Note: The following is not the record of an actual conversation between the author, Marc Keyser, and Robert Reich, the noted public intellectual. Rather, it is a “virtual conversation,” that is, a work of creative non-fiction in which Mr. Keyser envisions how a conversation between himself and Mr. Reich might go. For Mr. Reich’s opinions and statements, Mr. Keyser is relying on on the article in Salon titled “Robert Reich: We are beyond impeachment. It’s time to annul Trump’s presidency.” This piece is presented, then, with the highest respect for Mr. Reich, and the author hopes that it will be accepted as the tribute it is meant to be.
Robert Reich: The only way I see the end of Trump is if there’s overwhelming evidence he rigged the 2016 election. In which case impeachment isn’t an adequate remedy. His presidency should be annulled.
Marc Keyser: …and every executive order, every bill he signed, and every appointment he makes declared unconstitutional, thrown out, cancelled, recalled, scrapped, nullified, burned, obliterated from the annals of history.
Robert: Let me explain. Many people are convinced we’re already witnessing the beginning of the end of Trump.
In their view, bombshell admissions from Trump insiders with immunity from prosecution, combined with whatever evidence Robert Mueller uncovers about Trump’s obstruction of justice and collusion with the Russians, will all tip the scales.
Democrats have taken back the House and will likely begin an impeachment, and the evidence of impeachable offenses will put enough pressure on Republican senators to send Trump packing.
I don’t believe this for a moment.
Marc: Neither do I.
Robert: First, the Senate has never in history convicted a president of impeachment.
Second, the Democrats now control the House of Representatives, but the Republicans remain in control of the Senate — and so far, Trump Republicans displayed the integrity of lizards.
Marc: Trump Republicans have a majority in the Senate where It takes a 2/3 vote to impeach. So no, Congress is not likely to impeach Trump.
Robert: Third, Fox News and the rest of the right-wing sleaze media will continue to distort and cover up whatever the evidence shows — convincing 35 to 40 percent of Americans, along with most Republicans, that Trump is the innocent victim of a plot to remove him.
Finally, Trump himself will never voluntarily resign, as did Nixon. He’ll lie and claim a conspiracy to unseat him.
Marc: Trump is like a malignant brain tumor yelling to the surgeon preforming exploratory surgery, “This is a witch hunt.”
Robert: Trump’s proven himself a superb conman, an entertainer-demagogue capable of sowing so much confusion and instigating so much hate and paranoia that he has already survived outrages that would have broken any garden-variety loathsome president — Helsinki, Charlottesville, children locked in cages at the border, firings and cover-ups, racist slurs, clear corruption.
In all likelihood, we’ll have him for another two and a half years.
Marc: We must not let that happen.
Robert: Don’t bet on him losing in 2020, either. A malignant bullying megalomaniac who lies like most people breathe, and who’s able to suck the oxygen out of every news cycle, might well pulverize any Democratic opponent.
Even if he loses in 2020, we’ll be fortunate if he concedes without being literally carried out of the Oval Office amid the stirrings of civil insurgency.
Marc: The underlying danger is Trump threatening to call out his militias of armed White Nationalist Nazis to start a civil war in the streets of our cities.
Robert: Oh, and let me remind you that even if he’s impeached, we’d still have his loathsome administration — Pence on down.
But lest you fall into a miasma of gloom, there’s another scenario — unlikely, but entirely possible.
Suppose, just suppose, Robert Mueller finds overwhelming and indisputable evidence that Trump conspired with Putin to rig the 2016 election, and the rigging determined the election’s outcome.
In other words, Trump’s presidency is not authorized under the United States Constitution.
Suppose these findings are so compelling that even Trump loyalists desert him, the Republican Party decides it has had enough, and Fox News calls for his impeachment.
What then? Impeachment isn’t enough.
Marc: This means war. The Resistance needs a civil insurgency of their own. We must make sure that Trump is impeached so he can be tried for his crimes up to and including treason.
This is not going to be a war in the streets that Trump wants. The phones are the battlefield of our choosing. We will attack the power structure with a non-violent, passive aggressive phone boycott of Bank of America, the symbol of rule of the rich on Wall Street. We intend to call en mass and invade the phones of Bank of America and put business as usual on hold to send a message to the Republicans who control the Senate. Impeach Trump or lose Bank of America.
Robert: Impeachment would remedy Trump’s “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But impeachment would not remedy Trump’s unconstitutional presidency because it would leave in place his vice president, White House staff and Cabinet, as well as all the executive orders he issued and all the legislation he signed, and the appointments he has made in the official record of his presidency.
The only response to an unconstitutional presidency is to annul it. Annulment would repeal all of it – recognizing that such appointments, laws, rules, records, and laws were made without constitutional authority.
Marc: We’ve never had a president win by conspiring with the Russians to rig the election. We have never had a candidate commit treason to become President of the United States of America.
Robert: The Constitution does not specifically provide for annulment of an unconstitutional presidency. But read as a whole, the Constitution leads to the logical conclusion that annulment is the appropriate remedy for one.
Marc: That is a seminal argument as to the problem without the concrete means to remedy the crisis.
Robert: After all, the Supreme Court declares legislation that doesn’t comport with the Constitution to be null and void, as if it had never been passed.
It would logically follow that the Court could declare all legislation and executive actions of a presidency unauthorized by the Constitution to be null and void, as if Trump had never been elected. (Clearly, any Trump appointee to the Court would have to recuse himself from any such decision.)
After the Trump administration was annulled, the Speaker of the House (third in the order of presidential succession) would take over the presidency until a special election.
Marc: As we speak, the Mueller probe is unfolding, which may give us the evidence of Trump’s crimes including treason.
Robert: But if such evidence comes forth, impeachment isn’t an adequate remedy because even if Trump is removed, his presidency — all that he and his administration did when he occupied office — would be constitutionally illegitimate.
It should be annulled.
Marc: The question is how do we make the crew on an atomic submarine want to abandon the ship? How do we make Trump Republicans in Congress rush to impeach Trump?
We go nuclear, we make Trump so politically toxic, so radioactive no one wants to touch his administration for a thousand years.
The way to do that is to Boycott Bank of America and cause a meltdown on Wall Street… until Trump Republicans in Congress run to impeach Trump because he’s so toxic.
Robert: I’m curious as how you propose to do that?
Marc: Since we are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all we have to do is pass on the message: CALL BANK OF AMERICA TO IMPEACH TRUMP.
Call the nearest Bank of America in solidarity and spread the word on the Internet until we have a large enough army of callers to disrupt business at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in city after around the worldwide.
Robert: Why call Bank of America Merrill Lynch?
Marc: Because Bank of America is the crown jewel of Wall Street in the American Plutocracy. Because that’s where the money is. Because they are a key player in the shadow government that controls our government. Because when Bank of America speaks, Congress listens. Because Bank of America is the most valuable and vulnerable of targets to put pressure on Congress.
Robert: Why a not let Congress and the Courts do their job?
Marc: Because there has been a terrifying systemic failure of our institutions to respond to Trump’s lawlessness.
Robert: Why a “Phone Protest’ as opposed to a protest in the streets?
Marc: Because the pundits, the great minds of our times can define the problem and call for action, but the actions they recommend are generally as slow as molasses and as useless as tits on a boar.
Robert: But if protesters call and boycott Bank of America, won’t that hurt people with money in the bank?
Marc: The Calling Campaign will get instant results. When the news of the Phone Protest at Bank of America goes viral, take your money out of Bank of America. You don’t want to leave your money in Bank of America Merrill Edge when the avalanche hits, and there’s a run on the bank, and it’s too late.
Let Trump supports lose their money.
Robert: Won’t Bank of America trace the calls?
Marc: When thousands of people start calling, tracing thousands, hundreds of incoming calls will only remind the bank of the magnitude of the problem them face.
The bank can’t answer the phones any faster. They can’t stop you or anyone else from calling them… unless the government were to take the phones away from everyone who might call in the U,S. and around the globe, which would be the better part of 7.5 billion people with mobile phones.
Robert: The police will arrest callers?
Marc: On what charges? Consumers have every right to call Bank of America… as long as callers do not harass or threaten anyone.
Robert: So, calling Bank of America and Merrill Edge is risk free for callers, and it most cases the calls would be free?
Marc: When you protest by phone, you don’t need to travel anywhere or take time off work and risk losing pay. You don’t risk being tear gassed, beaten by riot police, attacked by dogs, blasted with high power pressure water hoses, shot with rubber bullets, or arrested and carted off to jail. You don’t risk being attacked, or run over and killed or injured by Trump’s White Nationalist Nazis in the streets.
Robert: If people call- and I’m not saying they should call- what would they say?
Marc: It’s your call, you say what you feel needs to be said. (Most calls will be answered by a robot so all you have to do is press the numbers and stay on the line as long as possible, then redial if you are disconnected.)
As for myself, I like the idea of calling Bank of America and praying for them… a Phone Prayer Vigil. Shut down Bank of America with our prayers and put the fear of God into Trump Republicans who control Congress until they see the wisdom of impeaching Trump and declaring his presidency invalid.
Robert: How do you get enough people to call?
Marc: A few activists organize their own Call Squads to boycott the nearest Bank of America Merrill Lynch… make the news and go viral on the Internet.
Use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Get the word out. Use your smartphone to network, go viral and activate thousands, millions of protesters around the globe to join in calling and simply overrun Bank of America with calls of concern.
Robert: …but where does it start?
Marc: The epicenter is one bank in one city. It all starts with a hand full of activists shutting down one Bank of America branch in one city to make the news, go viral and ignite a Global Phone Protest that spreads to other cities around the world. Everyone with a phone can join in. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is hated around the world just not as much as Trump.
Robert: This would terrify them.
Marc: As you of all people know, financial markets hate uncertainty. Trump Republicans with big money in Bank of America and Merrill Lynch are likely to turn on the bank the minute they get the bad news. They will join us on the phones flooding the bank with angry calls and complaints wanting their money out of the bank… to be safe. They will start a run on the bank and crash the bank’s stock.
Robert: What if Congress refuses to meet your demands?
Marc: In order to speak to power, we must be in a position of power. On the Phones, the Resistance is in Power.
As the news spreads and the boycott builds, stock holders will panic and start a sell-off that crashes the bank’s stock causing a meltdown on Wall Street… if Bank of America and Congress choose to test our determination.
Robert: … so Republicans in Congress will have to choose. Either they let Bank of America go bankrupt and risk a stock market crash… or they impeach Trump and nullify his presidency?
Marc: That is correct.
Once the Phone Protest to Impeach Trump starts and goes viral on the Internet, it’s merely a matter of time until enough people join in calling to put business at Bank of America Merrill Lynch on hold until Congress bends the knee.
We want Trump impeached and just as importantly… we want everything Trump has done while in office annulled.
Robert: What if Trump’s White Supremacists retaliate and call a “liberal” bank on Wall Street?
Marc: There are no “liberal” banks on Wall Streets.
Robert: This sounds too good to be true. I’ll have to think about this, and get back to you.