Donald Trump is perhaps the singularly most unsuitable person to hold any exalted office. Thus when to the collective jaw dropping, eye-popping chagrin of a gob smacked world, this entrepreneur-turned-playboy-turned-politician-turned-demagogue, overcame Hillary Clinton – in an election, which by now, has become the folklore of corruption and extraneous influences – he occupied the highest office in the most powerful country on the Planet. America elected as it’s forty fifth President, a controversial self-obsessed larger than life persona who had built his personal and professional career upon compulsive lies, convoluted business arrangements and a rabidly radical strain of thinking. True to form, the President proceeded to make a threatening and unsavoury spectacle of himself. Tirades on Twitter and Trade Wars in the form of Tariff Barriers took precedence over informed discourse and democratic debates. Critics of Trump are personally panned and verbally flayed as purveyors of “Fake News”. Two years into his tumultuous tenure, America is grappling with the Trump issue which has become the “White Elephant” in the room for Democrats and Republicans alike. Is an unimaginable impeachment, the only solution to bring this conundrum to an end? Are there grounds even, for such a measure to be triggered? These are some of the salient and thought provoking questions which Allan J. Lichtman attempts to answer in his extremely readable and engaging book, “The Case For Impeachment” (“The Book”). Mr. Lichtman incidentally was one of the few crystal gazers to have predicted a Trump victory and this prediction even received a personal mention from the victor.
Mr. Lichtman provides us the founding precepts and principles undergirding the mechanism of impeachment of a person holding the highest office in the United States of America. The collective vision of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason and James Madison finds resonance in the words of John Adams, “Men are not only ambitious, but their ambition is unbounded; they are not only avaricious, but their avarice is insatiable”. Therefore, “it is necessary to place checks upon them all.” Thus was born the potent weapon of impeachment to balance power with responsibility. The full brunt of impeachment was first borne by President Andrew Johnson, a man termed by Mr. Lichtman as “the most accidental of Presidents”, on the 24th February, 1868. The next President who came perilously close to severing the proverbial Damocles sword hanging over his head was the notorious and remorseless Richard Nixon following the infamous Watergate scandal. Mr. Lichtman analyses the events surrounding the despicable episode in American political history with clinical precision and immaculate prowess.
While the book also covers the second impeachment in American history with the lurid misdemeanors of former President Clinton being punished, this review is restricted to the case of Donald Trump. So is there a litany of woes which invite an impeachment of the current President of the United State? Mr. Lichtman says yes.
- Serial Lawbreaker
Mr. Lichtman demonstrates in a painstakingly methodical manner the serial transgressions of Donald Trump, the entrepreneur. From his company, “discouraging rental to blacks”, as testified by undercover real estate “tester” of housing discrimination for The Human Rights Commission, Sheila Morse, to not registering his charities as required by law, Trump’s violation of law as a businessman has been more the norm than an exception. Mr. Lichtman helpfully points out to us the fact that “not only can a President be impeached for prior conduct, but also for conduct unrelated to his official duties.” A classic precedent being the conviction of Louisiana district court judge G. Thomas Porteous.
- Conflicts of Interest
Trump, as elucidated by Mr. Lichtman, has accumulated brazen conflicts of interest. Blatantly flouting the “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution, by licensing the Trump Company’s name to the $150-million-dollar Trump Tower at Century City in Manila, and obtaining preliminary approvals to 38 pending trademarks from China, the actions of Trump, Mr. Lichtman offers, “begs the question whether there’s a quid pro quo between Trump and the Chinese government.” While Trump’s lawyer Sheri Dillon has tried to eviscerate the “Emoluments Clause”, Trump has “pledged to donate the profits from foreign governments that use his hotels to the US Treasury. The pledge omits golf courses, along with office, apartment, and condominium properties…” The President also owes a billion dollars in debt to more than 150 financial institutions.
- Compulsive Lying
As Mr. Lichtman expounds, “lying is treacherous for a president for many reasons.” Continuing Mr. Lichtman states, “Donald Trump has his own history of lying as an ingrained way of life.” From the fraud involving Trump University and the Indian Casino lawsuit to the controversial allegations involving the Russian influence over the 2016 elections, Trump has made lies his second name. The swathe of skeletons tumbling out of the closet as a result of the Robert Mueller and The US House and Senate Committee investigations do not augur well for the prospects of the Narcissist President. “The most compelling evidence of collusion come from a previously undisclosed meeting between Kremlin-connected Russians and the highest echelons of the Trump campaign – son Donald Trump Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and then campaign manager Paul Manafort.
- Trump’s War on Women
“Grab a woman by her p&%$y” has transcended from being a mere self-proclamation of bragging rights to one of the most detestable and degrading phrases in vogue. An addiction to sex and sheer disdain towards the dignity of a woman make Trump’s case for impeachment a real possibility.
Supplementing the usual suspects are further mindless and compulsive acts such as revoltingly debunking the claims of climate change, pulling USA out of the Kyoto Protocol and spewing forth a dash of executive orders that take nauseating positions on immigration and trade.
Mr. Lichtman, ends his powerful book with an impassionate plea to his President to undertake certain urgent steps so as to avoid the demon of impeachment. Such steps include divesting his business interests to comply with the STOCK Act, appointing a resident psychiatrist in the White House; treating women with dignity and respect and firing cronies posing great danger to his legacy.
At the time of writing this review, America has just paid magnificent tributes to the stellar and mercurial Senator John McCain. Trump would do well to learn a precious lesson from the true bipartisan fashion in which Republicans and Democrats gathered together to pay their respects to the departed politician. Differences of opinion did not trump (no pun intended) over a coalesced ideology that had at its heart, a prosperous and peaceful America. If the President neither has the time nor the inclination to watch the recording of the entire proceedings, he should at least watch the scene where George W. Bush surreptitiously passes a candy to Michelle Obama!