Is Twitchy Finger Trump Facing Impeachment?

January 11, 2017 OPINION/NEWS

 

 

By

Cynthia M. Lardner

 

President-Elect Donald Trump has been criticized repeatedly for his off-color and often caustic remarks and random tweets on issues, directed to anyone who has criticized him, and including issues such as foreign policy and nuclear armament, causing Washingtonians to coin a new term – “unpresidented”.

 

Acting Without Intelligence

 

Mr. Trump’s twitchy-finger tweeting hit a new crescendo after last Thursday’s Senate Armed Forces Committee (SAFC) briefing, and Friday’s briefing of Mr. Trump by National Director of Intelligence James R. Clapper, FBI Director Jim Comey, and CIA Director John Brennan, and by Friday’s release of a redacted report prepared by the CIA, FBI and NSA – “Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution” [i].

During Thursday’s two and a half hour SAFC briefing, Mr. Clapper, who oversees 16 American intelligence agencies, unequivocally stated that the Russian Federation interfered with the election by hacking the Democratic National Committee and other Democratic political organizations, and by using social media and state-run news sources to disseminate false news. Mr. Clapper stated that the Russian Federation used intermediaries, who may not be “state parties”, who in turn relied upon WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange to widely disseminate the hacked information.

While Mr. Clapper testified that, while actual voting had not been manipulated by Russia, assessing the impact of Russia’s activities on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election was outside the purview of the intelligence community.

The SAFC reached a near unanimous nonpartisan consensus that Russia had influenced the presidential election. “Every American should be alarmed by Russia’s attacks on our nation. There is no national security interest more vital to the United States of America than the ability to hold free and fair elections without foreign interference,” stated Senator John McCain, Republican Senate Armed Forces Committee Chair.

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) remarked that, “It is my hope that this Congress will show the same nonpartisan support as it showed in 1974.”

On Friday, after being briefed, Mr. Trump twisted the results in his statement that, “While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.”

If U.S. intelligence was unable to assess the quantifiable impact on the election, it is questionable what Mr. Trump’s denial was based on self-serving speculation. As of Sunday, still in denial that he had not been elected as the next Commander in Chief, he sent dismissive tweets, many contradicting the report and the SAFC:

Before I, or anyone, saw the classified and/or highly confidential hacking intelligence report, it was leaked out to @NBCNews. So serious! [ii]

Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, issued a statement the day prior to the SAFC meeting in response to Trump’s latest tweets: “With every conspiracy theory-laden tweet and erratic off-the-cuff comment, the president-elect does damage to our national security, while raising new concerns about his capacity to grow into the job. When he belittles the reputation of the brave and hard-working professionals in the intelligence community, he impairs our national security and the prospects for the success of his own administration.”

 

 

 

The Emoluments Clause

 

Since Thursday, there have been so many learned criticisms of Mr. Trump’s response that they need not be summarized here. So where do the American people stand today? Certainly divided. But, the rift is growing deeper with hardline Republicans questioning whether Mr. Trump is unfit to be the 45th Commander in Chief.

While the compromise, with a Republican majority in both the House and Senate, may be the immediate impeachment of Mr. Trump, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence [iii] maintaining a Republican position in the Oval Office, there exists a question as how to achieve such a result as this is a case of first impression in American jurisprudence. Never before has the sanctity of a free and fair election been indisputably compromised by a foreign power.

A logical way to preclude or terminate a Trump presidency is via the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, Article I, Section 9, prohibiting any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Only explicit congressional consent validates such exchanges.”

Less than two weeks before inauguration, Mr. Trump has steadfastly refused to disclose his divestiture plans despite promises made that he would hold a press conference explaining his plan during the week of December 12th. The only word from Mr. Trump’s associates has been that his business interests would be managed by his two sons, who coincidently have been part of the transition team, raising more Capital Hill eyebrows. In his first press conference in 196 days, on January 15th, a mere five days before he is to assume office, it is expected that he will disclose his plans.

Perhaps Mr. Trump has been influenced to decline speaking to the press based on his impulsive, erratic and oftentimes caustic behavior at press conferences, as well as his Twitter tirades, directed to the press, the parents of a deceased Muslim soldier, a handicapped reporter and women. If this is the case, no one has been successful in depriving him of his smartphone the way one does with a recalcitrant child. Rather, since his last press conference, Mr. Trump has tweeted 1,757 times; time that should have been spent meeting with lawmakers about appropriate cabinet appointments, and learning about foreign and domestic policy. Even China’s state-run media, Xinhua, commented on Mr. Trump’s inappropriate use of Twitter to conduct foreign affairs.

 

 

Not only has the Emoluments Clause never been invoked, there exists no enabling legislation. Lest the situation get further out of hand, on Monday Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the President Conflict of Interest Act requiring the president and vice president, their spouses and any minor or dependent children to divest all personal financial holdings that could create a conflict of interest, and to place the resulting assets into a blind trust governed by an independent trustee with noncompliance a high crime or misdemeanor punishable by impeachment. While not mentioned, the fraud involved in the Trump University scandal may constitute an additional high crime or misdemeanor.

Senator Warren is joined by a number of Democratic legislators [i], and former Republican lawmakers, including New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, and former Rhode Island Representative Claudine Schneider.

 

 

Unfit to Serve As Commander in Chief?

 

In The Federalist Papers: No. 68, Alexander Hamilton, penned these noble words:

The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue.”

At issue now is Mr. Trump’s “ability and virtue”. In June, Dr. William Doherty, a University of Minnesota psychologist, posted a petition signed by more than 2,200 mental health specialists questioning Mr. Trump’s mental health [ii]: Given Mr. Trump’s threats to sue every woman who nobly came forward to discuss incidents of sexual harassment by Mr. Trump, and the precedent underlying the Goldwater rule, one need not speculate as to why that petition is no longer available online or why the screen shot of the petition is not being published in this article.

The Goldwater Rule is named after presidential candidate Barry Goldwater who was the subject of 1964 article in Fact magazine “The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater.”

 

fact-goldwater

 

 

The magazine had polled psychiatrists as to whether American Senator Barry Goldwater was fit to be president with 1,189 psychiatrists declaring him unfit, citing severe personality defects, including paranoia, a grandiose manner and a God-like self-image. Goldwater successfully won a libel suit against the magazine.

Thereafter, the American Psychiatric Association’s Code of Ethics was amended to state that it is unethical for psychiatrists to give a professional opinion about public figures they have not examined in person; commonly referred to as the Goldwater Rule.

The Goldwater Rule does not apply, in the opinion of this writer. As such I believe, consistent with Mr. Hamilton’s sage words, Mr. Trump ought to undergo a comprehensive evaluation by a Ph.D. psychologist or psychiatrist to determine whether he suffers from narcissism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or any other disorder rendering him unfit to serve as Commander in Chief.

 

 

 

 

The author with United Nation Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the inauguration of the new ICC complex on April 19, 2016

Cynthia M. Lardner

Cynthia M. Lardner is an American journalist living in The Hague writing about geopolitics for Tuck Magazine and E – The Magazine for Today’s Executive Female Executive. Her blogs are read in over 37 countries. As a thought leader in the area of foreign policy, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking. Ms. Lardner holds degrees in journalism, law, and counseling psychology.

 

 

 

 

[i] The redacted report stated:

“We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign then focused on undermining her expected presidency.”

[ii] Trump, Donald, @realDonaldTrump, 7:56 PM – 8 Jan 2017.

[iii] Most recently, Vice President Elect Mike was the Indiana governor. Previously, during his 12 years in the House representing an eastern Indiana district, Mr. Pence was seen as one of the top Republican leaders.

[i]Democrats Introduce Bill to Require President and Vice President to Fully Divest Personal Financial Conflicts of Interest”, January 9, 2017.

Joining Warren in co-sponsoring the Senate version of the legislation are Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

In the House, Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) are co-sponsors of the bill.

[ii] Carey, Benedict, “The Psychiatric Question: Is It Fair to Analyze Donald Trump From Afar?”, August 15, 2016, New York Times.

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