Probable Cause

Donald Trump’s aides engaged in ongoing discussions with Russian operatives during the election campaign, even as Russians were hacking the Democratic National Committee to assist in electing Mr. Trump.   Thereafter, in late December, now disgraced National Security Adviser Michael Flynn called the Russian Ambassador just as President Obama was levying sanctions against Russia.  The reasonable inference  is that Trump colluded with the Russians in assisting in his election and in undermining the sanctions levied by Obama.  Given our National Security concerns and the threats presented to American security by  Vladimir Putin’s regime, Mr. Trump’s actions, if verified, constitute a textbook example of Treason against our country.

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Impeached President Andrew Johnson

Now, unlike Mr. Trump, who revels in dictatorial decrees and rants about judicial overreaching when the courts grant his victims judicial review, I believe in due process, even for Mr. Trump.  Mr. Trump is entitled to knowledge of the charges against him, the assistance of counsel, and the right to answer the accusations in a trial before his peers.  And as is only appropriate, our Constitution affords him that right.  Article 2 Section 4 of the Constitution provides:

“The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Under Article 1, section 2, the power to bring charges lies with the House of Representatives.  Under Article 1, section 3, the power to hear the evidence and to render a verdict lies with the Senate.

While our standards of criminal law do not precisely apply to impeachments, the gist of the right to due process is the requirement that no prosecution take place unless the prosecutor has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed by the defendant.  In this case, we know, from our intelligence sources, beyond doubt, that Russian entities took deliberate action to undermine the 2016 Presidential election.  We have further evidence that the party who benefited from those actions, Mr. Trump, was, through his top aides and confidants, in secret ongoing communication with the Russians.  Moreover, Mr. Trump’s public denial of those contacts prior to release of their existence by the intelligence agencies, and his subsequently firing one of his closest aides when that particular aide’s contact was disclosed, show that Trump was keenly attuned to the compromising nature of the contacts and the inference of guilt.  Mr. Trump’s actions are both consistent with collusion and inconsistent with any reasonable innocent explanation.  Moreover, Mr. Trump has continued to support closer ties to Russia even as knowledge of the Russian meddling has been made public.  In my judgment, the standard of probable cause has been substantially exceeded by known events.

Impeachment should therefore follow.    Mr. Trump should be afforded the opportunity to present evidence and explain his actions.  And given that no reasonable explanation is available, we should expect his due removal from office.

The responsibility to initiate impeachment lies in the House of Representatives and, because of his leadership role, more specifically with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.  Mr. Ryan is sworn to defend our Constitution.  Evidence of the crime of Treason against our Country by Donald Trump has been brought to the public eye by United States intelligence sources. The evidence of wrongdoing exceeds any reasonable standard of probable cause.  It follows that any failure by Ryan to act at this time to institute proceedings is itself a violation of his oath of office.  I will expect him to act accordingly.

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