Lying with such frequency and malice is alone worthy of impeachment.
|Apr 29||Public post|
The Post reported this morning that Donald Trump has stated, since taking office in 2017, more than 10,000 lies and falsehoods. While all presidents lie in one way or another, none has lied with such frequency and malice. This, I contend, is as much a threat to our republic as anything else he’s done. This alone is worthy of impeachment.
Anyone who knew anything about Trump’s business history knew he was a liar. Lying has been his “hallmark for years,” wrote Chris Megerian of the LA Times. “Whether it’s exaggerating the height of his buildings or claiming that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States,” Trump lies as if he’ll never be held accountable for them.
On balance, he’s been right.
Perhaps that started to change after the release of a redacted version of Robert Mueller’s report of his investigation. “While every administration is accused of dissembling or worse at times,” Megerian wrote, “the report makes clear that Trump leads a White House where falsehoods and misrepresentations are common practice.” White House aides lie to the president, to each other and to the press. Trump lies to everyone. He gets angry when aides don’t lie for him. They lie to preempt his anger.
The indictment against Bill Clinton did not fit his crimes. The same indictment does fit Trump’s.
The Times’ Pete Baker and Maggie Haberman wrote that the report depicted a White House as “a hotbed of conflict infused by a culture of dishonesty” in which Trump “lies to the public and his own staff, then tries to get his aides to lie for him.”
Conflict and dishonesty have bred executive impotence.
Mueller’s report illustrates the degree to which White House aides and the Cabinet have simply ignored him, because what Trump asks of them is either illegal, immoral or politically foolish. The Atlantic’s David Graham put it this way: “The constitutional system depends on the president executing the law and executive-branch employees following his directives; after all, he is the elected representative of the American people, and they are civil servants. On the other hand, so many of Trump’s orders are in fact illegal or dangerous that it’s difficult to fault staffers who don’t want to endanger the country or legally expose themselves by executing them.”
Lies, lawlessness, corruption, and executive impotence—these are threats to our republic because they are, in a real sense, injuries to it. As I wrote last year, the concept of injury is basic to moral philosophy. “Human relations, the thinking goes, are impossible without assuming that people are generally reliable and trustworthy. If they are generally unreliable and untrustworthy, anything worth doing is no longer worth it, because it’s based on fictions, fantasies, and lies.” I went on to say:
These are moral claims, but the injury can be political. When it comes to a president’s role in a democratic republic, lying is about more than the different between truth and falsehood. It’s about the trust placed in him or her to govern in the people’s name. Without trust, there is no legitimacy. Without legitimacy, only tyranny remains.
Most Americans saw through what the GOP did to Bill Clinton. His misconduct wasn’t bad enough to impeach him. As a result, most were skeptical of the Republicans’ motives. As the late Anthony Lewis wrote in the New York Review: the “attempt to drive Clinton from office was the climax of years of effort by others to destroy him, not through ordinary political means but by dubious legal action and tales of wrongdoing larded with fantastic lies. People on the political right set out to unseat a president, and they almost succeeded. In his folly, Clinton played into their hands. But that does not alter the fact that this country came close to a coup d’état.”
Lewis wasn’t overstating. The indictment against Clinton did not fit his crimes. The same indictment, however, does fit Trump’s. Replace “William Jefferson Clinton” with “Donald John Trump,” and you have a pretty good idea of where the House Democrats might begin drafting their own articles of impeachment. In Article IV, Trump:
violated “his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution
disregarded “his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed”
“engaged in conduct that resulted in misuse and abuse of his high office,
“impaired the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, and
“contravened the authority of the legislative branch and the truth-seeking purpose of a coordinate investigative proceeding”
“undermined the integrity of his office,
“brought disrepute on the Presidency,
“betrayed his trust as President, and
“acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States” (my italics).
Trump won’t stop lying. That’s his hallmark, after all.
As long as he’s the president, he injures America.
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