Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. – Donald Trump, July 2016
So spoke the Republican nominee and now president-elect. It didn’t take a genius to realize that if the Russians could hack the Democratic National Committee’s emails, it might do the same to the Republican National Committee. Or Trump.
In last week’s column, I argued that before he took the office, Trump had done to himself what he spent years of attempting to do with Barack Obama: Delegitimize. I was being kind. Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker suggested something far more serious: Treason.
Did Trump or anyone on his staff have any knowledge of or collaborate with foreign entities’ machinations during the campaign? The specter prompts one to recall the two-pronged Watergate question Senator Howard Baker asked of John Dean: What did the President (Nixon) know and when did he know it?
Only one crime is defined in the Constitution, and it sets a very high bar: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
While neither our friend or ally nor an enemy in the classic sense, Russia is, nevertheless, our adversary with strategic goals inimical to ours, some that pose a threat to our security. At this point, we’re not at war, at least a hot war. Cyber war? Well then.
“In sum,” writes Parker, “when the president-elect persists in a state of denial, siding with the enemy against his own country’s best interests, one is forced to consider that Trump himself poses a threat to national security.” Harsh words.
“In Russia, they’d just call it treason,” she concludes.
When the hacking of the DNC emails was made public, Trump couldn’t believe his good fortune. Rather than being statesman-like and condemning the action, he urged Russia to do more. Which leads to a related question: Did he promote or encourage criminal activity? Again, the bar for that is set high.
Compounding those issues, potential ethical business conflicts of interest and other legal complications might come into play, which means Trump could face the fate he incited his adoring followers to chant about Hillary Clinton: Locked up.
The other irony is that after feverishly demanding to see what was in Clinton’s 30,000 emails, the world might, instead, get a revealing look at the skeletons in his closet. It would be most insightful to read his last 30,000 emails. Goodness, what does the man have to hide?
Trump’s crass, boorish, erratic, undignified, un-statesmanlike, narcissistic behavior is legendary. But there is something more disturbing, a deeper, more serious character flaw: He’s petulant in an immature manner. His impulsiveness and instinct to taunt, bully, and demean those who cross his path reflect the brain stage of a teenager. Which leads one to seriously consider if Trump might be suffering from a disability.
Trump is the first nearing the beginning of his presidency about whom the idea of impeachment is being talked about. When it’s brought up, I sometimes say, “It ain’t gonna happen.” My argument is succinct: A Republican congress would never impeach one of their own. But then, I wonder, what if the situation were so dire, so potentially dangerous the congressional Republican leaders and soon-to-be vice-president Mike Pence felt compelled to act?
Article, I, Section 3 says a president can be impeached and removed from office if convicted of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, provides the legal framework for removing a president by declaring him unfit.
If I were a fly on the walls of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or House Speaker Paul Ryan, I probably could report they have discussed that potential, at least in hushed tones. It would be irresponsible not to.
Last week, Ladbrokes, a British gambling leader, posted 50-50 odds Trump’s presidency won’t last four years. Right after the November election, Ladbrokes had it at 3-1, then cut it to 5-2 and later to 9-4.
It would be wise to keep that in mind. What could happen could make the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton affairs seem like food fights.