Future scholars will wish to establish the exact tipping point. When did the U.S. begin to evolve from a republic to an authoritarian regime? When did it become permissible for the president and his party to ignore the Constitution and the rule of law? When did certain influential sectors of the media start to deny the truth and simply rubber-stamp whatever falsehood the president uttered? Regrettably, the answer to these questions is now — today.

The founding fathers were very unambiguous when they designed the new republic. In Article I, Section 9 they declared that members of government should avoid corrupting foreign influences and prohibited officeholders from receiving any gift, payment, or other thing of value from a foreign state or its representatives. Most importantly, no one was to be above the law. In the words of Samuel Adams, “There shall be one rule of Justice for the rich and the poor; for the favorite in Court, and the Countryman at the Plough.”


Should federal officeholders ever violate the public trust and seek or receive any profit, benefit, or advantage from a foreign power, they risk being charged with “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The remedy for this is the same today as it was back in 1787: impeachment and removal from office.

Is there a case for impeachment of the president and his removal from office? The president checked the “corrupting foreign influences” box when he didn’t report and then denied receiving Russia’s help in the 2016 election and when he pressured Ukraine to investigate his likely 2020 political rival for his own personal gain. He compounded this by also appealing to China for assistance, and by spreading old-fashioned Soviet agit-prop disinformation about a nefarious Ukrainian role in 2016 and 2020. This unfounded claim originated with the Kremlin’s intelligence agencies after we caught Russian President Vladimir Putin red-handed tipping the election scales toward Trump. Russian election sabotage in 2016 is not a “hoax” and has been confirmed by the FBI, CIA, NSA, and Senate Intelligence Committee.

Soliciting assistance from the Ukraine is also a violation of a Federal Election Commission law: “Campaigns may not solicit or accept contributions from foreign nationals.” Such contributions include all kinds of assistance and are not limited to cash.

In further weighing whether Trump violated the public trust, we’ll leave the “treason” part to history, though denying the Ukraine almost $400 million in military aid while its army battles Russian invaders was yet another instance of his jeopardizing national security and serving Putin’s strategic plans and not our own.

Next, did the president check the “bribery” box? Well, yes. He withheld a valued meeting in the oval office with the Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelensky and blocked military aid in exchange for Zelensky’s promise to appear on CNN and announce investigations of the Bidens, father and son. We now know that the congressionally-approved aid wasn’t released until a dedicated public servant blew the whistle on the whole sordid and extortionist caper. We also know from phone records that Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, was in almost daily contact with the Ukrainians and the Office of Management and Budget that controlled the purse strings.

Most compellingly in this whole narrative, the president put a big “X” next to “high crimes and misdemeanors.” He tried to rig next year’s election by preemptively smearing a potential rival. He then organized a cover-up that included dizzying, changing alibis and witness intimidation via tweet. Innocent people don’t do this; mob bosses do. If his actions were so innocuous, then why did then-national Security Advisor John Bolton compare them to a “drug deal?”

When the president was offered an opportunity to defend himself, he let a deadline pass to participate in the House Judiciary Committee hearing. That’s because the evidence is too damning, especially since Giuliani’s phone records and so many texts and emails to and from Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, became public.

Is the impeachment purely political as conservatives claim? Yes, as prescribed by Alexander Hamilton in “The Federalist Papers,” No. 65. He wrote regarding “the misconduct of public men” and “violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

Lastly, conservative talk radio and Fox News have endorsed this sleazy affair, even when the “hearsay” they once decried became eyewitness testimony from Sondland. He confirmed there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine and that “everyone was in the loop.” By spinning this otherwise, Trump’s media minions have chosen profits over patriotism.

The president is not above the law. The Constitution’s framers endeavored to avoid a return to monarchy at all costs. Trump is not “more equal” than Congress. He certainly cannot thwart House investigations by directing his subordinates to refuse to comply with lawfully issued subpoenas for documents and testimony. This is obstruction of justice, plain and simple, as was his earlier attempt to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller during his investigation of Russian campaign interference.

The president represents a clear, present, and continuing danger to our republic. Last week Giuliani brazenly returned to Ukraine, desperate to find dirt on the Bidens to serve Trump. Members of Congress and the Senate hold a public trust to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. For them, the charge of history is clear: impeach and remove.

Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears every other Friday. Email him at fjbatavick@gmail.com.