Americans have a historic opportunity to remove Donald J. Trump and to avert a catastrophe.
Trump is an embarrassment to the Republican Party, to his country, and to the international community. How many more proofs of ineptness are needed before he is replaced by a leader of integrity?
First there were the conflicts of interest surrounding his and his family’s multiple business dealings. As long as Trump continues to profit from his business empire – which he does whether or not he is nominally in charge – there is the ever present possibility that outside actors will attempt to influence policies for their own gain.
Next came the chaos and confusion when Trump unveiled his poorly thought out executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries. Withering criticism by the judiciary led to an amended version of the “travel ban” being denounced as misguided and unconstitutional.
In his fervour to attack the legacy of Barack Obama, Trump rolled out the American Health Care Act, a Republican version of the Democratic Party’s Affordable Care Act. Health care experts across the political spectrum agreed that it was unworkable and suffered from fatal flaws.
Trump’s ludicrous decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement has been condemned as “sociopathic, paranoid and malevolent” by one of the world’s leading economists. Supporters of the agreement saw it as a coldly calculated attempt to protect US economic interests and to snub international efforts to tackle the dangers posed by global warming.
And ever since the presidential election in 2016, a Russia-sized cloud of suspicion has been gathering over the White House that may yet unleash a storm of repercussions. Having failed to subvert FBI Director James Comey, who was leading a criminal investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the election, Trump fired him.
All is not yet lost. There are three ways that Trump can be ousted: impeachment, the 25th Amendment, and resignation. The US Constitution allows Congress to remove a sitting president if enough lawmakers deem him or her to have committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours”.
The procedure is straightforward, but it requires determination. The House of Representatives must vote on one or more articles of impeachment. If at least one article receives a majority vote, the president is impeached. The Senate then holds a trial supervised by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. There are prosecutors and defence lawyers and the Senate acts as jury. If two-thirds of senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office, and the vice-president takes his place.
Alternatively there is the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, introduced in 1967 to permit the removal of a president from office if the vice-president and a majority of the cabinet informs Congress that the president is “unable to discharge the power and duties of his office”. Should the president contest the judgement, a two-thirds vote by Congress can confirm the cabinet’s decision.
Lastly, Trump might be persuaded to resign. But, with his ego – considering himself to be the victim of “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history” – he is unlikely to go quietly. We can only hope that someone may yet have the drop on him.
With an approval rate at a historical low of 38%, a recent poll indicated that 48% of Americans think Trump should be impeached. It’s time to be courageous and to act decisively. It’s time to bite the bullet and let this travesty of a president go.