by Max Boot
June 3, 2019
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s presentation last week, although it contained no new information, has renewed pressure to impeach President Trump. You can debate whether impeachment makes sense politically, but there is no doubt that it is justified legally and morally. There is already more than enough evidence for at least seven articles of impeachment – four more than President Richard M. Nixon would have faced had he not resigned in 1974 .
Article 1. Donald J. Trump, in violation of his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, and to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has obstructed the administration of justice:
1. He attempted to fire Mueller. The Mueller report found “substantial evidence . . . that the President’s attempts to remove the Special Counsel were linked to the Special Counsel’s oversight of investigations that involved the President’s conduct.”
2. Trump attempted to curtail Mueller’s investigation. Mueller found “that the President’s effort to have [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions limit the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation to future election interference was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the President’s and his campaign’s conduct.”
3. He ordered White House counsel Donald McGahn to falsify the record to conceal his attempts to fire Mueller. Mueller found that Trump “acted . . . in order to deflect or prevent further scrutiny of the President’s conduct.”
4. He fired FBI Director James B. Comey, Mueller found, because of “Comey’s unwillingness to publicly state that the President was not personally under investigation.” Moreover, Mueller wrote, by firing Comey “the President wanted to protect himself from an investigation into his campaign,” because he knew “that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns.” Trump showed awareness of guilt by advancing “a pretextual reason to the press and the public for Comey’s termination.”
5. He tried to dissuade Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, and other witnesses from cooperating with the government. The non-cooperation of Manafort and Stone, in particular, made it impossible to establish the exact nature of the relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Article II. Donald J. Trump, in violation of his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, and to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, failed to defend America from foreign election interference. As a candidate, he welcomed Russian intervention in the 2016 election and refused to notify the proper authorities of contacts between his campaign and representatives of Russia and WikiLeaks. As president, he denied that the Russian attack had even occurred, accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s false denials of responsibility, and showed no interest in determining the full scale of the attack. He repeatedly called the Russia investigation a “hoax” and a “witch hunt” even though Mueller determined “that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election” and that “the matters we investigated were of paramount importance.”
Article III. Donald J. Trump, in violation of his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, and to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, attempted to investigate and prosecute his political opponents. On three occasions, Mueller found, Trump asked the Justice Department to initiate investigations of Hillary Clinton. More recently, Trump and his attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, attempted to initiate an investigation of Joe Biden.
Article IV. Donald J. Trump, in violation of his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, and to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, failed to produce papers and testimony as duly directed by Congress. Trump obstructed at least 20 inquiries relating to his taxes, business records, the Mueller investigation and other matters.
Article V. Donald J. Trump, in violation of federal campaign finance laws, conspired with his attorney Michael Cohen in order to conceal alleged relationships with adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy playmate Karen McDougal before the 2016 election.
Article VI. Donald J. Trump, in violation of his oath to uphold Article 1, section 9 of the Constitution (“No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law”), attempted to misuse his emergency powers to spend funds on a border wall that Congress did not appropriate.
Article VII. Donald J. Trump, in violation of his oath to uphold the emoluments clauses (which forbid the president from accepting benefits from foreign and state governments without the permission of Congress) retains ownership of a global business empire which allows him to benefit from dealings with foreign and state governments.
That Trump is guilty of these offenses – and more – is not necessarily an argument for moving forward with impeachment. That could backfire politically if it results, as it surely would, in a failure to convict by the Republican-controlled Senate. But don’t pretend, as do 249 out of 250 Republican members of Congress, that there is insufficient evidence to even open an impeachment inquiry. Trump has committed more criminal and unconstitutional conduct than any previous president in U.S. history. If they refuse to impeach him, members of Congress will violate their own oaths to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Max Boot, a Post columnist, is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a global affairs analyst for CNN. He is the author of “The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam," a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in biography.