Email #161: “uphold our Constitution”?

The Constitution states that “The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

To the best of my knowledge, President Trump has committed no impeachable crimes. But according to former FBI Director Comey, the investigation of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign is underway because it met the FBI’s evidentiary threshold. So there is “a credible allegation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe that an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.”

We also know that the President has made multiple false and misleading statements about the investigation. He tweeted over the weekend: “When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?”

Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence who retired in January, said in March that he was not aware of any evidence of collusion because he was not involved in any investigation. He repeated this over the weekend: “I don’t know if there was collusion or not.” He also added:

“our institutions are under assault both externally — and that’s the big news here, Russian interference in our election system — and I think, as well, our institutions are under assault internally…. the Founding Fathers … created a system of three co-equal branches of government, and a built-in system of checks and balances. And I feel as though that’s under assault and is eroding.”

When asked to clarify if he meant that our institutions are under assault internally by the President, he responded: “Exactly.” It is peculiar then for the President to cite Director Clapper to support his claim that he is not being investigated. The fact-checking website gives the President a “mostly false” on that point.

While it is not an impeachable offense for a President to make “mostly false” statements unless under oath, it does illustrate Clapper’s concern. Why is President Trump openly misleading the American public about the investigation? And, equally importantly, why are you allowing this?

You assured me in January that you would “uphold our Constitution and put the interests of the citizens of the 6th District of Virginia and the country as a whole above the interests of any individual or political party.” Like Director Clapper, you refered to “our constitutional system of three co-equal branches of government” and how it prevents “one branch from assuming too much authority without a challenge from the other branches of government.”

But that is only true if the members of each branch take action when needed. You are not. While the President is responsible for assaulting the integrity of the White House, you are responsible for the eroding integrity of Congress generally and the House Judiciary Committee specifically. That will be your legacy.


Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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