Amherst man seeks Trump impeachment

  • President Donald Trump, flanked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin hosts a meeting with House and Senate leadership, Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. AP Photo

Staff Writer
Thursday, March 09, 2017

AMHERST — Nationwide, nearly a million citizens have signed a petition calling for the impeachment of President Trump.

To supplement this petition, several local communities, including Amherst and Pelham, are anticipating taking up a resolution calling on their representatives in Washington, D.C. to take concrete steps toward removing the president from office.

For the Town Meeting that begins April 26 in Amherst, members will have an opportunity to adopt a petition article, brought by Amherst resident John Bonifaz, president of Free Speech for People, that asks U.S. Rep. James McGovern to introduce a resolution that would begin an impeachment investigation.

“This is important because we’re facing a constitutional crisis right now,” said Bonifaz in a phone interview March 3. “He must be held accountable for defying the rule of law.”

Bonifaz said there is more than sufficient evidence of impeachable offenses, including Trump’s refusal to divest fully from his business interests prior to his inauguration. It’s why his organization, along with RootsAction, an initiative dedicated to economic fairness, equal rights, civil liberties and environmental protection, started the online petition.

The petition asks McGovern “to sponsor, support and vote for a resolution of that House authorizing and directing the House Committee on the Judiciary to investigate whether sufficient grounds exist for the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, president of the United States, including, but not limited to, the violations listed herein.” Those violations include two sections of the Constitution, the “emoluments clauses,” that prohibit a president from receiving certain domestic and foreign benefits or monies.

The Town Meeting action is important because it encourages McGovern, and possibly other representatives, to take action. While Democrats are being targeted, Bonifaz said some Republicans could join in any impeachment investigation. As the 2020 election year looms, they may not want to be affiliated with a “lawless president” as they seek reelection, Bonifaz said.

Bonifaz also points to recent events, from the resignation of Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to calls for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign and Sessions’ subsequent recusing himself from investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“The fact that we’re already seeing movement on that front does demonstrate that Republican members will feel pressure from constituents on this,” Bonifaz said.

“I think we’ll see, as time goes on, that more will be of the view that the president must be held accountable for his violations of the Constitution,” Bonifaz added.

The matter will also be on the Pelham Town Meeting warrant May 6, and residents of Leverett are also discussing the topic. In addition, Bonifaz has spoken to officials and residents in Greenfield and Boston about whether their town and city councils can pass similar resolutions.

Richmond, California, he said, recently became the first city to call for an investigation into Trump’s impeachment.

He compares the movement to the one to overturn the Citizens United decision that has gained support from more than 700 cities and towns and 18 states.

While some critics may argue impeachment shouldn’t be under the purview of Town Meeting, Bonifaz disagrees, observing that the American democracy and Constitution are at stake and the resolutions are part of an important process to stand up for the Republic.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.