Senator Bob Corker is a “Reconstructed” Southerner from the former Confederate state of Tennessee. He rejects the institutional racism, violence and terrorism of white supremacy that is the heritage of slavery and Jim Crow in the old South.
Sen. Corker is the first GOP senator of whom I am aware to finally come out and say what everyone is thinking and knows to be true: Trump has not demonstrated ‘stability’ or ‘competence’ to lead effectively:
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has been one of the most outspoken GOP Trump critics in Congress, expressed displeasure with Trump’s response to the deadly weekend violence in Charlottesville and warned that if the president does not change his behavior, “our nation is going to go through great peril.”
“The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful,” the senator told reporters in Tennessee. “And we need for him to be successful.”
Corker’s remarks came on a day when at least two other Republican senators — Tim Scott (S.C.) and Dan Sullivan (Alaska) — also faulted the president. Scott, the only African-American Republican in the Senate, said in an interview with Vice News that Trump’s “moral authority is compromised.”
In his interview with Vice News, Scott said: “What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority. And that moral authority is compromised when Tuesday happens. There’s no question about that.” Tuesday was when Trump said, “I think there’s blame on both sides.”
Also on Thursday, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) tweeted: “Anything less than complete & unambiguous condemnation of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK by the @POTUS is unacceptable. Period.”
Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took some pauses as he spoke, appearing to choose his words carefully. Video of the question-and-answer session was posted on Facebook by a staff writer for Nooga.com.
Corker said Trump also “recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation. He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today.”
While many Republicans have spoken out against Trump this week, few have been willing to be as direct and extensive in their comments as Corker.
But … and there’s always a but with GOP politicians —
Corker did not advocate specific steps Congress ought to collectively take to punish the president or compel him to change. Asked for his reaction to the push by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) to try to impeach Trump, Corker did not endorse the move.
Our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief took to Twitter on Thursday morning to criticize two Republicans, Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), who have spoken out against him. Is he going to do the same to Bob Corker, and to Tim Scott, the only African-American Republican in the Senate?
If Sen. Corker truly believes that Donald Trump lacks the”stability and competence” to serve as president, then he has a constitutional duty to remedy the situation. The Constitution affords two remedies: removal from office when the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” under the 25th Amendment, which Sen. Corker’s statement clearly indicates, or removal from office by impeachment.
Sen. Corker’s fellow Tennessean, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), announced Thursday that he will file articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump over Trump’s comments about the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Va.
Rep. Cohen said the events in Charlottesville this past weekend and the president’s comments about white supremacists prompted him to act, both as a Jew and as a representative of a majority African-American district.
Reporters pressed him for specifics for what exactly the articles of impeachment would say. He said the “high crimes and misdemeanors” language in the constitution is vague, and impeachment is a political question: in theory, at least, Congress could impeach a president for jaywalking.
Rep. Cohen is absolutely correct. Elura Nanos explains at the Law Newz blog, There’s Legal Basis For Impeaching Trump Now — But Congress Needs to Get Its Act Together to Do It:
Putting aside that our gilded lunatic of president may be better served by inpatient therapy than by anything Congress could deliver, let’s just recap how impeachment should go down. Under Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, a President can be impeached upon the “Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The House brings those formal charges against the president, and then the whole circus moves over to the Senate, which acts as the trier of fact. The Senate then hears evidence and makes the decision whether to convict and remove from office (by a two-thirds majority).
Considerable disagreement surrounds the meaning of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” There are those who believe that the language means that the president must have committed a pretty serious crime – -a view which the historical record certainly supports. President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath, and Andrew Johnson was impeached for violating a federal statute. Trump’s monumental mishandling of the tragedy in Charlottesville this week is bad on many, many levels – but it’s [unfortunately] probably not a criminal offense. However, this is where we might want to turn to what some legal experts say is the real meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman, for example, has offered a take on impeachment that fits our current situation perfectly. According to Professor Feldman, “high” is meant to modify both the word “crimes” and the word “misdemeanors,” and does not, as is often assumed, relate to the seriousness of an offense – but rather to the nature of the offense. “High,” back in the time of the Constitution’s drafting, meant “governmental” or “official,” as opposed to “personal” or ‘private.” Furthermore, “Crimes and misdemeanors” does not mean violation of actual criminal statutes. Instead, this was an artful phrase meaning any action “performed in an official capacity by a government official that violates the basic principles of government.” Trump’s official statements today, which appeared to backtrack from any criticism of white supremacy, certainly counts under those standards.
Professor Feldman, by the way, did not pull his thesis from thin air. He extensively researched James Madison’s involvement with what had been a controversial drafting of the impeachment language. Apparently, the convention first used the word “maladministration” (18th century for “just doing a general crappy job”) to describe the grounds for impeachment. Madison called that out for being too vague and setting every president up for impeachment. So the group agreed on “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Broad enough to mean something, but specific enough not to mean everything.
Essentially, that means that impeachment is appropriate whenever our current government says it’s appropriate. And if the House wants to use Trump’s soft treatment of neo-Nazis, or his utter lack of self-control when addressing the press, or his generally disastrous egotism to serve as the basis for commencing the impeachment process, it can just go ahead and do so. It just has to have the guts to do so.
There is genuine legal basis for the use of the impeachment process to do what no other process is fit to do: get rid of a president who is simply doing a lousy job leading our country. Elections are not –and were never meant to be – sentences. We as a democracy should not be forced to endure a presidency that is proving to be malignant. At this point, the 45th president of the United States has acted in a manner that would materially disqualify him from every job imaginable, from hot dog vendor to CEO. Using impeachment as a sort of Congressional performance review is, admittedly a relatively new take on things, but it is one that is neither radical nor baseless. That a president should be directly accountable for how he governs is a given. For the record, this is not the kind of accountability I mean.
Your choice Senator Corker: 25th Amendment or impeachment. You have a constitutional duty to act. Remember, this mad man has access to nuclear weapons, and he will not hesitate to use them in a fit of uncontrolled rage. Trump has already threatened “fire and fury” over North Korea. As Elura Nanos says, “Elections are not –and were never meant to be – sentences.” The Constitution affords a ready remedy. Don’t wait until it is too late for humanity.