Donald Trump, an Authoritarian President, Has Committed Impeachable Acts
May 4, 2017
Robert Reich /Nation of Change & Robert Reich / Robert Reich's Facebook Page
Commentary: Donald Trump's authoritarianism is a consistent and coherent philosophy of governing. But it's not America's. The framers of the US Constitution created separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism precisely to avoid concentrated power -- to stop authoritarians like Trump. If Trump isn't impeached for treasonous collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 election, he could be impeached for violating Article I Section 9, the Constitution's "emoluments" clause.
The Authoritarian President
The US Constitution was created
to stop authoritarians like Donald Trump
Robert Reich /Nation of Change
(May 2, 2017) -- After more than 100 days into his presidency, it seems fair to ask: What is Donald Trump's governing philosophy?
He isn't really a Republican (he didn't join the GOP until 2012). He's hardly a free-market conservative (he's eager to block trade and immigration). No one would mistake him for a libertarian (he's okay with preventing abortions and gay marriage).
So what is he?
Political scientists use this term to describe a way of governing that values order and control over personal freedom, and seeks to concentrate power in the hands of a single "strongman."
Viewed through the lens of authoritarianism, Trump's approach to governing is logical and coherent.
For example, an authoritarian wouldn't follow the normal process in a constitutional democracy for disputing a judicial decision he dislikes – which is to appeal it to a higher court.
An authoritarian would instead assail judges who rule against him, as Trump has done repeatedly. He'd also threaten to hobble the offending courts, as Trump did last week in urging that the 9th Circuit (where many of these decisions have originated) be broken up.
Likewise, an authoritarian has no patience for normal legislative rules – designed, as they are in a democracy, to create opportunities for deliberation.
Which is why Trump told Mitch McConnell to use the "nuclear option" against the time-honored Senate filibuster, in order to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Last week, Trump called House and Senate rules "archaic," and urged they be abandoned. "We don't have a lot of closers in politics, and I understand why: It's a very rough system. It's an archaic system," he said.
Through the eyes of an authoritarian, rules that block what the authoritarian wants to do are always "bad for the country," as Trump said of them.
Trump would like to get rid of the filibuster altogether. "The filibuster concept is not a good concept to start off with."
An authoritarian also seeks to intimidate the press, in order to avoid criticism and consolidate his power.
Trump still doesn't miss an opportunity to assail the media for publishing "fake news." His chief of staff has revived Trump's campaign proposal to widen libel laws so that he can sue the press for stories he doesn't like.
Authoritarians do not tolerate other levels of government with their own powers and responsibilities. Which is why Trump wants to force states and cities to report on unauthorized immigrants, even though this violates the principle of federalism enshrined in the 10th Amendment.
Finally, authoritarians promote other authoritarians, in an effort to normalize authoritarian rule.
Last Saturday, Trump invited President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines to visit the White House.
Duterte, you should know, is an authoritarian leader accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of thousands of people suspected of using or selling narcotics as well as others who may have had no involvement with drugs. He has referred to former President Barack Obama as a "son of a whore." And he has declared open season on suspected terrorists, saying that if he were presented with a suspected terrorist, "give me salt and vinegar and I'll eat his liver."
Two weeks ago, Trump phoned to congratulate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey for his victory in a referendum filled with voting irregularities that expanded Erdogan's powers and has put Turkey on the road to dictatorship.
Trump also opined that the recent terrorist attack in Paris will help the right-wing extremist Marine Le Pen.
Trump has praised President Xi Jinping of China, the most authoritarian leader China has had since Mao Zedong.
Trump also hosted at the White House Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who had not been granted an invitation to the White House since seizing power in a military coup almost four years ago.
And don't forget Trump's vow during the presidential campaign to pursue a warmer relationship with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. (The effort has faltered in light of possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.)
Donald Trump's authoritarianism is a consistent and coherent philosophy of governing. But it's not America's.
In fact, the Framers of the US Constitution created separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism precisely to avoid concentrated power. Their goal was to stop authoritarians like Donald Trump.
Not long ago Trump adviser Stephen Miller declared "the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned."
Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, and Hamilton would have been appalled.
This article was originally posted on Robert Reich's blog.
Another Reason to Impeach Trump
Robert Reich / AntiWar.com
(May 1, 2017) -- If Trump isn't impeached for treasonous collusion with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, he could be impeached for violating Article I Section 9 of the Constitution, called the "emoluments" clause.
Here's an update on his Article I Section 9 violations:
1. Trump has visited a Trump-owned property on 31 of his first 100 days in office -- and on some days he's visited more than one. The press reports on each visit, essentially advertising the property to the public as the federal government pays money directly to the property to rent space, rooms and even golf carts.
2. The State Department and at least three US embassies even advertised one of his properties online in April when a blog post about Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort was shared on government websites and on their social media accounts.
Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort doubled its initial membership fees from $100,000 to $200,000 days after Trump assumed the presidency.
3. Trump's International Hotel in Washington, D.C., has been pitching foreign governments to stay there. Less than 10 days after Trump won the election, the hotel hosted a gathering for about 100 foreign diplomats to urge them to book rooms there when they stayed in Washington.
4. Since then, the governments of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have booked rooms or hosted events at Trump's hotel. A business group affiliated with the government of Turkey will host both Turkish and American government officials at its annual conference at the Trump hotel in May.
5. China has approved Trump's copyright application for the Trump brand in China -- a deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and done when Trump assured China he wouldn't depart from America's "one China" policy.
6. Both daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, now Trump's White House advisers, maintain connections to their own corporate enterprises. The day Ivanka Trump sat next to China's Xi and his wife at a Mar-a-Lago dinner, the Chinese government approved five new trademarks for her company. Her company continues to apply for trademark protection around the world as sales of her brand soar thanks to her increased publicity.
"No one has ever tried to pull off what President Trump is attempting here, which is to turn the way in which our democracy functions into the way corrupt countries function to enrich their leaders," says Fred Wertheimer, one of America's most respected experts on government ethics. "It's just never been done, and the scale here is enormous."
And we're only 101 days in.
Remember: Article I, Section 9.
What do you think?
This article was originally posted on Robert Reich's blog.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.