An Illegitimate Presidency

(Photo: Michael Reynolds/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

The Oval Office on February 1, 2017

The latest news about ongoing contacts between senior Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence during the campaign makes clear what was hidden in plain view: Trump and the Russians colluded to tip the election to Trump; and in return, Trump offered a much more docile set of U.S. policies towards Putin.

As The New York Times reported, based on extensive interviews with former senior U.S. intelligence officials:

[T]he intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last summer, Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them public.

So we now have something entirely unprecedented in American history—a coup d’état, perpetrated not just by a foreign power, but by America’s principal geopolitical adversary and threat, with the collusion of the new president.

That means that the election was illegitimate, and that the entire Trump presidency is illegitimate. And so, therefore, are every one of its actions: The appointment of a far-right cabinet. Policies to overturn regulations that protect ordinary Americans, from health, to labor, to the environment, to financial safeguards. All of Trump’s court appointees will be illegitimate, too.

You want to talk about electoral fraud? It doesn’t get more fraudulent than this.

What is to be done? If this were most countries, the sovereign would declare the election invalid and call a new one. Or the Army would march in, stage a counter-coup, and restore the Republic. Or the president would be forced into exile.

But this is the United States, and only Congress can remove the president. Most Republicans have waltzed around these latest disclosures, placing party above country. Senator Rand Paul even said that Republicans should not be investigating other Republicans.

Eventually, however, the full truth will come out, and we will be rid of Trump. The best and most honorable outcome would be for Vice President Pence to preside over some kind of caretaker government, acknowledging that Trump’s election (and his own) was not legitimate. This course might make the country whole. It might even make America great again.

But that is probably too much to hope for. Republicans have too much to gain in the enactment of far-right policies and the appointment of far-right courts to place the republic first.

As a first and urgent step, ridding the republic of Trump is the place to start. The truth will come out. If Trump tries to suppress these investigations, it will be so much the worse for him.

Vladimir Putin put this man in office, and Americans will not stand for it. Republicans will have to come around. Probably sooner than many think.

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