Views » March 13, 2019
Rashida Tlaib: Impeach Trump Now
Every day that we don’t address corruption, we are setting a precedent and eroding our democracy.
Trump’s years in office are years we cannot get back.
Now is the time for impeachment.
People in D.C. ask: What would it mean for our 2020 strategy? But I ask what it means for the people I grew up with, the residents of my district, and what it means for all of us, as Americans, to have Donald Trump remain our president.
Trump’s years in office are years we cannot get back. But more dangerous than the loss of time is allowing Trump’s precedents to take root.
In 2017, Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, an Arizona sheriff who was ordered by a federal court to stop racially profiling and was convicted of criminal contempt when he refused. Arpaio, by targeting Latinx people, was violating both the U.S. Constitution and our civil rights. Trump’s pardon of Arpaio may not get as much attention as Russian influence, or Trump’s apparent obstruction of justice in the Mueller investigation. But to me, as a woman of color, it is a clear abuse of power for the U.S. president to pardon a sheriff who targeted people for arrest because of their ethnicity. In other words, that act alone warrants its own congressional hearing.
It’s not just the racist words Trump uses—which are very painful and do incite violence— but his racist actions, which undermine our Constitution.
It’s bad enough that Trump’s Muslim ban dehumanizes people based on their religion and nationality, but constitutional scholars have also argued the Muslim ban violates the First Amendment’s separation of church and state. Among countless examples of Trump’s racism and xenophobia, he has even turned his ire against Americans: In February, a judge ruled that Trump’s withholding of disability benefits from Puerto Ricans was unconstitutional, calling it “citizenship apartheid.” Most recently, to push through his racist border wall, Trump declared an unconstitutional state of emergency.
Add to this precedent what’s happening to immigrants. As a child, I never could have imagined that when I was 42, my country would be caging children at its border.
Trump is setting another disturbing precedent by refusing to divest from his businesses—on top of his refusal to even disclose what his business interests are. Having a sitting president, who knows his position is temporary, with a stake in more than 500 businesses is a recipe for corruption. Today, both at home and around the world, there is a sense that if you want to do business with the United States of America, you’ve got to spend money with the Trump Organization. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) documented more than 1,400 interactions in 2017 and 2018 that represented conflicts of interest for Trump, including his 281 visits to properties he profits from. Twelve foreign governments made payments to Trump—each of which, according to CREW, “is likely a violation of the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause,” which bans presidents from receiving gifts from foreign countries.
The emoluments clause is in the Constitution for a reason: We, as Americans, need to know that the president acts in our best interests, not his own self-interest. When Trump refused to censure Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, was he doing so on our behalf or because the Saudi government had spent $270,000 at a Trump hotel?
The president of the United States and his associates are implicated in multiple crimes to get him elected. Trump’s close friend, National Enquirer owner David Pecker, and Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, made payments to two women to purposefully influence an election—criminal felonies, both directed by Trump himself. One could write a blockbuster thriller about all the transgressions and it still wouldn’t be more terrifying than the threats to our bedrock democratic principles.
Such actions are morally unacceptable. And it is irresponsible for members of Congress to ignore these transgressions because of their political calculations or worries about 2020.
The people I represent in the 13th Congressional District are not talking about “the Russians.” They are not talking about the Mueller investigation. Some of them don’t even know who Mueller is or what the investigation is about. Rather, they ask, “How come Trump hasn’t shown his tax returns?” One resident of my district described Trump as “a crooked CEO in the White House, running his businesses from the Oval Office.” That, to me, is what scares the American people, and rightfully so.
This corruption in our democracy creates anxiety. That’s why people like me got elected. People want someone who will represent them fearlessly and unapologetically. They want someone to say, “That’s wrong. That’s illegal. And we need to fix it right away.”
Our situation as a nation is urgent. It is time for a call for impeachment to set the tone. We have enough information to move forward.
We cannot permit Donald Trump to commit crimes from the Oval Office or violate our Constitution in broad daylight and get away with it. Such actions are criminal.
When Trump became president, he started working for us. He works for the people.
We handed him that power. We can take it back.
Rashida Tlaib is the U.S. representative for Michigan’s 13th congressional district. She is a lawyer and served as a state representative in Michigan for six years.