As a former judge, I don’t make that statement lightly, but I have come to believe such steps, sadly, are necessary to restore trust, respect, and dignity to the American presidency.
That said, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — and those of the U.S. House and Senate — must continue unimpeded, particularly in light of the indictments unsealed last week against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos’ guilty plea.
We deserve a complete accounting of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and answers to whether the president obstructed justice in the course of that investigation. Any who violated our laws deserve swift and sure punishment.
I spent nearly a decade as a judge and over a decade prior as a federal public defender. I have a deep and abiding respect for the notion that no man or woman — even the president of the United States — is above the law. But prosecuting a sitting president is not as simple as empaneling a grand jury and filing an indictment in federal court. Nor should it be.
This is why the U.S. Constitution lays out the standards and procedure of impeachment. Unlike the justice system, a “crime” need not be committed to impeach a public official, nor does committing a crime necessarily warrant impeachment. Articles 1 and 2 of the Constitution grant the legislative branch broad responsibility to determine which acts rise to a level requiring the exercise of this authority.
But even in the unlikely event that Mueller’s investigation does not find that Trump himself committed criminal trespasses, it doesn’t require a team of prosecutors to make the case that this president has — in ways large and small — violated the sanctity of the public’s trust to an extent great enough to merit removal from office.
We needn’t await Mueller’s report to know that, in less than a year in office, Trump has:
– Fired an FBI director investigating his administration for failing to demonstrate sufficient loyalty.
– Hired a national security adviser who the nation’s highest intelligence officials warned was compromised by Russia.
– Pardoned a political supporter in such a way as to disrespect and weaken the judiciary’s inherent authority.
– Betrayed the trust of one of our closest allies, Israel, by passing classified intelligence to Russia, risking human lives and compromising national security.
– Appointed family members, sycophants and business partners to high-ranking government positions.
– Profited personally in office, in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.
For all these reasons, and many more, this president should be impeached and removed from office.
While the White House veers dangerously off course, only the U.S. House of Representatives has the constitutionally endowed power to get our country moving back in the right direction by initiating articles of impeachment.
Unfortunately, under the leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan, this House has only acted to empower and enable Trump. This House’s own “investigation” into the president is so compromised as to be laughable. This House is still launching investigations into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Ryan’s House will never impeach Trump — and if we don’t elect a Democratic majority next year, the Trump administration might even survive to see a second term in power.
I call on all my fellow Democrats running in 2018 to make the case against this president, to be willing to hold him to full account, and to use impeachment as a central rationale in our argument to Americans.
This needs to be a rallying cry for Democrats.
Donald Trump isn’t on the 2018 ballot — but his presidency must be. We must be willing to tell voters, “Yes, I will vote to impeach Donald Trump and restore honor, respect and decency to the presidency.”
Mary Barzee Flores, a Democratic candidate for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, is a former circuit court judge and federal public defender. President Barack Obama nominated her the federal bench.