Friday 14 December 2018

Jennifer Rubin: 'Business as usual: Trump is back to violating his oath of office'

US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Jennifer Rubin

US President Donald Trump is back in the United States - and back to attacking democracy. He tweeted: "Florida election should be called in favour of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible - ballots massively infected. Must go with election night!"

We should note that this is the talk of authoritarians. It shows contempt for the office of the president, whom the constitution designates "to take care" that the nation's laws are faithfully executed. It's also a frightful peek at what he might do in 2020 should the vote not go his way.

Mr Trump's appointment of an unqualified, radical political hack, Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general likewise shows his disdain for the rule of law and proclivity to impede or even crush the Russia probe. We should be worried he is spoiling for a constitutional crisis which can rally his base.

Mr Trump's decision to revoke the press pass for CNN's Jim Acosta is a blatant violation of the First Amendment. Once more, the US President violates his oath to preserve and protect the constitution.

Combined with evidence of obstruction of justice and evidence he directed Michael Cohen to violate campaign finance rules, these new actions would be ample grounds for impeachment. However, observe the deafening silence of Republicans - indeed, their noxious attempts to join in calls to foreclose a legally mandated recount.

While impeachment in a Democratic House would be both justified and doable, removal by the GOP-controlled Senate would not be remotely possible.

This does not mean the actions should be ignored. On the contrary, congressional oversight should expose the president's wrongdoing, and the House should certainly sanction him for it. Special counsel Robert Mueller's report should provide avenues for prosecution after Mr Trump leaves office. However, from a political perspective, Democrats should keep in mind their audience - voters in all those House districts they took back, in the Rust Belt and upper Midwest, where they prevailed in governor and Senate races, in states whose GOP senators are on the ballot in 2020, and every region and demographic group with persuadable Americans.

They must hammer away at the simple proposition that Mr Trump is unfit to govern and that Republicans who are too afraid to stand up to him cannot be trusted with power. Meanwhile, the press and the country at large should keep in mind that he acts out when he is weak, humiliated and cornered. He's all those things right now:

:: His performance in Europe was panned;

:: The election results get worse for Republicans with each passing day;

:: His North Korea diplomacy, contrary to gullible pundits and spinners, was a bust (he was snookered);

:: We now have two major Middle East problems, Iran and out-of-control Sunni despots who think, not unreasonably, they can lead him around by the nose;

:: Mueller ploughs ahead, with possibly more indictments, for example Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr;

:: Mr Trump's finances are no longer protected from scrutiny, nor are his daughter's and son-in-law's.

In sum, we should continue to tally Mr Trump's constitutional offences just as we keep a running count of his lies. (© Washington Post)

Irish Independent

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