Robert Reich: Four (or Five) Grounds for Impeaching Trump

Robert Reich

This article first appeared on RobertReich.org

By my count, there are now four grounds to impeach Donald Trump. The fifth appears to be on its way.

First, in taking the oath of office, a president promises to “faithfully execute the laws and the Constitution.” That’s Article II, Section 2.

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But Trump is unfaithfully executing his duties as president by accusing his predecessor, President Barack Obama, of undertaking an illegal and impeachable act, with absolutely no evidence to support the accusation.

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Donald Trump at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., April 4, 2017. Elizabeth C. Economy writes that the Chinese would like to take advantage of Trump’s transactional bargaining tendencies. Kevin Lamarque/reuters

Second, Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution forbids government officials from taking things of value from foreign governments. 

But Trump is making big money off his Trump International Hotel by steering foreign diplomatic delegations to it, and will make a bundle off China’s recent decision to grant his trademark applications for the Trump brand—decisions Chinese authorities arrived at directly because of decisions Trump has made as president.

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Third, the First Amendment to the Constitution bars any law “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

But Trump’s ban on travel into the United States from six Muslim countries—which he initiated, advocated for and oversees—violates that provision.

Fourth, the First Amendment also bars “abridging the freedom of the press.”

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But Trump’s labeling the press “the enemy of the people” and choosing who he invites to news conferences based on whether they’ve given him favorable coverage violates this provision.

A fifth possible ground if the evidence is there: Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution defines “treason against the United States” as “adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

Evidence is mounting that Trump and his aides colluded with Russian operatives to win the 2016 presidential election.

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Presidents can be impeached for what the Constitution calls “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The question is no longer whether there are grounds to impeach Trump. The practical question is whether there’s the political will.

As long as Republicans remain in the majority in the House, where a bill of impeachment originates, it’s unlikely. Another reason why it’s critically important to flip the House in 2018.

Robert Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, and Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He has written 14 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations and Beyond Outrage and, most recently, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-creator of the award-winning documentary Inequality for All.

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