10 Crimes for Which Donald Trump Should Be Impeached
There has been much debate about the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump as we near the end of 2019. While there are many legitimate criticisms of Trump’s presidency, no president can be impeached just because people think he’s a terrible president. The Constitution says a president can only be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Unfortunately, being incompetent, obnoxious, racist, or ignorant does not qualify as a high crime or misdemeanor.
Therefore, it is necessary to enumerate the impeachable crimes the president has committed. Here are 10 of Donald Trump's offenses that I believe provide a reasonable basis for impeachment; they include specific instances of unconstitutional actions, violations of campaign finance laws, personal ethics violations, obstruction of justice, and more.
1. Trump uses the presidency for his own personal gain.
Trump is violating the US Constitution by using the presidency for his own personal gain. He has made millions of dollars by using his golf resort in Florida as a Southern White House. He profited when he urged Vice President Pence to stay at his resort in Ireland (which was far from where Pence was meeting the Irish Prime Minister).
What's more, Trump and his family are making millions of dollars when foreign officials stay at Trump hotels and when foreign governments approve Trump projects or grant trademarks for Trump products. Trump and his family are profiting tremendously from actions he is taking as president. This is a glaring violation of the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause.
2. Trump has countless conflicts of interest and personal ethics violations.
Unlike every other president before him, Donald Trump refused to divest from his business interests when he became president. As a result, Trump knows exactly how his actions as president have a direct impact on his personal wealth and his financial investments. He profited from the tax cuts he enacted and likely made several million dollars. This could explain why he is the first president in over 50 years to refuse to release his tax returns. He has even gone to court to prevent the release of his tax returns.
Walter Shaub Jr., the director of the US Office of Government Ethics, tried to get President Trump to divest from his business interests to avoid such conflicts, but Trump refused. Shaub saw so many ethics violations and conflicts of interest that he ultimately resigned in protest.
3. He encouraged a foreign country to interfere in the US presidential election.
At a time when Trump and his campaign officials already knew Russia was interfering in the US election, Trump publicly urged Russia to interfere even more, which they did. Many high ranking people in Trump’s campaign were contacted by Russians with offers of help in the 2016 election and they did not turn down those offers. Although the Mueller investigation did not conclude that Trump conspired with Russia, they did conclude that Trump’s campaign, as well as Trump himself, knew about and encouraged Russian interference.
4. He publicly lied about his business dealings with Russia.
While running for president in 2016, Trump repeatedly claimed to have no involvement with Russia, but he was, in fact, negotiating with the Russian government and Russian business interests about developing a Trump Tower in Moscow at that very time.
Lying to the voters is not strictly an impeachable offense, but Trump blatantly lied about his business ties to Russia because he knew it was an incredible conflict of interest for a potential US president to have major business dealings with a frequent competitor and potential adversary of the United States.
5. According to the Mueller Report, Trump attempted to obstruct justice multiple times.
The Mueller report cites many examples of Trump repeatedly trying to fire the people who are investigating him, discouraging witnesses from cooperating with the investigation, falsifying information about the Trump Tower meeting, asking people to lie and dangling pardons for people who refused to cooperate with the investigation. Many of these acts of obstruction were done publicly on Trump's Twitter account.
For more information about Trump's obstruction of justice, see the Mueller Report, Volume II, pages 1–8.
6. He violated campaign finance laws.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump had his lawyer make illegal hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels to cover up their sexual relationship, then Trump and his lawyer lied about it. This is a blatant violation of campaign finance laws.
7. Trump urged a foreign leader to help him smear his political opponent.
While Trump withheld aid from the country of Ukraine, he spoke by phone with the Ukraine president. He told the president that the US has been very generous to Ukraine, but that Ukraine had not “reciprocated.” When the Ukraine president said they needed more Javelin missiles, Trump replied, “I need you to do me a favor though,” and then asked the Ukraine president to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to investigate Joe Biden. Trump implied that this was a condition to be met if the Javelin missiles were to be sold to Ukraine.
By asking a foreign leader to help smear his political opponent for strictly political reasons, Trump was abusing his presidential powers. This is another glaring violation of the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause.
8. He has publicly urged the Justice Department to prosecute his political opponents.
While running for president, Trump vowed to have Hillary Clinton sent to prison if he won the election. As president, he has frequently stated many times in public that the Justice Department should investigate Hillary Clinton yet again. Along with his insistence that Joe Biden should be investigated, Trump's constant attempts to prosecute his political enemies is perhaps the worst abuse of power any president could commit.
9. Trump illegally used his charitable foundation for political purposes.
Trump’s charity, the Trump Foundation, is under investigation for paying for many of Trump’s personal and campaign expenses. Among other things, the Trump Foundation illegally made a $25,000 contribution to the Florida Attorney General who was investigating the fraudulent Trump University. Then, the Trump Foundation falsely reported the $25,000 contribution on their taxes, claiming that it went to a charity in Kansas which, in fact, never received any money from them.
10. Trump violated national security by giving his son-in-law top security clearance.
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, lied on his application for security clearance by not disclosing dozens of contacts he’d had with foreign governments, including Russia. This type of omission is a felony and usually more than enough to get someone’s security clearance denied. However, President Trump ordered National Security Agency officials to give Kushner the clearance anyway, which is an extraordinary violation of national security.
Not all crimes are impeachable.
Since many of Trump’s business dealings are still being investigated, he could be prosecuted for money laundering, bank fraud, wire fraud, and other financial crimes after he leaves office, but it is questionable as to whether he could be impeached for these crimes while in office.
Why should Trump be impeached now?
Political considerations should not matter. Most of the arguments against impeachment involve concerns that impeachment could backfire and help Trump politically if the impeachment is not upheld in the Senate. But political consequences should be irrelevant. Politics should play almost no role in the decision to impeach.
Trump’s corrupt behavior only gets worse the longer he is in office. Trump has shown a tendency to ignore the mistakes of the past and to continue to behave criminally even while he is being investigated for previous crimes.
Refusal to impeach Trump will lead to more corruption in the future. If we allow Trump’s crimes and violations of the Constitution to go unpunished, future presidents will be more inclined to blatantly violate the Constitution and use the power of the presidency for their personal gain.
Televised impeachment hearings will educate the public about Trump’s crimes. When Congress began impeachment hearings against President Nixon, Nixon’s popularity was well above 50% and the US public was largely against it. After seeing the evidence presented in the televised hearings, public opinion changed to strongly support his impeachment.
Don't take my word for any of this. Do your own research or follow the links I provided to find out more about all of these issues. Any one of the impeachable crimes listed above should merit Trump's impeachment and removal from office.
Congress should not determine whether or not to impeach the president based on public opinion or how it will impact the next election. Impeachment should be decided exclusively on the merits of the evidence and the severity of the crime.