Days after Speaker Pelosi led the House to impeach Donald Trump, the president and Republican leaders continue to feel the same sting a child feels when punished.
The fact that impeachment happened before Congress and the President went to their holiday destinations means Donald Trump got the Christmas present he deserved. For once, the return reflected the quality of his decisions and deeds.
To hear Republicans tell it, Trump was Jesus and everyone who ever faced persecution throughout the history of humanity and the only reason is because Democrats hate him. That is the greatest big lie of all the big lies surrounding the one means by which Donald Trump came anywhere near the concept of personal responsibility.
We can look back to the days of renting policies so racist that the Nixon administration sued. The administration sued him because of what he did, not because of who he was or how it felt about him personally.
No doubt, Trump earned contempt when he took out a full page ad in the New York Times calling for the death penalty to be imposed on the innocent Central Park Five. However, though this ad told us what a disgusting person Trump is, it did not mean that he committed a crime. It’s why one may hold contempt for the man, but the law doesn’t allow for punishing people because of who they are.
These are the four corners of the rule of law. The law applies equally to everyone no matter who they are. It’s applied the same way and under the same standards. You cannot punish someone for who they are. You can punish someone for what they do when that action violates the law.
By impeaching Donald Trump, the House of Representatives gave him the Christmas present he earned. It’s actually a present he earned many times over and continues to earn every time he helps a dictator cover up an American journalist’s murder, or when he shakes down an ally to satisfy personal wants, be it getting dirt on a political opponent or satisfying his ego’s endless craving for infinite praise.
He sold the country out to the dictator of Russia because Putin flattered him and helped him win in 2016. And ever since Trump and Russia have been sympatico to each other in ways unheard of among most Americans and this country’s traditional allies.
As Russia expert Julia Davis wrote in an article for the Daily Beast,
“Vladimir Soloviev praised Trump’s letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling the U.S. president a “highly educated” writer of “multiple bestsellers,” who wrote the letter “for future generations.” Soloviev surmised that when it comes to the upcoming presidential race of 2020, “Trump is defeating all potential candidates.”
We know he shook Ukraine down to get dirt on Joe Biden, be it directly or weaponizing Hunter Biden’s history and professional decisions. We don’t know how many times he tried it before or since, with how many countries and on how many matters.
The issue is that Trump shook those countries down as another weapon in his array of tools to cheat his way to the White House in 2020.
We do know this isn’t the only way that Trump (and Republicans) cheat in elections. They have an array of weapons varying in sophistication. Among them are vote suppression, voter purges, voter ID laws and gerrymandering. They also plan to bring back voter intimidation under the euphemistic phrase “voter monitoring” or the even more benign sounding “poll watching.”
It’s a lovely little practice where right wing thugs show up at poll stations with their guns and threaten people they suspect are not with the “MAGA” program (a.k.a. anyone who isn’t rich, white and male.)
But of all those ways Trump cheats, the only one that is impeachable is the one that involves using official powers for personal gain.
It’s an impeachable offense no matter who the president is, no matter what party they belong to, no matter if they are beloved or held in contempt. It’s because of what they did, not because of who they are.
Compare this offense with other wrongful things Trump has done. Throughout his presidency, he has used the law punitively against people he didn’t like, such as not providing aid following natural disaster, Muslim bans or in maltreating refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants and visitors. He punished children for who they were, not what they did and not even for what their parents were alleged to have done, since seeking asylum is a human right – not a criminal act. Some of those children died.
The latest was sixteen years old. Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez was in Border Control custody. He had a high fever and should have received medical treatment in a hospital. He didn’t get medical treatment when he was examine by the nurse practitioner on duty. She said he should be checked hours later, which never happened. The other child sharing his cell, found Carlos dead the next morning.
Contrast that with the over the top reaction by Melania Trump and various Trump supporters because an expert witness uttered Barron Trump’s name in public. I mean please, they’ve entered Taliban-level extremism when Trump and supporters of his imperial presidency think they have the right to dictate if or when his son’s name can be uttered in public.
These wrongful things show us the whole mentality of Donald Trump and his aristocracy-wannabe family, including late-comer Melania. That mentality is contemptible in America, a Republic where the people chose their leaders and those leaders are equal to the voters under the law. Contemptible, but not impeachable.
Indeed, he is not being impeached for how he thinks. He is being impeached for what he did.
When it impeached Donald Trump, the House of Representatives gave him the rule of law for Christmas. It forced him to wear the stain of impeachment throughout history – a stain he earned with his imperial attitude, corrupt practices and barbaric policies.
This is my last column for the year, and truth be told I wanted to end the year on a celebratory note. But reality is filled with layers – of which only some are celebratory.
Let’s put the emphasis on celebrating the fact that the rule of law remains alive. In the coming year we have the chance to cement our faith in the ideas of equality, democratic representative in a Republic where the rule of law is king, not in a place where a king is the rule of law.
Making that statement means showing Trump and his counterpart in the Senate, the door. This year, Nancy Pelosi and the House of Representatives gave Donald Trump the Christmas present he deserved. It’s up to us to give ourselves the government we deserve in the upcoming year.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.