Budowsky: A patriotic impeachment begins

Budowsky: A patriotic impeachment begins
© Aaron Schwartz

George Washington, the father of our country, warned the nation about foreign entanglements that corrupt our democracy. President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE, who has a history of praising foreign dictators, has solicited or pressured at least two foreign leaders, one of whom is an enemy of America, to corrupt our democracy in two presidential elections by attacking his Democratic opponents from abroad.

The unprecedented and unpatriotic attempt by an American president to promote foreign actions against American democracy, by trying to foment foreign attacks against his Democratic opponents in the 2016 and 2020 elections, should be criminalized for any future president, of any political party, against any political opponent.

No American should be above the law. Period. Not one word of the Constitution, or one decision of the Supreme Court, suggests otherwise. Period. No American president, of any political party, should ever be allowed to solicit or threaten any foreign leader, at any time, for any reason, under any circumstances, to try to fix the outcome of any American election. Period.

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Democrats, Republicans, Congress, courts, the media and voters know, from publicly available information, that while Ukraine is under military attack from Russia, Trump hurt Ukrainian and American security and helped the Russians attack Ukraine by withholding American military assistance that was enacted as the law of the land while the Russian attack against Ukraine continued.

Democrats, Republicans, Congress, courts, the media and voters know that Trump — endangering our security and violating his oath of office in an egregious abuse of power — began pressuring Ukraine to talk to Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrTrump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr 'Project Guardian' is the effective gun law change we need Supreme Court denies Trump request to immediately resume federal executions MORE and his own lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiTrump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr Trump denies report that he still uses personal cell phone for calls Giuliani draws attention with latest trip to Ukraine MORE to attack one of his leading Democratic opponents, shortly after he froze our military assistance, in what is arguably a form of blackmail, bribery or extortion.

Democrats are not fixated on impeachment, which Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump Democrats open door to repealing ObamaCare tax in spending talks Sunday talk shows: Lawmakers gear up ahead of Monday's House Judiciary hearing MORE (D-Calif.), to her great historic credit, did everything possible to avoid. We are fixated on patriotism, Americanism, protecting our security from enemies Trump often praises, protecting our rule of law that Trump sometimes violates, vehemently championing an ironclad proposition that American elections should be decided by Americans and not Russians, Ukrainians or any foreign nation— a core American value that Trump held in contempt in the 2016 election and holds in contempt as the 2020 election approaches.

As the impeachment debate escalates, Democrats will shout from the rooftops, with patriotic fervor, that American elections should be decided only by Americans. They will take the case to the country and courts that any foreign actor who tries to elect or defeat any American candidate is waging an act of political war against American democracy — which must never be promoted by our president, allowed under American law or tolerated by American voters.

Every patriotic Republican should shout from the rooftops that they join Democrats in stating clearly, forcefully and unequivocally that no foreign power should ever attack or abuse American democracy by trying to elect or defeat any American candidate for office — and no American politician should ever, under any circumstances, seek foreign support to attack or destroy any American political opponent.

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Every federal judge should dramatically expedite every pending case involving the Trump administration withholding evidence that could affect an impeachment decision, pro or con.

Every judge, up to Chief Justice John Roberts and all sitting members of the Supreme Court, should remember that in U.S. v. Nixon the court rendered a unanimous decision, within three weeks of oral argument, that Nixon must turn over the White House tapes. They should note that the Supreme Court in Great Britain similarly rendered an expeditious and unanimous decision this week, that Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed an illegal act when he suspended Parliament. 

The opening of the impeachment process raises momentous issues of democracy and national security. Barr, Giuliani and other participants or witnesses should testify under oath about their role in these matters. Any national security officials knowledgeable or concerned about these gravely dangerous wrongs should come forward now.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.