Is the President an elected dictator? Cutting through all the daily noise, that’s the heart of the matter. And that is why this impeachment process is critical to safeguarding the future of our democracy.
Every President pushes the envelope of his Article II powers. But Donald Trump hasn’t even tried to justify his abuses of our constitutional system, he just dares us to stop him. And perhaps the most troubling aspect of all of this is the fact that there are a handful of “experts” who believe the President is, in fact, above the law.
Trump has flagrantly violated the emoluments clauses; and uses bogus emergencies to defy Congress and violate the appropriations clause. He illegally colluded with a foreign power during the 2016 election, and now it is clear he has again colluded with, and perhaps extorted, a foreign power for his political benefit. And he has obstructed justice repeatedly to prevent himself from being investigated.
All of this is plain to see and unambiguous. How is he getting away with it? First, it is generally accepted that you can’t indict and prosecute a sitting President. And now Trump and his minions are directly challenging the authority of Congress to hold the President accountable.
Trump has used every method at his disposal to prevent Congress or the Special Prosecutor from investigating him; from refusing to testify, to withholding documents, and even attempting to shut down the Mueller investigation. Now he is seeking to delegitimize Congress’s constitutional right to conduct an impeachment inquiry, calling it a “coup,” and refusing to cooperate.
Trump is certainly no constitutional scholar, but someone has convinced him that Article II of the Constitution allows him “to do whatever he wants.” https://www.newsweek.com/trump-insists-constitution-allows-do-whatever-want-1444235 And what is most disturbing and dangerous about this is there are actually lawyers making the case that the President is above the law.
Trump’s lawyers submitted a memo to Robert Mueller arguing that the President, as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, cannot commit obstruction of justice by definition, because that “would amount to obstructing himself.” https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/02/us/politics/trump-legal-documents.html Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, Attorney General Bill Barr, former federal prosecutors Andrew McCarthy, and, of course, Rudy Giuliani, have all argued basically the same thing: The President can stop an investigation of himself. https://www.lawfareblog.com/yes-bill-barrs-memo-really-wrong-about-obstruction-justice
This is, of course, madness. If a President can do whatever he wants and prevent himself from being investigated, prosecuted, or impeached, then the President is an elected dictator and we no longer live in a country governed by the rule of law.
Thankfully, most legal experts seem to reject this nonsense, https://www.vox.com/2017/12/4/16733422/donald-trump-new-york-times-sessions-russia-mueller-probe but this idea must be crushed by the House of Representatives. The House must impeach Trump to make crystal clear to future Presidents that they are simply the head of one of three co-equal branches of government, and not a monarch or autocrat. The Constitution can’t enforce itself. That is the duty of the House, and Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff are doing their duty.
This isn’t a new debate. After he resigned, Richard Nixon famously blurted out in an interview, “when the president does it, it is not illegal.” Donald Trump and his legal enablers seem to agree. Alexander Hamilton would beg to differ. In Federalist 69 Hamilton explicitly rejected the idea the President was above the law, like the King of England. https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed69.asp This impeachment needs to end the debate for all times.