Wissot: The time has come to ignore this president’s authority
After the ransacking of the nation’s Capitol by a violent mob of Trump blessed rioters, it is clear that this president in his waning days in office is a clear and present threat to this nation’s security. Insurrection directed against duly elected representatives carrying out their solemn duty to certify the results of a fair and free presidential election in the hallowed halls of Congress is frightening enough. Insurrection instigated by the president of the United States against the legislative branch of his own country is beyond reprehensible. It is treasonable and needs to be treated as such.
There is not enough time between now and the inauguration of Joe Biden on Jan. 20 to use conventional constitutional remedies. Getting articles of impeachment passed in the House and sent over to the Senate for a vote on conviction and removal is not politically feasible. Republicans in the Senate lack the political courage to buck this president even after his latest example of dishonorable behavior. The odds on getting Vice President Pence and a majority of the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment on the grounds of his mental incapacitation are equally remote. Even if they could muster the will to take that momentous step, it would still take a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to execute their request. That’s not going to happen.
Preventing this president who is clearly mentally ill from taking additional vindictive revenge against the country because he is the sorest of sore losers is all that should concern us.
The fact that 10 former defense secretaries issued a signed letter warning the military not to get involved in any possible disruptions to the transition of presidential power is a positive development. The fact that Vice President Pence called Joint Chiefs Chair General Mark Milley, telling him that the National Guard needed to be quickly deployed to the besieged Capitol after the president resisted authorizing their deployment is also significant.
Speculation will swirl as to why the president didn’t call for the same show of military force to protect the Capitol that he employed to arrest protesters threatening to vandalize federal buildings in Portland last summer. That’s for another time and place. All that matters is that the vice president filled the breach and used his authority to quell the insurrection.
We now need the Pentagon, the CIA, the FBI, the Justice Department, Homeland Security to ignore any orders from the president which would disrupt the peaceful transition of power and unconstitutionally enables him to stay in office after his term ends on Jan. 20.
In the waning days of Nixon’s presidency, as he was observed drunk and wandering the halls of the White House carrying on conversations with portraits of former presidents, Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger reportedly issued orders that any directives involving national security, especially involving nuclear weapons, coming from the White House had to be cleared by him before being carried out. 3
Nobody worried at the time as to whether Schlesinger had the constitutional authority to thwart the will of the president. He didn’t. The welfare of the nation demanded emergency measures in order to survive an observably incapacitated president.
Trump is far more of a threat to national security than Nixon ever was. He will remain a cancer on the body politic once he leaves office. But the social media platforms he utilizes will not be as powerful as the platform of commander in chief now at his disposal.
There will be time to fret over Trump’s influence post-presidency. We can worry about that after we succeed in securing our own safety by overseeing his constitutionally required departure from office.
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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