Austin R. Cooper Jr.ColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

COOPER: The Criminal President

Donald J. Trump has disgraced the American presidency from the moment he placed his left hand on a Bible, raised his right hand and took the oath of office, which was administered by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court: “I, Donald J. Trump, do solemnly swear, to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States. And will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend, the Constitution of the United States. So, help me God.”

The president lied before God, the American people and the world. He never had any interest in “defending the Constitution of the United States” or anything, other than advancing his personal financial interests, as well as those of his family, as well as advancing his own selfish political agenda. How ironic is it that exactly three years after taking the oath of office, the very same Chief Justice John Roberts is currently presiding over his impeachment trial? It has always been clear from his election that the president would either one day impeach himself or possibly go to prison.

President Trump, thanks to a majority in the House, has been impeached as a result of his quid pro quo actions of delaying Congressionally approved, bipartisan, military aid to the Government of Ukraine. He did so with the desire that the Government would open an official criminal investigation of a 2020 political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. As for prison, stay tuned.

Just how is it that one man, the most powerful man in the world, can have so many criminal minds in his inner circle? Because the president has always had a criminal, mafia, the rules do not apply to me, mentality for his entire life. It is true that every president is surrounded by thousands of supporters and hired aides. Many serve in numerous positions throughout the campaign and administration. So, one may reasonably expect that a few may run afoul of the law. Here it is important to note that this was not the case with the Obama administration. However, the Trump White House is different. Never in history has a president amassed so many senior advisors who have either already gone to prison or for whom reservations are being made.

Former Rep. Chris Collins, for example, who was the first member of Congress to endorse candidate Trump in 2016, has been sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to charges related to securities fraud conspiracy and making false statements. Collins is just the latest in a series of close allies and associates of President Trump – “the best” — to face the stain of a criminal record.

Recently in Davos, President Trump said he opposed the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, “even though he was doing bad things like lying.” The president added, “Now with me, there’s no lying.” Not true. With almost every breath he takes, he lies or is preparing to lie about something he’s planning down the road. According to The Washington Post, since his inauguration, President Trump has made more than 16,200 false or misleading claims.

The wooden character Pinocchio is notably characterized by his frequent tendency to lie, which causes his nose to grow. The president has a similar tendency to lie. He cannot help himself. Lying is a part of his DNA. Lying is who he is. Asking Donald Trump not to lie is like asking him not to breathe. It is but one of his many character flaws.

The impeachment trial of the president is currently underway in the Senate. According to Yoni Applebaum from The Atlantic, “The oath of office is a president’s promise to subordinate his private desires to the public interest, to serve the nation as a whole rather than any faction within. Trump displays no evidence that he understands these obligations.” Applebaum wrote those words in March 2019, six months before the start of the impeachment process. The truth is, President Trump never will.

Last December, he was impeached by the House, only the third president in history to meet that fate. Chairman Adman Schiff, in his closing statement at the impeachment trial, said, “Because in America, right matters. Truth matters. If not, no Constitution can protect us. If not, we are lost.”

Regardless of what happens in the Senate, he will remain impeached, forever. The question, however, still remains: If the president is acquitted in the Senate, which I fully expect, will he make history again by becoming the first, because of his continued lies and criminal behavior, to be impeached twice? With this president, anything is possible.

Cooper is president of Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc.

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Austin R. Cooper Jr.

Austin R. Cooper, Jr., is an experienced government affairs and public relations professional. He has over 25 years of related experience and accomplishments working in senior-level positions on Capitol Hill, as a state lobbyist for the City of New York under former Mayor David Dinkins and with Edelman Worldwide and Hill & Knowlton. For several years, he also served as the Vice President of Government Affairs for the Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) in Atlanta, GA. Austin is currently the President of Cooper Strategic Affairs, LLC, which provides government relations and communications counsel to government and non-government organizations in Washington, DC.

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