While the world watched President Trump blather his way through another bizarre news conference yesterday and claim that headlines about Russia were “fake news,” something heartening was going on behind the scenes.
Organizers from the Impeach Donald Trump Now campaign walked into the office of Jamie Raskin, the U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 8th congressional district, and handed him a petition containing more than 850,000 signatures from Americans in favor of starting the impeachment process. The petition asks that Congress pass a resolution calling for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether sufficient grounds exist for the impeachment of Trump. Raskin is on the House Judiciary Committee, and knows a thing or two about impeachment. He teaches constitutional law and legislation at American University, Washington College of Law, in Washington.
Perhaps you haven’t heard of the Impeach Donald Trump Now campaign. Free Speech For People, a national non-partisan non-profit organization, and RootsAction, an online initiative, launched the campaign on Jan. 20, the day Trump was inaugurated. The campaign has a legal advisory board consisting of seven law professors and former judges.
John Bonifaz, co-founder and president of Free Speech For People, serves as the campaign spokesperson. He made this statement:
“Today we delivered more than 850,000 signatures from Americans all across the country demanding that the United States Congress initiate an impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump based on his ongoing violations of the United States Constitution, both the foreign emoluments clause and the domestic emoluments clause, which the president is violating based on his refusal to fully divest from his business interests,” Bonifaz said.
The next step, Bonifaz said, is to grow grassroots advocacy. In fact, this has already begun. On Feb. 13, the campaign held a town hall over the phone that attracted more than 6,000 people across the United States. Several called in with questions, including this one from “Joyce in California:”
“Are we any better with Mike Pence being our president?”
Norman Solomon, co-founder and coordinator with RootsAction, has heard that query before. “That question is the single most frequently posed one about this entire impeachment scenario,” he said.
He followed with two points.
“First is that when you have a president who is above the law — in this case above the supreme law of the land — and gets away with it flagrantly, that undermines the very basis of democracy,” Solomon said. “So simply on that principle, if we were to allow President Trump to get away with this, thumbing his nose and flagrantly violating the Constitution, then we’re well on our way — one could say — to the absence of democracy and even toward dictatorship. So that’s one layer.”
Solomon then tackled the Pence question by putting it in historical context. When Nixon resigned in 1974 in the face of impeachment proceedings, Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in as president and completed the remainder of Nixon’s term.
“The Richard Nixon example, when he was forced from office, is instructive,” Solomon said. “In political terms, the party whose president is impeached becomes splintered. And we can keep in mind and remind others that the only way under the current composition of the House and Senate for this president to be impeached and then kicked out of the White House, is if substantial numbers of Republicans vote to impeach. And then in the Senate — which requires two-thirds vote — 19 Republican senators have to vote to get rid of him, to convict him, and exclude him from the presidency. Well, just imagine what that would do to the Republican Party. It would set them back on their heels. They would be bitterly divided. Some would be loyalists for Trump, some would have directly by vote in Congress have had a hand in his demise as president.
“And historically, we know that that party, in this case, the Republican Party, would be put on the defensive, and would lose a lot of ground in a way that would have enormous repercussions for the vice president who then becomes president. He would be extremely weakened.”
Still afraid to impeach Trump?
This weekend, every member of Congress is on recess and many will be at home. Go to them and put their feet to the fire.