By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
Not wanting to sound too melodramatic I still must ask the question: what more will it take for Donald Trump to say or do something that will cause him to forfeit the confidence of the American people as a stable and responsible leader of this nation? If lying and weird Twitter outbursts based on no facts were an impeachable offense then Vice President Mike Pence would be warming up in the bullpen to relieve this president.
Without recounting the dozens of insults, lies and provocations uttered by Mr. Trump during the campaign and before, it is instructive to remember some of what he has said since being sworn in as president less than two months ago.
He started by claiming that he won the election in an “historic landslide.” And then when corrected that the election was very close and that he actually was one of the very few presidents ever elected without having won the actual popular vote, he concocted a baseless assertion that there were millions of illegal votes cast for Hillary Clinton. He questioned the entire integrity of our political voting system, the underpinning of democracy.
There are no facts to support those allegations.
He followed that rant with his fury against the judiciary when a federal court and subsequently an appeals court both ruled against his immigration ban against Muslim majority nations. He referred to one judge as a “so-called judge” and then said that federal appellate court was just “political.” He had previously questioned the integrity of the judicial branch of government saying that a jurist assigned to a case brought against his Trump University could not fairly preside because of the national background of that judge’s family.
He viscously attacks media reports critical of his actions as “fake news” and has called reporters scum. Now he has gone so far as to call the free press “the enemy of the people.” Senator John McCain replied that an unfettered press is fundamental to a democracy and that historically dictators begin their suppression of freedom by making similar attacks on the press.
Finally, this past weekend, after more reports about associates of his presidential campaign in frequent contact with the Russian government or Russian operatives during the same time our intelligence agencies have concluded that the Putin regime was trying to undermine our presidential election, with the likely motive of helping Donald Trump to win, Mr. Trump flew into a rage accusing President Obama of wiretapping his phones and listening to his conversations. In essence, Donald Trump has accused Barack Obama of committing a Watergate-style crime. Trump has offered no evidence whatsoever to back up his fevered allegations. The heads of the various intelligence agencies that would have been responsible for such wiretaps immediately and emphatically denied such allegations, and President Obama did the same. But facts and truth seem to matter very little in the Trump alternative universe.
If this were some movie, it would be panned as simply not believable that an American President could behave so impulsively, irrationally and dangerously. For the most part Trump’s base of supporters are delighted. Evidently lying is okay so long as the president tries to keep Muslims or brown-skinned Mexicans and others out of this country. Members of Congress from Mr. Trump’s Party are mostly silent with a few notable exceptions. Their silence speaks volumes.
But the Constitution does speak to this issue. The 25th Amendment states “whenever the vice president and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide transmit to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge his duties of his office, the vice president shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as acting president.” That provision of the Constitution was adopted in 1967 to deal with the circumstance of the physical or mental incapacity of the president. You decide!