Democrats Should Go After Trump’s Full Corruption, Not Just Ukraine

Donald Trump is set to become the third president to be impeached when the Democrat-controlled House votes Wednesday on two charges related to his attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden. The vote will send the charges to the Republican-controlled Senate, which will then hold a trial on whether to remove Trump from office. Witnesses who could be called to testify include former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Early Monday, the House Judiciary Committee released its full report on Trump’s impeachment that is nearly 700 pages and explains in four parts the committee’s justification for recommending two articles of impeachment against Trump: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. A new Fox News poll says 54% of Americans want Trump impeached, and 50% want him impeached and removed. We speak with Ralph Nader, longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic and former presidential candidate, who says the articles of impeachment against Trump are “far too narrow and perilous.” Congress has “come forward with a very narrow hand … for the most impeachable president of all time,” he says.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. This week, Donald Trump is set to become the third president to be impeached, when the Democrat-controlled House votes Wednesday on two charges related to his effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden. The vote will send the charges to the Republican-controlled Senate to hold a trial on whether to remove Trump from office.

On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed terms for an evidentiary trial in the Senate that would start on January 7th and go beyond the investigation conducted by the House. Witnesses that could be called to testify include former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

This comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faces calls to recuse himself from Trump’s impeachment trial, after McConnell said last week he’s, quote, “taking [his] cues” from the White House. This is McConnell speaking on Fox News.

MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL: Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, on Sunday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was questioned by Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan about coordinating with the White House on impeachment.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should Republicans in the Senate really be taking their marching orders from the person being investigated?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: You know, I understand the president’s frustration, but I think what’s best for the country is to get — get this thing over with. I am clearly made up my mind. I’m not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations in the process.

AMY GOODMAN: A new Fox poll says 54% of Americans want Trump impeached. I repeat, this is a Fox poll, which also says 50% want him impeached and removed. I repeat, Fox poll says half of Americans want Trump removed.

Early this morning, the House Judiciary Committee released its full report on Trump’s impeachment that’s nearly 700 pages and explains in four parts the committee’s justification for recommending two articles of impeachment against Trump: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Well, for more, we go to Washington, D.C., where we’re joined by three-time presidential candidate, consumer activist and author Ralph Nader. He has called for impeaching Trump for “deliberately abetting the climate crisis,” among other issues. His latest book, written with Mark Green, is titled Fake President: Decoding Trump’s Gaslighting, Corruption, and General B.S. — except he spells it out.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Ralph. So, first respond to what is happening this week. It is historic. What do you think about the grounds on which President Trump is about to be impeached?

RALPH NADER: Far too narrow and perilous. If Nancy Pelosi wants to remove Donald Trump, she went on a very narrow base. She is clearly not supportive of impeachment generally. She took it off the table when it was proposed to her in 2007, the impeachment of the war criminals George Bush and Dick Cheney. And she’s come forward with a very narrow hand, a very narrow hand for the most impeachable president of all time, to go forward on the Ukraine, important as that is because it affects interference in the upcoming election by Trump, soliciting foreign aid into interference — not just the Ukraine effort, he’s actually said China, Russia, help him.

But just think of all the other impeachable offenses, some of them, per se, that are “kitchen table” offenses. He has destroyed, shredded, disabled the lifesaving injury prevention and disease reduction programs of the federal government — Environment Protection Agency, the OSHA protecting worker safety, the Product Safety Commission. He’s basically closed down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, protection from Wall Street and other financial crimes against ordinary people, consumers, investors, small savers. That is a critical impeachable offense, according to the Framers of our Constitution, the defiant refusal to faithfully execute the laws. She didn’t go with that. The enrichment of his family, with foreign governments using his hotels — the so-called Emoluments Clause, slam dunk, per se, she didn’t go with that. The seizure of the power of the purse, the appropriations power of the Congress, exclusively reserved to the Congress by the Constitution, she didn’t go with that. He took $3.7 billion from the Defense Department to build the wall. That’s a clear impeachable offense.

It even gets worse, Amy. A month ago or so, Speaker Pelosi came to a press conference and said decisively that he committed bribery, said “well documented.” And she dropped the bribery impeachable clause. The whole obstruction of Congress is restricted largely to the Ukraine investigation, when he has the broadest contempt of Congress of any president, including, by the way, armed force in nine countries overseas without any congressional declaration of war. And there’s more, as well.

So, the question is why the Democrats didn’t take a stronger stand and go with a strong hand that would have sharply increased public opinion, because of the “kitchen table” issues, the health and safety and economic situations that he has fostered. Just look. Average life expectancy is down. Productivity of labor is down. Manufacturing employment is down under Trump. These are not impeachable offenses, but the point is that he’s vulnerable on these points.

And he’s a lying machine. I always thought that Alexander Hamilton’s definition — one of his definitions of high crimes and misdemeanors was the abuse of the public trust. Consider this: He is a sexual predator. Where is Congress on that? They got rid of Franken and John Conyers for 1% of what Trump has done. He’s embroiled in all kinds of lawsuits by women who have sworn under oath that he’s assaulted them and harassed them, etc. Then you have the bigotry and the racism, which he follows up with. I mean, his policies come down very hard on minority and the poor. And then you have his incitement to violence: If he’s impeached, civil war; there will be riots in the street. And then you cluster those under serial lying. He lies by the hour, lies by the day. He’s averaging 22 lies, over 14,000 since he came into office. And you have an abuse to the public trust. People understand that. They don’t want to have neighbors, they don’t want to raise their children, with this kind of model in the White House — lying, misogyny, racism, incitement to violence.

So, she has forfeited a huge opportunity not just to impeach Trump, but to remove him. What’s the point of just impeaching him if you don’t use the full arsenal of impeachable offenses? And what a lot of people don’t know, I’ve been down on Capitol Hill, and most of the Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee opposed her narrow approach, but they were overruled. They were even backed by the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Engel, by the chair of Financial Committee, Congresswoman Maxine Waters. The obstruction of justice in the Mueller report, where he had about 10 documented obstruction of justices, that was even supported by her deputy, the number two person, Steny Hoyer from Maryland. So she overruled them all.

And as a result, I don’t think she’s protecting those 10 or 12 new members of Congress from Trump. He’s going after them already. And he’s crowing. He’s taunting her. He’s saying, “Nancy Pelosi has the majority in the House, and she didn’t go forward with all these charges. And don’t you know why? Because they’re all lies. They’re all fake. That’s why. I’ve done nothing wrong.” So he’s taunting her, and he will do it before hundreds of thousands of people in his rallies in the coming months. A huge lost opportunity.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, you also wrote a column saying, “Trump should be impeached for his climate policy alone.” As we come out of this COP25, this U.N. climate summit, in Madrid, that has been called a monumental failure, with many blaming it partially on the United States, even though the Trump denying — the climate-denying President Trump is pulling the U.S. out of the accord, not before they help to water down these negotiations.

RALPH NADER: Well, he’s done a lot worse. He’s completely unleashed the fossil fuel industry, drilling in the Arctic, drilling overseas — drilling, rather, on the shores. He’s unleashed these massive greenhouse gases. He had an opportunity as president either to ignore climate disruption — and “climate change” should never be used; it’s “climate crisis,” “climate violence,” “climate disruption.” We’ve got to use the right words here. He could have ignored it. He could have worked to diminish greenhouse gases. Instead, he’s actually expanding greenhouse gases.

Now, the Pentagon, years ago, declared climate disruption as a national security danger. And they continue to do so. Even the Federal Reserve is beginning to speak up on this. But Donald Trump calls it a hoax. He calls it a Chinese plot. This is a instability. This is a psychiatric problem. This is a president who does not defend our country against a fossil fuel-unleashed ravaging nature, with massive droughts and massive floods and ocean currents beginning to change and melting glaciers, and all kinds of critical assaults on the security of the United States and its people, on farmers, on the poor, on the shore — all of that. And that’s not an impeachable offense? I mean, what’s the Congress up to here?

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ralph —

RALPH NADER: We’re dealing here — yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you — even if they haven’t gotten him on all of these different issues —

RALPH NADER: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: — let’s go back to Nixon. One of the articles of impeachment that was being drafted, that was not approved, was for the secret bombing of Cambodia. Regardless, he was gotten on, for example, abuse of power.

RALPH NADER: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Ultimately, he resigned, and he didn’t go through that impeachment process. But regardless of what he is charged with, does it matter if he is impeached? And then talk about what this means as it goes to the Senate, where you have the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he probably won’t call witnesses, although I think that’s in flux, saying he’s consulting with White House lawyers, etc. Talk about why it matters if he is impeached.

RALPH NADER: Well, it matters, certainly, for some people in this country that the House of Representatives has, in effect, indicted him, under its constitutional authority, and is sending it over for trial in the Senate. But Mitch McConnell is a total dictator in the Senate. He is an outlaw. He has actually invited the defendant, Donald Trump, to set the rules of the trial by the senators who are the jury. I mean, I don’t know whether Chief Justice Roberts wants to participate in such a kangaroo court.

But the tragedy is there aren’t enough articles of impeachment that should have been passed through the House. We have a 12-count articles of impeachment on the website Nader.org, developed by constitutional law experts, including Bruce Fein and the legendary constitutional law expert for the Library of Congress, now retired, Lou Fisher, for those of you who want to see the missed opportunities here. When you go after a president, you want to remove him. You don’t go after him with a narrow hand and a get-it-over series of hearings. It’s truly tragic to see this opportunity. And he glories in it. He’s doubling down. He is going to continue nourishing these impeachment offenses, not like Nixon slinking back into the corner. He’s going to turn it into an advantage for him to the extent that he can.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, we’re going to break and then come back to our discussion and also turn to Boeing, which, for you, is a personal tragedy, as well as a global tragedy. Ralph Nader, longtime consumer advocate, corporate critic, former presidential candidate, his latest book, written with Mark Green, Fake President: Decoding Trump’s Gaslighting, Corruption, and General B.S. Stay with us.