“Is there something wrong with this connection?” Cat hollered.
Cat wasn’t sure he’d heard me right. We were on our cell phones, and I was calling in from Vermont, where The Nice One, The Grouchy One and I had gone to visit family.
“Trump has to go,” I yelled into the phone, “and impeachment is the right way, the only way, to do it.”
“Phoebe,” Cat yelled into his phone from Rhode Island. “I thought we’d been through all of this, and decided along with our hero, Speaker Pelosi, that impeachment might feel good, but it will just stir up The Base, and help Trump get reelected to a second term.”
Cell phones make good alarm clocks. Nice calculators. The built-in cameras are great. Convenient for checking email. But the original telephone part – trying to have a serious conversation – not so much. One or the other phone is always almost out of range, and the sound is like you get in bus terminals and subways PA systems.
“Slrnge yousf & excariphoble,” Cat said.
“Furdable, furdable, quick brown fox?” I said.
“Are you out of your mind?” Cat yelled as the signals finally seemed to align. “There’s an election next year, in case you haven’t heard, and that’s what we’ve got to focus on.”
“Listen, Furball,” I said, “the man is too dangerous, too cruel, too treacherous, too treasonous to be allowed to stay one more minute. Even if impeachment runs up against the election, it’s the right thing to do, the necessary thing.”
“You Lefties will be the death of us,” Cat sighed. “You let your emotions get in the way of just getting the job done. The goal is to get rid of him. Impeachment won’t work. What’s got into you anyway? Is there something they’ve put into the 'environmentally correct' water up there in Vermont?”
“It’s not the water, Cat,” I said. “It’s this barn that I just saw.”
“WHAT'S A BARN got to do with Donald Trump?” Cat asked, ever the practical one.
“The barn, it looks,” I was stumbling around for words, “It’s … The barn is what’s happening to our country, Cat,” I said. “We’re just turning our backs on our country, the Constitution, democracy. It’s all falling apart in plain sight. People drive right by it, day after day, and after a while, they don’t notice it, don’t do anything about it, just let it happen.”
“Wooo, Slow Down,” Cat cooed into his phone. “Slow down, Girl. Just because somebody forgot to fix up their barn in Vermont doesn’t mean the country’s coming apart. Get a grip.”
“Look at what he did just yesterday,” I blurted into the phone
“What was special about yesterday?” Cat said. I knew that he was egging me on, pretending to be interested, but hoping to trip me up.
"FOR STARTERS,” I said, “Trump’s thinking about releasing the families, the children, the people flooding into the country and seeking asylum at the Mexican-American border, and sending them to ‘sanctuary cities’ to punish them and their Democratic leaders for opposing his immigration policies,” I said. He says:
California is always saying, ‘We want more people.’ We can give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply. Let’s see if they’re so happy.
“Mean, for sure, but impeachable?” Cat said.
“Also, there were reports yesterday that Trump encouraged a border enforcement official, Kevin McAleenan, whom he’s thinking of naming acting secretary of homeland security, to close the border, and suggesting he'd pardon him if he broke the law,” I said.
“Again, what’s that got to do with impeachment?” Cat demanded.
“Think, Cat, THINK. You have the President of the United States trying to get one of his officials to do something Trump knows is against the law,” I said, “and then he’s assuring the guy that he’ll use his pardon power so that he’ll escape any consequences.”
“Impeach him for a conversation?” Cat said. But I pointed out a pertinent section of the Constitution:
Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution: … He (the president) shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed….
“It’s one more example of how Trump flouts the law, Cat,” I said. “He demeans men and woman and children literally running for their lives from Central American countries where criminal gangs threaten to kill them and to escape collapsing economies."
“Instead of showing any compassion for people who face death every day, Trump mocked them:
They are coming like it’s a picnic, because, ‘Let’s go to Disneyland.’?
“Is insulting people an impeachable offense?” Cat asked.
“In this case, yes,” I said, “because it’s part of his abuse of power. He uses insults to gin up hatred, to dehumanize the people he then threatens to dump into cities run by people he sees as political opponents, treating immigrants as undesirable commodities, human garbage tossed around to make life unpleasant.”
Cat was quiet for a minute. Then said into his phone: “What would you suggest as articles of impeachment?”
IT WAS SUCH A SOFTBALL question. Like many other Americans, I’d been building my list for a long time. I said I wouldn’t do my whole list, knowing Cat's short attention span, just the part about violating his oath of office:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will 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."
These are only some violations of the oath:
* Trump has failed to prevent Russia from interfering with U.S. elections, in the way they did in 2016. To the contrary, he curries favor with Russia, as he did in a year ago at the Helsinki, Finland “summit” with Vladimir Putin when asked about Russian interference:
I have great confidence in my intelligence people but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
* Trump has failed to protect the country from the catastrophe of climate change, canceling U.S. participation in the Paris international climate agreement, and encouraging use of energy sources that produce climate change, failing to launch an all-out effort to halt change and to defend communities from changes already taking place.
* Trump’s continuing attacks on the press as “enemies of the people” and purveyors of “fake news” undermines one of the foundations of democracy, protected by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
* Trump’s serial lying – the Washington Post count for Trump’s first two years in office has the presidential count at “8,158 false or misleading claims.” His lies destroy trust and confidence that he will carry out his duties.
* Obstruction of justice – Regardless of whether the Mueller investigation did or did not find Trump obstructed justice as a criminal standard, there’s no question that he did in a Constitutional sense, firing his first attorney general and FBI director because they wouldn’t impede the investigation; recently naming a new attorney general who appears to do his bidding; and many other actions, some of which are likely spelled out in the Mueller report.
THERE WAS SILENCE on the other end of the phone. I had the impression that Cat had laid his cell phone on the couch, so he could curl up for his morning nap. But then sound came out of my phone.
“What’s all that got to do with at barn up there in Vermont?” Cat asked.
“Neglect, like I said," I told him. “A country doesn’t fall down all at once. Even with Trump, it may take years, maybe 1 ½ more years, maybe 6. But if you do nothing about him – if he isn’t sanctioned in the way that the Constitution provides – we are letting the country rot away.”
“Phoebe, you are so sanctimonious,” Cat yawned. “Worse, you’re not always far from the mark.”
“I’ll take that as an indication that you’re thinking about it,” I said.
“Not exactly,” Cat replied. “I was just a little worried you were getting too close to that barn, given that it could come crashing down at any time.”
“The barn is only a metaphor, Cat,” I said.
“Just as lethal,” he said.