Notwithstanding the fact that their Special Counsel Robert Mueller, after a long detailed investigation, found no evidence that President Trump illegally conspired with Russian officials in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, Democrats are still hell bent on impeaching Trump. The problem with their position, however, is that they want to impeach him for invalid reasons, reasons that do not amount to the “high crimes and misdemeanors” standard set forth in the Constitution.
For one thing, while “conspiring” or “colluding” to establish normal and friendly relations with Russia is considered a cardinal sin by the U.S. national-security establishment and the Republican-Democrat political establishment, it does not constitute a “high crime or misdemeanor” under the U.S. Constitution.
Realizing that, Democrats are falling back on the notion that President Trump engaged in “obstruction of justice” with respect to Mueller’s investigation. The problem with that charge, however, is that “obstruction of justice” is the federal government’s counterpart to local governments’ offense of “disorderly conduct.” It’s a classic example of a nebulous crime that turns on subjective interpretation, one whose purpose is to enable officials to target anyone they don’t like whenever they want.
And if anything is clear, it’s this: Democrats hate Trump so much that they are willing to do anything they can to remove him from office before his term is up, including employing the nebulous crime of “obstruction of justice” to do it.
But no matter how much Democrats and others might dislike Trump, the fact is that he won the election. He defeated Hillary Clinton by securing more electoral votes than she did. Under our system of government, he has the right to be president. Using the “crimes” of conspiring to establish normal relations with Russia or “obstruction of justice” to remove him from office would be akin to Third World coups that oust democratically elected leaders who are disliked by their military-intelligence establishment or by political elites within the nation.
This is especially true given the possibility that it was the U.S. deep state that illegally meddled in the U.S. presidential election in an effort to get Hillary Clinton, who had a vehement anti-Russia mindset, elected president. Trump is absolutely right to want a full investigation into that possibility.
Does that mean that Trump should not be impeached? No. Trump should be impeached, but only for the right reason.
What is that reason? Illegally waging war against foreign regimes without the congressional declaration of war that is required by the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution is the highest law of the land. It is the law that we the people have imposed on U.S. officials, including the president. When Congress enacts laws, such as drug laws, we the people are expected to obey them. By the same token, federal officials are supposed to to obey our law, the law set forth in the Constitution.
It is undisputed that Trump is waging wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. It is also undisputed that Congress has not issued a declaration of war against any of those nations. Those wars are killing people. Just last week, U.S. bombers killed 18 Afghan police officers who were engaged in a firefight with the Taliban. The Pentagon has called it a “tragic accident.” But one thing is for sure: If Trump was not waging this illegal war, those police officers would not have been killed by U.S. bombs. Trump’s undeclared wars in Syria and Iraq have also killed people in those two countries. With respect to Yemen, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof pointed out in his May 18 column:
It is Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that drop the bombs on Yemen, but Washington supplies weaponry and intelligence that allow this war to drag on indefinitely. American policy is to support the starvation of Yemeni children because they are ruled by a faction with ties to Iran.
By waging wars without a congressional declaration of war, Trump is knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately violating the Constitution. By doing so he is committing a “high crime,” one that clearly warrants impeachment.
That’s what Trump should be impeached for — illegally waging war without the constitutionally required declaration of war — not for some trumped-up charges of conspiring to establish normal relations with Russia or “obstruction of justice.”
It is crystal clear that the federal judiciary isn’t going to enforce that particular provision of the Constitution. Therefore, it is up to Congress to enforce the declaration-of-war provision in the Constitution through impeachment.
If Trump were impeached for waging illegal wars under our system of justice, he and his lawyers would undoubtedly defend by claiming that other presidents, including Democratic presidents like Truman, Johnson, and Obama, did the same thing. But under well-established principles of criminal justice, the fact that some people have violated the law with impunity does not serves as a license for other people to also violate the law.
Also, the fact that previous presidents have violated the law without being impeached for it does not constitute a de-facto amendment of the Constitution nullifying the declaration-of-war requirement.
The problem, of course, is that Democrats, no matter how much they hate Trump and want to see him removed from office, are not about to impeach him for waging illegal wars in foreign lands. That’s because they simply want a Democrat to take his place as president so that they can be the ones waging these illegal undeclared wars, just as Truman, Johnson, and Obama did.
Needless to say, on this issue the Republican members of Congress are on the same page as their Democrat counterparts. The last thing any Republican member of Congress wants to do is impeach Trump for the right reason — waging illegal wars in foreign lands. That includes those Republicans who claim to revere the Constitution and those who refer to themselves as “strict constructionists.”
The discomforting fact is that when it comes to enforcing the higher law that we the people have imposed on the president with respect to waging war without a congressional declaration of war, the Republican members of Congress are as big a disaster as their Democratic counterparts. All of them — Republicans and Democrats alike — should be impeaching and convicting Trump but only for the right reason: waging illegal undeclared wars under our form of constitutional government.