A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. –Marcus Tullius Cicero, 42 B.C.
As I wrote earlier this week after Trump’s appearance with Putin in Helsinki, it’s time to say “Impeach! Times Up!” Others, including the Free Speech For People and Need to Impeach websites, are joining this chorus and making the case for impeachment in greater detail.
Trump’s “Helsinki Betrayal” and “Nato Snub” are the last straws, and seal the case that this traitorous, dangerous, anti-American, authoritarian, ignorant, narcissistic, racist, pussy-grabbing, mentally unhinged Putin Puppet has committed high crimes and misdemeanors and must be removed from access to the nuclear button before he irreparably harms the world and destroys what’s left of American democracy.
Let’s review the details:
- Former CIA Director John Brennan has said that Trump’s “performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous.”
- New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, a card-carrying centrist wrote that “there is overwhelming evidence that our president, for the first time in history… engaged in treasonous behavior – behavior that violates his oath of office to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’”
- Conservative columnist George Will wrote, that the world saw in Helsinki “ongoing collusion between Trump, now in power, and Russia.”
- The Washington Post editorialized that “ Mr. Trump in fact was openly colluding with the criminal leader of a hostile power.”
- Novelist Stephen King circulated a one-word Tweet: “Impeach.”
In short, a wide-range of experts and commentators across the political spectrum have agreed that Trump’s actions in Helsinki met the Constitutional standard for impeachment of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” for impeachment, if not outright treason.
Who Holds the Power
Unfortunately, none of these commentators, however influential, holds political power. The word “impeachment” has not yet been mentioned by any of those who hold the political power to impeach and convict: Congressional leaders, both Republicans and Democrats.
Predictably, Congressional Republicans reacted to Trump’s suck-up to Putin and undermining of NATO with mild rebukes followed by walk backs after Trump’s walk back of his walk back of his walk back of his walk back.
More dismaying is that, despite strong verbal criticism of Trump, the word “Impeachment” has not passed the lips of any Democratic Congressional leaders.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer questioned whether Putin holds damaging information over Trump. But when it comes to action, the best Schumer could come up with was a lily-livered list of five potential bipartisan congressional actions in concert with Republicans, including demanding testimony from Trump’s national security team; ending attacks on the Justice Department, the FBI and Mueller; asking Putin to send the 12 indicted Russian hackers to the US for trial; and passing bipartisan election security legislation.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Pelosi and Schumer have both held firm to their long-standing position that impeachment discussions should be off the table for Democrats in the 2018 election.
In a Rolling Stone interview and during a Town Hall meeting in Iowa this month, Pelosi tried to tamp down talk of impeachment. She maintains that even if Democrats take control of the House, impeachment is off the table—unless there is ‘more to go on’ in the future—and has spent months trying to persuade rank-and-file Democrats to back off impeachment talk. She calls the very topic ‘a gift to the Republicans.’ Schumer has similarly been working to tamp down Democratic impeachment talk and calls for further investigation.
One of the few Democratic Congresspersons with a rising national profile—but no leadership position, yet—to support Trump's impeachment is Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, currently running against Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate.
O’Rourke told The Dallas Morning News, “Standing on stage in another country with the leader of another country who wants to and has sought to undermine this country, and to side with him over the United States – if I were asked to vote on this I would vote to impeach the president. Impeachment, much like an indictment, shows that there is enough there for the case to proceed and at this point there is certainly enough there for the case to proceed.”
When Cruz attacked O’Rourke as “so radical and reckless that he is unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate,” Schumer and Pelosi were nowhere to be heard defending O’Rourke, even though control of the Senate may rest on the Texas race.
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Schumer seems more concerned with attacking African-American Congresswoman Maxine Waters for supporting efforts to make lying Trump officials uncomfortable when they go out in public, calling her “Not American.”
What a great strategy for taking back Congress, Chuck—attack female African American political leaders. Could these attacks on Waters by “The Senator From Wall Street” have to do with Waters being in line to Chair the House Financial Services Committee?
Time for a Mass Movement
It’s now crystal clear that if impeachment is to be on the table, it must come from a mass popular movement. It’s not only Trump’s Republican quislings who stand in the way, it’s also the cowardly Democratic Congressional leadership. So it’s now up to the base to force Democratic Congressional leaders to take a stand for principle.
A survey from Public Policy Polling shows that 48 percent of respondents support impeachment, while 41 percent are opposed. A Marist Poll shows that 70 percent of Democratic voters support impeachment. And that’s without any campaigning by Democrats to build support for impeachment.
Contrary to Democratic leaders who fear that impeachment talk will only fire up more of Trump’s base to vote, its more important impact would be to fire up more potential Democrats to vote, instead of sitting out the midterms.
Groups like Indivisible and MoveOn should be demonstrating not just at the offices and homes of Republican Congresspersons, but at the offices and homes of Democratic Congresspersons—particularly Democratic leaders—demanding they take a strong stand on impeachment.
They must make clear that cowering in fear of Trump’s charisma will not win the 2018 election. Only mobilizing a mass uprising against Trump will, combined with a strong message on economic inequality and racial justice.
As Will Bunch argued in a column earlier this week, boycotts should be organized against corporations like Home Depot, Dixie Cups, and Brawny paper towels, whose leaders donate millions to Trump and his Republican enablers.
I’m not sure whether Bunch’s call for a General Strike is entirely practical. It might be too hard for enough people to risk their jobs by staying home from work for any length of time. But Bunch’s call for a mass impeachment movement is on the right track.
Environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer has collected nearly 5.5 million impeachment signatures. He’s been using some of his millions running national pro-impeachment ads, which, unfortunately, in my view, are not that compelling since they mostly feature Steyer talking at the camera.
If Steyer is going to focus on TV ads, may I humbly suggest that he hire a more compelling commercial house and have his ads focus more on ordinary people than himself. In addition, I’d suggest he spend more of his money supporting the organizing of a mass movement, including organizations he doesn’t necessarily control.
And when Putin comes to America in the fall for Trump’s quarterly job review with his boss, millions should fill the streets in Washington and every city, town, and village, demanding of both Republicans and Democrats that Trump be removed in office for his high crimes and misdemeanors.
Let’s get busy! Otherwise, as Cicero predicted over 2000 years ago, America’s democracy, like Rome’s Republic, may be on the road to extinction by a traitorous leader within.