Opinion: Democrats Need to Expand Their Focus to Impeach
The impeachment of Donald Trump is rolling along towards its inevitable conclusion, acquittal by a partisan senate representing a minority of voters. Unfortunately, the Pelosi-led Democrats lack the political skill or will to do impeachment right. In part, this stems from the schizophrenic nature of the party. Democratic Party leaders insist on confining their constitutional duties to the charges least likely to either offend the sensibilities or sway the opinions of the majority of Trump voters, and to let the process conclude in plenty of time for our nation’s short political attention span to move on well prior to the 2020 election.
Trump’s flagrant abuse of power in defiance of national geopolitical interests in the Ukraine reeks of criminality and corruption, yet at the same time, it also smells too strongly of Bismark’s proverbial 'sausage-making' of government to sway his supporters or even the less politically aware. Certainly, the Ukraine should be included among the many articles of impeachment the Democrats could justifiably bring. But it should be only the tip of much more viscerally disturbing and at the same time legally airtight iceberg of impeachable offenses.
Trump's Other Offenses: Assault and Corruption
Democrats ought to spend the next several months calling as many of the 23 women and counting who have come forward with accusations of rape and sexual assault against the president. They should call the witnesses and the judge who found Trump’s campaign of defrauding veterans groups to the tune of a cool $2 million, the many contractors with liens against Trump’s business interests for theft of services, and the $184,000 military service members were forced to spend at Trump’s out of the way Scottish golf course en route to deployments, according to an ongoing congressional investigation. These are the high crimes and misdemeanors that average Americans can not fail to understand, cannot ignore dismiss as politics as usual.
The narrow focus on the most politically sophisticated of Trump’s crimes will not sway a significant number of his diehard supporters. Standing against the Ukraine charges will not hurt a significant number of Republican senators or representatives, nor will it stain Trump in the eyes of the angry minority which supports him and holds an undemocratic and un-republican (if one truly understands how a republic is supposed to work) grip on the senate and the electoral college.
Instead, months of testimony from sexual assault victims, many of them children at the time, the testimony of blue-collar contractors whose business were in some cases ruined by Trump’s refusal to simply pay his bills despite his self reported billionaire wealth, and the testimony of veterans who were bilked out of millions by his campaign should fill weeks and months of congressional hearings. Follow these up with the corruption of his family’s businesses and their profiteering from his presidency, with charges against Ivanka and Jared Kushner and his two sons thrown in - only don’t open the hearing with the words ‘Emoluments Clause’ - stick with ‘corruption’. Then come back to his treasonable conduct in the Ukraine. Here’s why.
Cheating Veterans Loses Patriot Voters
In the January 2016 run-up to Iowa’s presidential nominating caucus, The Donald J. Trump foundation raised 2.8 million dollars at an Iowa fundraiser for veterans. Only no vet saw a penny of that haul. Instead, the “charitable” foundation gave absolute control of the funds to the Trump Campaign, which used the money to pay down business debt, promote his presidential campaign, and buy a $100,000 portrait of himself for a Trump-owned Florida hotel. It is difficult to imagine paying 100 grand for a portrait of that orange hair, but it’s right there among the charges he admitted to in settling the suit. The “detailed admission of misconduct”, as the New York Times called it, includes paying legal bills for several of his businesses including Mar-a-Lago and the Westchester County, N.Y. Trump National Golf Club. The now defunct Foundation closed in the face of charges leveled by the state of New York, described by the attorney general’s office as “a shocking pattern of illegality”. The case is already closed, New York State Supreme court Justice Saliann Scarpulla having ruled against Trump and his children Ivanka, Eric and Don Jr. in November 2019.
Had Obama defrauded veterans and donors who believed they were gifting wounded warriors you can be certain that Republicans would have called for his impeachment, and rightfully so. These charges, including those to which Trump has admitted, include criminal and therefore impeachable actions. They were directly related to his political campaign. He lied to his own donors. He lied to veterans. And he broke the law. Moreover, his on the record statement in the case admitted as much. As a result, the court ordered the guilty POTUS to pay $2 million in damages to a group of non-Trump affiliated charities as well as ceding the Donald J Trump Foundation’s remaining $1.7 in assets to the same organizations. Trump, three of his children, and his foundation committed multiple crimes - reprehensibly defrauding veterans and well intentioned Americans who believed they were donating money to support them. It was criminal, he admitted to it, he was found guilty. So impeach him for it, and make sure it stays in the news for as long as possible.
This case is recent, involves cheating veterans, and relates directly to his presidential campaign. Even better, there is no question that Trump, his children, and his underlings committed crimes because a sitting state Supreme Court justice has already ruled that they have. It doesn’t matter if Trump refuses to testify as he has in the Ukraine case because his written statements in this case amount to a damning admission of guilt. So if congress drafted an impeachment article incorporating them, he’d be faced with a choice of showing up to defend himself against his own statement of guilt - and with his extraordinary off the cuff speaking ability, that could work out very badly for the poor POTUS- or simply allowing his admission having cheating veterans and charitable donors to stand. Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr. could also be served along with of the now defunct Trump organization’s other functionaries.
Trump Doesn’t Pay His Bills: Defrauded Contractors and Unpaid Employees
As reported by USA Today, from the 1980s until the days leading up to his election, Donald Trump and his businesses have faced 3,500 lawsuits and over 200 mechanic’s liens from contractors and former employees, and 24 violations of the 2005 Fair Labor Standards Act. In some cases, such as that of Cabinet maker Edward Friel Jr. of Philadelphia who built bases for bars, slot machines, registration desks and assorted other cabinets as Harrah’s in Trump Plaza, all of which had received the approval of the contractor general, Trump falsely claimed that they had done shoddy work only to turn around and offer to let them work on his other projects. Friel’s family owned company, stiffed for $83,600, went bankrupt. Several of these cases have led to settlements, which in an impeachment trial would serve as open and shut proof of wrongdoing. Moreover, the stream of thousands of carpenters, HVAC technicians, plumbers, painters, carpet companies, waitstaff, bartenders, and of course, cabinet makers, and other hard working, blue collar American workers, tradesmen and business owners testifying endlessly to congress about how the President blatantly ripped them of to the tune of hundreds, thousands, and even millions would bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the blue-collar white American males who make up most of Trump’s die hard supporters.
Trump Is an Alleged Rapist, Assailant, and General Perv
The President is an alleged rapist, sexual assailant, peeper and general perv, and his victims include a 13-year-old Jeffrey Epstein victim and teen beauty pageant contestants.
Read that again: The President is an alleged rapist, sexual assailant, peeper and general perv, and his alleged victims Include a 12- and 13-year-old Jeffrey Epstein victim and teen beauty pageant contestants, with 23 women having come forward with allegations. These allegations include entering the changing rooms at both the adult and teen Miss Universe Pageants while contestants were naked—which Trump bragged about on Howard Stern’s radio show, as well as a wide range of allegations of unwanted kissing, touching, and groping, and several accusations of outright rape.
The most damning of these comes from a victim of Trump’s former “good friend” Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a federal prison under the direct control of Trump’s Department of Justice under the most suspicious possible circumstances. Perhaps the testimony of his alleged victim, whose sworn affidavit is supported by the sworn affidavit of one of Epstein’s former accomplices accuses Trump of violently raping her when she was just 13 years old, taking her virginity while holding her down by force. The victim has also alleged that she was subjected to ongoing threats and harassment. Then 13-year-old Katie Johnson finally dropped her pursuit of justice against the president not long after Epstein’s “suicide,” allegedly due to further threats.
Five contestants at the 1997 Teen Miss Universe Pageant have accused Trump of walking in on them while they were changing their clothes. The youngest girl in the room was a mere 15 years old, legally a minor. In a Howard Stern tape-recorded in 2005 and later released on CNN Trump boasted about peeping on beauty contestants when “everyone’s getting dressed”, stating, “No men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it… You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. Is everybody OK? And you see these incredible-looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that.” At the time, Trump owned the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen Universe pageants. The testimony of at least half a dozen wholesome, all-American former beauty queens would undoubtedly lead to much higher ratings for televised hearings than that of former ambassadors to Ukraine and state department officials.
Although it's only one of three accusations of rape or attempted rape against Trump, it is the accusations leveled by alleged Epstein victim Katie Johnson that are both the most despicable and, due to the alleged ongoing threats against the victim culminating in her dropping her suit shortly after Epstein’s suicide, the most legally impeachable of Trump’s many alleged sex crimes. Johnson’s affidavit states that:
“Defendant Trump had sexual contact with me at four different parties in the summer of 1994. On the fourth and final sexual encounter with Defendant Trump, Defendant Trump tied me to a bed, exposed himself to me, and then proceeded to forcibly rape me. During the course of this savage sexual attack, I loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop but he did not. Defendant Trump responded to my pleas by violently striking me in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted. Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened me that, were I ever to reveal any of the details of Defendant Trump’s sexual and physical abuse of me, my family and I would be physically harmed if not killed.”
The ongoing threats which allegedly continued into Trump’s presidency obviate the statute of limitations on the original crime and compound the charges.
Indeed, Ms. Johnson’s affidavit is supported by the sworn statement of Epstein associate “Tiffany Doe.” The witness describes her work for Epstein as follows, “It was my job to personally witness and supervise encounters between the underage girls that Mr. Epstein hired and his guests.” Tiffany Doe corroborates the original accusations, “I personally witnessed four sexual encounters that the Plaintiff was forced to have with Mr. Trump during this period, including the fourth of these encounters where Mr. Trump forcibly raped her despite her please to stop.”
Furthermore, she indicates that at least one more of Epstein’s underage victims also suffered abuse at Trump’s hands (and other parts), “I personally witnessed the one occasion where Mr. Trump forced the Plaintiff and a 12-year-old female named Maria [to] perform oral sex on Mr. Trump and witnessed his physical abuse of both minors when they finished the act.” A video of Johnson, her face pixillated, describing several of Trump’s assaults is available here. This testimony ought to be repeated- in a congressional impeachment hearing.
Allowing Ms. Johnson and Trump’s other alleged victims the opportunity to finally seek justice offers reason enough to bring Trump’s relationship to the deceased Jeffrey Epstein into impeachment proceedings. Opening an investigation into Epstein’s death, which a majority of Americans do not believe to have been suicide, and Trump’s possible complicity in it could be another important ramification. Considering that the cameras in his cell and the adjacent hallway were broken, the guards on duty, two of whom have since been charged with covering up the circumstances of Epstein’s death, did not conduct their rounds, and that a well respected coroner with extensive experience in criminal cases has found the injuries sustained by the deceased pedophile to be consistent with murder but that he had “not seen in 50 years where that occurred in a suicidal hanging case”, and that he had been in good spirits the day before according to his final visitors, it does seem likely that his death was at best an assisted suicide. Despite the hysterical right-wing cries of Clintonian “Arkancide” however, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Justice Department it falls within are under the control of Trump loyalist William Barr. Trump and Epstein had already had a falling out over a real estate deal. Oh, and unlike Clinton, one of Epstein’s (alleged) victim’s and one of his accomplices had both named Trump as a child rapist in sworn affidavits. Thus, of all the powerful men who had reason to cheer Epstein’s “suicide”, only erstwhile friend Donald had means to match his motive.
Congress could let the record show that prior to their parting ways, Trump and pedophile rapist Epstein were close friends. In 2002 Trump told biography Tim O’Brien, “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” Back in 1992, Trump allegedly even threw a private party at Mar-a-Lagofor himself, Epstein, and 28 girls. An investigation into the circumstances of Epstein’s death might lead back to the White House. Or it might not. But either way, it would keep the Trump - Epstein (alleged) rape parties in the news for months leading up to the election.
Democrats should offer the victim a chance at finally achieving justice as well as the full protection congress can afford a witness. As supporting evidence, include Trump’s own admission that he habitually commits sexual assault- the infamous “grab them by the pussy tape.” This may have been dismissed as locker room talk at the time, but unless you’re in the locker room in the sex offender wing of federal prison, that defense doesn’t really hold. While male locker room talk can get crude, it generally doesn’t include blatant admissions of rape. If it does it is no longer “locker room talk”, it’s a criminal confession. Let the tape play on, so trump’s his good christian supporters both in Congress and around the world can hear the part of the where Trump brags that he “did try and fuck a married woman.” That’ll play well in the sticks come election season.
While we’re at it, Congress can support the accusation that Trump raped a teenager by playing his own creepy comments about then-teenage daughter Ivanka. When Ivanka was just 13 years old - the same age as Katie Johnson when Trump allegedly raped her- he purportedly (according to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen) asked, “Is it wrong to be more sexually attracted to your own daughter than your wife?” The creepiness re: daughter Ivanka continued for years. On The View in March 2006, Donald casually explained that, “… she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said that if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” In 2003 he told Howard Stern that Ivanka, “had the best body.” Or how about this gem, reported in Rolling Stone in 2015, “Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father….”. And finally, when Wendy Williams asked on February 26, 2013, about he and Ivanka’s favorite things trump responded, “I was going to say sex, but I can relate to [golf and real estate].” One has to wonder whether Tiffany Trump is insulted or relieved that Donald lavishes all of his apparently incestuous affection on half-sister Ivanka.
Why should this creepiness be included in a hypothetical renewed impeachment inquiry? First, because the allegation of rape, sexual assault, and threatening victims qualify as impeachable high crimes. Second, because even many of the most diehard Trump supporters, especially any who happen to be women, Christians, or parents of daughters, are likely to find Trump’s perversity a bit harder to shrug off than insider politics in the Ukraine. Third, Trump would have to choose between letting his most monstrous, disgusting and embarrassing moments play out on the floor of Congress and a global television audience without even trying to defend himself, or to appear before Congress and face dangerous and damning questioning. It would keep his mental instability as unstable as possible and utterly cripple his re-election campaign and the pursuit of his presidential agenda. And then we could come back to a few questions about his treasonous conduct in the Ukraine.
So Much Winning!
Consider why this strategy wins. First, it keeps the president and his entire party on the defensive and seizes the initiative from them in controlling the news-cycle narrative. A continuous stream of smoke where there must be fire will back a very thin-skinned, mentally unstable old narcissist into a corner from which he can’t be saved by the bell until he has either answered charge after charge. Keep the attention on Trump’s humiliating sexual allegations, incriminating financial disclosures, and accusations of defrauding the vets and working tradesmen whose support he depends on, non-stop for months while the eventual democratic candidate offers an alternative vision. Considering his emotional instability and limited mental capacity, Trump may break under the pressure. If not, his mouth and twitter happy thumbs are certain to dig the hole ever deeper.
A recent study by Stanford University has demonstrated that progressive policies spun with patriotic language appeal to a wide cross-section of voters, including the disaffected white red-staters who put Trump in power. Give them a candidate who speaks their patriotic language while talking about policies that could actually benefit them and at the same time appeal to core democratic voters and you have a winner. Combine this strategy with an onslaught of legally valid impeachment articles and damning testimony that all Americans can understand and only the most out of touch with reality could possibly deny or ignore, and the republican center will collapse. A higher purpose will also prevail. After years of rape, fraud, assault, theft, lies and corruption, the lowest character in the history of the United States Presidency will finally be held accountable, and long overdue justice served.
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