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Let’s Talk About Impeachable Offenses

ColumnSeptember 26, 2019
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By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has launched an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. “The president must be held accountable,” she announced Tuesday. Pelosi has been pressured for months on impeachment, from congressional and grassroots progressives. An intelligence community whistleblower raised concerns over a phone call last July that Trump held with Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, pushing more moderate Democrats to support an impeachment inquiry. Trump admitted that he asked Ukraine to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, and ordered withholding of Ukrainian aid. Such behavior may rise to the “high crimes and misdemeanors” standard for impeachment. But isn’t Trump already deserving of an impeachment inquiry, many times over?

On May 17, 2017, less than four months into Trump’s presidency, Democratic Congressmember Al Green of Houston was the first to take to the House floor calling for Trump’s impeachment. Within days, Green, who is African American, was receiving death threats. One voicemail threatened: “You ain’t gonna impeach nobody, you [bleep]. Try it, and we’ll lynch all you [bleep]. You’ll be hanging from a tree.”

On Wednesday, the day after Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry, Green, appearing on the “Democracy Now!” news hour, agreed that the Ukrainian issue was an impeachable offense. “I would also mention the emoluments clause,” he added, “with the president benefiting from persons who are staying in his hotels. … I would also never forget the racism, the bigotry, the xenophobia, the homophobia, the Islamophobia.”

The case for an emoluments impeachment is ever-growing, it seems. Foreign delegations and lobbyists regularly stay at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and spend lavishly there. Ukrainian President Zelenskiy, according to the declassified transcript released by the White House Wednesday, let Trump know that he stayed at Trump Tower in New York’s Central Park.

Trump has been accused of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment by at least 24 women. These accusations alone certainly provide cause for an impeachment inquiry. Trump has retaliated against many of these women, threatening to sue them or crassly insulting them as not his “type.” Trump himself has admitted, on the notorious “Access Hollywood” tape, that he forces himself on women. “When you’re a star … you can do anything,” Trump said.

The policy agenda that Donald Trump is pursuing based on climate science denial amounts to an impeachable offense. He is accelerating environmental destruction, leading to irreversible, catastrophic climate change. The Trump administration pulled out of the Paris climate agreement, and tirelessly rolls back environmental regulations while boosting the extraction and sale of fossil fuels. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you,” 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg said, ferociously reprimanding the adults gathered at the United Nations Climate Action Summit Monday. Showing up at the summit for 14 minutes, Trump mocked Thunberg on Twitter, saying she looked like “a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”

The authority to wage war, to direct the U.S. military to kill people, is the presidential power that demands the most intense oversight, by Congress and by the public. Trump ran for president promising to withdraw from foreign wars, but has delivered the opposite. Recently in Afghanistan, the U.S. launched a drone strike that killed 30 civilians — pine nut farmers resting in the shade — and participated in a nighttime raid that killed an estimated 40 civilians, prolonging the longest war in U.S. history.

Trump continues to support Saudi Arabia’s devastating bombing of Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians. A recent Saudi bombing of a community college killed at least 109 people there. Millions of Yemenis are at risk of starvation in what is described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Congress has twice passed bipartisan legislation to block arms sales to the Saudis, which Trump has vetoed. He has also ordered more troops to Saudi Arabia to protect its oil facilities and lavishes praise on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Oct. 2 marks the first anniversary of the brutal murder and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi Consulate in Turkey, which the CIA concluded was ordered by bin Salman. Trump’s warmongering is an impeachable offense in itself.

Trump’s refusal to support gun control legislation, mass shooting after mass shooting; his prolific lying; his relentless attacks on the press; his elimination of critical programs in our social safety net; his discrimination against trans people in the military and in schools; his Muslim ban, his separation of families and caging of children — all are worthy of an impeachment inquiry. As Congressmember Al Green said, “At some point, we have to stand up to him and let him know that the line has been drawn, and you will go no further.”

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