To the Editor:
It is time for the U.S. Congress to act as a co-equal branch of government and rein in the reckless behavior of the president.
To its credit, the Senate has pursued responsible and objective investigations into the Russian attacks on our election system. In contrast, the House of Representatives has done nothing but misdirect and delay and attack the credibility of our investigatory and intelligence agencies. Therefore, it is up to the Senate to carry out the responsibilities of a separate, but equal, branch of government.
The president has repeatedly denied the role of Russia in interfering with the 2016 election, in spite of solid conclusions by our intelligence agencies and the Senate. He has known about these attacks since January 2016 — before his inauguration. At this point, we all know that the President is lying and apparently making agreements with Mr. Putin that no one else knows about, including his own national security staff.
The Senate needs to probe and act in some obvious areas. It seems clear that Mr. Putin has some leverage on Mr. Trump and is influencing his decisions. I suspect that the issue is financial. After being cut off from financing from U.S. firms, his son has indicated that they have ample funding for their adventures from Russian sources. The president is about nothing more than money and his real estate deals require lots of money.
Given the high probability that Russia has some sort of leverage on Mr. Trump, what needs to be done?
First, the Senate needs to subpoena the Trump family personal and corporate tax returns. This should be investigated immediately and thoroughly. The source of Mr. Putin’s leverage is likely to be found there if it exists.
Second, the Senate should do whatever is necessary to protect Mr. Rosenstein (DOJ) and Mr. Mueller until the current Special Counsel investigations are completed. This process must be completed to determine the extent of Russian interference and its consequences.
Third, the Senate should rescind the President’s unilateral authority to impose tariffs. National Emergencies do not emerge overnight at the whim of the current occupant of the Oval Office. This President’s tariff initiatives are causing damage and discord that is totally unnecessary and counterproductive to the U.S. and our allies.
Finally, the Senate should deny confirmation of any further Presidential appointments. In particular, the Senate should fail to approve any court appointments where the candidate believes that a sitting president should not be prosecuted for criminal behavior.
The President’s actions to date clearly support Mr. Putin’s agenda. Whether it is reducing confidence in our own electoral process, or seeding discord and mistrust among NATO and other historic allies, we are clearly supporting the Russian objectives. This must stop, and the Senate must stop it.