Donald Trump can't do the job. Rational Americans, and that's the majority of us, know he can't do the job. The great negotiator managed to close the federal government on the first anniversary of his inauguration. The likelihood of a blue tidal wave in the November 2018 midterms increases daily. Robert Mueller's investigation into collusion with Russia that ostensibly put Trump in the White House -- along with Trump's obstruction of justice in the firing of FBI director James B. Comey and the attempted firing of Mueller -- moves closer to an ugly truth.
It becomes increasingly difficult to believe we, as a nation, can withstand three more years of the commander in chaos in the Oval Office. Sadly, arguments for the 25th Amendment have lost steam. Mike Pence and the Cabinet are not going to risk the Trump base, loyal to the man, turn against them by removing Trump. The blue states continue to fight the administration in the courts, which is exactly why the Republican Party wants control of the federal courts and is working hard and fast to get it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell began laying the groundwork for this while Obama was still president.
It's obvious, with Republicans in control of Congress, Trump will not be impeached no matter what the Mueller investigation brings forth. The Republican Congress has turned its back on its constitutional duties under the leadership of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. Impeachment becomes possible only if the Republicans are swept from power in a blue midterm wave.
When dealing with Trump and the Republicans though, make no assumptions the GOP will go down in the midterms. Until Trump won the Electoral College with help from Vladimir Putin, we assumed Hillary Clinton would be president today. The Republicans don't play fair; they have no problem engaging in voter suppression and accepting help from their Russian friends. The integrity of our elections is laughable under the current administration, and nothing is going to change in regard to cyber-security by the time November rolls around. However, this time the blue surge may be so strong even Republican dirty tricks and unholy alliances won't be able to stop it.
Trump's impeachment after Democratic success in the 2018 midterms is the most likely scenario to remove him from office. If the impeachment of Donald Trump leads to the presidency of Mike Pence, the LGBTQ community has nothing to cheer about. Neither do women or people of color. With President Pence, the recently created Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights is only a beginning.
A Democratic Congress and President Pence will be in a stalemate regarding legislation and judicial appointments. However, President Pence will have that executive pen, and anti-LGBTQ executive orders will abound to please Trump's now-enraged base. Pence will have to cultivate that base to have any chance of holding the White House on his own in 2020, and we will be among those thrown to the lions. An executive order issued by the president to an executive branch of government has the force of law. We will be a prime target for President Pence, and he will take aim at us with glee. Pence is probably known best as an anti-LGBTQ stalwart having signed the 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act as governor of Indiana.
If Trump goes, Pence must too. If Mueller's investigation concludes that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential election, Pence, as a beneficiary of that collusion, cannot assume the presidency should Trump be impeached. In criminal law there is an exclusionary rule that states illegally obtained evidence must be thrown out because it was illegally obtained by law enforcement. It cannot be used in court. The "fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine" stems from the exclusionary rule and says that any other evidence flowing from the initial illegally obtained evidence must also be thrown out. Pence could be deemed as such. If the world was fair, Clinton would be named president. In reality, the best we can hope for is Pence steps down and Paul Ryan steps in.
Of course, if the Dems win the House, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi would be third in line to the presidency. Pence would face extreme pressure to not step down if it meant handing the White House to the opposing party.
Either way, if that meeting in June 2016 is any evidence, the Russians colluded with the Trump campaign to put the bankrupt mogul into the presidency. Pence became vice president because of that collusion with a hostile foreign power. He cannot benefit from that collusion by becoming president upon Trump's impeachment.
A post-Trump America does not need the failed president's doctrine of hatred to be stoked by his successor, who will continue to divide us to hold on to power. Any trace of Trump must be eradicated, and the abomination that the Republican Party has become must not be rewarded by putting Trump's vice president in the White House.
SUSAN SURFTONE is a musician who previously served as an FBI agent. Her latest EP is Making Waves Again.