How do you ask someone to be the first American to die for a Putin policy?

Testifying against the Vietnam war in 1971, John Kerry famously asked “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

Today, given Trumps’s conflicts and the likely illegitimacy of the election result, due to the events that led to the CIA hacking finding, we now have to ask:

How do you ask someone to be the first person to die for a Trump hotel?

How do you ask someone to be the first person to die for a Putin policy?

I do not know how to answer the question, but I do know that this country is heading towards the largest crisis of leadership legitimacy it has ever faced.

Congress Should Pass a Concurrent Resolution urging Trump Not to Allow His Administration to Do Anything That Helps Putin Till the Election Hacking Issue is Resolved

Congress must pass a Concurrent Resolution that would urge Trump and his administration not to do anything of benefit to Putin or Russia until the election hacking questions are at least preliminarily resolved.

The rationale for this is simple and essentially unarguable:  Putin should derive no benefit from the actions now confirmed by the CIA.

The most obvious example of such a benefit would be Trump’s removal of Obama’s Crimea sanctions, (great news for a certain oil company) but there are plenty of other ways that Trump could reward Putin.

Interestingly, if Trump were serious about protecting the national interest, he would immediately agree to such a pause, because any other message makes our political system an open target for all, without any disincentive.

What a legacy that would be for President Trump?  How great would such an America be?

The more you think about this, the more terrifying it becomes, and the more we appear to be relying on the integrity of a tiny number of Republican Senators to stop such an outcome.

 

“The Presidential Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2017”

We all know how a certain party loves to trigger “blame the victim” mythology by invoking the words “personal responsibility.”

Well, with the most irresponsible president-elect imaginable, one who even often denies doing what he has done or said, maybe its time to think about a “Presidential Responsibility and Disclosure Act.”

Such an Act, unlikely to be passed in the first 100 days, would provide:

That presidents would be required to disclose any benefits they might receive as a result of actions taken by them or their appointees, or those under their appointees control, including White House staff.  The requirement would be waived when the President put their assets in a blind trust that met the standard that the President could not know or speculate about the impact of the decisions.  In other words that not only the trust would be blind, but its assets would have been randomized.

That the President would be required to acknowledge and correct misstatements made by him or her or the White House staff, unless given a confidential waiver by a national security staff, and subject to the disapproval of two or more of the chairs or minority leaders of the appropriate congressional committees.  The requirements would also apply to such statements made during the campaign, with the corrections required to be made before the voting by the formal electors in December.  With respect to campaign aides, the requirement would only apply to those who then take up government positions.

That presidential tweets would be required to followed within a few days, by a citation of authorities. (Given how badly Trump does with those with grad school experience, this could be sold as having potential to improve his rating with this rapidly expanding demographic.)

That, in order to facilitate first amendment exercise by voters, presidential candidates would be responsible for releasing their full Federal, state and local tax returns prior to the first steps in the convention delegate selection process.

Any other suggestions?

Impeachment and Conflicts of Interest

It has been pointed out that conflict of interest laws often exempt the President.  It also seems, that media coverage notwithstanding, the President-Elect and his team purport to be unconcerned about the massive lurking potential conflicts in almost any action Trump might take domestically or internationally. (Does that sound like an overstatement?  If you think so, I challenge you to find an action that he might take or not take that will not impact one or other of his business interests, positively or negatively, directly or indirectly.)

So, aside from the fact that other legal protections do put some constraints on Trump, we might start thinking again about the impeachment power, at least for after either 1) a wave election in 2018, or 2) Republicans finally figuring out that they have been totally conned, or 3) both of the above.

There has been, of course, endless debate about the meaning of the Impeachment Clauses, but what we do now is that their meaning is subject to a lot of change depending on whose ox is going to be gored.

At a minimum, however, there is surely an argument that when the law exempts Presidents’ behavior from being regulated, for something that is surely profoundly wrong, there is a stronger argument for treating it as within the scope of impeachment.  I suspect that many of the English impeachment cases were about personal enrichment.  The above link references one case of an allegation of payment to Lord Palmeston by the Tsar of Russia.