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Is this Presidential? Trump's Abuse of Power

Updated: Jan 13



US House of Representative's Vote Tally for the 2nd Trump Impeachment


Vote4Change strives to provide relevant and accurate information to help Americans to cast informed votes that can make a difference. Information provided in this blog contains hyperlinks to all media sources quoted.


Ranging from blowing up once acceptable norms, to alleged multiple criminal activities, former President Trump abused the power of the Presidency for personal gain unlike any other president.  In this piece V4C will be covering Marshall Cohen’s exceptional article for CNN politics entitled Chronicling Trump’s 10 worst abuses of power

Published Jan 24, 2021.


Vote4Change highly recommends our followers to read this highly significant and well written assessment of the Trump administration, a MUST READ!

 

It is Vote4Change’s opinion that these monumental abuses of power Trump employed in his first term, are so egregious that every American must be reminded what he did to OUR Country. Vote4Change's mission is to provide factual and relevant information to help Americans cast informed votes that can make a difference.

 

A vote for ANYONE else, other than Joe Biden, could end Democracy as we know it.  If any of your friends, family, or coworkers are not voting, or contemplating not to vote for Biden, please share this with them.

 

The blog will outline the top 10 Abuses of Power from Marshall Cohen’s piece, plus additional ones that were uncovered while researching this article.


  1. Subverting the 2020 Election

The most severe abuse of power occurred when Trump denied the election results refusing to participate in a peaceful transfer of power.  In doing so, Trump and his associates:

  • Lodged multiple accusations that the election was corrupt prior to a single vote being casted in 2020

  • Falsely claimed that voting measures put in place related to COVID were unconstitutional

  • Filed over 60 Election Fraud cases winning none

  • Pressured election officials in battleground states to fraudulently throw out millions of votes for Biden

  • Tried to convince Vice President Pence to unlawfully override the electoral college vote

  • Trump administration purposely dragged their feet by not participating transition activities with the incoming Biden administration

  • Never conceded the election to Biden


2. Inciting the Insurrection 


Trump's extreme desire to remain in power nearly lead to constitutional crisis ending in a coup attempt to overthrow our government.   Trump’s social media rhetoric stoked the fire, revving up extreme right-winged groups to storm the Capitol on Jan 6, eventually leading to 5 deaths.

  • False election claims “stop the steal”

  • Come to the Capitol on Jan 6 it is going to be wild

3. Abusing the bully pulpit


The amount and frequency of Trumps inflammatory and divisive rhetoric has never been seen with any previous US President, a clear abuse of power, but not criminal.  Roy Cohen, one of Trump's most important mentors, was an extremely abrasive obnoxious person, didn’t give a shit about rules, never paid his bills, never paid back anyone friend or foe, and never paid taxes.  Sound familiar?

 

For Trump, truth is effectively whatever it takes to win the moment.  Nearly 40 years ago in an interview Trump conveyed “Man is the most vicious of all animals, and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat”. Prior to the inauguration Trump told one of his associates to “think about each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals."

 

By telling so many lies, they all take a life of their own, potentially becoming the new normal. George Edwards, a political scientist from Texas A & M has stated "Donald Trump tells more untruths than any previous president.  There is no one that is a close second”.


4. Politicizing the Justice Department


From day one, Trump politically attack the DOJ and FBI, throughout his term in office and continues after leaving the White House.  The founding fathers purposely crafted our country to have a judicial branch that is totally separate from the executive branch.  Trump’s actions attacked these boundaries and at times erased or re-drew them to his liking.

 

“It’s extremely important for the integrity of American democracy that the president cannot manipulate law enforcement for partisan, political, self-interested preferences,” said Rick Pildes, a former CNN legal analyst who teaches at New York University. “Trump constantly agitated to eliminate the boundaries between a President and the DOJ, which was incredibly disturbing.” [CNN].


Trump....


  • Main goal was to twist the DOJ to serve his own needs

  • Leaned on law enforcement to protect Trump +/or his allies

  • Sought special council investigations of Hunter Biden

  • Leaned on Federal Prosecutors on Roger Stone’s case

  • While in office urged the FBI to investigate more than 2 dozen of his perceived opponents

  • In 2017 fired James Comey FBI Director

  • Appointed Bill Barr as Attorney General with the expectation he would act like his “personal attorney”

5. Obstructing the Mueller investigation


The Mueller investigation went on for the first three years of the Trump presidency.  Incensed by the investigation, Trump lashed out in multiple ways doing whatever he could do to block or stop it from proceeding. Mueller investigated 10 episodes an found persuasive evidence that Trump’s actions fit the legal criteria to warrant criminal charges. [CNN].  There were mixed feelings in the legal community as whether criminal offenses had occurred.


  • Upon it's completion Trump spewed more lies that the Mueller investigation gave him complete exoneration.

  • Report details numerous cases in which Trump asked his aides to take actions that obstructed the investigation

  • Trump campaign knew they would benefit from Russia’s illegal actions to influence the election, but didn’t take criminal steps to stop it

  • Barr said that Mueller’s investigation did not validate a conspiracy with the Russian

As reported by Marshall Cohen; Michael Zeldin, a former CNN legal analyst who previously worked for Mueller at the Justice Department, said there were one or two incidents that were strong and prosecutable obstruction crimes, including when Trump ordered his White House counsel to write a memo falsely stating that Trump never ordered him to fire Mueller. 

 

Most assert that Trump committed clear acts of obstruction, as Trump's primary motive was to interfere with the investigation.


6. Abusing the Pardon Power


Our constitution has little to no language on the limits of presidential pardons or sentence commutations. Some previous Presidents have levied controversial pardons in their final days in office.  Historians have resoundingly agreed that the Trump pardons went way beyond others, to extremes never seen before.

 

Previous Presidents would float their potential pardon lists with the DOJ seeking their input before issuing a pardon.  Trump almost never consulted with the Justice Department’s clemency office, leading to some highly controversial pardonsMany of these pardons undermined the rule of law, some jeopardized ongoing investigations, put witnesses safety in harms way, and undercut anti-corruption efforts.


The Mueller report uncovered evidence that Trump aides encouraged informants not to cooperate offering future pardons in exchange for their loyalty.  In December 2020 Trump dealt out pardons to staff convicted of lying or obstructing the Mueller Probe:


  • Roger Stone

  • Paul Manafort

  • Michael Flynn

  • George Papadopoulos

 

Marshall Cohen writes: Trump also pardoned prominent Republicans who were early boosters of his 2016 campaign, and used footage of a pardon ceremony for political purposes at the 2020 Republican National Convention. He never followed through, but Trump openly mused about pardoning himself, claiming multiple times that he could if he wanted to, even though that claim is untested and legally dubious.


He pardoned war criminals. Trump showed a flagrant disregard of the rule of law by pardoning Blackwater contractors who massacred unarmed Iraqi civilians, including innocent women and children.


7. The Ukraine Call & Cover Up


Trump is one of only 3 presidents to be impeached and the only one to be impeached twice.  Trump’s first impeachment experience in 2019, came after he was recorded trying to pressure Ukraine’s President Zelinski to provide “dirt” on the Biden’s to help his re-election chances. Shortly after the call, Trump doubled down by  un-lawfully withholding nearly $400 million  in military aid already appropriated by Congress.

 

As the impeachment investigation ensued, Trump told government officials not to cooperate with many officials defying subpoenas to testify or provide documents.


CNN Reports: “There has always been tension between the President and Congress over investigations of the White House,” said Pildes, the legal expert from New York University. “But we never had a president who stonewalled Congress and made it this difficult for Congress to perform one of its most important functions – oversight of the White House.”

 

The Center for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington [CREW] released a report “documenting compelling evidence that President Trump likely committed several crimes in his Ukraine conduct for which ordinary Americans could be prosecuted and punished. CREW’s analysis found that those crimes include: Bribery (18 U.S.C. § 201); Soliciting foreign campaign contributions (52 U.S.C. §§ 30109, 30121); Coercion of political activity (18 U.S.C. § 610); Misappropriation of federal funds (18 U.S.C. § 641); and Obstruction of Congress (18 U.S.C. §§ 1505, 1512).”


8. Loyalty oaths and personalizing government


Marshall Cohen in his CNN piece ; Chronicling Trump’s 10 worst abuses of power; writes “A recurring theme of the Trump presidency was the personalization of government, with Trump regularly conflating his interests with the national interests, and demanding personal loyalty from nearly everyone around him in government"


Rick Pildes, a former CNN legal analyst who teaches at New York University describes Trump’s requirement to pledge loyalty to him versus an oath to the Constitution, is a corruption of government and the rule of law. 


This first became evident when FBI Comey publicly disclosed that Trump demanded “loyalty”  from him in 2017, a highly inappropriate request from a sitting President.  Through out his term other Cabinet members and top aids who wished to keep their positions were forced to display false praise or pledge loyalty.


This is a flagrant abuse of power, demanding his staff to swear allegiance to the former president over the Country and Constitution based on one man’s whims, paints images of a dictator.


Trumps loyalty demands led to widespread Hatch Act violations, a law that was designed to prohibit the executive branch officials from using their jobs for political purposes.  Trump following his own rules, decided to deliver his 2020 GOP convention speech from the White House lawn, which had never been done before.


9. Firing Whistleblowers and Truth Tellers


A "fire"-storm would ensue if his staff if they disagreed with Trump privately or publicly. Anyone doing so would lose their job if they refused to do his bidding.  Throughout the Trump term there were premature departures, firings, and forced resignations that crescendo'd in the final year.  While some of these departures were good for the Country, firing them was un-ethical as Trump was clearly retaliating against the staff for his own personal reasons.


Some of who Trump fired:

  • European Union Ambassador Sondland was fired after he testified at Trump's first impeachment trial

  • Many Inspector Generals, civil servants who oversee governmental activities were fired when they reported wrongdoing by the Trump administration.

  • Chris Krebs,  the administrations head election security officer, was fired after publicly stating the 2020 election was the most secure election ever, discounting multiple Trump conspiracy theories.

  • Trump relentlessly attacked the anonymous intelligence official, who’s whistleblower complaint led to his first impeachment; unlawfully demanding to have their name revealed.

The ripple effect of Trump’s firing rampages has eroded the civil servant's trust in the freedom to speak up without fear of reprisal, which surely will discourage others from seeking federal employment.


10. Profiting while serving as the President


Trump is the first billionaire to be elected president, who against the advice from the ethics community refused to divest his business interest from his company.  Instead he temporarily put his adult sons in control of his company, claiming his attorneys advised him that it removed any conflict of interest issues.


Marshall Cohen writes in the CNN piece, this blog is based on, states: Trump’s continual conflict of interest ‘is reflective of his own moral compass. It is showing the way in which he thinks about his role as president,” said Rose-Ackerman, the Yale professor who studies political corruption. “It isn’t tied so much to a million dollars here or a million dollars there. It’s tied to his perspective about what it means to be president – that he sees it as giving him free range to do things.”


How Trump made money while serving as President:


  • In 2019 alone he spent 1 of every 5 days on his properties and golf courses, raising their profile and by billing the US government at least $2.5 million dollars for secret service agents to stay on Trump properties.

  • Trump DC Hotel became to standard location to accommodate GOP insiders, foreign officials and lobbyists, leading to the Trump administration being blamed of trying to buy influence by staying in his hotel.  Later Trump released a statement that the profits from these stays would be donated to the US Treasury [It is not clear if indeed this happened].


  • Increased concerns about violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution which bans federal officials from taking payments from foreign government., were raised. These allegations are slowly working through the court systems now.




·     

Additional examples of Trump’s Abuse of Power





Appointing Unqualified Family members to top WH roles


Indy100, a spin-off of the Independent, takes legit news stories and asked their reader to rank them. 


Indy100, In August 2023, ranked Trump’s appointment of his unqualified family to top administrative roles on their Top 59 Worst things Trump did as President.  Ivanka his daughter and her husband Jared Kushner became “special advisors” a vaguely defined role, however allowing them to have a part in running our country.


Ivanka tried to expand her role during the 2019 G20 summit while she attempted to talk with French President Macron, Theresa May, and Trudeau.  This video was released by the French Presidential Palace.


Refused to release his US Tax returns.


CREW; Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has continued to push for Trump to release his tax returns while in office.  Trump is the first major party nominee in 40 years to fail to release his tax returns.



Sanctuary cities are a loose name for states or localities that have regulations which can act as an obstacle for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hunt down migrants they think they can deport. A sanctuary city has limited the extent to which it will volunteer resources in support of federal immigration enforcement agents’ responsibility to enforce federal immigration law.


Circumvented congressionally appropriated funding from the Treasury and Dept of Defense to build the Wall


This comes from Washington Post’s 10 worst things Trump did in 2019.  After Trump lost a long battle in Congress to keep the government open, Trump used the National Emergencies Act, to steal money to build his wall, after Congress had previously refused to do so legislatively.    


So we ask again..... are any of these acts Presidential?


If votes are not casted for President Biden they could become "presidential" again.


This is the first in a series of articles covering topics to help remind Americans why Trump cannot get a second term. 


Future topic’s are:

Criminals

Attacks on the Rule of Law

Tainted Agency Appointments

Other questionable acts

Cabinet

Staff Turnover

~ Election Denial / Voting Regulations

~ Narcissism

~ Racism

~ White Supremist / Nationalists

~ Gun Control

~ View of Veterans

~ Military Use

~ Foreign Affairs /Policies

~ Climate Beliefs/Actions

~ Healthcare

~ COVID

~ Abortion & Reproductive Health

~ Women / Sexism

~ LGBTQ+ Rights position

~ Defamation of Others

~ Trump’s 2025 Campaign Agenda





 



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