Impeachment is about the Rule of Law?
Right. Funny. Presidents have literally been getting away with murder. Nothing in Washington now is likely to apply the rule of to presidents.
During the impeachment proceedings in Congress, I was constantly distracted by the charges not leveled against this president, Trump, and all of his predecessors. If the law applies to the president, then apply the law to every president. Let’s review some of the lawlessness in government, focusing on the president, in reverse chronological order and see how far we get before we run out of digital ink.
Trump owns a hotel chain. He did not put his assets into a blind trust when he took office but rather passed the management of the hotels to his children. There is plenty of evidence that the loans and business practices of the international line of hotels was a convenient vehicle for foreign governments to influence the president with cash. The emoluments clause of the constitution forbids exactly this scenario. If the Democrats had impeached Trump on day one in January 2017 for failing to sell off his hotel chain, that would have been a strong move constitutionally. As no other president had a hotel chain while serving as president, and as the emoluments clause has never before been used to impeach a president, there would be no precedents to consider. It would have been a straight forward case.
Trump is guilty of more crimes, particularly violating the war powers provisions of the constitution. The United States has no declaration of war against Iran. By authorizing the assassination of Suleimani, Trump is guilty of murder. That act cannot be an act of war, since there was no declaration of war by Congress. Therefore, according to the constitution, Trump is guilty of murder.
However, if Trump is guilty of murder for killing Suleimani, then Obama is also a murderer who should have been impeached, then tried in criminal court. Congress did not authorize any military action in Libya. All people killed by the US military in Libya in 2011 were murdered. No acts of war can occur without Congressional authorization. Likewise, drone strikes against any target not actively participating in Al-Qaeda were acts of murder.
Congress DID authorize military action against Al-Qaeda in 2001 and there was no expiration date on the authorization. Legally, by international and domestic law, the United States can legally go to war against Al-Qaeda and did so entirely legally in 2001. However, once the jihadi movement fragmented, Obama has to go back to congress for a separate authorization against ISIS or Islamic State. Since he did not bother, any drone strike against an Isis target, even if actually populated by terrorists, would not be legal.
More problematic even than failing to get clear authorization in Libya and against non-Al-Qaeda terrorist groups is the manipulation of the 2001 grant of war power to the president. Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki, a 16-year-old American citizen, was sitting in a cafe in Yemen when Obama targeted him for death in September 2011. Why? Under what legal authority?
Can the president kill anyone he wants for any reason? What was the reason for this act? If al-Awlaki was not a member of Al-Qaeda and not planning to attack the United States and if he was the target of the drone strike, then Obama is guilty of first-degree murder.
Obama’s crimes continue into the financial realm. Clearly, Michael Froman of CitiGroup vetted Obama’s cabinet in October 2008. Obama then gave CitiGroup 440 billion dollars in TARP funding. Then, when Obama left office, CitiGroup repaid Obama personally with speaking fees. This is simple bribery. The reason Obama is rich now is that he did favors for bankers.
Under Obama with his permission, the NSA read everyone’s email. This is a violation of the fourth and fifth amendments. His NSA director, Clapper, lied to Congress about this gross violation of the rights of all citizens. If this is not a reason to impeach the president, then the constitution is not the governing document guiding the government of the United States.
The United States Senate ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture in 1988. The US Constitution takes treaties very seriously and it is a matter of settled law that a ratified treaty has the full force of US law. Torture is against US law as well as international law. Bush authorized torture. He violated US and international law. He should have been impeached and sent to prison.
Kidnapping is illegal. On February 17, 2003, Abu Omar was abducted in Milan by CIA agents. If Bush was aware of this or other examples of “extraordinary rendition” he is guilty of kidnapping.
The invasion of Iraq was an act of aggressive war, prohibited by the Geneva Convention, also with the force of US law as a ratified treaty.
I’m not letting the other presidents off the hook. I just ran out of time. The saga of the criminal president will continue in episode two.