Washington Post Op-Ed: House impeachment managers: Trump is as lawless and corrupt as ever
Four months ago, we tried President Trump for abusing the power of his office in ways that undermined our country’s national security, the integrity of U.S. elections and the constitutional structure of our republic. Trump’s efforts to coerce an ally to help him cheat in the upcoming election violated the public trust, went to the heart of his unfitness for office — and revealed that he prioritizes his interests over those of the nation.
The president was not changed by impeachment. He is as lawless and corrupt as ever. But his wrongdoing has far greater consequences given the acute challenges facing the nation, the failure of those around him to curb destructive impulses, and the continued unwillingness of many members of Congress to serve as a meaningful check and balance as the Founders intended.
In just the few months since the impeachment trial, more than 110,000 Americans have perished from a pandemic, tens of millions are unemployed, the world has turned away from America, and protests over police brutality and systemic racism have erupted nationwide. Yet Americans looking for leadership find none in the White House. Instead, this president and his administration take actions that rend the foundation of our democracy.
After the trial concluded, Trump focused on undermining institutions that could provide accountability and transparency. He fired or removed five inspectors general for simply doing their jobs: including reporting on shortages of personal protective equipment and other gear in hospitals and investigating potential misconduct by the secretary of state.
The president has made clear his interest in turning the traditionally independent Justice Department into a political arm that can punish enemies and protect allies. In Attorney General William P. Barr, Trump has an enabler of that corrupt mission. Barr allows the president to intervene in criminal cases with implications for his personal interests, and Barr carries out Trump’s orders in shocking fashion.
Under Barr’s leadership, the Justice Department withdrew a sentencing recommendation for Trump political adviser Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress and witness intimidation. Barr’s Justice Department has moved to dismiss its case against Michael Flynn — Trump’s former national security adviser who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Barr’s attacks on the department’s independence, over the objections of career federal prosecutors, have drawn widespread condemnation. Thousands of former prosecutors have called on Barr to resign.
Meanwhile, Trump has targeted an even more foundational element of democracy: the right to vote. The president has repeatedly sought to discredit voting by mail. Mail-in ballots are a safe and secure way to vote and are necessary during a viral pandemic.
We believe his attacks seek to undermine confidence in the results of the November elections.
Trump doesn’t even attempt to hide the political motivation for forcing Americans to choose between their health and their vote. He fears that if more Americans vote, his reelection will be imperiled. So instead of being more responsive to the will of the people, the president and his enablers seek to disenfranchise millions.
Trump’s destructive actions do not stop at undermining the rule of law, elections or democracy itself. He targets U.S. citizens, too.
In the days since the horrific murder of George Floyd, hundreds of thousands have marched against police brutality and systemic racism, and peacefully protested for justice and change. In response, Trump called in troops and sought to use the military against peaceful Americans, betraying those in uniform and endangering public support for an institution that must be apolitical. His cronies have ordered protesters gassed and targeted with rubber bullets — all for a photo op. Trump has endorsed and encouraged violence. He has amplified false claims that protesters are “terrorists.” His words and actions have divided citizens and inflamed tensions just when the country needs to come together and address racism.
The president cannot carry out his malignant agenda alone. He needs the help of willing accomplices in his administration and in Congress. And he needs the silence of many others. Our country long ago passed the point where silence is complicity. History will not be kind to those who remain mute.
We applaud those who speak out. Former defense secretary Jim Mattis rebuked Trump last week and warned of the threat the president poses to democracy. Former secretary of state Colin Powell has said he cannot support Trump for reelection because “the president has drifted away from” the Constitution.
In February, we wrote about the need for moral courage to help save our Constitution and democracy. This is as true as ever. Elected leaders, past and present administration officials, and conscientious citizens still have a chance to defend our republic.
Now is the time to stand up and be heard. The nation we all love needs your voices, more than ever.
During his trial, we observed that a man with no moral compass will never find his way. Trump never will. But it is not too late for those leaders who have enabled Trump’s destruction of so much we all hold dear to find theirs.
Adam Schiff (Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), Val Demings (Fla.), Sylvia Garcia (Tex.) and Jason Crow (Colo.) were the Democratic House managers in the impeachment trial of President Trump.