If Congress doesn’t remove Donald TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE from office, foreign nations will worry long after his presidency that America’s legislative branch is incapable of removing a president whose party controls the Senate no matter how lawless and destructive he or she might be.
Removing Trump would prove that Congress won’t tolerate a president who betrays and imperils America’s allies. In pulling out of Syria, Trump exposed the Kurds, America’s longtime allies, to annihilation, which has been Turkish President Erdoğan's goal.
Turkey is a NATO member whose military might has deterred Russian aggression. The U.S. withdrawal abetted Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinCourt finds Russia was behind 2006 poisoning of ex-spy in London Google employees criticize removal of Navalny app Third Russian charged in 2018 nerve agent attack on ex-spy in England MORE’s dream of weakening NATO by luring Turkey closer to Russia. So did the sanctions Trump imposed on Turkey for an invasion Trump himself triggered.
Add Trump’s adoration of Putin and his financial ties to Russia, and Europe has reason to worry that Russia will invade NATO allies on its border, Trump will acquiesce and Congressional Republicans will give him a pass. After all, the Congressional Republicans stood by as Trump dismembered multilateral organizations that took decades to build, undermining trust in the U.S. around the world.
Trump abandoned the Iran nuclear deal even while Iran was in compliance. Only after Trump pulled out did Iran exceed the deal’s caps on uranium enrichment. Trump showed contempt for the international community by withdrawing from the Paris accord and blocking the reappointment of judges to the World Trade Organization’s trade court, making trade decisions impossible.
The world watches as the Republican-controlled Congress tolerates Trump’s 15,413 lies, dozens of ongoing federal, local and Congressional investigations into myriad transgressions and his unprecedented conflicts of interest. Indeed, Trump has attempted to tailor foreign policy for personal family financial gain, bringing the word “oligarch” and the name Putin to mind. Yet the Republicans stand pat.
At home and abroad, Trump has shaken confidence in how America makes decisions. He is mercurial and often dictates policy by Twitter feed. Many of his decisions were impulsive, uninformed and made without following protocol or communicating with Congress, administration officials or federal agencies that needed to know. Interviews with senior military officials revealed their struggles to contain the damage done by a capricious president risking unnecessary wars.
In pulling troops out of Syria, Trump ignored warnings from aides about the dangers of withdrawal. He chose not to review National Security Council talking points on the risk of losing influence in the Middle East, and there was no discussion of national security objectives before he called Erdoğan and greenlighted Turkey’s incursion into Syria. The consequences were catastrophic.
In leaving the Iran nuclear deal, Trump rejected national security officials' urging to stay in the agreement because it was in America’s best interests.
Trump launched steel and aluminum tariffs when he became “unglued” over other matters (such as Hope HicksHope HicksThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US prepares vaccine booster plan House panel probing Jan. 6 attack seeks Trump records UPDATED: McEnany, Fox News talks on pause MORE’s testimony on Russian interference). He acted on impulse and didn’t inform our trading partners, Congress, or the Treasury, State or Defense departments before making his announcement.
From Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchGiuliani hires attorneys who defended Harvey Weinstein The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Former Ukrainian prosecutor says he was fired for not investigating Hunter Biden: report MORE to Jennifer Williams, Trump has disrespected and removed enough ambassadors to make leaders wonder who will be next. His depletion of the State Department and engagement of Secretary Mike PompeoMike PompeoWashPost fact-checker gives Pompeo four 'Pinocchios' for 'zombie' claim about Obama Iran deal Poll: Biden, Trump statistically tied in favorability Majority of voters disapprove of execution of Afghanistan withdrawal: poll MORE in the Ukraine scandal has diminished the credibility and gravitas of U.S. diplomacy.
Removing Trump is necessary to regain America’s ability to conduct foreign policy. But Senate Republicans resist because they need his base to get elected. Trump has held on to it by eroding the credibility of institutions that exist — in part — to check the presidency, including our intelligence and justice agencies, the Federal Reserve, the judiciary, and the press.
Trump-touting outlets are the dominant sources of information for his base. His tweets reach 19 percent of Twitter followers. His supporters overwhelmingly tune in to Fox News, Trump’s biggest promoter, which topped all other cable news in the third quarter of 2019. Trumpers were not educated by his impeachment hearings. Only 17 percent of American households watched them, compared to the 85 percent of households that tuned in to the Nixon Watergate hearings.
As a result, voters are woefully misinformed. They give Trump credit for our strong economy even though he’s riding 100 straight months of job growth and greater gross domestic product growth and productivity from the Obama years. His base doesn’t seem to grasp that his tax cuts didn’t generate enough economic growth to cover the lost revenues. That ballooned the federal deficit and the debt needed to cover it. Other than during wartime, when government spending skyrocketed, our deficits and debt always shrank during periods of low unemployment and growing GDP. But not under Trump. His profligacy threatens our economy.
It will be difficult to convince Trump supporters that the best thing for the country is to remove him, and Republicans will face retaliation in the voting booth if they try. It may be easier to convince Trump to resign voluntarily or not run again in exchange for immunity from all charges being investigated. That way, Senate Republicans wouldn't have to vote to convict him and would likely keep their seats.
But no matter how it’s done, America must remove Trump to show the world that it won’t tolerate a destructive, shameful, lawless and dangerous president. Otherwise, nations will always wonder, if we let one president go rogue with impunity, when will it happen again?
Neil Baron advised the SEC and congressional staff on rating agency reform. He represented Standard & Poor’s from 1968 to 1989, was vice chairman and general counsel of Fitch Ratings from 1989 to 1998. He also served on the board of Assured Guaranty for a decade.