Donald Trump will leave the White House on January 20 — unless he’s declared unfit to serve before then or Congress makes a mockery of impeachment and rams a conviction through the Senate.
There’s no time to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump, neither is there time to debate the full ramifications of rushing articles of impeachment through the House and having the Senate vote to convict without any semblance of a fair trial.
But Democrats want their pound of flesh. They want their hatred of Trump validated and see impeachment as the perfect vehicle.
Warnings flashing, Democrats in Congress laid plans Friday for swift impeachment of President Donald Trump, demanding decisive, immediate action to ensure an “unhinged” commander in chief can’t add to the damage they say he’s inflicted or even ignite nuclear war in his final days in office.
As the country comes to terms with the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters that left five dead, the crisis that appears to be among the final acts of his presidency is deepening like few other periods in the nation’s history. With less than two weeks until he’s gone, Democrats want him out — now — and he has few defenders speaking up for him in his own Republican party.
“We must take action,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared on a private conference call with Democrats.
Even if Trump is “unhinged” — a claim not in evidence at this time — Pelosi and the Democrats know that the idea of Trump being able to start a nuclear war is a bogus argument to get rid of him before January 20. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told Pelosi as much.
Pelosi said she had spoken to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley “to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes” for nuclear war. She said Milley assured her longstanding safeguards are in place.
Among those safeguards would be Milley’s simple refusal to carry out an illegal order. Trump has the authority to launch the missiles but he doesn’t have the power. He’s got to go through well-established military channels to start a war. It’s certain that Milley would see any launch order from Trump as illegal and refuse to carry it out.
Congress held hearings in 2017 to look at the option of forcing the president to get congressional consent before launching.
C. Robert Kehler, the retired Air Force general who commanded U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees the nation’s nuclear arsenal, told the committee in 2017 there are military checks in place should a President order a nuclear strike if the U.S. is not first under attack. “If there is an illegal order presented to the military, the military is obligated to refuse to follow it,” he said.
Pressed by lawmakers on what would happen if a military commander felt uncomfortable about moving forward with the launch and thought it may be illegal, Kehler grew uneasy. “Well, I don’t know exactly,” Kehler said, chuckling. “Fortunately we’ve never—these are all hypothetical scenarios.”
Since the U.S. is not likely to be attacked between now and January 20, that last scenario won’t apply. Any order from Trump to launch without warning and while there’s no credible threat would be seen as illegal.
As far as impeachment, I’m curious to know if the Democrats will allow Trump’s defense to be heard. And if they don’t plan on giving Trump the same rights that are given to a poor black kid from the projects, how can they claim to be upholding “the rule of law”?
The law matters little at this point. The nuclear argument is a nonstarter. In truth, Democrats could impeach Trump because they have the power to do so. But at what damage to our republic? Is this the way to unite the country — railroading a president through a sham House vote and Senate show trial with no debate and no chance for Trump to present an adequate defense?
The best answer is for Trump to resign. And perhaps, like Richard Nixon after he faced certain conviction and removal in the Senate as his party abandoned him, Trump will see the writing on the wall and step down voluntarily.