In public, President Trump has broadcast the idea that his nascent impeachment is not getting to him, whether that’s by decrying the process on Twitter, calling it “stupid” at a rally in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, or writing in really big letters that there was no impeachable act in the first place. But one Trump adviser told CNN that the impeachment is a (rightful) cause of consternation for the president.
“Frankly, I think he’s a little surprised it’s the Ukraine thing that’s done it,” a presidential adviser told Jim Acosta. This suggests an unusual understanding of his own actions: Trump is reportedly stunned that, of all his behavior that has violated the oath of office, it is this scheme that ultimately led to the constitutional push to remove him.
The president’s deft assessment may be informed by the House leadership’s decision to pursue two articles of impeachment limited to the Ukraine scandal: Abusing his power by soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election, and obstructing justice by defying subpoenas related to the House investigation into his actions. More likely, his surprise has more to do with his broad abuse of office throughout his administration. As New York’s Jonathan Chait handily summarized earlier this year, potentially impeachable offenses could include:
- Abusing his power for political gain, including a push for the postmaster general to double rates on Amazon to potentially punish Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos; blocking a $10 billion DOD contract from the company; and an order for his administration to halt the AT&T–Time Warner merger as punishment for CNN’s coverage of him.
- Gross negligence of classified information, including his frequent communication on an unsecured cellphone; his reversal of 25 security-clearance denials, including one for his son-in-law; and handing Russian officials Israeli intelligence, which exposed a key source on matters related to ISIS.
- Undermining duly elected federal law, including declaring a national emergency to allocate funding for his border wall; abusing emergency powers to impose tariffs; and ordering border agents to illegally block asylum seekers from entering the country while promising immunity via presidential pardons.
- Obstruction of Congress, including his refusal to abide by a congressional demand to release his tax returns.
- Obstruction of justice, including 10 instances mentioned in the Mueller report.
- Profiting from office, including making policy decisions that influence his business; accepting payments from foreign and domestic agents; and refusing to disclose his interests.
- Fomenting violence, including eight occasions in which he encouraged supporters to attack political opponents.
No wonder why the simple project of pressuring a foreign government to investigate a political rival has reportedly flown under the president’s ethical radar.