A learned friend/mentor of mine, who is a strong Trump supporter, agreed with me that Trump is a fool for this whole impeachment mess that he got himself into, although we both believe that Trump has, besides his love for Israel and Jews, a very strong and effective approach and insight on how to deal with international thugs such as Kim Jung Un and the Iranian leaders.
Besides his erratic approach to withdrawing our troops from Northern Syria as a peacekeeping force between the Syrian Kurds and Turkey, which no one besides isolationists would agree with, his attempt to smear his potential political opponent Joe Biden and his attempt to mix Ukraine into the 2016 election meddling business, he has done quite a good job, unless you also say that he is ratcheting up the Federal debt due to his tax cuts.
So why did Trump get himself into this impeachment mess? He thought he could achieve his personal aims by pretending that he’s a corruption fighter of the Ukrainian government. But Trump’s own agencies, such as the Department of Defense and the State Department along with the European Union had certified that Ukraine had dealt sufficiently with its past corruption problems and was now worthy of receiving military aid from our government. So as noted before, his scheme was extremely foolish.
Whether he should be impeached, in my opinion, should be a cost-benefit analysis of his presidency in general. Others who don’t violate their presidential oath can nonetheless be just as dangerous as what Trump did violating his oath. What comes to mind is that President Obama did not violate impeachment clauses but nevertheless held back vital military aide to Ukraine during his administration.
Is Trump a good president or a bad one? The answer is, he’s both, as are most other presidents. Think of President Kennedy with the Cuban Missile Crisis vs. his Bay of Pigs fiasco. Think of Johnson and Nixon with their lying about Vietnam vs. their achievements on domestic civil rights and foray into trade with China respectively.
I have been glued listening to the various impeachment trial arguments, both pro and con. However, Harvard Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz’s defenses struck me as being really out of touch with the situation at hand. He claims abuse of power is not a crime because it is too general, and one cannot find it in the Constitution or penal code. In that respect, we should remember that a sitting president has never been convicted of a crime in our history, yet three presidents were impeached and it is generally accepted that if a president violates the power of his office, it should be a crime or a crime equivalent. Dershowitz argues that anything that a president does with the power of his office that helps the country as well as his own election prospects or legacy building could be viewed as using the office to advance his own standing, and hence could be an abuse of power, if one were to take that tact. The problem with that argument is that when the public good is nonexistent with the action, and the personal gain is quite evident, it should be arguable that in that situation the president would, in fact, be abusing his power.
Other points he makes is that there has to be a crime to impeach the president. So by that reasoning, if a president, for example, gets us into a war and then decides to spend all of his time in a bar or at the beach, how would you get that president impeached? A president should be no different from any other employee. If a policeman robs a store, then naturally he would be fired from the police force; but even if commits no crime but just shows up late too many times or even just conducts himself publicly in a degrading way on his own time, there are clauses in his contract that would justify his firing. In private industry or nonprofit work, employees can be hired for a period of time such as contract work. If an employee violates his contract within that time, it’s not enough a solution for the employer to say, “Well, let’s just wait for the contract to end.” Similarly, a president has a contract with clauses in the form of his oath of office. Violating that oath should justify a firing of the president. The oath states that the president shall “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States… to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Violating the oath of office should be grounds for impeachment, just as an employee can be fired for violating his contract. The public or taxpayer should not have to wait for the next election to terminate his employment just as the employer doesn’t have to wait for the employee’s contract to end. That said, using the office to advance his/her own aims to the detriment of the public good is not abiding by his sworn oath to the office of the presidency.
Dershowitz argues that Quid Pro Quos are done all the time by presidents to force other countries to abide by US goals or laws, but the obvious difference again is when a Quid Pro Quo is used by a president to advance his personal goals to the detriment of the public good. The professor posits that we cannot judge a president’s state of mind with some psychoanalytic probe to determine whether his actions are in good faith or not. So how, I ask, do we determine in a court of law whether the defendant killed someone by accident or by deliberately staging an accident, say for an insurance claim or other nefarious reasons?
Lastly, he says that we can’t impeach a president for being dishonest, because dishonesty is merely a sin and not a crime. Well, dishonesty on one’s tax return or in a court of law is certainly a crime, and dishonesty in conjunction with any action could be a crime. Supposing a president lied to a foreign government, saying to them that we are going to attack them, and in response the foreign government attacks us preemptively, and we are drawn into a war where our soldiers are killed and we drain the national treasury. If a president committed that dishonesty to avenge a personal vendetta against the foreign country’s leader, would it not be a crime?
What strikes me with all of this is that there is no truthful analysis and investigation on either side. To me, Dershowitz arguing all of these ivory tower arguments is emblematic of the problem we have in this country at this time. Did Trump commit a very foolish and harmful thing by withholding $400 million for 55 days to Ukraine when they are in the middle of a hot war with Russia when they had already lost 14 thousand lives in that war? Yes, yes, and yes! But did Obama do even worse by providing the Ukrainians with blankets and no military aid for years? Yes, yes, and yes!