Since Donald Trump ran for the presidency, we have encountered new norms: name calling of people and institutions, a president who won’t release his tax returns, insults to foreign leaders, lying, coming into office under investigation, travel bans, executive orders, controversial cabinet appointments and dismantling our democracy. Trump’s first 100 plus days in office have been mind blowing. Daily press reports show a presidency in turmoil. We the public are left in shock and amazement. The most troubling of his actions involve his abuses of power, which could include possible colluding with Russia in influencing our 2016 presidential election. Let’s take a look at his recent firing of James Comey, former FBI Director. In addition to these actions, the Republican Party has been basically mum on the troubling issues swirling around Donald Trump.
Donald Trump seems to have problems accepting how our government operates and the separation of powers. He fired James Comey at the time that Comey wanted to expand the investigation of Trump’s campaign ties to Russia by increasing the budget. Trump also asked Comey to shut down the investigation into Mike Flynn, which is an offshoot of the investigation in question. From these actions, the activities being investigated have broadened to possible obstruction of justice. This is where, I think, our Constitution is weak and needs to be shored up. The founding fathers did not foresee our present day situation with the Trump presidency. What Trump did is perfectly legal, but the creators of the Constitution did not see the president being the boss of the person investigating the president’s own wrongdoing. Donald Trump should not have been the boss of James Comey.
I feel an amendment should be made to the Constitution creating an elected special prosecutor who would handle criminal matters involving the president. As I said before, the president should not be allowed to fire the FBI Director, who is investigating wrongdoing by the president and/or his staff. The president should not be allowed to influence investigations of his branch of government involving high crimes and misdemeanors, and that which is criminal in nature, which he may have done. There should be a separate office to handle this. The current majority party in the Congress is Republican. This politically partisan climate seems to have helped to impede the progress of the investigations in both houses of Congress, which could ultimately lead to impeachment. The will to take such actions against the president may not be palatable to Republicans now that they hold a majority in Congress and the White House. So, we, the public, can’t count on them to take appropriate action to hold the president and members of his staff accountable for their improper and maybe illegal actions. They have failed to do so up to this point. We should, therefore amend the Constitution accordingly, to make sure that if Congress does not do its job, an elected special prosecutor will.
If something is not done now to correct this weak part of the Constitution, our democracy could fail to exist. Now, we can only rely on our elected officials to do the right thing. That’s not enough. We have three co-equal branches of government: legislative, judicial and the executive. Overreach of the executive branch of government has happened twice in the past 45 years, by Richard Nixon and now perhaps Donald Trump. We won’t know the extent of Donald Trump’s effect on the democracy until the investigations are finished. The other two branches of government are made up of more than 400 people and their power is shared. They are elected locally and are not as well known to our populace as the president is and can’t act singly to affect the laws or the course of the nation as the president can. We just assume that the person who is elected president will perform the duties of the presidency as those before him/her. Donald Trump has not. The people of this nation must be protected from a president who would do harm to our system of government—which is now a democracy.
Donald Trump has an overbearing personality. He is very rich. He pretty much bullied his way into the presidency. We don’t know how rich he is because he won’t release his tax returns. With his tax returns we could see to whom he has financial ties and to whom he owes money. He is running the presidency like his business, by answering to no one. With the investigations of his 2016 campaign ties to Russia and the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails, he and his White House staff will be compelled to answer for their actions. The talk is now that they should all lawyer up and some of his staff has done so including the president. It is getting serious. I wonder, though, about his intent for the direction of this country in the future. Does he have a plan to change our nation going forward? Is he satisfied with our country’s Constitution and its system of checks and balances? Does he want to forge close ties to Russia, an adversarial nation, and Vladimir Putin? Does he wish to change our democracy into a monarchy or a dictatorship? Are his family members being installed in influential positions to carry on his line of succession when he can no longer carry out his duties?
All of these questions need to be answered, although Donald Trump seems to be answerable to no one. I hope that we don’t wait so long that there is nothing that we can do to preserve our democracy. What happens if Trump fires the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller who has basically replaced James Comey? Will the investigations end? He is well within his rights to fire him, as the head of the Executive Branch of government. However, if an amendment to the Constitution is created, the president could not fire this person. This weak part of the Constitution needs to be addressed by creating an elected position to protect us from a Congress that will not act and from a president who has run amok. We need assurance that this situation will never occur again. Let’s examine how we got here.
We have a Congress that is controlled by the Republicans. The president is Republican. The Republicans are in no mood to hold the president accountable for his actions for fear of angering him. We know what happens when someone angers Donald Trump. Doing so could also jeopardize their agenda of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (Obama care) and passing a budget that benefits the wealthy and hurts the middle class and the poor. The president will not veto the bills that they pass. So, it’s in their best interest to keep Trump in office. The only elected Republicans who have expressed dissatisfaction with Donald Trump are Lindsey Graham and John McCain. Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, has a much improved relationship with the president since he was elected to office. He sees a way of getting his Republican agenda passed. He will and has done nothing to rock the boat. Paul Ryan has neither uttered a word of displeasure with Trump’s actions since he has taken office nor made any comment on the three investigations or Comey’s firing.
The president’s campaign is under investigation for its ties to Russia. Former FBI Director James Comey was in charge of the criminal aspect of this investigation. He was fired by President Trump when reports surfaced that Comey was expanding his investigation of the Trump campaign and Russia. It has been reported that President Trump asked Comey to shut down the investigation into Mike Flynn, who has been paid as a foreign agent to Turkey and has direct ties to Vladimir Putin. Mike Flynn was hired by Donald Trump as the National Security Advisor in Trump’s cabinet even though he had these ties to Russia. So Trump fired Comey when Comey did not pledge his loyalty to the president, instead Comey pledged his honesty. That gives Comey instant credibility in my estimation. This is dubious behavior on the part of the president if he does not have anything to hide. The Acting Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, appointed Robert Mueller as a Special Counsel to continue the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign. The president can still fire Robert Mueller since he is the head of the Executive branch of government. That is unacceptable and why we need to have that position beyond the president’s official capacity. We need this position to be beyond reproach and non-partisan by having the person elected by the people of the United States. An amendment to the Constitution will accomplish this and should set up the parameters under which the Congress could use it to invoke an investigation of the president.
We need to have the assurance that our democracy will not be subject to dissolution when threatened from agents within or are foreign to our country who have nefarious intent and would demolish what it took us 241 years to achieve. A confluence of events has occurred to cause this situation. The Congress has a majority of Republicans. Our President is Republican. Since both houses of Congress are Republican, they are resisting any notion of holding President Trump responsible for the actions that he, his campaign staff, and White House staff have committed. We have witnessed Devin Nunes try to affect the investigation in the House by reporting back to the White House about information supposedly helping the President when Trump charged that President Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped, which was found to be untrue. Nunes was heading the House investigation of the Trump campaign ties to Russia. He cancelled the testimony of Sally Yates when she was to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, which was to be publicly televised. She would testify, but only after a long delay. I must mention that there is also a Senate investigation.
If it is found that our president colluded with Russia in influencing our 2016 election and was involved in the subsequent investigation including obstruction of justice, he could be impeached by the Congress. If there are criminal charges, he and others targeted would be subject to prosecution. Impeachment can only occur in the Congress. How likely is that to happen with the majority of both houses Republican? Now, the Republicans must not close their eyes to the actions of the president. It is their patriotic duty to do the right thing. They were elected to defend and protect the Constitution, not President Trump. However, can we be sure that they will do the right thing? No we can’t.
Trump has installed a cast of characters who has ties to Russia. There was Michael Flynn, who was appointed as the National Security Advisor in January. Sally Yates, Acting Attorney General, informed the White House that Flynn was a security risk because he could be blackmailed by Russia. The White House did not fire Flynn for 18 days, until it was reported by the news media and the excuse was made that Flynn lied to Vice President Pence. Instead of firing Flynn immediately, Yates was fired. To this day, Trump has expressed his support for Flynn. Mike Flynn has offered to tell his story in exchange for immunity from prosecution. It has been reported that the Congress will not grant him immunity, because it is too early in the investigation and they can’t give immunity from criminal prosecution.
Other ties to Russia in his cabinet appointments, campaign staff and White House staff include Jeff Sessions, Attorney General who had to recuse himself from the criminal investigation into the Trump ties to Russia probe, Paul Manafort , Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman who took money from a Russian oligarch to help advance a pro- Putin campaign in the U.S, Wilbur Ross ,Trump’s Commerce Secretary has ties to Russia through the Cyprus Bank( a bank that is used to launder Russian money) and a Russian oligarch, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, who has met with Russian officials and did not disclose those meetings on a required secret service clearance form, Betsy DeVos, Education Secretary, whose brother, Eric Prince worked with the United Arab Emirates to make a backchannel to team Trump & Russia, Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, who was given the order of Friendship in Russia by Vladimir Putin, not to mention Carter Page, campaign advisor on foreign affairs and Roger Stone who is currently a suspect in the FBI investigation of the Russia probe.
Since Trump has been elected president, he has maligned the press (he calls them dishonest), our intelligence agencies (he did not accept the intelligence collected by the 17 agencies including the FBI and the CIA about Russia hacking the DNC emails), he has not staffed certain positions in the Secretary of State’s Office, he called Judge James Robart a so-called judge when he ruled against Trump’s travel ban, Trump has appointed people to Cabinet positions whose ideology conflicts with the mission of the agency that they lead, such as, Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA and Betsy De Vos, Secretary of Education. In addition to these troubling appointments, Trump’s budget will cut social programs and increase the defense budget. His budget will decrease by $800B from Medicaid which will throw 24M people off their healthcare or Obama care over the next 8 or so years. These funds will be used to give wealthier Americans tax cuts. I have not reviewed the budget, but it is said to result in a deficit—expenses exceeding revenue. This kind of spending can be compared to a family whose income is $50K a year and spending 75K a year. Over time it will catch up to them and some kind of drastic action will have to be taken, such as maybe, bankruptcy or losing the family home.
That is the state of affairs in our country now. Firstly, I think we need to have a 28th amendment to the Constitution because we have aweak part of the Constitution that needs to be addressed before we find ourselves in an untenable position from which there is no return. If the founding fathers had envisioned this predicament; it would have been included in the original Constitution. They wrote the Constitution with King George III in mind. We have to do something to protect us from people like Donald Trump with strong personalities, who have some type of plan to erode the freedoms we enjoy and would do harm to the country. We need to be protected against the Trump’s and Nixon’s of this country. And remember after all of this, Donald Trump has nothing but praise for Russia and Vladimir Putin. Why?
The backdrop of all of this intrigue is that Russia has been accused of interfering with our 2016 Presidential Election. They may have affected the outcome. 17 of our intelligence agencies found that Russia did hack into the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) emails. Russia and Vladimir Putin wanted to help Trump win the election and he did. It was found that Russia did not affect the popular vote count, so I think we should be thankful for small favors. The Republican Congress has done nothing about it. No Russian sanctions. No outrage over the Russian’s interference in our election. No actions taken to ensure the Russians don’t interfere again. We need assurance that it won’t happen again. So what happens next? We have to decide.
This broadcast is not in keeping with the subject of education. I feel, though, that if something is not done to address what’s happening in our nation’s White House, we will be looking back at a time in the past when we had a democracy. It kind of sounds Orwellian.