President Donald J. Trump has become a clear and present danger to the republic and US lives. Trump shared classified information about an ISIS plot to blow up commercial planes using laptop bomb with our enemies, endangering US lives. But that’s only the beginning of the constitutional crisis we’re heading into.
The Washington Post and the New York Times just reported President Donald J. Trump shared secret code-word information with the Russians that could isolate the US from the free world and endanger the lives of Americans. Trump handed over the classified information to the Russians when he held a closed-door meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, on Wed May 10. The code word intel (which is classified above top secret) was acquired by a foreign intelligence agency and provided to the US under strict intelligence rules.
The information Trump revealed would help the Russians identify a secret agent within ISIS who had revealed a plot to use “laptop bombs” aboard commercial planes. The Kremlin would be keen to eliminate or disrupt the asset because of their reprehensible support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. The result could mean US lives are at risk whenever Americans fly.
Although the foreign country is not named in the reports, the United States is part of the “Five Eyes” global international community which means intelligence agencies from New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and the US share information on their common good. Other alliances exist with allies who may be less forgiving of such a lapse of judgment by the US President. Even though President Trump can declassify information “at will”, that doesn’t extend to information gathered by non-US agencies. In short, Trump threatens the US relationship with our key allies if he reveals information the US didn’t obtain directly.
Trump’s breach of allies’ trust comes just days after Trump potentially committed another serious crime – obstruction of justice – when he colluded with Vice President Michael Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire FBI Director James Comey.
The White House’s public pretext for the firing was related to Comey’s handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation, as outlined in a memo by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein but that memo was easy bait for a President looking for a reason to fire the FBI Director.
In a deft move, Rosenstein threatened to resign over the use of his memo as cause for Comey’s ouster. The next day, absent a pretext, Trump sat down for an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt and was forced to reveal the truth. The emperor, it seems, had no clothes.
“When I decided to just do it [fire Comey], I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russian thing with Trump and Russia … is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election.”
Trump also copped to Holt he asked Comey on three separate occasions if he was under investigation personally. That’s not a question you would ask once, never mind three times, if you really believed the whole thing was “a made up story”, “a ruse” or “a hoax”, as the President has said in his many tweets. It’s also now clear that Trump summoned Comey to the White House and asked him to “pledge his loyalty” just days after acting attorney General Sally Yates alerted the White House that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was “compromised by the Russians”. Yates was later fired. A second count of obstruction of justice.
A just released memo written by Comey after Flynn was fired reveals President Trump asked the FBI Director to drop the entire investigation. “I hope you can let this go,” Comey quotes Trump in the memo he wrote as part of a paper trail documenting the President’s efforts to obstruct justice. As an F.B.I. agent, Comey’s notes will be used in court as credible evidence.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
It’s also been reported by the New York Times, the President and Vice-President secretly conspired to remove Comey. Vice President Mike Pence, who parroted the White House lie, could have been the next President of the US but he’s now been infected by the corruption virus by Trump. Pence should face an indictment on obstruction of justice charges and needs to be impeached. By conspiring with Trump, Pence has placed the US into a succession crisis.
However, even if the Justice Department indicts Trump and Pence along with the exhaustive list of co-conspirators, nothing can force the House, controlled by the Republicans, to begin impeachment proceedings. Up until now Republicans seem hesitant to even appoint an independent prosecutor so impeachment hearings seem unlikely, unless something else happens. And that something else is beginning to emerge.
Russia’s efforts to destabilize US Democracy ran very deep and now threaten to embroil the entire leadership of the GOP – including House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senator Ted Cruz and others. Ryan has been full-throatedly supporting Trump recently framing the President as “a driven, hands-on leader, with the potential to become a truly transformational American figure.” Now it’s emerging, there’s good reason Ryan is Trump’s pocket. According to “Kremlingate” watchers, Ryan also accepted money from Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to fill the GOP coffers. If Ryan and other Republican leaders are removed from office too, the balance of power and sheer political survival in 2018 should compel remaining Republicans in the House to act.
I asked Associate Professor Gary Darden, who teaches US Civil War at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey to explain how impeachment would work if such an indictment was coming:
“An impeachment is constitutionally speaking an indictment issued by the House for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” while the trial itself would take place in the Senate with senators as jury and chief justice as presiding judge. If the president were to be indicted in a court of law, then that would be, I think, the basis for articles of impeachment in the House. If 2/3 of the House votes in favor of any article (or charge) if impeachment, then it mandates a trial in Senate, where a conviction requires 2/3 of that body.”
The House could be reluctant to act but Darden believes:
“If criminal charges come out of the Justice Dept against the President, then it would be the basis for the House to act. If it didn’t it would be political negligence of the highest order.”
Still, Darden points out Republicans who supported Trump hold a disproportionate number of seats in the house so the impeachment seems unlikely, but just the threat of it, and a potential lengthy prison sentence for the entire Trump family, could render the President impotent and force a resignation, as it did with Nixon.
If you’re keeping track, that now leaves Trump, Pence and Ryan all out of the running to take over as President. The next in line for the White House is Senator Orrin Hatch (UT-R), the President pro tempore of the United States Senate. After Hatch, It’s the Secretary of State, Putin-buddy Rex Tillerson (likely to be indicted too) and then Jeff Sessions (clearly already compromised) and the rest of the cabinet. This is why there are two potential outcomes to an impeachment crisis: President Orrin Hatch or the next Speaker of the House, if Ryan is implicated.
Whomever it is, would be President until 2020 as there simply is no mechanism for a snap election in the US. Even under these extraordinary times.
“Hate is a far better motivator than love,” a boastful Roger Stone told NPR this week. “It’s one of Stone’s golden rules.” Stone is the political operative who helped put Donald Trump in the White House. He says of the President, “I was like a jockey looking for his horse. You can’t win a race without a horse.” Stone is about to see his golden rule work against his winning horse. Trump has now threatened American lives, betrayed the country, our allies, the rule of law and made his bed – with Vladimir Putin – the end result will enrage the American population which should have brutal consequences for both the President and the Russian autocrat.