Of Course a Sitting POTUS Can Be Indicted!

by The New Progressives about a year ago in activism

It's common sense.

Of Course a Sitting POTUS Can Be Indicted!

If I hear one more talking head, so-called expert, or congressperson say "Of course you can’t indict a sitting US President," my head is going to explode—the complacent leading the apathetic! For fuck's sake Americans, we are fast becoming the generation that Ben Franklin (one of the founders of this country) feared.

When asked what kind of government the Continental Congress had just formed (the Congress that wrote the Constitution before it was ratified and we became a nation), he said, "A republic, if you can keep it."

Common Sense Should Tell You

Before we ever got to the Continental Congress, the seed of the idea of a self-governing democracy where there is no king, no one authority but rather rule by the majority, began with a pamphlet called “Common Sense,” written and spread around the colonies by Thomas Paine in January of 1776, at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War.

At the time, the colonists (not Americans yet) were divided. Some wanted to stay loyal to a “tyrannical” King George back in Britain—for security's sake; how could our little 13 colonies defend the people against foreign powers like England?

Others shouted, “Give me liberty or give me death!” That’s the argument that won the day and why we are now and have been a self-governing democracy for almost 240 years—unfortunately, we may be the generation to lose it.

So in that spirit, here is my attempt at a common sense type of pamphlet here either at the end of our great experiment or at the beginning of a rebirth of this incredible experiment. In the same way that Thomas Paine was instrumental in rallying the 500,000 colonists who bought his pamphlet to get behind independence, I’m going to use logic and common sense to show you that we have to indict a “tyrannical” president or else!

Point 1: First, the question; can a sitting US President be indicted?

The answer is absolutely yes and here’s why. If Congress is a co-equal branch (equal in power to the president) and a sitting congressperson can be indicted, then logic tells you that so can a sitting US president.

Furthermore, this country was wrested (taken away from) a tyrannical monarch. NO revolutionary, NO patriot was ever in favor of anyone in the future American government having absolute power—that’s why the hell we fought the war to begin with!

So let’s play this “DOJ (Department of Justice) Guideline” logic out that so many keep claiming prevents Special Counsel Robert Mueller (currently investigating the President and his campaign) from indicting a sitting US president. If that is the case, then one person in one department in the executive branch who set a guideline (not a law mind you, and certainly not a Constitutional law) 20 years ago is charged with deciding, number one, a fundamental question of our democracy (whether or not anyone is above the law) and number two, in essence dictates that a sitting US president IS above the law.

If a sitting US president CANNOT be indicted, then that means that he could technically commit any and every crime imaginable until he leaves office, gets kicked out of office, or is voted out of office—we just have to wait and see. So if that is the case, he can shoot Jeff Sessions in the head and we can’t do anything about it until he resigns or gets voted out of office in 2020 or Congress impeaches him. That makes no fucking sense!

People then say, "Well impeachment is the remedy not criminal indictment, but the Republican-held Congress will never vote to impeach him." So basically you’re saying he is above the law? Yes, that’s what you are saying logically. And again, the principles of this government are founded upon common sense, not dumb shit to please a king or dictator like absolute power.

Point 2: If the remedy doesn't work, the answer cannot be that there is nothing that we can do!

Let me (and the rest of America) get this straight; as long as the Senate is held by a Republican majority, there is nothing that can be done short of Robert Mueller issuing a report to Congress? Get the f*** out of here!

This is now a precedent that we must set: If a Congress is unwilling or unable to impeach a president guilty of high crimes AND misdemeanors because of political or partisan considerations, then the special counsel (or the Department of Justice) must be able to indict a sitting US president.

Point 3: We are a self-governing democracy; we the people decide what to do with a tyrannical POTUS.

I’ve heard a couple of “representatives” say something like, impeachment is "Whatever the Congress says it is." Correction, impeachment is whatever the people who elected you to Congress say it is.

This question has never come before the people until now; namely because we’ve never had a US president guilty of being complicit in a conspiracy to commit treason against the United States in order to steal an election.

I keep hearing reporters and talking heads looking backwards and saying things like, "We don’t know what we do from here, and there is no precedent," which means that we set the precedent. The framers of the Constitution never intended for it to be etched in stone. It is supposed to grow and change with the times.

For example, some wanted to abolish slavery during the drafting of the Constitution, but because the southern states would have never gone along with Independence and war with England if abolition had been left in the Constitution, slavery remained legal. Southerners actually wanted the right to own slaves to be permanently fixed in the Constitution. The compromise was to let future generations change it if they so desire.

So we did and we have changed the Constitution, as intended, to grow with our society. It’s a good sign that it took almost 240 years before we did what Ben Franklin feared, but now that the time has come, we have to do something about it—NOW!

We're about to lose it!

When Thomas Paine wrote "Common Sense," he was only two years or so removed from English rule, having immigrated to Pennsylvania just a couple of years before the American Revolution. He saw the possibilities in a new form of government but also feared the naysayers and scaredy cats would submit to a tyrant simply out of fear. As Thomas Paine points out, the folly and foolishness of providing a check on the king when that same king can then overrule that check—it is absolute power by another name.

Here’s how Thomas Paine laid it out. You have to remember that at the time, England had formed what they called the constitution of England, but as Paine points out, it was “farcical”:

“To say that the constitution of England is a Union of three powers reciprocally checking each other, is farcical, either the words have no meaning, or they are flat contradictions.

To say that the commons is a check upon the king, presupposes two things.

First - That the king is not to be trusted without being looked after, or in other words, that a thirst for absolute power is the natural disease of monarchy.

Secondly - That the commons, by being appointed for that purpose, are either wiser or more worthy of confidence than the crown.

But as the same constitution which gives the commons a power to check the king by withholding the supplies, gives afterwards the king a power to check the commons, by empowering him to reject their other bills; it again supposes that the king is wiser than those whom it has already supposed to be wiser than him. A mere absurdity!”

We have three branches of government: The Executive (the President), the Legislative (Congress), and the Judicial (the Supreme Court). Each of these branches provides a check on the other.

If the Supreme Court rules in a way that we do not like, we can create a law to get over it. If Congress passes a law, the President can veto it. And if a sitting US president is a suspected criminal or unfit for the office, he or she can be impeached.

Right now, you have a president who is an un-indicted co-conspirator (meaning he’s been named as an accomplice in a conspiracy but has not been indicted yet) in a felonious scheme to silence sex scandal stories that could have lost him the 2016 presidential election.

He is also being sued in civil court for fraud, suspected of money laundering, is objectively trying to impede or stop this investigation from going forward (criminally obstructing justice) publicly, practically on a daily basis. Not to mention violating Geneva Conventions and committing atrocities on our own border—the founders never intended for us to sit back and let that happen. Congress is supposed to impeach.

And while news channels keep having prosecutors and lawyers on TV to discuss this, they continue to mislead the public on the standards necessary for impeachment. It is not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt (as law enforcement officials mistakenly correlate it and some cowardly Democrats say in order to shirk responsibility for taking a vote on impeachment and risking losing a campaign).

The standard can be as high as treason or as low as tax evasion—Trump is quite possibly guilty of both and now actually named in a guilty plea of having committed election fraud and tampering.

The answer is not what the DOJ guidelines from 20 years ago say. That’s not keeping with the spirit of our Constitution and it goes to the very fundamentals of how we govern ourselves. At the very least it is a question far too big to leave up to one un-elected official in the DOJ (Department of Justice).

“To say that the constitution of England is a Union of three powers reciprocally checking each other, is farcical, either the words have no meaning, or they are flat contradictions.

To say that the commons is a check upon the king, presupposes two things.

First - That the king is not to be trusted without being looked after, or in other words, that a thirst for absolute power is the natural disease of monarchy.

Secondly - That the commons, by being appointed for that purpose, are either wiser or more worthy of confidence than the crown.

But as the same constitution which gives the commons a power to check the king by withholding the supplies, gives afterwards the king a power to check the commons, by empowering him to reject their other bills; it again supposes that the king is wiser than those whom it has already supposed to be wiser than him. A mere absurdity!”

'A Thought So Fatal and Unmanly'

Anyone who knows a little bit about how this country and other democracies came to be has seen the history of tyrants rising to power, democracies floundering, including Civil War. We all recognize the dangers inherent in this moment.

When arguing for independence as I am arguing for impeachment (and if Mueller’s investigation finds criminal activity on behalf of the sitting US president as the majority of us suspect, indictment of Donald Trump), Thomas Paine beseeched and prodded his readers with this after describing the devastation that had become of colonies like Boston which had been attacked and oppressed by the invading Brits:

“I mean not to exhibit horror for the purpose of provoking revenge, but to awaken us from fatal and unmanly slumbers, that we may pursue determinately some fixed object. It is not in the power of Britain or of Europe to conquer America, if she do not conquer herself by delay and timidity. The present winter is worth an age if rightly employed, but if lost or neglected, the whole continent will partake of the misfortune; and there is no punishment which that man will not deserve, be he who, or what, or where he will, that may be the means of sacrificing a season so precious and useful.”

He further went on to say:

“… Our Constitution is neither a self-actuating nor a self-correcting document. It requires the constant attention and devotion of all citizens. There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: "A republic, if you can keep it." The brevity of that response should not cause us to under-value its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.

In our most recent podcast from TNP (The New Progressives), I said that there were profiles in cowardice on both sides of the aisle. As I reread some of Thomas Paine’s arguments, this section really struck me.

Every politician, especially those who believe in private that this presidency is illegitimate and the person filling that position right now is wholly unfit mentally, intellectually, temperamentally, and morally to lead this country needs to wake from their unmanly and un-womanly slumber lest you be remembered by future Americans (if they will exist beyond this period) this way.

Before you read the quote below, understand that when Paine references a Mr. Pelham, he’s referring to someone who was a Lord in the House of Commons in England who sympathized with the American Revolutionaries. When he tried to introduce a measure giving in—at least a little—to the colonists’ demands he was “attacked in the House of Commons” and instead of standing up for his principles and making the argument to his colleagues, he tried to appease his opposition by saying, “his measures were only of a temporary kind… they will last my time.” No wonder Thomas Paine viewed the same mealy mouthed appeasers in the colonies as unmanly!

“Should a thought so fatal and unmanly possess the colonies in the present contest, the name of ancestors will be remembered by future generations with detestation. The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. 'Tis not the affair of a city, a country, a province, or a kingdom, but of a continent-- of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe. 'Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected, even to the end of time, by the proceedings now. Now is the seed time of continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture now will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; The wound will enlarge with the tree, and posterity read it in full grown characters.

Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offence, yet I am inclined to believe, that all those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation, may be included within the following descriptions. Interested men, who are not to be trusted; weak men, who cannot see; prejudiced men, who will not see; and a certain set of moderate men, who think better of the European [Russian in our times!] world than it deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this continent, than all the other three.”

Men (and Women) of Passive Tempers

All last week, I saw white, male Democratic Senators coming out to tell the people who they want to vote for them to calm down and stop this impeachment talk. Telling us (like the wise father figures they think they are? Give me a break!) that it is Republicans egging us down the path to impeachment. Correction, it is we the people, the 75 percent, the opposition calling for it as you should be calling for it!

“Men of passive tempers look somewhat lightly over the offenses of Britain, and, still hoping for the best, are apt to call out, "Come, come, we shall be friends again, for all this.”

Every time I hear these mealy mouthed passive Democrats, I can see them goose-stepping or crawling to the gas chambers saying, "We’re powerless in the minority." Fuck you! For men and women still trying to get their children who have been kidnapped by the US government, we don’t have time to wait.

For law abiding immigrants legally living within our borders now being targeted, we can’t wait. For the attacks on every institution from our law enforcement agencies to the Supreme Court to the free press, for all of these reasons, we cannot afford to wait. But I guess if you’re rich, and white, and male…

“It is the good fortune of many to live distant from the scene of sorrow; the evil is not sufficiently brought to their doors to make them feel the precariousness with which all American property is possessed. But let our imaginations transport us for a few moments to Boston, that seat of wretchedness will teach us wisdom, and instruct us for ever to renounce a power in whom we can have no trust.If you say, you can still pass the violations over, then I ask, Hath your house been burnt? Hath you property been destroyed before your face? Are your wife and children destitute of a bed to lie on, or bread to live on? Have you lost a parent or a child by their hands, and yourself the ruined and wretched survivor? If you have not, then are you not a judge of those who have. But if you have, and can still shake hands with the murderers, then are you unworthy the name of husband, father, friend, or lover, and whatever may be your rank or title in life, you have the heart of a coward, and the spirit of a sycophant.”

Make sure to check out the full episode "Democrats, If Not Now, When?" from The New Progressives Podcast, available on iTunes! Follow us on Twitter @TNPOnlyForward!

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