Abuse of power generally falls into one of two categories: engaging in official acts forbidden by law and engaging in official action with motives forbidden by law.
Betrayal involving foreign powers reflects the Founders' greatest fear that other countries would interfere in U.S. political elections.
Corruption was thought by the Founders to be the gravest enemy of democracy. James Madison argued that corruption "might be fatal to the Republic."
"[T]he Founders were keenly concerned with the possibility of corruption in the president's relationships with foreign governments," nearly 1,000 legal scholars, including this writer, observed in a letter to Congress. "James Madison noted that Congress must be able to remove the president between elections lest there be no remedy if a president betrayed the public trust in dealings with foreign powers."
Judiciary Committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) said that Trump required Zelensky "to become a mouthpiece for President Trump's 2020 campaign." Zelensky "was essentially being held hostage," Rep. Karen Bass (D-California) noted. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) described the "imbalance of power" between Trump and Zelensky. Trump "leveraged his power not for the benefit of the United States of America," Johnson added, "but for his own benefit."
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Florida) summarized abuse of power as "the exercise of official power to obtain an improper personal benefit while ignoring or injuring the national interest." That is precisely what Trump did.
We cannot wait for the 2020 election or the courts to resolve the issue of the subpoenas. As he continues to solicit meddling by Ukraine and China Trump poses a clear and present danger to the fairness of the election.
The House of Representatives is set to impeach Donald Trump next week. Impeachment functions as an indictment. The case would then move to the Senate for trial where senators will serve as jurors. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated he favors a streamlined trial with a preordained acquittal, Trump wants a big show.
McConnell vowed to coordinate the trial with the White House. No jury ever coordinates a trial with the defendant or announces a not guilty verdict before the trial. McConnell's spineless pandering to Trump is emblematic of the conduct of the Republicans in Congress. They should be ashamed.