The United States Constitution Article VI, clause 3 requires that Senators and Congresspersons take the following oath of office to support the United States Constitution: I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God. Based on recent actions of a number of Republicans, some American citizens correctly raise the question have those Republicans sworn an oath to the Constitution or to President Trump?
America’s founding fathers made it clear in the United States Constitution that the House and Senate are to be the check preventing any President from abusing the powers of office. In the Federalist Papers #51, James Madison states that in a democratic government, “the legislative authority necessarily predominates.” In Federalist #65 Alexander Hamilton referred to the impeachment power as a “bridle in the hands of the legislative body upon the executive servants of the government.”
The House and Senate’s powers to determine executive department budgets, approve executive appointments, conduct oversight hearings, subpoena witnesses and documents, and hold persons in contempt for resisting its demands gives them the ability to stop and prevent presidential abuse of power.
Many Senate Republicans have abandoned adherence to the Constitution’s intent in favor of an allegiance to the demands of President Trump. The Constitution’s clear intent is that proposed legislation be given a thorough airing, in which people with competing ideas are offered an opportunity to present them in hearings before the relevant legislative committees, expert witnesses are also called to test the premise of the pending legislation, and the public has an opportunity to hear these views as well as express their own.
None of this took place when the Senate passed its massive tax-cut bill. On a Friday night Senators received a 479-page version of the bill that contained a hodgepodge of old and new provisions. The normal procedure is that a Senator’s staff is given time to review and explain it to Senators who then hold public hearings on the bill. Thoughtful analysis and public hearings were thrown out the window, instead, deals were made with individual senators that others knew little or nothing about.
Sen. Jeff Flake got a fake commitment that DACA immigrants would be protected. Sen. Susan Collins got fake promises about the effects of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate, which was secretly added to the tax-cut bill at the request of President Trump, allowing her to deceptively vote to kill the ACA after publically voting and saying she was against the repeal of it. Sen. Lisa Murkowski like Collins claimed publically to be against the repeal of the ACA. She voted for the repeal of the ACA mandate and for the tax-cuts after being bought off by a provision to open up Alaska to oil drilling. The bill was done in such secrecy that a provision was added in illegible handwriting making it impossible for everyone to know the full impact of the legislation.
Violation of the United States Constitution was also done by the Senate in their failed attempt to repeal the ACA. Ignoring pleas from Democrats like Claire McCaskill for public hearings on the proposed radical change to healthcare, Republicans followed President Trump’s fake constitution and crafted their various health proposals in secretive Republican-only meetings. This denied Democrats their constitutional right to present their competing ideas about healthcare legislation. In a fortunate failed last-ditch attempt to garner the minimum 50 votes needed to pass the bill out of the Senate, Republicans held one public hearing on their healthcare legislation with no Democratic Party input and only 4 members of the public present.
Some House Republicans have totally abandoned the oath they took to defend the United States Constitution. Instead, they are acting like they took an oath to the Trump constitution.
The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee whose constitutional duty is to investigate possible Russian interference in the 2016 election, and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, has instead turned into a committee to protect President Trump. In the secure room where the Intelligence Committee meets Republicans have erected a physical barrier to separate the cubicles of aides who serve Republican members of the committee from those who serve Democrats. The previous Republican chairman of the committee Mike Rogers, says “I think that is a travesty, certainly I’ve never heard of or seen it being this bad.”
House Republicans released a memo, it accused F.B.I. and Justice Department leaders of abusing their surveillance powers to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser suspected of being an agent of Russia. This alarmed national security officials who accused the Republicans of misrepresenting sensitive government information through omissions and inaccuracies. In order for Republicans to release the memo, President Trump had to declassify it over the objections of the F.B.I., who in a rare public contradiction with a President expressed “grave concerns” over its accuracy. The three-and-a-half-page memo written by the staff of the current Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Republican Deven Nunes didn’t prove the point promised by some Republicans: that the evidence it contained would cast doubt on the origins of the Russia investigation and show the illegitimacy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
To the contrary, it confirmed that contacts between a former Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, and Russian intermediaries were a justifiable reason to have an investigation. This is just one of the moves that the House Intelligence Committee and its Chairman Devin Nunes have made to create a false narrative. A narrative that says that the Russia investigation is a conspiracy of senior Justice Department and F.B.I. officials, who are biased against President Trump and are actively trying to sabotage him.
After a secret visit to the White House to view classified documents no one else has seen, Nunes was forced to do a fake recusal from overseeing the committee’s Russia investigation. His stand-in Republican Congressman Mike Conaway shut down the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation 5 months ago saying, “We’ve found no evidence of collusion, perhaps some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings, inappropriate judgment at taking meetings,” but nothing that amounted to a coordinated and deliberate effort to work with Russians to win the White House. Conaway also said that while Republicans on the committee agree that Russia did interfere in the 2016 presidential election, they “disagree with the narrative that they were trying to help Trump.”
This is a huge contradiction to both the conclusion of American government intelligence agencies, and the 25 Russians indicted by Special Counsel Mueller for interfering in the 2016 election with the intent on helping President Trump win. House Democrats on the Intelligence Committee say the shutdown was premature, they say Republicans didn’t use the full power of the committee to subpoena documents or compel further testimony that key witnesses withheld from committee investigators. The non-subpoenaed documents and non-compelled testimony is one reason why the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation still continues 5 months later. It is chaired by Republican Senator Richard Burr, who unlike Nunes is committed to doing his constitutional duty of interviewing witnesses and reviewing documents with the goal of getting to the truth.
In an audio recording leaked last week, Nunes suggested to fellow Republicans that they have to retain control of the House of Representatives to protect President Donald Trump from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He said “It’s like your classic catch-22 situation. … This puts us in such a tough spot. If (Attorney General Jeff) Sessions won’t un-recuse and Mueller won’t clear the President, we’re the only ones, which is really the danger I mean, we have to keep all these seats. We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.”
In other words, Nunes means, we Republicans are more loyal to the Trump constitution than to the United States Constitution. So we have to keep control of Congress in order to prevent any potential wrongdoing by President Trump from the United States Constitution’s rule of law.
Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee aren’t the only ones in the House showing more loyalty to the Trump constitution than to the United States Constitution. They have been joined by 2 Freedom Caucus members. House Republicans Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, filed articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who supervises Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia investigation, for the false charge of failing to hand over documents to Congress about the Russia investigation.
One indication of how meritless the impeachment charges are is the fact that Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has not signed on to the impeachment, not publicly commented on the impeachment, or even committed to having a floor vote on the impeachment charges. Its Meadows and Jordan’s attempt to join Nunes and other Republicans loyal to the Trump constitution, in their efforts to smear and discredit the entire Russia investigation with the end goal of protecting President Trump. They do this at the great expense of their sworn oath to protect and defend the United States Constitution’s rule of law.
The evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election is clear and irrefutable, the evidence of Russia Trump collusion is not. I doubt that collusion evidence will ever be found. Because Russia like our American government has the skill and ability to attempt to influence an election on behalf of a candidate of their choice, without ever having contact with that candidate of choice.
But having acknowledged this does not change the fact that Republicans must honor their sworn oath to the United States Constitution. Honoring that oath means allowing a complete unbiased investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Russia Trump collusion in the 2016 election. To not do so shows loyalty to a mere man and no loyalty to a great principle, the United States Constitution.
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events. Drop by his website for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.
Originally published at isaacnewtonfarris.com on August 13, 2018.