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Trump and His Supporters Are the True Defenders of the Constitution

Trump and His Supporters Are the True Defenders of the Constitution
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to the media before he departs the White House on June 02, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Monday, 03 June 2019 03:42 PM Current | Bio | Archive

One of the most striking ironies in our current political discourse is the recent claim by Democrats in the House of Representatives that the best way they can preserve our Constitution is by beginning impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

This is ironic because the defenders of President Trump (and the president himself) believe that the assertion that he was a Russian puppet, a concoction by the DNC, the Clinton campaign, and its foreign sympathizers, was itself designed to subvert the presidential election of 2016, and thus the popular sovereignty which is the foundation for the Constitution.

The president’s enemies find their cause strengthened by the remarkable comments last week from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which seem to call for Congressional impeachment action, since the Justice Department, because of its current guidelines, cannot institute prosecution of a sitting president, and Mueller reports that he cannot say that the president did not obstruct justice in the ten or eleven instances in which Mr. Trump sought to shut down or frustrate Mueller’s investigation.

Attorney General Bill Barr and outgoing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, however, have indicated (correctly in my view) that the Special Counsel has actually found no evidence of obstruction of justice. The only explanation for this differing view regarding the exoneration of the president on obstruction is that Barr and Rosenstein must be taking the position that since the allegation of Russian collusion was utterly unfounded, and since President Trump knew this, any actions he contemplated to shut down the Mueller investigation would have been taken in good faith, and thus there was no criminal intention, which is required for obstruction of justice. There is the added fact, of course, that whatever frustrations the president expressed, there actually was no interference with the Special Counsel’s investigation, and there was, instead, full and complete cooperation, and not even an assertion of executive privilege.

One can understand the president’s supporters’ belief that there are no grounds for impeachment, and even the president’s suggestion that this is a matter that, if it were taken to the Supreme Court, would result in a declaration from that Court supporting the president. There are some respected voices in the Academy who take this view, although the Court might hesitate to get involved in what would be essentially a political proceeding.

The reality perceived by almost all Republicans that the president has done nothing to justify impeachment will, if the House brings impeachment charges, almost certainly result in the Republican-controlled Senate quickly rejecting such charges, so that it will probably be unnecessary for the Supreme Court to act.

What is really at stake here, of course, is the inability of the Democrats to accept the fact that President Trump is a legitimate president.

Perhaps many of them still cling to the now discredited notion that Trump is president only because of the machinations of a foreign power, but it is more likely that Democrats believe that since Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, and we are supposed to be a democracy, she should have become president. This is our most disturbing current Constitutional crisis, that the partisans of one of our two great political parties now refuse to accept the Constitution itself, with its Electoral College mechanism for presidential selection.

That the party who finds something fundamentally wrong with the Constitutional scheme now claims that by bringing impeachment proceedings it will be defending the Constitution thus is mind-boggling.

The Constitutional history of the impeachment provisions of the Constitution do demonstrate with some clarity that grounds for impeachment (“treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors”) were specifically delineated because of a wish that impeachment would not be used simply as a result of a naked political desire to remove a particular official. Impeachment was not supposed to be a means of giving the legislature plenary power to remove an executive at whim.

In any event, after the current flurry of partisan furor Mueller has unwisely fomented subsides, it is likely that, sensing the political realities involved, the Democrats will give up on impeachment.

The decision on whether to keep Donald Trump in the White House is one that should be made by the American people, acting pursuant to our Constitutional scheme, in the 2020 election for the presidency.

Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was recently appointed as a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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One of the most striking ironies in our current political discourse is the recent claim by Democrats in the House of Representatives that the best way they can preserve our Constitution is by beginning impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
trump, constitution, impeachment, democrats
Monday, 03 June 2019 03:42 PM
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