get it. That’s why a new CNN poll finds 50% of Americans believe Trump should be impeached and removed from office. An earlier Fox News and Gallup poll found similar margins. The public who believes in the U.S. Constitution, who still believes that facts matter and character trumps expedience can see clearly what’s happening and have responded accordingly.
In the middle of this chaos, Donald Trump brazenly and unconstitutionally awarded himself a government contract to his Doral property, which he has since rescinded. Instead of taking these assaults on our Constitution seriously, what have we seen from a majority of the Republicans? Shifting defenses of Trump. A refusal to see the quid pro quo that the American public has no problem seeing. Complaints about the process, the same process Republicans used in their Benghazi hearings. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fundraising, saying only he and Senate Republicans can stop this impeachment. A ridiculous gang of Republican congressmen having a pizza party in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), trying to intimidate a witness and stop the process.
The same sycophantic behavior we witnessed when Republicans controlled the House has continued. They look the other way while Donald Trump fills the swamp. Their place in the polls always trumped their place in history. Their congressional district bested their constitutional duty. We’ve seen excuses, lame defenses and absurd whataboutism propaganda. But as shameless as Republicans are, they can’t defend the indefensible so they don’t even bother. They just attack with nonsense.
The Congress was meant to stand as equal to the president, not down on their knees politically fellating him whenever he so desires. They’ve given the American people no reason to believe they take Donald Trump’s abuse of power and assault on our republic seriously. The public can have zero confidence that the GOP will hold anything close to a legitimate trial if and when Trump is impeached by the House.
It’s fixed. It’s rigged. They’re wiping their asses with the U.S. Constitution.
And under those circumstances, in a nation of 320 million people, someone might not be okay with such a galling dereliction of duty. Someone might be fed up with Donald Trump and the elevation of party over country. Someone might be angry that in a roomful of Republican Senators, no statesmen emerge ready to objectively look at the facts. And if the machinery of government is circumvented, justice is raped and Republicans are content to say that Donald Trump is above the law, that might not sit well with everyone.
Under those circumstances someone may go outside the law, outside the Constitution, in a way that Benjamin Franklin recognized over 200 years ago. Like Roman emperors assassinated by their own guard, a rogue Secret Service agent might decide that since he is willing to sacrifice his life to defend the president, perhaps he’s willing to sacrifice his freedom to protect the nation. Or some loner may put a bullet in Trump’s brain. Someone might decide the only way to make America great again is to refresh the tree of liberty with the blood of a tyrant.
Though there have been several attempts, we haven’t had a presidential assassination in 56 years. And while only a minority of Americans will mourn the loss of Donald Trump, the majority most certainly will not. The ones who aren’t rejoicing in the streets that a dangerous traitor has been felled will be quietly breathing a sigh of relief that the honor of the nation has been preserved with the sacrifice of one worthless conman. No doubt the assassination of Benedict Donald would trigger civil unrest. Cities will burn. We may have to endure a spasm of violence bordering on insurrection but it will flame out and we’ll save our democracy.
And who would be to blame in that scenario? The patriot who pulled the trigger? Certainly. But also those spineless, feckless Republicans who traded their integrity and sacrificed the country’s honor for a seat in the Congress, along with the mindless masses who think ‘owning the libs’ is preferable to working to make this a more perfect union.
Republican intransigence may be the thing that pulls that trigger. Sic semper tyrannis!