The Case for a Swift Impeachment
Prominent conservative legal scholar Michael Stokes Paulsen, a leading academic expert on impeachment, rarely agrees on much of anything with famous liberal Harvard law Professor Laurence Tribe. Impeachment is just one of many constitutional issues on which they have major differences. In 2018, Paulsen published a Harvard Law Review essay forcefully criticizing Tribe’s book on impeachment, coauthored with Joshua Matz (Tribe and Matz responded here). But Paulsen, Tribe, and Matz are on the same page when it comes to advocating a swift second impeachment process for Donald Trump.
Here’s Paulsen, in an article published yesterday in The Dispatch:
President Trump should be impeached and removed from office immediately.
He has, without doubt, committed acts constituting “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” within the meaning of the Constitution’s impeachment standard. He has attempted to preserve himself in office, notwithstanding his defeat for reelection, by seeking to subvert the results of a series of popular democratic state elections—a terrible attack on our constitutional republican government…. Over the course of an hour-long phone call last Saturday, he essentially threatened state election officials in Georgia, seeking to intimidate them into “finding”—manufacturing—sufficient votes for him to corruptly overturn the official, verified count of a freely and fairly conducted election….
Trump incited a mob to march on the Capitol and disrupt Congress’s official counting of electors’ votes for his opponent. His remarks and tweets fairly can be read as efforts to incite imminent lawlessness, insurrection and violence—including even attacks directed against his own vice president….
If Trump’s misconduct is not impeachable, nothing is. If this is not the legal and moral occasion for exercise of the power to impeach, convict, remove from office, and disqualify from future office a president, then there is never such an occasion….
Constitutionally, Trump can be impeached, tried, convicted, and removed in a day or even a matter of a few hours—literally overnight….
What’s the point? Won’t Trump be gone in two weeks anyway?
The point is preservation of the Constitution. The point is preservation of constitutional government. The point is decisive and emphatic repudiation of any leader, or pretender, who would seek to usurp power and overthrow the democratic and constitutional processes of free government.
The point is also to disqualify such a would-be usurper from ever seeking to become president again. The Constitution specifies that “Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust, or Profit under the United States…” A failure to impeach and convict President Trump means that he could run again in 2024, raising the specter of a coup-plotting former president waiting in the wings and attempting to foment further
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