Constitution. Meet crisis.

For reals.


The letter complains that the House fails to grant Trump sufficient control over the impeachment agenda. Though there’s a reason for that — the trial takes place in the Senate, not the House — Trump could in theory try to negotiate for more Republican input into the process. In a briefing with reporters, a senior administration official was asked what changes Trump would need to cooperate. “A full halt” was the answer. That is, Trump will cooperate with an impeachment probe if Democrats stop the impeachment probe.

Such Catch-22 absurdities give this administration no embarrassment. Since Democrats took control of the House last January, Trump has asserted it has no right to investigate him for crimes, no right to obtain his tax returns despite a law clearly authorizing exactly that, and that prosecutors can neither charge nor even investigate his criminal activity. He has claimed the right to start or stop any federal legal proceeding. Some of his positions grow out of the extreme unitary executive theory that figures like William Barr have developed for years, though only for Republican presidents.

But it is, in the main, an expression of Trump’s idiosyncratic convictions. This is a president who asserted his “absolute right” to investigate any person he wants, for any reason even while facing impeachment for abuse of power. He has no conception of the law, except as a tool to compel his opponents to submit to him. His every response to impeachment proves its necessity. [bold is mine]

Paul Campos:

It should go without saying that the legal(ish) arguments in this letter are preposterous. They all revolve around the absurd argument that an impeachment inquiry is somehow subject to the federal rules of criminal procedure, as opposed to being, you know, a congressional investigation specifically authorized by the Constitution, which also specifically does not specify in any way how that investigation is supposed to be carried out.

And I know we’re all inured to this stuff, but I can’t imagine a more straightforward constitutional crisis than a presidential administration simply refusing to cooperate with the legal process laid out in that document by which the legislature is supposed to investigate potential serious executive misconduct.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Constitution. Meet crisis.

  1. Mike in Chapel Hill says:

    Pick a side people. Side with a dictator, or fight to preserve a democracy.

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    Right. Time to answer the question: Whose side are you on?
    Trump can meet his accusers in the trial in the Senate.
    The House, like the Senate, makes its own rules when the Constitution does not lay out the rules.

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