In an oped for the Boston Globe, Free Speech For People Board Chair, Ben Clements, and Legal Director, Ron Fein, explore how the recently released report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is both an impeachment referral and roadmap for Congress to begin an impeachment investigation of the president. While we have identified eleven legal grounds for Congress to launch an impeachment inquiry of the president, the Mueller report highlights the president’s repeated attempts to obstruct justice and interfere with the investigation by the Special Counsel.
While finding insufficient evidence to criminally prosecute any Trump campaign officials for conspiring with the Russian government, the report concludes that the Russian government unlawfully interfered with the 2016 election in “sweeping and systemic fashion,” identifies numerous links between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and demonstrates beyond question that Trump and his campaign eagerly accepted and used to their advantage the unlawful Russian assistance. The report then describes in granular detail the numerous ways that Trump sought to obstruct the investigation over the first two years of his administration, including directing his subordinates to lie, conceal, and even fabricate evidence, and explains why each legal defense offered by Trump’s lawyers is groundless.
Given the obstruction of justice detailed in the Mueller report, Congress must take up the impeachment referral and act now to hold the president accountable to law.
Will Congress heed that call, or will it reward Trump’s obstruction by giving Barr the last word? Will patriotic duty and the growing calls from House members and their constituents compel House leaders to begin an impeachment investigation or will political caution and cowardice prevail? The rule of the law, our democracy, and the legitimacy of the presidency and Congress itself hang in the balance.
Click here to read the full oped in the Boston Globe.
Click here to join our campaign calling on Congress to begin an impeachment investigation.
President Trump has been directly implicated—by his own personal lawyer—in a criminal conspiracy to illegally influence the election. This justifies an impeachment investigation.
On August 21, 2018, President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges. Two of those charges stem directly from criminal actions that he took at the direction of then-candidate Trump in connection with Trump presidential campaign.
In an article for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Will Bunch calls for Congress to launch an impeachment inquiry into the President, in parallel with the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Bunch notes Congress has delegated its responsibility to hold the President accountable for his impeachable offenses to Mueller, stating, “Congress and other key players have used the Mueller probe as an excuse for inaction on the dangers posed by Trump.” Bunch further states that reticence from Congress to begin an impeachment inquiry, only furthers the lawlessness of the President, and removes a critical check on the balance of power in our government.
As background, the GSA administers the lease of the federally-owned Old Post Office Building to the Trump International Hotel. The Domestic Emoluments Clause of the Constitution provides: “The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.” (This is a separate provision from the Foreign Emoluments Clause, which applies to presents and emoluments from foreign governments and their instrumentalities.)
The problem is that the GSA leases the building to the Trump Organization, which is owned by the president. To make matters worse, the GSA’s lease contract includes standard language providing: “No . . . elected official of the Government of the United States . . . shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom . . . .” After Trump entered office, the GSA announced that it had concluded that this clause somehow did not apply, on the bizarre theory that since the Trump Organization nominally transferred management of the LLCs and corporations that operate the hotel to Trump’s sons, Trump will not “benefit” from the lease during his term in office. The GSA’s decision not to enforce the unambiguous term in the lease contract is a government benefit and domestic emolument.
The Inspector General’s report notes that the lease “raised issues under the Constitution’s Emoluments Clauses that might cause a breach of the lease; however, GSA decided not to address those issues.” GSA’s own lawyers recognized the constitutional problem early on, but “the attorneys decided to ignore the emoluments issue … without conducting any research of the two Emoluments Clauses or checking for any OLC opinions.”
President Trump has been enriching himself from public resources since the moment he took office, and unfortunately in this case, federal government lawyers sworn to uphold the Constitution enabled his profiteering. Congress must begin an immediate impeachment inquiry.
In a powerful opinion editorial for USA Today, Jason Sattler, makes the case for impeachment to end the corruption and lawlessness of the Trump presidency. Sattler explores the most recent actions by Trump made in defiance of the law, including the unconstitutional and illegal appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General to undermine the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller; obstruction of justice; violation of two anti-corruption provisions of the Constitution; and more.
The day after Americans showed up to vote in numbers not seen for a midterm election in over 100 years, to deliver Republicans their worst House losses since Watergate, Trump promptly revealed his contempt for both the Constitution and the American people.
Matt Whitaker’s appointment as acting attorney general hours after the polls closed was likely unconstitutional, definitely dubious, and an all but obvious an attempt to obstruct justice — given that Whitaker has publicly laid out exactly why and how he’d undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
America cannot bet our democracy on guys who are willing to work for Donald Trump — or expect one investigation to contain the overwhelming rot of this administration.
The American people have responded to Trump’s assault on our democracy with marches, unprecedented political involvement and a massive drubbing at the polls. The people we elected need to show they are willing to rise up just as convincingly and check this president while that is still possible.