The American people must immediately demand a cessation of all consequential actions by this “president” until we can be assured that Russian efforts to hack our election, in a way that was clearly meant to help him and damage his opponent, did not also include collusion with or cover-up by anyone involved in the Trump campaign and now administration.
This may sound extreme, but if the gathering fog of suspicion should yield an actual connection, it would be one of the most egregious assaults on our democracy ever. It would not only be unprecedented, it would be a profound wound to faith in our sovereignty.
Viewed through the serious lens of those epic implications, no action to put this presidency on pause is extreme. Rather, it is exceedingly prudent.
Some things must be done and some positions filled simply to keep the government operational. Absolute abrogation of administrative authority is infeasible and ill advised. But a bare minimum standard must be applied until we know more about what the current raft of investigations yield. Indeed, it may be that the current investigative apparatuses are insufficient and a special commission or special counsel is in order.
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In any event, we can’t keep cruising along as if the unanswered question isn’t existential.
Americans must demand at least a momentary respite from – my preference would be a permanent termination of – Trump’s aggressive agenda to dramatically alter the social, economic and political contours of this country.
America deserves to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our president is legitimate before he issues a single new disruptive executive order.
America deserves to know that he is legitimate before he pursues a program to dismantle Obamacare.
America deserves to know that he is legitimate before he pushes through a budget that obscenely expands military spending while making dramatic cuts in other areas.
America deserves to know that he is legitimate before the Senate moves forward with confirmation hearings for his Supreme Court nominee.
Republicans pitched a fit when President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the seat made open by the death of Antonin Scalia, falsely arguing that a president should not be allowed to fill a vacancy during the last year of his term. Well, it is not at all clear to me that this will not be the last year of Donald Trump’s term, should these investigations reveal something untoward between his regime and Russia.
We have known for some time that the Russians interfered in our election in an effort to favor Trump. What we are learning in recent weeks are the number of Trump advisers and administrative officials who had contact with the Russian ambassador before the election, the frequency of those contacts, and the attempts, at least by some, to conceal those contacts.
But we now know, according to reporting by The Washington Post, that Attorney General Jeff Sessions also met at least twice with the ambassador during the campaign – once at the Republican National Convention – and then lied about those contacts under oath during his confirmation hearings.
Then this weekend in a series of tweets Trump made a scandalous and completely unsubstantiated allegation that Obama had “my ‘wires tapped' in Trump Tower” in October 2016. He said of his baseless charge, “This is McCarthyism!” and “This is Nixon/Watergate” and called Obama a “Bad (or sick) guy!”
This is absolutely outrageous. One of three things is true here: Obama, during the waning months of an eight-year term free of personal scandal, decided to maliciously and illegally tap the phones of the candidate all the polls at the time predicted would lose; a law enforcement agency was able to present evidence and convince a federal judge that someone or some group of people in Trump Tower were engaged in illegal activity; or this “president,” who has proved himself a pathological liar, is once again chasing conspiratorial windmills and seeking to detract and deflect from legitimate scandal. Any of these scenarios has the profoundest of consequences.
There is a helluva lot of smoke here for there to be no fire. Maybe all of these contacts with the Russians have some benign and believable explanation that escapes me at the moment. Maybe this is just the culmination of an extraordinary series of coincidences. Maybe.
I actually hope that’s true. The alternative explanation is nearly unfathomable in its ability to injure our democracy.
Whatever the case, we need answers before we simply pretend that there is some sort of political inertia pulling us forward and that the Trump agenda is an inevitable consequence of a suspect election.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last month found that a majority of Americans believe “Congress should investigate whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign had contact with the Russian government in 2016.”
That’s important, but not enough. Until that investigation is completed, that same majority of Americans must put elected officials on notice that there will be a price to pay if they aid and abet Trump’s agenda before the truth is known.
We must all demand without equivocation: Pause this presidency!