Nationwide Effort to Impeach Donald Trump Launches with Petition Drive

Posted Feb. 22, 2017

MP3 Interview with Norman Solomon, co-founder & coordinator of the online organization RootsAction.org, conducted by Scott Harris

impeach

The first month of Donald Trump’s presidency has been rocked by chaotic White House mismanagement of a series of events, including investigations into the Trump campaign’s links with Russian government officials, the sloppy and unconstitutional roll out of the so-called Muslim ban that was successfully overturned in federal court, the ouster Michael Flynn as national security adviser for lying to the vice president and a constant stream of lies and misinformation coming from both the president and his spokespersons. With the worst public approval ratings of any newly elected U.S. president in modern American history and a burgeoning protest movement that has seen the mobilization of literally millions of people in opposition to the Trump agenda, the situation looks pretty bleak for a president who is supposed to be in his “honeymoon period.”

Now two organizations, RootsAction.org and Free Speech For People, have collected and delivered over 850,000 petition signatures to Congress, calling on legislators in the House of Representatives to initiate an impeachment investigation into President Trump’s business dealings that appear to violate the U.S. Constitution’s foreign and domestic emoluments clauses, and other federal laws. Those constitutional provisions prohibit the president from personally profiting from his position beyond his government salary.

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, has filed a resolution of inquiry to the Justice Department asking officials there to provide to Congress any information they have relating to any violation of the Constitution by Trump, which could be the first step in Congress toward impeachment. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Norman Solomon, co-founder & coordinator of the online organization RootsAction.org, who discusses the petition drive underway to initiate an impeachment investigation into President Trump’s business ethics. [Rush transcript]

NORMAN SOLOMON: Really, there's so many people who have a wide range of concerns, to put it mildly. Alarm. Anger. Willingness and eagerness to push back against the Trump presidency. And in that mix and necessarily, we have to be on defense to defend the gains that people have won over 20-30 years and more. I think it's also important for us to take the offense on the question of legality of this presidency. And there is the Constitution of the United States that has two clauses, known as the Foreign Emoluments Clause and the Domestic Emoluments Clause that require the kind of lack of conflict of interest that in fact President Trump is totally in violation of. And so that's it in a nutshell. At ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org we have 880,000 signers on a petition for the initiation of an impeachment process in the Congress.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Norman, just spell out in a little bit more detail what are the grounds upon which this petition is based to launch an impeachment effort against Donald Trump so early in his presidency. A lot of people will say, "Hey, has he really crossed the line yet?"

NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, he crossed the line the moment he became president. And that's, I think, a very important point that our news media have not really been getting into. The Minority Leader of the House Nancy Pelosi, has said publicly, well, if the president violates the law, then we will look at impeachment. But in fact, the moment he became president, because of his refusal to set up anything approximating a blind trust – I call it a 20/20 trust he has – he knows exactly what he's invested in, what the Trump Organization is invested in. He's been, from the very beginning of his presidency, in violation of these two key clauses of the Constitution. One forbids the president or a top official of the government from being financially entangled with a foreign government or entity, and the Trump Organization, you know – you can go to Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines and Turkey, where there are huge investments that Trump has, which he has refused to divest himself from whatsoever.

And then, I think probably even more important is Article 2, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution, the so-called Domestic Emoluments Clause or presidential compensation clause. It singles out the president. There's no way that the Congress can waive this requirement. That part of the Constitution names the president as somebody who absolutely cannot benefit from any policies or entities of the 50 states of the United States or the U.S. government. And yet, whether you look at Trump Towers or you look at the new Trump Hotel opened right next to the White House, you have a situation where Trump personally, and his family and his corporation are benefiting enormously from all sorts of tax breaks, waivers, leases, regulatory decisions of the states and of the federal government.

So, it's really a question, I think, Scott, of "Is the president above the law?" And if we're going to give him a pass and say, "Well for some reason or another, it doesn't matter that he has been violating the Constitution and continues to do so," then we're saying that the most powerful position in the U.S. government is held by somebody who is violating the Constitution 24/7 and that we're going to let that go. And I think that should be totally unacceptable.

BETWEEN THE LINES: There's been a recent public opinion poll asking the survey sample specifically about impeachment, and it turns out, as we all know, the country's quite polarized. And it was 46 to 46 percent for and against impeachment, with I guess about 8 percent who really didn't have an opinion yet. What does that poll say to you so early in a new president's term of office that we have the country split on the question of impeachment?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, for one thing, in a two-week period, the number went from 35 percent to 46 percent in support, so it says to me that the enthusiasm for impeachment is growing as people see what the Trump presidency actually means. It also says to me that there's an enormous gap whether you talk about the members of the House from Connecticut or anywhere else in the country – an enormous gap between the viewpoints of people around the United States, as you noted, 46 percent support impeachment, who are going to say so, and 0 percent of the members of the House of Representatives willing to say that they support impeachment. And this is classic. I really believe that it's true when the people lead, the leaders will follow, at least the leaders could be made to follow. And this is an enormous gap that we need to close and it doesn't mean that the grassroots needs to go along with the cowardice of people in Congress. It means people in Congress need to be compelled during their recess period, and ongoing, to be compelled by hearing from constituents to step up to the plate and get impeachment done.

For more information on the campaign to impeach President Trump, visit impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org; rootsaction.org; and freespeechforpeople.org.

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