Evidence and Momentum Grows for Trump Impeachment

Posted May 31, 2017

MP3 Interview with Ron Fein, legal director with the group Free Speech For People, conducted by Scott Harris


While Donald Trump was in the midst of his first overseas trip as president, another explosive news report was published, casting an ever darkening shadow over his administration in office of just over 120 days. On May 26, The Washington Post broke the story that Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner had proposed setting up a back-channel between the Trump transition team and Moscow using Russia’s secure cyber equipment at either Moscow’s embassy or consulate. The newspaper said that Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak had reported to his superiors that Kushner made the proposal during a meeting with him on either Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. intelligence agencies.

This new information regarding covert communication between Trump staff and Russian officials planned to be concealed from FBI/NSA surveillance, underscored the more serious allegation that the Trump campaign had colluded with Moscow to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump’s own actions firing FBI Director James Comey and asking two senior intelligence agency officials to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of coordination between Trump and Moscow has only added fuel to the fire regarding obstruction of justice charges now being investigated by special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Ron Fein, legal director with the group Free Speech For People, which is circulating a petition advocating the impeachment of Donald Trump that has already collected more than 1 million signatures. Here, Fein assesses the mounting evidence that Trump has likely committed high crimes and misdemeanors, requiring the GOP-controlled House of Representatives to launch an impeachment investigation. [Rush transcript.]

RON FEIN: We've got at this point, over 1.12 million signers, which is incredible in a period of four months for people to join this movement so quickly. And what this is calling upon, is asking the House of Representatives in Congress to launch an impeachment investigation. And the way that works is that the Judiciary Committee of the House would conduct an investigation into whether there are grounds for impeachment. And we lay out the specifics of what we think they ought to be investigating. And that would be the first step in the impeachment process.

BETWEEN THE LINES: I have read that one congressional representative, Al Green, a Democrat of Texas, has actually started the ball rolling on impeachment. I'm not sure if he's been joined by others, as yet, but Ron, tell us a little bit about Rep. Al Green and what's happening there with the actual levers and gears in Congress to get this impeachment thing rolling.

RON FEIN: So Rep. Green gave a very powerful speech on the House floor, where he talked about one of the various grounds for impeachment that we've identified on our website, which is obstruction of justice, and how his threshold had been reached. He was ready, because impeachment is a process that should not be taken lightly. It's a very serious process that shouldn't be used for light or political purposes, even though it is a somewhat a political process by nature. And Rep. Green is the first one to take a stand and say, that we are ready now to begin this process and he is working with us, in fact, on developing of the next steps for what to do in the House. Other members of the House of Representatives have talked about impeachment as well, and we think that what'll happen is that it will take a little bit of time before a large mass comes along, but that the president continues to supply additional reasons and additional grounds. When we started this impeachment campaign, we were talking entirely at that point about the president's violations of anti-corruption provisions of the Constitution. When he began his obstruction of justice, that added a whole new dimension to it and I think that is really what's going to help drive this movement forward.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Ron, run down for our listeners what you feel are the most important grounds for impeachment that would stand the test that they're surely going to meet in the Republican-controlled House. And among those three reasons that I'm aware of – and you've run down a couple of them – is obstruction of justice, violation of the Constitutional provision on emoluments and well as the very real questions about collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in an effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

RON FEIN: So what we have focused on are two categories of offenses where we know that they are impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors and where the evidence is already solid, where we don't have to wait for extensive, additional, factual development in order to begin that impeachment process. And so, the two categories that we've identified: one, are the corruption clauses of the Constitution and there are two. One, called the foreign emoluments clause prohibits any federal government official from taking payments from foreign governments without permission from Congress and the president has been violating that since Day One, through his businesses. There's also the domestic emoluments clause, lesser known, that only applies to the president and prohibits him from enriching himself from the federal Treasury, beyond the salary that he gets. That's the first category.

The second category is obstruction of justice. And that was one of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon and it's a very serious offense that the president is in a special position to commit because he is in essence, the head of the executive branch that conducts investigations and does law enforcement and that's why it's such a great offense against the state when the president is interfering with ongoing investigations.

For more information, visit freespeechforpeople.org.

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