The problem with keeping your eye on the ball when it comes to the current administration and the renegade Congress (both the House and the Senate) is that it’s hard to know which ball to keep an eye on. Every manner of corruption seems to be in play, and it’s hard to find the unifying them.
The latest volley of news made by the Trump Administration, including the attempt to block the release of the book Fire and Fury because it has derogatory information about Trump, their use of the justice department to “investigate” its political enemies, and the usual attacks on the press.
All of this is designed to deflect and distract from the “real ball” here which is whether Trump actually committed treason or other crimes to win the White House and to protect himself once he was in it.
Fortunately, though, there is a Constitutional resolution to these things. There is a balance of powers in play. Congress has the power to impeach the President.
It was a power instituted by the framers in their wisdom that if there weren’t one, then the President could become a tyrant.
Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution states, “ “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Exactly what that means is open to interpretation. FindLaw.com outlines four different traditional interpretations.
- Congressional Interpretation, which means that the clause means whatever Congress says it means. Obviously, Congress has the grounds to impeach on this ground.
- An Indictable Crime, which means that there had to be an actual crime committed. This is one reason the obstruction of justice charge weighs so heavily, and it’s also why the GOP is pushing the “collusion isn’t illegal” narrative so hard. For the record, collusion isn’t illegal, but conspiracy is. And obstruction of justice definitely is.
- Misdemeanor, which doesn’t mean what you think it means because it doesn’t mean now what it meant then. The framers tried several different versions which included “malpractice or neglect of duty” and “treason, bribery, or corruption.” In essence, both collusion and obstruction would be impeachable under this definition.
- Relating to the President’s Official Duties, which means that whatever the POTUS is being impeached for should be directly related to his job. In other words, if you lied about oral sex under oath in a civil trial… Oh, wait… Let’s just agree that obstructing an investigation into yourself is worse than what Clinton did.
Regardless of which interpretation you go by, Congress has the power to impeach the current President. And if they had any honest inclination to do their job, they would be at least considering it.
Given what we know regarding Russia’s role in hacking the DNC’s and John Podesta’s emails, numerous secret meetings that have been discovered between members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government, the correspondence between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks, and the fact that Trump has yet to impose sanctions against Russia while he defends Putin at every turn should be enough to raise alarms, regardless of your political affiliation.
Rather, the Republicans in Congress have chosen to use their powers to not only protect the President from his crimes; they have chosen to participate in the persecution of those who would oppose him.
They would have you believe that all of this Russian-collusion stuff is a giant hoax perpetrated by and with the Steele-Dossier, that the Dossier is a document paid for by the Clinton campaign, and that the only “collusion” here was Clinton herself, through Steele, paying off Russians to tell lies about Trump.
None of this is true. The investigation was not started because of the Steele Dossier, it’s not at the heart of the investigation, neither the Democratic Party nor Clinton initiated it (a right-wing website did), and once they did start paying for it they had no operational control over what was happening and weren’t even aware of Fusion’s involvement, much less Steele’s.
It’s all a giant nothing-burger as far as whether Clinton or Steele committed a crime. The latest twist is in this request which argues that Steele lied to the FBI about what he told the media, and the apparent equivalence being drawn here is that Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos both pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
If it’s illegal for them, why is it not illegal for Steele? Of course, they don’t articulate exactly what those lies were — just that they had “reason to believe” there were some.
It’s not that that even matters. They could be 100 percent right about Steele lying to the FBI, but that changes nothing. It’s not a real “double standard” at play here as much as a false equivalence.
First, Steele is not to the DNC as Flynn is to the Trump campaign for reasons already stipulated. And even if he did lie to the FBI, it doesn’t mean that Trump didn’t commit treason.
Nor does it change the dossier. Some of the things in it have been proven true. Some have been disproven. Steele himself never declared everything was true — he was just collecting information provided given to him — saying he only believed about 70–80 percent of it.
But all of this is moot, as well. The Steele Dossier is not at the heart of the investigation. It’s not the reason it started. The GOP’s myopic focus on this is to distract from the very real possibility that our current Commander-in-Chief worked with a hostile foreign government to hack his opponent’s emails and release them to undermine American democracy.
That the GOP’s response to this is to investigate Steele is a dereliction of their duty to the American people. The balance of powers outlined by the Constitution only works if the members of Congress see their loyalty is to their electorate, not their party.
The insidiousness of the investigation is that this annuls the very balance of powers and removes the Constitutional check to tyranny. The only way that Trump can be removed is if the Congress puts patriotism above partyism.
This appeal to investigate Steele shows they intend to do precisely the opposite.