Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) was recently re-elected to his second term in Congress, representing a large chunk of West Los Angeles. He was also recently promoted to Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.
In addition to obeying his oath of office, Rep. Lieu is subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) — including Article 88, which prohibits commissioned officers, in or out of uniform, from using “contemptuous words” against the president and other high officials.
Article 88 does not prohibit mere criticism, and there is thought to be some leeway in the interpretation of the article that allows for ordinary political debate. There are, after all, several members of Congress who serve as reservists, and they are sometimes quite impassioned in their opinions.
Yet Rep. Lieu’s recent and ongoing statements about President Donald Trump go far beyond even strident political debate and explicitly claim that the Commander-in-Chief is in fact illegitimate.
As the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday, Rep. Lieu claims “our leader is potentially unhinged … and that is highly disturbing.” He also places an asterisk next to President Trump’s name in press releases, which links to the following footnote:
***In addition to losing the popular vote, Trump — as of January 20, 2017 — is in violation of the Emoluments Clause set forth in Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution due to massive conflicts of interests and his refusal to put his global business holdings in blind trusts. Trump also benefitted from Vladimir Putin ordering a multifaceted and brazen Russian influence and cyber hacking campaign with the goals of undermining faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrating Secretary Clinton’s electability, and helping Trump’s election chances. Trump and his press secretary also routinely make stuff up.
Rep. Lieu has also publicly used expletives, repeatedly, in attacking the White House:
I just became a monthly donor to @ACLU. Because the RESISTANCE to any unconstitutional crazy shit from President Trump begins now.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) November 14, 2016
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 23, 2017
Furthermore, on his website, Rep. Lieu has posted a “Cloud of Illegitimacy Clock,” which claims Trump is both an illegitimate president and in violation of the Constitution, and measures the length of his “illegitimate” term accordingly.
One expects such antics from extremist Democrats like former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), who once said that the Republican health care plan was “die quickly.” However, one does not expect that sort of disrespect from a representative with Rep. Lieu’s moderate temperament — and especially from a high-ranking commissioned reserve officer in the armed forces.
Article 88 is rarely enforced, but Rep. Lieu seems to be campaigning for a court-martial. As the Times notes in its headline: “Rep. Ted Lieu is trolling Donald Trump, and he hopes you’re watching.” Even for a politician, his conduct is strange and unbecoming. As a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, it is disgraceful.
Perhaps he could explain it to a military judge.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.