Opinion: Trump’s “Impeachment is a coup” tweets are his most disturbing yet

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I am a former intelligence officer, and currently a criminal defense investigator. By nature and choice, I am not highly partisan. My years in CIA were spent mostly serving under a President I did not vote for, and whose policies I did not agree with. In spite of this, I served in good conscience because I knew my oath was to the constitution and I knew the President whose policies I opposed had nonetheless sworn the same type of oath in good faith, and was loyal to the same things. No one’s loyalty was ever in doubt.

I saw the election of Donald Trump coming. In May 2016, a month before he won the nomination, I wrote:

There is something darkly  profound going on in American political life and discourse. The rise of Donald Trump is, I’m beginning to think, more than a political shift.  It’s a deeper cultural and psychological shift that is the logical outcome of the polarization and gridlock that has gripped our democracy ever since the emergence of the Tea Party and quite possibly sooner than that.  The truth is, there had to be payback from the people to those who govern when they let themselves get so mired in partisan polarities that they just stopped doing their damned jobs in any reasonable and productive way.  Think about all those polls showing 10% approval rating for Congress.  Trump is perceived as a kick-ass antidote to the foolish, selfish, stupidity that has resulted in what is widely perceived to be  dysfunctional democracy.  Trump is perceived as the anti-politics solution to Washington’s failure  to deliver satisfaction to anyone, left or right.

When Trump won, I felt despair at where America had landed, but I urged myself and others to “give the guy a chance.” Surely, I thought, the enormity of the responsibility will change him from the shallow narcissist on display in the election into someone more serious. I thought that his lack of true political philosophy coupled with supposed dealmaker capability could somehow break the gridlock in Congress. I thought that somehow he could possibly do business with both side and perhaps, against expectations, do some good in the process.

I was wrong.

The reason for this preamble is to establish that I did not begin this journey as a “never Trumper” but rather came to this with a reasonably open mind, with ‘watchful waiting’ as the starting point for my experience of the Trump administration.

Over the course of that administration, it is not the predictable Republican policies that he has followed that have bothered me. I expect a Republican administration to reduct taxes on the wealthy; reduce regulations; reduce environmental safeguards. Plus Trump’s other policies like his trade war with China or even his egregious immigration and border policies are still “just policies” — meaning they are transitory and can and will be reversed when there is a change in government.

So, those are things I don’t like — but can accept with some degree of equanimity. But what I can’t accept with equanimity is this President’s assault on our institutions. His actions have caused Americans to lose faith in the legitimacy of everything from our elections to our intelligence and law enforcement agencies. It is these actions that truly disturb me, because they are not easily remedied and may have lasting effects long after Trump is gone from the scene.

And now this …. a pair of tweets that say:

To claim that the constitutional process under way is a coup is particularly dangerous because it lays the groundwork for …. what? I don’t have an answer for that. This comes on the heels of Trump’s “civil war” tweet two days earlier. And is followed by two more tweets this morning from Rudy Giuliani threatening that congress has exceeded its “limited authority” and signaling that “we” are not going to cooperate or accept the legitimacy of the impeachment inquiry.

This cannot happen. This President, or any President, must be held accountable and the impeachment inquiry is a legitimate constitutional process toward that end. There are many more facts that need to come out, and will come out whether Trump and Guiliani want them to or not. I’m under no illusion that the end of all this will be removal from office — that is highly unlikely. But the constitution that gave us the electoral college that allowed Trump to be elected in spite of losing the popular vote by 3 million votes is the same constitution that gives us impeachment as a remedy for a rogue President.

Let the process play out; let the facts (all of them) come out; then let Congress vote; let the Senate hold its trial and vote; and finally let the people of the country vote in 2020.

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