According to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, no person shall be eligible to hold federal office who "shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion."
Although all parties know the "insurrection or rebellion" clause refers specifically to the recently completed Civil War, the Department of Justice argues for a much more elastic definition, all the better to hang Donald Trump with.
Yet if there were one president guilty of insurrection in recent years, that president would have to be Barack Obama. In late 2016 and early 2017, Obama knowingly conspired with others to subvert the presidency of Donald Trump.
Thanks to the zealous note-taking of his once and future factotum, Susan Rice, we have documentation of this flagrant act of sedition.
The formal plot to unseat President Donald Trump was launched with a White House meeting on Jan. 5, 2017 – 15 days before Trump's inauguration.
In conference with Rice and Obama were his national security team, including all the usual suspects: the FBI's James Comey, the CIA's John Brennan, then Vice-President Joe Biden, DNI James Clapper, and Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.
Following the meeting, Obama asked Yates and Comey to stick around along with Rice, his trusted scribe. Obama had a reason for singling out Comey and Yates. Unlike the others, they were staying in their jobs.
On the very day, at the very moment Trump was being inaugurated, Rice sent "self" a peculiar email memorializing this meeting.
"President Obama began the conversation," wrote Rice, "by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities 'by the book.'"
The "issue" in question was the framing of Donald Trump for collusion with Russia. Obama had to know by this time that the collusion accusation was spawned by the Clinton campaign.
The law firm that served as cutout for Clinton, Perkins Coie, was the same law firm that magically produced Obama's birth certificate in 2011. There is evidence that Obama knew in early August of the provenance of the infamous Steele dossier.
In 1974, Nixon campaign aide Donald Segretti made "dirty tricks" a household phrase. The nation was scandalized that Segretti would send fake letters using the letterhead of presidential candidate Edmund Muskie. For his dirty tricks, Segretti served four months in prison.
For hers, the mother of all dirty tricks, Hillary Clinton walked away without even a scolding. The Steele dossier proved to be the most consequential dirty trick in American political history.
There is no "book" that justifies what Comey and pals did in the weeks immediately following this meeting while Obama was still president.
The next day, Jan. 6, 2017, the conspirators released the declassified version of the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA).
Commissioned a month earlier by Obama, the ICA was John Brennan's way of welcoming the president-elect to Washington.
Titled "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections," the report concluded that Putin "ordered" an influence campaign, the goal of which was "to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency."
The corollary of this, of course, was that "Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."
The "Obama dossier," as Rep. Devin Nunes called the ICA, reads like one of my college term papers, filled with sundry bits of information gathered from here and there just hours before the due date.
Although Comey lobbied to have the Steele dossier included in the body of the text, wiser heads prevailed, and it was relegated to the appendices.
On the same day the ICA was released, Jan. 6, Comey, Clapper, Brennan and the NSA's Mike Rogers briefed the incoming president at Trump Tower, sort of.
"[W]e were not investigating him and the stuff [in the dossier] might be totally made up but it was being said out of Russia and our job was to protect the president from efforts to coerce him," Comey wrote in his notes to self following the meeting.
At least three of the four men were investigating Trump, and it was not the Russians who were doing the coercing.
Only Comey stayed behind to brief Trump about the Steele dossier. It had not yet been published. CNN had the story, and Comey knew.
He also knew that by telling the president about the dossier, he would give CNN the necessary news hook to report the dossier's allegations, at least the more plausible ones.
One of the conspirators promptly leaked the news of the more intimate briefing to CNN. On Jan. 8, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe emailed his senior FBI colleagues. "CNN is close to going forward with the sensitive story," wrote McCabe, emphasis his.
"The trigger for [CNN] is they know the material was discussed in the brief and presented in an attachment." McCabe sent this email under the heading, "The flood is coming."
The flood came. It inundated America's newsrooms for the next two and a half years and washed away the Republican House majority in 2018.
And we're charging Donald Trump with insurrection? Please! Pass the bananas.