Rashida Tlaib: Impeach Trump Now

Every day that we don’t address corruption, we are setting a precedent and eroding our democracy.

Rashida Tlaib March 13, 2019

Trump has got to go. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Now is the time for impeachment.

Trump’s years in office are years we cannot get back.

Peo­ple in D.C. ask: What would it mean for our 2020 strat­e­gy? But I ask what it means for the peo­ple I grew up with, the res­i­dents of my dis­trict, and what it means for all of us, as Amer­i­cans, to have Don­ald Trump remain our president.

Trump’s years in office are years we can­not get back. But more dan­ger­ous than the loss of time is allow­ing Trump’s prece­dents to take root.

In 2017, Trump par­doned Joe Arpaio, an Ari­zona sher­iff who was ordered by a fed­er­al court to stop racial­ly pro­fil­ing and was con­vict­ed of crim­i­nal con­tempt when he refused. Arpaio, by tar­get­ing Lat­inx peo­ple, was vio­lat­ing both the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and our civ­il rights. Trump’s par­don of Arpaio may not get as much atten­tion as Russ­ian influ­ence, or Trump’s appar­ent obstruc­tion of jus­tice in the Mueller inves­ti­ga­tion. But to me, as a woman of col­or, it is a clear abuse of pow­er for the U.S. pres­i­dent to par­don a sher­iff who tar­get­ed peo­ple for arrest because of their eth­nic­i­ty. In oth­er words, that act alone war­rants its own con­gres­sion­al hearing.

It’s not just the racist words Trump uses — which are very painful and do incite vio­lence— but his racist actions, which under­mine our Constitution.

It’s bad enough that Trump’s Mus­lim ban dehu­man­izes peo­ple based on their reli­gion and nation­al­i­ty, but con­sti­tu­tion­al schol­ars have also argued the Mus­lim ban vio­lates the First Amendment’s sep­a­ra­tion of church and state. Among count­less exam­ples of Trump’s racism and xeno­pho­bia, he has even turned his ire against Amer­i­cans: In Feb­ru­ary, a judge ruled that Trump’s with­hold­ing of dis­abil­i­ty ben­e­fits from Puer­to Ricans was uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, call­ing it cit­i­zen­ship apartheid.” Most recent­ly, to push through his racist bor­der wall, Trump declared an uncon­sti­tu­tion­al state of emergency.

Add to this prece­dent what’s hap­pen­ing to immi­grants. As a child, I nev­er could have imag­ined that when I was 42, my coun­try would be caging chil­dren at its border.

Trump is set­ting anoth­er dis­turb­ing prece­dent by refus­ing to divest from his busi­ness­es — on top of his refusal to even dis­close what his busi­ness inter­ests are. Hav­ing a sit­ting pres­i­dent, who knows his posi­tion is tem­po­rary, with a stake in more than 500 busi­ness­es is a recipe for cor­rup­tion. Today, both at home and around the world, there is a sense that if you want to do busi­ness with the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca, you’ve got to spend mon­ey with the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion. Cit­i­zens for Respon­si­bil­i­ty and Ethics in Wash­ing­ton (CREW) doc­u­ment­ed more than 1,400 inter­ac­tions in 2017 and 2018 that rep­re­sent­ed con­flicts of inter­est for Trump, includ­ing his 281 vis­its to prop­er­ties he prof­its from. Twelve for­eign gov­ern­ments made pay­ments to Trump — each of which, accord­ing to CREW, is like­ly a vio­la­tion of the Constitution’s for­eign emol­u­ments clause,” which bans pres­i­dents from receiv­ing gifts from for­eign countries.

The emol­u­ments clause is in the Con­sti­tu­tion for a rea­son: We, as Amer­i­cans, need to know that the pres­i­dent acts in our best inter­ests, not his own self-inter­est. When Trump refused to cen­sure Sau­di Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the mur­der of jour­nal­ist Jamal Khashog­gi, was he doing so on our behalf or because the Sau­di gov­ern­ment had spent $270,000 at a Trump hotel?

The pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States and his asso­ciates are impli­cat­ed in mul­ti­ple crimes to get him elect­ed. Trump’s close friend, Nation­al Enquir­er own­er David Peck­er, and Trump’s per­son­al lawyer, Michael Cohen, made pay­ments to two women to pur­pose­ful­ly influ­ence an elec­tion — crim­i­nal felonies, both direct­ed by Trump him­self. One could write a block­buster thriller about all the trans­gres­sions and it still wouldn’t be more ter­ri­fy­ing than the threats to our bedrock demo­c­ra­t­ic principles.

Such actions are moral­ly unac­cept­able. And it is irre­spon­si­ble for mem­bers of Con­gress to ignore these trans­gres­sions because of their polit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions or wor­ries about 2020.

The peo­ple I rep­re­sent in the 13th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict are not talk­ing about the Rus­sians.” They are not talk­ing about the Mueller inves­ti­ga­tion. Some of them don’t even know who Mueller is or what the inves­ti­ga­tion is about. Rather, they ask, How come Trump hasn’t shown his tax returns?” One res­i­dent of my dis­trict described Trump as a crooked CEO in the White House, run­ning his busi­ness­es from the Oval Office.” That, to me, is what scares the Amer­i­can peo­ple, and right­ful­ly so.

This cor­rup­tion in our democ­ra­cy cre­ates anx­i­ety. That’s why peo­ple like me got elect­ed. Peo­ple want some­one who will rep­re­sent them fear­less­ly and unapolo­get­i­cal­ly. They want some­one to say, That’s wrong. That’s ille­gal. And we need to fix it right away.”

Our sit­u­a­tion as a nation is urgent. It is time for a call for impeach­ment to set the tone. We have enough infor­ma­tion to move forward.

We can­not per­mit Don­ald Trump to com­mit crimes from the Oval Office or vio­late our Con­sti­tu­tion in broad day­light and get away with it. Such actions are criminal.

When Trump became pres­i­dent, he start­ed work­ing for us. He works for the people.

We hand­ed him that pow­er. We can take it back.

Rashi­da Tlaib is the U.S. rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Michigan’s 13th con­gres­sion­al dis­trict. She is a lawyer and served as a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Michi­gan for six years.
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