Trump’s Perverse Impeachment Defense: He Should Not Be Impeached Even If He’s Guilty

The Senate trial of Donald Trump’s Articles of Impeachment is set to begin on Tuesday. In advance of that, the Democrats released a 111 page brief on how they intend to prosecute the case against Trump. It’s a detailed and comprehensive outline of the high crimes and misdemeanors that justify Trump’s conviction and removal from office.

Donald Trump, Constitution

On the other side of the aisle, Trump’s motley crew of Fox News lawyers released a shallow and lie-riddled response that hardly touches on the specific allegations against Trump. In fact, Trump’s official answer to the Articles of Impeachment is an emotional seven page rant that repetitiously makes a single point: that “the Articles of Impeachment are constitutionally invalid” because they “fail to allege any crime or violation of the law.” It further states that it is “a lawless process that violated basic due process,” and that its consideration would be “subverting the will of the American people.”

Every bit of that is utterly false and has no legal basis as a defense. The charge that there is no crime alleged is false because Trump’s efforts to coerce the Ukrainian president into aiding his scheme to smear Joe Biden is, in fact, a crime. So is withholding military aid allocated by Congress and signed by the President. So is ignoring Congressional subpoenas for documents and ordering his subordinates not to cooperate. But even if those weren’t crimes, it wouldn’t matter because the Constitution doesn’t require violations of criminal statutes. For one thing, there weren’t any criminal statutes at the time the Constitution was written.

As for due process, that is a right granted in courts of law conducting criminal prosecutions. Due process doesn’t apply here because impeachment is a political process conducted in the Congress. Even so, Trump was permitted to present his witnesses and defense, but he declined to do so. He even refused after complaining about not having such an opportunity. And he’s still refusing to allow witnesses and documents that he says are exculpatory.

The claim that impeachment “subverts” the will of the people is bizarre on its face. Was it subverting the will of the people when Clinton was impeached? How could any impeachment – which is, of course, in the Constitution – be pursued without the prospect of removing an elected president? To suggest, as Trump’s response does, that impeachment is “a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their President,” is to assert that the Framers were out of their minds for including impeachment in the Constitution in the first place. They obviously didn’t include it with the intention that it never be used because it might result in a president being removed from office. And Trump probably shouldn’t raise the issue of “the will of the people” to “freely choose their President,” when he lost the election by 3,000,000 votes. If the will of the people were being respected, Hillary Clinton would be president.

To bolster his argument that impeachment is invalid, Trump assigned the newest member of Fox News legal team, Alan Dershowitz, the task of presenting his case to the media. Dershowitz was interviewed by George Stephanopoulos where he offered up this preposterous legal theory:

Stephanopoulos: Is it your position that President Trump should not be impeached even if all the evidence and arguments laid out by the House are accepted as fact?
Dershowitz: That’s right.

The foundation of Dershowitz’s argument is that abuse of power and obstruction of Congress do not meet the criteria for impeachment under the Constitution. So he isn’t arguing that Trump isn’t guilty of abuse of power or obstruction of Congress, only that, in his view, the Constitution allows him to do so.

Think about that. Dershowitz, as well as Trump’s defenders in Congress and the press, believe that a president may abuse power and obstruct Congress without ever having to worry about being held accountable. They can collude with adversarial foreign governments to interfere with an election. They can publish stolen emails and other private documents to smear their opponents. They can withhold critical funds in order to coerce foreign leaders to do their bidding on personal matters. And they can refuse to disclose such behaviors, and even lie about them to the American people.

That’s the crazy vision that Trump and the Republican Party are offering to the nation. That’s their depraved interpretation of the Constitution. And that’s the legal basis for which they believe Trump should be exonerated. They know that they cannot defend Trump as innocent, so they’re embracing his guilt as acceptable. That’s how far Trump and the GOP have fallen.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

BONUS ADDITION: Dershowitz is flagrantly contradicting himself on the question of whether a crime is a necessary criteria for impeachment. In an interview with CNN’s Larry King in 1998, Dershowitz said that impeachment “certainly doesn’t have to be a crime if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need a technical crime.” So there’s that. Democrats should play video of that during the Senate trial immediately after Dershowitz’s statement.


One thought on “Trump’s Perverse Impeachment Defense: He Should Not Be Impeached Even If He’s Guilty

  1. OMG! I am literally nauseous, having just read Trump’s (his lawyer’s) official response to Articles of Impeachment. Also skimmed/read the House’s 111pg. document ~ Do they get paid by the word, or what??! “Sheesh!” ~ In 111 pgs they really could’ve spelled out so many of the violations Trump has done & is still doing, every day in Office! They could have & should have thrown the book at him! There is so much more that he can be charged with! And, somewhere in that “brattty baby” batch of diversions & flat-out LIES that is Trump’s (lawyer) response, he actually has the balls to complain that the charges aren’t specific enuff!
    ~ That’s what you get, Pelosi, for trying to “go ez on him” & create just 2 Articles that YOU think the other side could agree with, instead of going after that SOB with all the charges that are appropriate in his case, spelling them out, On The Record! (How’d that work out for ya’?) Bent over backwards to not appear partisan, which it is not — but a stupid idea, since we all knew they’d say that shit anyway. Always do, cuz’ they know how partisan THEY are in everything, especially on Clinton impeachment & the 10(!) BS investigations they did to Obama! Republicans have long been known for accusing others if what they themselves are doing! I’ve watched them doing it for 40 yrs now. Nothing new.
    Trump’s whole “defense” boils down to 1 thing:
    That he is king, a god in fact! …& HE IS ABOVE ALL LAWS! He can do anything he damn well wants to & will continue to do so, with the full support of the Retrumplican Party & his cult of worshippers & there’s nothing Americans can do about it. The US experiment with democracy is OVER. It is now the TRUMP EMPIRE & The US Constitution be damned.
    ~ Once I’m re-elected by the foolish voters (& a few tricks), we’re gonna’ ramp this up on “High” & it’s “game over” for the rest of you… and there isn’t a damn thing you can do to stop me! For I AM “the father of lies” & my minions do my bidding. So, “get used to it!”
    That about covers it.

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