Donald Trump is scheduled to hold his first press conference on January 11. Fortune Magazine reports that, after slamming his political opponent Hillary Clinton for not holding more press conferences, it will be Trump’s first press conference in 168 days. Mic reports that with the Donald Trump presidency just over two weeks away, talk of a Trump impeachment has not died down, with Mic noting at least three issues that could lay the groundwork for a Trump impeachment.
Trump impeachment talk is talk that has been swirling since he first even discussed the notion of running for president. Attorney Bruce Fein told Politico Magazine back in April that the odds of a Trump impeachment were 50/50, and the public has been talking about the possibility of a Trump impeachment for months.
Impeachment grounds are found in Article II of the United States Constitution and say a president must be convicted by Congress of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” But the specifics of the language are unclear.
Essentially an impeachment for any president comes after proceedings in Congress, and a Senate judicial trial. An impeachable offense does not need to happen while the president is in office. As Mic notes, the Bill Clinton impeachment scandal was launched with a probe into the 1970’s and 1980’s Whitewater incident.
"An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history."-Gerald Ford— Adam Bonin (@adambonin) November 21, 2016
Former President Gerald Ford has also famously noted the following.
“An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”
So in other words, whatever Congress decides is an impeachable offense is an impeachable offense. It’s something the FBI and other agencies are reportedly already looking into.
Mic reports that there are a number of areas where Democrats could pursue impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. A top concern of Americans from both sides of the aisle when discussing the Trump presidency are his alleged conflicts of interest. Donald Trump was set to hold a press conference in December to explain how he was going to separate his own personal business and financial interests from the interests of the country.
He called that conference off and put it off until January, saying that legal paperwork was still in the works on the matter. But many Americans still have questions about Trump’s alleged conflicts of interests, particularly after Donald Trump told the New York Times that the president as allowed to have whatever conflicts of interests he wants.
While a sitting president is entitled to some exemptions on conflict of interests, that only applies to duties of the office of the president. Managing Trump Tower from the Oval Office for example would not be a conflict of interest a sitting president would be exempt from, as the management of Trump Tower does not serve the needs of Americans and is not an official duty of the president.
Mic reports that the emoluments clause of the Constitution could present a problem for Donald Trump and could lay the groundwork for a Trump impeachment. This clause notes the following.
“No person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of Congress, accept any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”
Mic further notes that the Brookings Institute has published a 23-page analysis of this emoluments clause.
“Applied to Mr. Trump’s diverse dealings, the text and purpose of the emoluments clause speak as one: This cannot be allowed.”
An example of how Trump’s business conflicts with the duties of office is a recent time when an event for the Kuwaiti Embassy was moved from the Four Seasons to Donald Trump’s D.C. Hotel. Mic reports that the event was moved after “receiving pressure from the Trump Organization” to do so.
Shortly after the election, the same hotel held an event for 100 foreign diplomats so that they could become “better acquainted” with the new president-elect. If Donald Trump receives approval from Congress for all of these issues, he will avoid impeachment. However top Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren have written a bill that would eliminate that and make any violations of the emoluments clause grounds for a Trump impeachment, reports the Independent.
The Independent reports that on the matter, Senator Warren discussed Trump’s conflicts of interest.
“The American people deserve to know that the President of the United States is working to do what’s best for the country – not using his office to do what’s best for himself and his businesses,” said Senator Warren. “The only way for President-elect Trump to truly eliminate conflicts-of-interest is to divest his financial interests and place them in a blind trust. This has been the standard for previous presidents, and our bill makes clear the continuing expectation that President-elect Trump do the same.”
The topic of Russia and its interference with the American election is a second area of concern that many think could lay the groundwork for a Trump impeachment. It is now an established fact that Russia attempted to interfere with the American election, by order of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia interfered with the election in multiple ways by promoting fake news and propaganda, and by working to diminish he popularity of Hillary Clinton with false reports about her character and past. This has been established as fact by the top intelligence agencies of the United States. Donald Trump has denied this happened.
It is the duty of the president to accept the findings of the United States intelligence community, so that they may better serve the national security interests of America. Trump has not only denied Russian hacking, but has also rejected a request for a bipartisan Congressional investigation into the matter. This alone, Mic reports, could rise to the level of the impeachable offense of treason.
A former assistant secretary of state wrote in the Boston Globe.
“By denigrating or seeking to prevent an investigation of the Russian cyberattack, Trump is giving aid or comfort to an enemy of the United States, a crime that could be enhanced were an investigation to reveal that Trump or his allies knew about the Russian attack in advance.”
Shortly after the election, officials in Russia asserted in foreign press that they knew the Trump camp well and had been in contact with them during the course of the election. The Trump camp flatly denied any contact with Russia during the election.
A third and final potential area for a Trump impeachment is possible in the multiple lawsuits that Trump is facing as he heads into the Oval Office. Mic describes it as a “hefty amount of legal baggage.” USA Today notes that as of two weeks prior to Election Day, there were 75 open lawsuits against Trump, a number they say is unprecedented for an incoming president.
USA Today notes that the lawsuits include wrongful termination after sexual harassment reports, a class action suit regarding unsolicited text messages from the Trump campaign, and Trump’s Florida golf course allegedly cheating members out of refunds.
Many critics of Trump are already calling for a Trump impeachment through a number of other grounds beyond those mentioned here.
Donald Trump is set to take the podium this Wednesday in New York City for a press conference that is expected, or at least hoped, to answer some of these questions and alleviate some of these concerns. The Washington Examiner notes that a first and top priority question for the president-elect for the press conference would be, “Do you accept the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia hacked the emails of Democrats to try and influence the election?”
Whether that question will be asked, and also answered honestly, remains to be seen. The Washington Examiner notes that other questions Trump may be expected to answer include his health care plan that he has not yet announced, a short list for his Supreme Court selections, and who he expects will pay for the wall on the Mexican border.
America is also still waiting to hear if Donald Trump is going to call for a total ban of Muslims entering America, as he suggested that he would during the course of the election. Questions about why Trump is hoping to establish a relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin may also be asked at the press conference, reports the Washington Examiner.
Answers to that question, if asked and answered, could tie into the top three areas of concern that Americans have about a Trump presidency and could set the groundwork for a possible Trump impeachment. Whether those questions will be asked and answered remains to be seen.
Regardless of what is asked, as his first press conference before taking office, it will be an historical one for Donald Trump, with his answers being carefully preserved for future reference.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]