Following his post-impeachment acquittal, President Donald Trump has begun taking aim at those who oppose him.
On Wednesday, Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement celebrating Trump’s “exoneration,” and taking aim at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “Will there be no retribution,” Grisham asked.
Shortly after, it was clear that there would be.
On Wednesday, two Senate committee chairmen sent a letter to the head of the Secret Service confirming that they are “reviewing potential conflicts of interest posed by the business activities of Hunter Biden and his associates during the Obama administration, particularly with respect to his business activities in Ukraine and China.”
On Thursday, Trump startled many faith leaders with his remarks regarding Republican Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT).
“I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,” Trump said.
During his speech explaining why he would vote to convict Trump, Romney stated, “As a senator-juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.”
Professor Robert Franklin, a professor of moral theology at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta was clearly dismayed by Trump’s remarks.
“If the President is feeling persecuted, he would be well served to spend quality time with his pastor while studying what Jesus did when he was persecuted,” Franklin said. “The religion of Jesus promotes the virtues of humility, self-accountability, forgiveness, and reconciliation.”
Noah Farkas, a Conservative Jewish rabbi from the Valley Beth Shalom congregation in Encino, California was also put off by Trump’s remarks.
“I find it deeply problematic that the President uses the National Prayer Breakfast to lambaste the faith of his opponents,” Farkas said. “He forgets the history of faith in this country, and disrespects others who speak from their sense of faithful conscience.”
In addition, Louisiana GOP Secretary Mike Bayham put forward a resolution calling for an official censure of Romney.
“We’ve got a guy who had the honor and privilege of being a nominee of the party – he’s trying to tear Trump down as a candidate and a president,” Bayham said. “I don’t know if it’s a personal issue, vanity, or whether it’s that Trump succeeded where he failed.”
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman
On Friday, it was reported that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council staffer who testified during the House impeachment trial will be removed from his White House post. Vindiman is being reassigned to a position at the Defense Department. “Today Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was escorted out of the White House where he has dutifully served his country and his President,” said Vindman’s lawyer David Pressman in a statement. “He does so having spoken publicly once, and only pursuant to a subpoena from the United States Congress.”
Late Friday afternoon, Trump also fired U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Sondland also testified during the House impeachment inquiry.
“I was advised today that the President intends to recall me effective immediately as United States Ambassador to the European Union,” Sondland said. “I am grateful to President Trump for having given me the opportunity to serve, to Secretary Pompeo for his consistent support, and to the exceptional and dedicated professionals at the U.S. Mission to the European Union. I am proud of our accomplishments. Our work here has been the highlight of my career.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Trump also took aim at Pelosi on Friday afternoon, asserting that she “broke the law” when she ripped up a copy of his State of the Union address.
“Well, I thought it was a terrible thing when she ripped up the speech. First of all, it’s an official document. You’re not allowed. It’s illegal what she did. She broke the law,” Trump told reporters.
Legal experts disagree, however. The law likely referenced by Trump is 18 U.S. Code 2071, which states:
Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.
However, according to University of Minnesota law professor Heidi Kitrosser, Trump was “crazy” to suggest Pelosi broke the law. The Presidential Records Act and other similar laws are “designed to prevent the president and his advisors from shielding documentary information from public view,” Kitrosser explained. They do not apply to “printouts or widely circulated documents” such as a copy of the State of the Union unless it was the one that Trump personally marked up.
City University of New York Law Professor Douglas Cox, an expert on legal documents and their status, agreed.
“The President’s copy is a presidential record, but if the President gives a copy of it to a member of Congress, that copy is no longer a presidential record and becomes a record of that member of Congress,” Cox said.
Jenn Bentley is a freelance writer whose work has been featured on Yahoo News, Wander No More, Big Easy Magazine, and more. In 2019, she was given the title of “Most Fearless” by The Bayou Brief. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_