by Carolyn Walsh ’17
As if it were not obvious enough that the Trump presidency is like a terrifying episode of The Twilight Zone, our Commander-in-Chief has somehow managed to up his insane conspiracy game by accusing former president Barack Obama of wiretapping him during the 2016 election campaign.
Trump took to Twitter earlier this month to lament the “terrible” news that Obama spied on Trump Tower before the election—without providing any substantive evidence to support this extreme allegation. In the days following, high ranking individuals, from Obama himself to former FBI director James Clapper to House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif, came out to say there is absolutely no evidence of any wiretapping of the Trump campaign.
Despite the outrage and objections from both sides of the aisle over Trump’s claims, the President and key members of his team have refused to take back or even apologize for what has been said. Since taking office, Trump has been embroiled in multiple scandals—but this could be the one that finally delivers a fatal blow to his administration.
With these wiretap claims, Trump has shown a blatant disregard for the standards of conduct associated with the Presidency of the United States, and thus, the grounds for his impeachment have never been more compelling.
The legal standards for impeaching the President of the United States are quite high. Article II, Section IV of the U.S. Constitution states, “the President can be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Although there is some disagreement over what specific actions can constitute impeachment, constitutional scholars generally agree that abuses of the office, including deliberate lying and an overreach of executive power, are reasons for impeachment.
Trump’s unfounded wiretapping claims against former President Obama is a serious distortion of the responsibilities of the office of the Presidency and essentially qualifies as the criminal offence of false and defamatory speech. Trump’s hollow accusation of Obama committing the impeachable and criminal act of wiretapping the Trump campaign is itself an impeachable and criminal act.
This past week, FBI director James Comey put the final nail in the coffin of there being any semblance of truth to Trump’s claims. Comey stated in a public testimony before Congress that he has “no information” to support the wiretap allegations.
At this point it is abundantly clear that the wiretap story is a flat out lie, and probably one created by Trump to distract from the other real disasters of his administration—the executive order travel ban and the ongoing FBI investigation into the possible collusion between his team and Russia leading up to the election.
Trump has deliberately misused his power as the President to knowingly slander a former one and, it seems, to attempt to delegitimize the political opposition to his administration.
Again, Trump has shown his true colors. He has no respect for the office of the Presidency or the responsibilities and standards of conduct that come with it. He has no respect for American democracy and its value of transparency.
Finally, however, it seems that the man who cries false conspiracy theory could finally be eaten by the wolf of impeachment.