Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CBO scores Zombie Trumpcare: 23 million uninsured in ten years

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04:  (L-R) U.S. President Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) participate in a Rose Garden event May 4, 2017 at the White House in Washington, DC. The House has passed the American Health Care Act that will replace the Obama eraÕs Affordable Healthcare Act with a vote of 217-213.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Hey, could we squeeze in a few more million uninsured? How about more tax cuts?
The Congressional Budget Office has released its score of Zombie Trumpcare, slightly revising the number the bill would make uninsured by 2026 as compared to current law—Obamacare—from 24 million to 23 million, which adds up to 51 million total uninsured by that year including those who would remain uninsured even under current law.

They estimate it would reduce the federal deficit over the next 10 years by $119 billion, $32 billion less than the savings estimated for the original Trumpcare bill. That savings means that the House won't have to revote and can send the bill on to the Senate, which is doing its own thing anyway.

As far as the stability of the insurance markets and premium increases, they predict prices would come down for healthy people because the sick people would be driven out of the individual market.
CBO and JCT expect that, as a consequence, the waivers in those states would have another effect: Community-rated premiums would rise over time, and people who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all—despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums. As a result, the nongroup markets in those states would become unstable for people with higher-than-average expected health care costs. That instability would cause some people who would have been insured in the nongroup market under current law to be uninsured. Others would obtain coverage through a family member’s employer or through their own employer.
Those state waivers could reduce premiums compared to the original Trumpcare: a 64-year-old making $26500 in a waiver state could see the annual go from $16100 to $13600. Which would seem like a lot of money saved, unless you looked at current law—Obamacare—where the annual premium is $1,700. So, yeah.

And more not so good news about those waivers. They estimate that about one-sixth of the population lives in states where markets would start to become unstable in just three years, in 2020, because those states "would obtain waivers involving both the EHBs and community rating and that would allow premiums to be set on the basis of an individual’s health status in a substantial portion of the nongroup market."

Meaning, again, those with pre-existing conditions could be out of luck.

The CBO also points out that it's not just the individual market or Obamacare customers who could see the quality of their coverage reduced, or be subject once again to annual and lifetime benefit caps: having employer-based insurance will not spare you if you live in a state that waives essential health benefit requirements.

Services or benefits likely to be excluded from the EHBs in some states include maternity care, mental health and substance abuse benefits, rehabilitative and habilitative services, and pediatric dental benefits. In particular, out-of-pocket spending on maternity care and mental health and substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year for the nongroup enrollees who would use those services. Moreover, the ACA’s ban on annual and lifetime limits on covered benefits would no longer apply to health benefits not defined as essential in a state. As a result, for some benefits that might be removed from a state’s definition of EHBs but that might not be excluded from insurance coverage altogether, some enrollees could see large increases in out-of-pocket spending because annual or lifetime limits would be allowed. That could happen, for example, to some people who use expensive prescription drugs. Out-of-pocket payments for people who have relatively high health care spending would increase most in the states that obtained waivers from the requirements for both the EHBs and community rating.
The Joint Tax Commission also released its assessment today: this is a $663 billion tax cut over the next 10 years. That's a good reminder that this isn't a healthcare bill. It's a tax cut bill.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trump tried to get other intelligence agencies to interfere in FBI Russia investigation

US President Donald Trump attends a Mother's Day event hosted by First Lady Melania Trump for military spouses in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, May 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
I am a crook. But it won't cost me any votes.

Last week continued the stream of ugly revaluations concerning the investigation into how the Donald Trump campaign was tied to the Russian government. The high point—low point—of that week was likely finding that Donald Trump pressured then FBI director James Comey to drop his investigation into Michael Flynn. It certainly wasn’t the first instance in which Trump clearly acted to interfere with the investigation into the connections between his campaign and the Russian government, but it was the most blatant. Until this week.
President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.
Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.
History may not repeat itself, but sometimes the rhyme is loud enough to be deafening.
Haldeman proposed to Nixon that the deputy CIA director Vernon Walters calls the current head of the FBI Patrick Gray and tells him something like: “Stay the hell out of this …this is ah, business here we don’t want you to go any further on it.”
Nixon approved such a plan and said: “You call them in. Good. Good deal. Play it tough. That’s the way they play it and that’s the way we are going to play it.”
Trump had earlier called on intelligence officials to help counter news stories about connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. But this time, Trump was using other agencies to directly interfere with the FBI investigation.

Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president.

Trump pressured Comey to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who on Monday invoked his fifth amendment rights rather than appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Unable to secure Comey’s cooperation, Trump then turned to the DNI and NSA to apply additional leverage, all with the direct intention of halting the investigation.

Trump sought the assistance of Coats and Rogers after FBI Director James B. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 that the FBI was investigating “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
It’s a incident so evocative of the past, it’s as if Trump were treating Watergate not as a cautionary tale, but a guidebook.

Not only was Trump trying to use one part of the intelligence agency against another, he did so knowing that what he was asking the agencies to do was not just interference, but a lie.

“The problem wasn’t so much asking them to issue statements, it was asking them to issue false statements about an ongoing investigation,” a former senior intelligence official said of the request to Coats. 
Trump told Comey to stop. He wouldn’t. He told Rodgers and Coats to stop Comey. They wouldn’t. Then Trump took action himself and fired Comey.

How did the revelation of this information play out last time?

When the tape became public, it became clear that Nixon lied to the American people about his involvement in the scandal.  Only three days after the publication of the tape, Nixon resigned as president. Chief of Staff Haldeman spent 18 months in prison.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Should Psychiatrists Speak Out Against Trump?

A protest against Donald Trump in Hong Kong. (photo: Vincent Yu/AP)
A protest against Donald Trump in Hong Kong. (photo: Vincent Yu/AP)

By Jane Mayer, The New Yorker
21 May 17

The “Goldwater Rule” forbids mental-health professionals to give opinions on public figures they haven’t personally examined. Some may make an exception.
hen Donald Trump accused his predecessor Barack Obama of wiretapping him, James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, told colleagues that he considered Trump to be “outside the realm of normal,” and even “crazy.” Many Americans share this view, but the professionals who are best qualified to make such an assessment have been forced to remain mum.

“I’m struggling not to discuss He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” a psychiatrist named Jerrold Post said last week, speaking on the phone from his office, in Bethesda, Maryland. Post, who is the director of the political-psychology program at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, and the founder of the C.I.A.’s Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior, has made a career of political-personality profiling. However, he is also a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, whose professional code of conduct forbids members to publicly comment on the psyches of living public figures whom they have not personally examined.

The ban, known as “the Goldwater rule,” is the legacy of an embarrassing episode from 1964. That year, Fact magazine published a petition signed by more than a thousand psychiatrists, which declared that Barry Goldwater, who was then the Republican Presidential nominee, was “psychologically unfit to be President.” Goldwater lost the election, but he won a libel suit against the magazine. The bad publicity seriously tarnished the reputation of the profession.

More than fifty years later, Trump appears to be testing the limits of the Goldwater rule. In March, the Washington, D.C., branch of the A.P.A. convened a meeting of its members to debate the rule. Post and several others argued that, given the President’s erratic behavior, the organization was infringing on its members’ freedom of expression. Psychiatrists, they insisted, have a responsibility to serve society at large. “I think there’s a duty to warn,” Post said. “Serious questions have been raised about the temperament and suitability of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” He added, “It seems unethical to not contribute at this perilous time.”

The psychiatrist John Zinner took the argument further, suggesting that, as doctors, who swear an oath to protect their patients, psychiatrists have an obligation to speak out about the menace posed by Trump’s mental health. “It’s my view that Trump has a narcissistic personality disorder,” Zinner said later. “Trump is deluded and compulsive. He has no conscience.” He said that psychiatrists have a constructive role to play in advising policymakers to add checks on the President’s control over nuclear weapons. “That supersedes the Goldwater rule,” he said. “It’s an existential survival issue.” (There were some dissenters at the meeting. Dr. Mark Komrad, who is on the staff at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Sheppard Pratt Health System, worried that overturning the rule could be bad for the profession. “We’re already seen as peddlers of a liberal world view,” he said. “If we make pronouncements about Donald Trump, nothing is gained. You don’t need a doctor to tell you that the guy on the plane with a hacking cough is sick.”)

Post is part of a push to have the A.P.A. form a commission to revisit the Goldwater rule. He’ll make the argument to a larger audience later this month, at the association’s annual meeting, in San Diego. Meanwhile, the President’s sudden firing of Comey presented an almost irresistible case study.

Post, when asked about the firing, chose his words carefully. He said he agreed with lay commentators that Trump appeared to be trying to suppress the F.B.I.’s investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia, revealing a pattern—a quickness to get rid of those who disagreed with or threatened him. The result, Post said, would be “a sycophantic leadership circle afraid to question him.” He added that the manner of the firing, which Comey learned about from TV reports, displayed “a failure of judgment in crisis”; it was likely to turn Comey into “a dangerous and resentful witness.” Post said that it reminded him of other leaders he had studied, including Vladimir Putin, “a quintessential narcissist,” whose “way of handling criticism is to eliminate—literally—the critics.” After the Comey episode, Post said, he worried that “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s leadership is imploding.”

What would Post ask Trump, if he had the opportunity to get the President on his couch? Post cleared his throat and said, “I’m sorry, but I think I’d better not answer that.”

The question reminded him of the time, during a television interview, that Dan Rather asked him what he would do if he encountered Saddam Hussein. Not realizing that the microphone was turned on, Post, who had been discussing Saddam’s “malignant narcissism,” gave a less than scholarly answer: “I would run right out of the office!”

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Paul Ryan tries to deflect on leak that implicates him in a Russia cover-up

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 01:  President Donald Trump (2nd R) hosts Office of Managment and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney (L) and Republican Congressional leaders (2nd L-R) Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA); Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and others during a working lunch in the Roosevelt Room at the White House March 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. The meeting comes the day after Trump layed out his policy priorities during a joint session of Congress.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
They all knew.
Speaker Paul Ryan is trying out the Trump regime's favorite defense against damning news—focus on the leaker rather than on the content. In this case, it's the release of a transcript with a slip of the tongue from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy about Donald Trump being on Vladimir Putin's payroll, a "joke" that Ryan immediately threatened all of those present to forget ever happened. Ryan is in full deflection mode trying to cover up what he and others in Republican leadership—we're looking at you, Mitch McConnell—knew about Russia's interference in the election on behalf of Trump and when they knew it.
Friday morning, Ryan told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that the recording was “a cause of concern” for him and other Republicans. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” the speaker said. “There was somebody who taped a meeting a year ago where our majority leader cracked a joke and then they released the tape of that joke out just a few days ago and that’s a pretty bizarre thing to happen. So obviously that’s a cause of concern of ours.”
He's never seen anything like this? How about watching the Russians hacking the DNC, getting a briefing from the Ukrainian prime minister which detailed the attacks and the sophisticated propaganda Russia was conducting against it and other European nations, and then brushing off the suggestion that Putin was controlling the possible Republican presidential nominee? That's pretty bizarre and unimaginable. And that's exactly what happened.

But let's not let Ryan and McConnell off that easy, because that private June meeting the transcript is from isn't the first time Ryan heard about any of this stuff.
  • A full year before this meeting, in the summer of 2015, congressional leaders including McConnell and Ryan's predecessor John Boehner were briefed on Russian hacking attempts on the DNC. It strains credulity to believe Ryan wasn't read into these details when he took over as speaker. 
  • On June 15, 2016, the news broke in the Washington Post and the whole world found out what leadership already knew—that the Russians had hacked the DNC. 
  • On June 16, 2016, McCarthy makes his "joke." A "joke" Ryan responded to immediately by telling the group "No leaks … This is how we know we're a real family here."
  • In August 2016 Ryan and McConnell got a series of "urgent, individual" briefings from CIA Director John Brennan, informing them that Russia was working to help elect Donald Trump.
  • In September 2016 the "Gang of 12"—Senate, House, and congressional intelligence committee leaders—were briefed by the intelligence community about Russian interference in the election. This is when McConnell jumped in to voice doubts about the intelligence presented and to squelch it. With no objection from Ryan.
He’s never seen anything like a meeting being secretly recorded? How about a hostile foreign power hijacking and American election? 

Ryan and McConnell knew full well going into the election process—including the primaries—that Russia was getting involved in this election. They knew when Trump received the nomination that Russia was working to get him elected. Ryan oversaw the Republican National Convention where the one thing the Trump campaign insisted on being in the platform was a softening of the party's stance on helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia. 

None of this is a joke, and since that Ryan's deflection trying to push this off on the leaker? That's bullshit. He's up to his eyeballs in this.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Felony Charges Against Inauguration Protesters Represent 'Historic Crossroads'

Over 200 people were arrested in Washington, DC, on the morning of January 20, 2017. (photo: Andrew Stefan/RSN)
Over 200 people were arrested in Washington, DC, on the morning of January 20, 2017. (photo: Andrew Stefan/RSN)

By Mark Hand, ThinkProgress
20 May 17

Legal experts say Trump’s ‘law-and-order’ administration is emboldening authorities to crack down on protests in D.C. and beyond.

ith multiple felony charges brought against more than 200 people on Inauguration Day, police and prosecutors in the District of Columbia are putting activists on notice that legal protections ingrained in the Constitution may not apply to them, according to legal experts.

This new era of law enforcement is affecting policing tactics beyond Washington. The harsh treatment of protesters in the District since Donald Trump assumed the presidency — with a large number of people who did not engage in violence facing decades in prison for simply taking part in a protest — lets law enforcement officials across the nation know that a tough-on-dissent policy is acceptable, the experts said.

“The federal prosecutor’s office in D.C., by the influence and directives of the Sessions Justice Department, is now engaged in an all-out repression of dissent and sending the message across the country that we are going to crush you,” said Jason Flores-Williams, an attorney who is representing three people who were arrested in Washington on Inauguration Day.

Shortly after Trump took the oath of office on January 20, the official White House website published statements outlining the new president’s six top priorities, including one titled “Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community.” The White House page explaining this priority said Trump’s administration “will be a law-and-order administration,” committed to ending the “dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America.”

Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, issued a memorandum last week in which he directed federal prosecutors across the country to charge suspects with the most serious offense they can prove. The memo was seen as a reversal of President Barack Obama’s policy shift toward fewer mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines and a rethinking of how people charged with non-violent drug crimes are prosecuted and sentenced.

The memo also aligns with how the Justice Department is ratcheting up its prosecution of protesters and could serve as a guide for how state and local jurisdictions treat expressions of dissent, according to Flores-Williams. “Under the Sessions DOJ, states are going to have carte blanche to pass whatever local ordinances they want to eliminate, outlaw, and make protests extremely difficult,” he told ThinkProgress.

As the nation’s capital, “the District is a microcosm of what’s happening outside in the world at large,” said Ria Thompson-Washington, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild. Police in other parts of the country will take their cues from how the police in Washington act. If police in the nation’s capital are assuming an increasingly hard line stance against protesters, other jurisdictions will follow suit, she said.

“What I’ve seen is that police are feeling more empowered by the current administration,” she said.

States and localities are already passing measures to deter or prepare for protest activities. Individuals opposed to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota faced fierce attacks from police. In reaction to these protests and other actions against the fossil fuel industry, the state of Oklahoma adopted a measure designed to suppress protests.

Under the Oklahoma law, individuals will face a felony and a minimum $10,000 fine if a court determines they entered property intending to damage, vandalize, deface, “impede or inhibit operations of the facility.” The statute also targets any organization “found to be a conspirator” with the trespasser, threatening these groups with a fine “10 times” that imposed on the intruder, or as much as $1 million.

In Pennsylvania, a Republican state lawmaker invited North Dakota law enforcement representatives to provide lessons learned from the Dakota Access protests to government officials in Lancaster County, where a large movement has grown against construction of the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline.

The same state lawmaker is drafting a bill that would make people convicted of “rioting or public nuisance” pick up the tab for policing and other public costs from protests in the state.

In February, the Washington Post reported that since the election of Trump, Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states had introduced or voted on legislation similar to the Pennsylvania proposal that would increase punishments for protesters.

The police tab for Inauguration Day in Washington was huge, with estimates totaling $100 million. Officers from various federal police agencies, as well as National Guard members, joined a large number of militarized city police officers to patrol downtown D.C.

A portion of the inauguration security funds were spent on a wide array of weapons, many of them similar to the ones used against Dakota Access Pipeline protests a few months earlier. For several hours, D.C. police fired pepper spray, tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets on people gathered in the streets, giving it the look and feel of a war zone.

The vast majority of these people in the streets of Washington were not involved in smashing the windows of coffee shops or banks. And yet D.C. police still rounded up people indiscriminately, including more than a handful of journalists and legal observers, and arrested them.

The police corralling of the 200-plus people occurred well over an hour before a limousine was set on fire approximately four blocks away. The people spent the night in jail, with the bulk of them initially facing felony rioting charges that carry a possible penalty of 10 years in prison.

The D.C. police used a similar mass roundup tactic at 2002 World Bank protests in a downtown park. The District of Columbia ended up settling with nearly 400 protesters and bystanders — who sued over the mass arrests — for more than $8 million.

But this time, the police, along with prosecutors, are not backing off from their handling of the protests. “For the District, I have genuine concerns about the number of people who will be embroiled in litigation with regard to just exercising their First Amendment right to protest,” Thompson-Washington said.

The new policing doctrine in Washington represents an effort by the Trump administration to “chill” a citizen’s right to engage in protest, Flores-Williams said. “They’re prosecuting people for their associations, which violates the First Amendment,” he argued.

Civil liberties activists are concerned by the lack of media attention — what Flores-Williams views as “radio silence” — on the multiple felony charges brought against the Inauguration Day protesters in Washington. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a media watchdog group, said the lack of media coverage of the federal prosecutors’ conduct “seems to be what’s holding together the government’s case for felony riot charges against some 214 people arrested en masse on Inauguration Day.”

Federal prosecutors dropped most of the charges against the journalists. But in a surprise move, the prosecutors in April, without providing any new evidence, filed new charges — what is known as a superseding indictment — against the protesters that included felony “inciting or urging to riot,” “rioting,” “conspiracy to riot,” “destruction of property,” and misdemeanor “assault on a police officer.”

The large group of people rounded up by D.C. police, or “kettled,” are now being hit with up to eight felonies and could end up facing up to 75 years in prison.

“Once that superseding indictment was issued, it was an historic crossroads moment,” Flores-Williams said. “If you’ve looked at what they’ve done, from the police all the way up to the prosecutor, this is a systematic attack on the First Amendment rights of these people at a time when the First Amendment couldn’t be more important.”

The protesters will have plenty of time to think about the extensive charges filed against them — and perhaps that is the prosecutors’ intention. The first trials are not expected to start until March 2018. “In my mind, that violates their right to a speedy trial,” Flores-Williams said.

“Having serious felonies like this hanging over you is an incredible burden on your life,” he said. “Chances are that at a certain point, they’ll either roll on each other or we’ll see plea agreements regardless of their guilt or innocence.”

However, many of the defendants have pledged to reject any plea deal offered by prosecutors. In a statement outlining the pledge, the defendants said: “The risk of imprisonment, fines, and probation is far less meaningful than giving even tacit legitimacy to these charges.”

Flores-Williams’ clients have no intention of accepting any possible plea deal. And he expressed great confidence his clients will prevail at a trial. “The government is going to have a hard time proving what they need to,” he said.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Articles of Impeachment for Donald J. Trump

Even if Republicans won’t act, Democrats, like House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff, should make their intentions clear. (photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Even if Republicans won’t act, Democrats, like House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff, should make their intentions clear. (photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

By Phillip Carter, Slate
A first draft of an impeachment bill for the president.

he framers of our Constitution likely never imagined a President like Donald J. Trump. And yet, they inserted impeachment provisions into the original text of the Constitution, some 230 years ago, to empower Congress to act in case a rube, tyrant, or criminal came to occupy the nation’s highest office.

It’s not crystal clear which Trump might be, but the president’s latest outrageous actions—the reported passing of highly classified intelligence to Russian diplomats in the Oval Office—should awake Republicans and Democrats in Congress to the dangers posed by Trump to the nation in case that wasn’t already obvious. His conduct now goes far beyond mere offense or incitement to constitute actual damage to U.S. national security, the very definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors” contemplated by the men who crafted the Constitution’s impeachment clauses. With this latest act, the time has come to commence the slow, deliberate process of demonstrating that Trump needs to be removed from office so he can harm the nation no more. A broad congressional inquiry should begin immediately, to inform drafters who will prepare articles of impeachment for consideration by the House and Senate.

While Republican control of Congress means that such proceedings won’t occur anytime soon, it’s clear that they are warranted. We don’t yet know for certain what precisely such an investigation would yield, but there is enough public information already available to roughly map out what such articles of impeachment might—and probably should—look like.

Historically, impeachment articles have focused on broad violations of constitutional duty and specific discrete acts like clashing with Congress over Reconstruction, commanding the Watergate break-in, or testimonial perjury. In Trump’s case, there is ample evidence for both the more general violations and the more specific abuses, much of them admitted by the president through his own indelicate tweets (including admissions Tuesday morning regarding the passing of classified information to the Russians).

So what might an impeachment bill against President Trump include?

The Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton impeachment bills used common language to put their specific violations in context. Any Trump articles of impeachment should also include such language at the start of each article:
In his conduct while president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has engaged in conduct that resulted in misuse and abuse of his high office:
Beyond this preamble, the Trump impeachment bill might include, but not be limited to, the following articles: 

Article 1: Compromising the integrity of the presidency through continuing violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. From his first day in office, Trump’s continuing stake in Trump Organization businesses has violated the clause of the Constitution proscribing federal officials from receiving foreign payments. The true and full extent of Trump’s conflicts of interest remains unknown. For his part, Trump has transferred day-to-day control over these interests to his adult children and the management of the Trump Organization. However, he remains the ultimate beneficiary for these businesses, so the fundamental conflict of interest remains.

These foreign business ties violate both the letter and spirit of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, and arguably provide the clearest basis for impeachment based on the facts and law. 

Article 2: Violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the duties of his office by disregarding U.S. interests and pursuing the interests of a hostile foreign power, to wit, Russia. L’affaire Russia began during Trump’s campaign for the presidency, during which several top aides reportedly had contacts with Russia and its intelligence service. His campaign manager also had reportedly worked either directly or indirectly for the Kremlin. These contacts continued, famously, into the presidential transition, when the president’s chosen national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had his ill-fated contacts with Russia. Beyond these contacts, Trump has substantively acted in myriad ways that benefit Russia, including dangerous diplomacy that has reportedly frayed relationships with our allies and allegedly put allied intelligence assets at risk. By offering classified information to the Russians, it was reported that Trump risked the intelligence assets of a Middle Eastern ally that already warned American officials that it would stop sharing such information with America if that information was shared too widely. In risking that relationship, Trump has opened up the possibility for the loss of that information stream for combatting terrorism, and potentially put American lives at risk from the loss of intelligence that could inform officials about future attacks on Americans at home and abroad. 

Article 3: Impairment and obstruction of inquiries by the Justice Department and Congress into the extent of the Trump administration’s conflicts of interests and Russia ties. The Trump administration has systematically impeded, avoided, or obstructed the machinery of justice to obscure its business relationships, its Russia ties, and the forces acting within the Trump White House to animate policy. The most egregious and visible examples have been Trump’s firings of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI Director James Comey. [Update, 6:18 p.m.: The New York Times reported on Tuesday afternoon on an even more egregious case of apparent obstruction of justice, wherein Trump allegedly directly asked Comey to end the FBI's investigation of Michael Flynn.] Each termination had what appeared to be a lawful pretext; subsequent statements or admissions have indicated each had more to do with obstructing justice than holding leaders accountable. Alongside these sackings, the Trump administration has also worked to starve Justice Department inquiries of resources and refocus investigators on suspected leaks instead of the White House’s own Russia intrigues. The Trump administration also interfered with congressional inquiries through attempting to block witnesses like Yates from appearing or selective leaking of classified information to House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, compromising Nunes so badly he had to recuse himself from the matter. 

Article 4: Undermining of the American judicial system through felonious intimidation of potential witnesses. In his desire to continue Comey’s public humiliation, and ensure Comey remained silent about Trump’s possible sins, the president threatened Comey on Twitter with disclosure of “tapes” of their conversations. This follows a pattern of Trump roughly treating witnesses and litigation adversaries that stretches back for decades before his presidency. Since taking office, Trump has also used the bully pulpit of his office to threaten intelligence officials for purported leaks and badger former Yates before her congressional testimony. In addition to falling beneath the dignity of the presidency, these verbal assaults also constitute obstruction of justice, prohibited by federal statutes on witness intimidation, retaliation against a witness, and obstruction of federal proceedings. These attacks don’t just harm the individuals who are targeted; they assault and undermine the rule of law. As such, they constitute further grounds for impeachment of Trump and his removal from the presidency. 

Article 5: Undermining of his office and the Constitution through repeated assaults on the integrity of the federal judiciary and its officers. During the presidential campaign, Trump publicly attacked federal district Judge Gonzalo Curiel on the basis of his ethnicity, saying Curiel had been “extremely hostile to (Trump),” and that the judge had ruled against Trump because of his “Mexican heritage.” Since taking office, Trump has continued his unpresidential assaults on the federal judiciary, particularly after repeatedly losing court battles over his travel bans. At one point, he described a member of the bench as a “so-called judge,” undermining the premise of an independent judiciary. These statements also undermined both the dignity and power of the presidency, and threaten the rule of law by attacking the integrity of the federal judiciary. 

Article 6: Demeaning the integrity of government and its public servants, particularly the military and intelligence agencies, in contravention of his constitutional duties to serve as chief executive and commander in chief of the armed forces. Trump swept into office with considerable disdain for the government and its military. Indeed, during his campaign, he insulted former prisoners of war, Purple Heart recipients, and Gold Star families; criticized the military for its performance in Iraq; and said today’s generals and admirals had been “reduced to rubble” during the Obama administration. Trump carried this disdain into the presidency, through his attacks on the “deep state” of military and intelligence officials that he believed to be obstructing his agenda. He also demeaned the military and its apolitical ethos through use of military fora and audiences as public spectacle—first to sign his immigration order in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes, and then to deliver rambling speeches at military and intelligence headquarters suggesting that pro-Trump elements in those agencies were grateful Trump had taken power. Trump has also continued to wage political war against his intelligence community, suggesting as recently as Tuesday morning that it was sabotaging his administration through leaking and other nefarious activities. In doing these things, Trump has undermined his constitutional office as president and commander in chief of the armed forces. 

Article 7: Dereliction of his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the office of president by failing to timely appoint officers of the United States to administer the nation’s federal agencies. Shortly after taking office, Trump administration strategist Stephen Bannon articulated his plan for the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” During its first four months in office, the Trump administration’s neglect of governance illustrates how this strategy is to be executed: delay of political appointments, failure to reach budget agreements with Congress in a timely manner, and deliberate neglect of governance and government operations. These actions and failures risk the health, welfare, and security of the nation, and represent a dereliction of Trump’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the office of the presidency.

Any one of the offenses above could constitute the basis for rigorous investigation of the Trump White House and its failures. Together, the totality of Trump’s malfeasance—once proven after a rigorous investigation—would likely make clear that he “warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States,” to quote from the bill of impeachment passed against President Clinton.

The time has come for Congress to act and for leaders on both sides of the aisle to put country before party and politics. Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ought to, in cooperation with Democratic leaders, begin the sequence of events that would likely lead to impeachment and removal proceedings for Trump.

Given that this is unlikely, Democrats should make clear of their intentions to do what is necessary under our Constitution should they win back control of the House of Representatives in 2018. This process should be as full, fair, and transparent as our Constitution requires. Anything less would demean and harm the country even more than Trump has already done.