First, an order of business on my part. I owe my readers an apology.
I have been labeling Donald Trump as a “parafascist” for nearly two years. This week, by his act of calling for the imprisonment of House of Representatives Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, Trump proved that he actually, plain and simple, is a fascist. There is no longer any need to add the prefix “para” to the word “fascist” in describing our ultra-authoritarian president.
As explained by Yale Professor of Philosophy Jason Stanley in his landmark 2018 book, How Fascism Works, fascism is more accurately defined as a technique for the seizure and maintenance of political power than as a coherent governing philosophy. An essential component of fascism is the defining of the ruler’s adversaries as criminals and then subsequently attempting to imprison them. That is exactly what Trump is doing in the case of Adam Schiff.
Since the publication this past Sunday of my InsiderNJ column, “Impeachment of Trump: An Imperative of Criminal Law and Constitutional Law” (https://www.insidernj.com/impeachment-trump-imperative-criminal-law-constitutional-law/) , matters for Trump on both the impeachment legal and political fronts have gone from bad to much worse.
The evidence of grave Trump violations of both criminal and Constitutional law has become overwhelming. Conservative legal icon Judge Andrew Napolitano of the Temple of Trumpism, Fox News has defined Trump’s behavior in the “arms for political dirt” scandal as “criminal and impeachable behavior.” The text messages provided yesterday by the top US diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor constitute a virtual collection of lethal legal smoking guns.
On the political front, the news yesterday from the highly reputed USA Today/Ipsos poll was a nightmare for the Trump White House. A substantial plurality, 45 percent of Americans support a vote by the House to impeach the president while 38 percent said they don’t think the House should vote on impeachment. Even more alarming, 44 percent of respondents said the Senate, which would be charged with holding a formal impeachment trial if the House approved articles of impeachment, should convict and remove Trump from office. Thirty-five percent said that the Senate should not convict Trump.
Impeachment of President Trump by the House of Representatives is now a virtual certainty. Trump’s hopes for the survival of his presidency rest with the United States Senate. The Republicans hold 53 of the 100 seats. In order to remove the president from office, there must be 67 Senators who vote for the president’s ouster. That requires the defection of at least 20 GOP Senators to vote for removal with all 47 Senators in the Democratic caucus.
At the time the Whistleblower scandal news first broke last week, Republican strategist Mike Murphy stated that if the vote in the Senate for Trump’s removal was conducted as a secret ballot, thirty Republicans would vote for Trump’s ouster. The next day, former US Senator from Arizona Jeff Flake estimated that 35 Republican Senators would secretly vote for Trump’s removal.
Such a massive defection of Republican Senators to the cause of removal of Trump from office will occur if a universally respected Republican Senator will announce that he now favors Trump’s ouster. I believe that this role will be played by the Republican senior Senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley. He serves as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will play a critical role in the removal process.
Grassley is 86 years old, and there is nothing Trump can do to intimidate him. While he is basically a conservative, he is above all a constitutionalist who puts country over party. He conclusively demonstrated this when he defended the rights of the Whistleblower against Trump’s McCarthyite attacks. Specifically, Grassley stated, “This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality,”
Grassley’s unquestionable constitutionalism will result in his ultimately supporting Trump’s removal from office. This will give the political cover for at least 20 other GOP senators to follow Grassley and vote for Trump’s ouster. After the vote, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court John Roberts will arrive at the White House to swear in the 46th President of the United States Michael Richard Pence – unless Pence himself is also removed and impeached.
Donald Trump will become the first president of the United States forcibly removed from office by action of the United States Senate. He will devote the rest of his life to alternative television media which has the goal of destroying the credibility of mainstream print, radio, and television media. And he will fail at that as well.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.