By: Brian Smith, Columnist
In 2016, one of Donald Trump’s main slogans that he used to get elected was the idea that he was going to Washington D.C. to “drain the swamp.” Now, two and a half years on, the swamp seems fuller than ever as investigations have uncovered considerable ethics issues with Trump’s conduct toward his staff. Furthermore, the release of the Mueller report has shown that Attorney General William Barr downplayed characterizations about Mueller’s findings that, whether criminal or not, raise major concern about this president’s fitness to serve in office.
For starters, Mueller’s report found 10 possible cases of obstruction by Trump, who was saved by his own staff telling him “no” when asked to commit multiple acts of obstruction. This included when Trump asked former White House Counsel Don McGahn to help shut down the Mueller probe for fear that it could ruin his presidency and would later want McGahn to deny to the press that he ever made this request in the first place. Trump also asked former FBI Director James Comey to “take it easy” on their independent investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s interactions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Trump then proceeded to fire Comey soon after, due to Comey’s unwillingness to publicly state that members of the Trump campaign were not under FBI investigation. Additionally, Trump asked former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to tell Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland to draft an email saying that he did not instruct Flynn to call Russian ambassadors to discuss potential sanctions. While it remains unclear if that call ever took place, the ease with which Trump instructed his staff to lie and commit unlawful actions displays a blatant character flaw and a careless lapse in judgement.
Another cause for concern came when Trump denied having any knowledge of Russian interference in the 2016 election. However, his campaign used stolen material against Hillary Clinton that was obtained by Russian operatives. In fact, Russian agents went digging for political dirt only five hours after Trump encouraged Russia to go and “find” Clintons emails. Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, later defended and welcomed foreign interference on national television saying “there’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.” Even when the former head of the DHS, Kristjen Nielson, wanted to discuss the pressing issue of Russian interference in 2020, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told her not to mention it. This was because it was widely understood that Trump became angry when discussing this issue as he believed this would further undermine his election victory in 2016.
With all this information, a debate has unfolded on whether or not to file charges of impeachment against President Trump for obstruction of justice. However, due to Republican opposition toward this idea, some Democrats feel that a failed impeachment process would only benefit Trump and strengthen his wrongful claims of “complete and total exoneration.” On the contrary, many Democrats also hold to the idea that President Trump clearly meets the standard of impeachment, since any attempt to obstruct justice may still fall within the realm of criminal charges for his conduct in trying to prevent multiple ongoing investigations from continuing. For individuals following this school of thought, the decision should not be a matter of what is good or bad for political circumstance, but a matter of principle to involving a constitutional duty to impeach Trump for his actions.
While there are cases to be made both for and against impeachment, it’s clear to see this president is not fit to serve in the office he currently holds. Not only did he willingly try to get his staff to break the law, but he knowingly and blatantly lied to the American people. President Trump knew about the Russian leaks and was glad to accept this foreign information from our adversaries so long as it helped him get elected. Trump then went through all possible efforts to put an end to the Mueller investigation, but was told “no” out of his cabinet members’ fears of going down with him. No wonder so many cabinet members have resigned. Even Kristjen Neilson, who oversaw Trump’s family separation policy, resigned from her position since the President was seemingly “unhinged” and making unreasonable or impossible requests. Regardless of whether or not Trump’s actions reached a criminal level, Towson students will have some serious choices to make when it comes to voting in the 2020 presidential election. On top of Trump’s already abhorrent record as commander in chief, this report shows a further lack of concern and respect toward the office of the presidency as well as his absolute disregard for the rule of law. The only person this president seeks to serve is himself.