So, now that we know that Donald Trump and Mike Pence reached the White House through at least two specific and separate criminal conspiracies, what do we do about it?
Can they be removed from office? Can the election be done over? Can the Trump/Pence administration’s actions over the past two years be reversed, particularly the appointments of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and all the damage to our federal agencies?
According to federal court filings last week from the Southern District of New York, and from the Special Counsel’s office, Donald Trump and Michael Cohen criminally conspired to hide from the American people the fact that Trump had sexual relations immediately after the birth of his son Baron with both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and that his affair with McDougal lasted about a year.
Had Republican voters known about those affairs long before Trump gained the momentum he did during the period of the cover-up, Trump wouldn’t have become the GOP’s nominee and would now be back to playing the roles of a faux billionaire and a reality TV star.
Similarly, those same court filings tell us that even after Trump won the GOP’s nomination for president, he continued to negotiate with the Russian government to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Presumably construction would begin right after he lost the election of 2016, which is fully what he expected: he hadn’t even bothered to write an acceptance speech.
That Moscow property would have brought him, according to the court filings, “hundreds of millions of dollars” in net revenues, probably more than any other project he’d ever engaged in. It would finally make him financially secure.
And, because it was going to be financed by a Russian bank that’s under sanctions, and both Cohen and Manafort were expecting to get a cut of the action, they led his campaign to corruptly change the GOP’s platform to go soft on the Russians. The goal was to end the sanctions so they could move forward with the Moscow construction right after the elections.
In exchange for Trump Tower Moscow, it appears that either Russian oligarchs (who were presumably in on the Trump Tower Moscow deal) and/or the Russian government itself (which quite reasonably wanted the sanctions lifted) set out, at Trump’s explicit and public request, to help Trump.
They hacked the DNC and took down Hillary Clinton, both with the WikiLeaks revelations and a widespread social media campaign, which also constituted an illegal campaign contribution and further ensnared the Trump/Pence campaign in a campaign finance crime.
All of this adds up to Trump and Pence holding control of the Executive Branch of government fraudulently; the rightful claimant to the White House is Hillary Clinton, and the rightful claimant of Scalia’s SCOTUS seat is Merrick Garland.
Trump not only knew about these frauds but, according to the court filings, directed at least the sexual cover-up. We’re still waiting to hear the details of Trump’s involvement in altering the GOP’s platform to benefit the Russians, but it strains credulity that Trump didn’t know about this, if not being the force behind it.
Meanwhile, Mike Pence – who ran the transition into the White House – either knew or, with even a small bit of competence and common sense, should have known but was looking the other way. Thus, he’s complicit, legally and/or morally and politically.
We don’t yet know all the dirt that Mueller and company have on Trump, but just these two things that Trump successfully hid from the electorate – that he was porking porn stars and Playboy bunnies prior to the primaries, and that he was negotiating with the Russians right through the first half of the general election – mean that he committed two separate massive frauds to become president.
If he had not committed that fraud, he would never have become the GOP nominee and, even if he had won the nomination through some inexplicable miracle, he and Pence would not have squeaked through the Electoral College with about 70,000 votes spread over three or four states. Hillary Clinton would be president, but for Trump and Pence’s fraud.
So, what do we do?
The Framers of the Constitution had such confidence in the “wise elders” of the Electoral College that they didn’t even envision such a scenario, so there’s no mention of such a situation in the Constitution. And, while courts have ordered that elections be done over on numerous occasions all over the country, I can’t find a single case of that happening years after the initial election. (If you know of one, please let me know!)
As to solutions, it’s remotely possible that the election of Trump and Pence could be challenged in federal court.
In the Federal District Court case of Donohue v Board of Elections (1976), Judge Mishler wrote in his decision that ordering a new election is within the purview of the courts, and that this has been done in the past. He wrote:
“The point, however, is not that ordering a new Presidential election in New York State is beyond the equity jurisdiction of the federal courts. Protecting the integrity of elections, particularly Presidential contests, is essential to a free and democratic society. See United States v. Classic, supra.
“It is difficult to imagine a more damaging blow to public confidence in the electoral process than the election of a President whose margin of victory was provided by fraudulent registration or voting, ballot-stuffing or other illegal means. Indeed, entirely foreclosing injunctive relief in the federal courts would invite attempts to influence national elections by illegal means, particularly in those states where no statutory procedures are available for contesting general elections.
“Finally, federal courts in the past have not hesitated to take jurisdiction over constitutional challenges to the validity of local elections and, where necessary, order new elections. The fact that a national election might require judicial intervention, concomitantly implicating the interests of the entire nation, if anything, militates in favor of interpreting the equity jurisdiction of the federal courts to include challenges to Presidential elections.”
But this case from December 7, 1976 was a futile attempt by the GOP to prevent New York State from casting its electoral votes for Jimmy Carter before the swearing in of Carter in January, 1977; it wasn’t an effort to reverse an election that had already been decided and the candidate had been sworn into office.
Additionally, such a case could take years and would certainly end up before the Supreme Court; given the current composition of the Supreme Court, it’s hard to imagine that they’d invalidate Trump’s “victory” and possibly remove two of their own from the Court.
But there is a constitutional route that can be taken by Congress, via impeachment.
In January, Nancy Pelosi will become the Speaker of the House. As such, should the nation lose its president and vice-president to impeachment, we’d have President Pelosi. It wouldn’t reverse the damage the GOP and Trump/Pence have done, but it would be a start.
The key is to illuminate Mike Pence’s role in Trump’s frauds, so both men succumb to impeachment in the House, and conviction and removal from office by the Senate.
The level of criminality engaged in by Donald Trump, his family, his campaign, and his “fixer/lawyer” is broad and sweeping, consistent with lifetime patterns of criminality on all of their parts (and we still have more to learn).
To imagine that Mike Pence didn’t know about this, or at least suspect it, is simply inconceivable, making him an accessory to those crimes – as well as being the principle secondary beneficiary of those crimes.
As evidence that Pence was complicit or knowledgeable, or should have been, comes to the fore, an impeachment effort must include both men. The nation can no easier withstand the incompetence of a corrupt former right-wing talk show host (Pence) than a corrupt former reality TV star and real estate con man.
And that evidence must be strong enough that it’ll overcome the concerns of nearly a dozen Republican senators, so both Trump and Pence are removed from office.
Nothing less than the integrity of our nation and the survival of democracy are at stake.