By Yenny Delgado
President Trump has obstructed justice and it is clearly documented not only in the Mueller Report but also in his almost daily tweets and campaign style rallies. Additionally, emerging reporting from the New York Times suggests that over a ten-year period he reported astronomical business losses and paid little to no taxes for close to 8 years. The facts paint a clear picture of obstruction of the investigative process and an individual who is a tax cheat. In addition to the ten distinct instances that could be charged as obstruction of justice, there is also a litany of infractions of laws and basic values that he and his administration has wrought against not only against the truth but against the U.S. population, including:
- Over 10,000 false or misleading claims
- Support of ultra-right white supremacist groups through claims that there are “good people” on both sides at the Charlottesville rally
- Encouraging the use of violence against political opponents
- Supports of policies that purposely separate families as a form of deterrence on the Southern US border
- 20 accusations of sexual harassment/abuse
- Barring proper oversight of his administration by preventing officials from testifying at Congressional hearings
Putting Trump aside, the history of the country reveals a story riddled with injustices and abuses of power. However, will it be possible for the entire nation and the government to turn a blind to the blatant abuses of power? With all of the accumulated evidence that we now we have, will the Congress courageously act to support the rule of law and sustain the institutions of the government? Will the President and his face the same justice that any other US citizen would face for the same acts?
But how do other countries act in cases of corruption?
We have grown accustomed to assuming that U.S. institutions are the most robust and strongest because of the genius of the Founding Fathers. The internal checks expertly crafted into the system and detailed in the federalist papers are basically a dummies guide to US government. However, in the current Constitutional Crisis facing the country it is clear that these redundancies only work when there is a good faith agreement across the political spectrum to ensure that that actions and activities are done for the benefit of the nation. What we are witnessing right now suggest this good faith argument is clearly not the case when parties and politician are only concerned with pure political power.
Beyond just looking at the current inability of the US to act, it is informative for us to reflect upon the experience of Latin America with a particular focus on Peru. In reflecting on this country, we may only think of Machu Picchu and the Inka Trail, but it provides a critical lesson of the importance of political accountability to ensure that the population provides consent to be governed. As a result of investigations in Brazil and of the company Odebrecht, a level of corruption across the entire American continent was uncovered in essentially a pay to play scheme.
Through the “carwash” scheme politicians were bribed to ensure that Odebrecht would win contracts for major construction projects from the 2016 Olympic venues in Rio de Janiero to over $1 Billion dollars’ worth of construction projects in Peru and throughout South America. Essentially through rigging bids and providing kickbacks to politicians the company made fistfuls of money and drained valuable resources from taxpayers in these democracies. (For an explainer on the scandal visit the following Link).
In Peru, the rampant political corruption has led to a populous that is sick and tired of a corrupt class of business and political leaders. As a way to restore confidence in the system, extreme measures of pre-trial detention have been imposed on former President and current political party leaders. Indeed, the last four Presidents are/were under pre-trial detention as a then-candidate result of the ongoing investigations. As a result of this process, former President Alan Garcia committed suicide and former President Alejandro Toledo is currently is in hiding outside of the country (surprisingly, he is in the United States) to prevent extradition. The way the Peruvian government and people have acted provide a roadmap as to how to address high crimes and misdemeanors against the country. What would this country look like if investigations led to real criminal proceedings, not just fines and pardons?
Back to our own Casa
Honestly reflecting on all that has passed here in the U.S. it is clear that the Congress has been unable to get our house in order. The country is dealing with a President that has placed his own political and business survival above the needs of the nation. To now wait for him to address the charges of his crimes and illegal actions through a vote in the 2020 elections is a dereliction of duty.
We all remember on the campaign trail in 2016, then candidate Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Will the country and Congress continue to allow Trump and his administration to act without impunity and oversight? If so, it is figuratively just as Trump claimed. We should not have to take to the streets to ensure that the rule of law and the institutions of the government hold Trump accountable for his actions. He may claim there was a “collusion delusion” but it appears the only delusion is the inability of the country to actually respond to the actions of a corrupt real estate developer. Trump is acting untouchable and if the Congress does not take this situation seriously, we are bordering on a dictatorship.