Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Petition to Congress for the Censure of the President

The following petition has garnered over 32,000 signatures to date. As noted in the press release announcing the petition, "the censure of Presidents and members of Congress has been sought and imposed at least 40 times" in the past. After further signatures are gathered in the coming weeks, it is planned to present the petition to every member of the Senate and House of Representatives for "appropriate action." Further information can be found at the petition website and at the petition webpage at (Note also that on July 12, 2017, U.S. Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) submitted an article of impeachment (H. Res. 438) to the House Committee on the Judiciary.) 

Petition to the Congress of the United States for the Redress of Grievances under the First Amendment Requesting That President Trump Be Censured 

The undersigned, exercising their inalienable right, deriving from the Magna Carta and enshrined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” do hereby request of each member of the United States Senate and House of Representatives that the Senate and House, separately or jointly, adopt a resolution censuring President Donald J. Trump for the misconduct described below.

The undersigned have concluded, after due deliberation, that President Donald J. Trump, from the day he took office on January 20, 2017 as the forty-fifth President, to the present, has betrayed his obligations to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” and to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed" by engaging in the following unlawful conduct, and conduct that contravenes, betrays, disparages and denigrates the values enshrined in the Constitution, and demeans the office of President. Far from embracing our constitutional rights and obligations, President Trump has demonstrated that he lacks allegiance to, respect for, or even knowledge of, those rights and obligations.

1. President Trump acted improperly by
       (i) firing Director James Comey of the FBI for refusing to terminate the FBI’s investigation into charges that the Russian Government had sought to influence the outcome of the November 2016 presidential election, and then offering contradictory explanations of the reasons for that firing, one or more of which explanations must have been false.
       (ii) interfering in the FBI’s investigation of Michael Flynn, who had been National Security Advisor until his recent firing by the President, by asking FBI Director Comey to terminate that investigation.
       (iii) disclosing highly classified intelligence information to Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergei. Kislyak, in a private meeting in the Oval Office on May 10, 2017.
       (iv) abusing the powers of his office and the integrity and independence of the Justice Department by admonishing Attorney General Sessions for having recused himself from involvement in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

2. President Trump has disgraced his office by repeatedly making false statements publicly in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001 which provides, in relevant part, that "...whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully...makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation...shall be fined,...imprisoned not more than 5 years...or both.
       (i) President Trump asserted on March 4, 2017 that his predecessor, then President Barack Obama, had tapped his phone at Trump Tower in New York City. Neither President Trump nor anyone else has offered any evidence to support this claim, which must, therefore, be concluded to have been false.

3. President Trump has ownership, leasehold, licensing or other interests in numerous hotels in Washington, D.C., elsewhere in the United States and abroad in which individuals holding office in foreign governments have stayed and/or enjoyed meals and entertainment, and has thereby violated Article 1, Section 10 (the “Emoluments Clause”) of the United States Constitution. Further, President Trump continues to hold and benefit from his many assets, both foreign and domestic, receiving profits and benefits, such as trademarks, from foreign powers, which constitute wrongfully received emoluments. By engaging in those violations, President Trump has also violated his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

4. President Trump has disparaged, demeaned and ridiculed women, including statements referring to the lack of intelligence and the physical appearance of a television commentator. Such conduct betrays our Nation’s values and undermines the hard-fought equality of women in our Nation.

5. By announcing on May 31, 2017 that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords signed by 195 nations, President Trump has acted recklessly, without justification and contrary to the wishes of the great majority of the American people, and has thereby jeopardized the residents of our country and their descendants.

6. President Trump has refused, and made clear that he will continue to refuse, to disclose his previously filed or future federal income tax returns in violation of a long-standing tradition of disclosure honored by former Presidents. That refusal has deprived and will deprive Congress and the American people of information necessary to determine
       (i) whether, and if so, the extent to which, President Trump violated the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution;
       (ii) the President’s past, continuing and future relations with foreign individuals and entities; and
       (iii) the personal impact on President Trump of any proposed amendments to the Internal Revenue Code.

7. From the moment of his inaugural address to date, President Trump has publicly and repeatedly disparaged and defamed his predecessor as President, members of Congress, the Judiciary, Government officials, political opponents, members of the press, and other individuals in a crude, and insulting manner. In addition, he has called into question the legitimacy of the other equal branches of our government, so as to undermine seriously these institutions in the eyes of our people and the world. Thus he has made us fear that our nation is headed in the direction of becoming an authoritarian dictatorship.

8. In June, 2016, Donald Trump’s agents, campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, willfully, knowingly, and improperly, sought to obtain from Russian government sources, damaging information regarding Hillary Clinton for the purpose of aiding Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. On July 13, 2017 President Trump defended the foregoing improper actions.

WHEREFORE, the undersigned respectfully request that President Donald J. Trump be censured for the acts, statements and conduct specified above.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Sussex Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, but there has long been disagreement on which day (or days) it was actually signed. Although the evidence is not clear-cut, some historians consider August 2 rather than July 4 to be the day the document was signed by all (or most) of the delegates to the Second Congressional Congress. What is not in dispute, however, is that ultimately 56 signatures were affixed, and that these are grouped by state, with the exception of Congress President John Hancock, whose iconic signature appears at the head of the others. This founding document was engrossed on parchment and is permanently housed in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom at the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C.

The original Declaration (also known as the Matlack Declaration) is now complemented by the Sussex Declaration, which is the only other known manuscript copy of the Declaration on parchment from the late 1700s. Danielle Allen and Emily Sneff, researchers at Harvard's Declaration Resources Project, first came across the document in August 2015; it derives its moniker from the West Sussex Record Office in Chichester, U.K., the repository where it is located.

The Sussex copy is the same size as the Matlack Declaration, but is oriented horizontally. More notably, some of the signers' names are misspelled, and the names are not grouped by states. Allen and Sneff believe that James Wilson, a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, is the person who likely commissioned the Sussex Declaration. They discuss many of their findings in Discovering the Sussex Declaration, a lecture delivered at the National Archives on July 6, 2017.