The Democrats refer to Donald Trump as “the Framers’ worst nightmare” in their 111-page brief. The actions taken by Trump during his time in office are likely making the Framers all turn over in their graves. To be honest, the two charges made — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — are light compared to everything this criminal has done.
Trump’s legal team is starting out as one might expect: muddying the waters. Trump’s team is led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal attorney. They allege that abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are not crimes, let alone impeachable offenses. Let’s examine that claim. Reuters looked at this very issue in December, engaging with legal scholars who have studied the Constitution. Louis Michael Seidman of Georgetown Law explained that “abuse of power” in and of itself is not spelled out specifically in the Constitution. However, Seidman reveals that “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” does include abuses of power. “The U.S. has a national security interest in Ukraine,” stated Seidman, “and it does appear that what the president was doing was putting that national security interest at risk in exchange for political benefit.” He went on to say: “If that is what happened, that is the core of what impeachment is about.”
Reuters then compared the Nixon and Clinton impeachments. Nixon was accused of abuse of power for authorizing tax audits of political opponents while Clinton was accused in his affair with Monica Lewinsky. While we have to be careful not to belittle what Clinton did, lying about an affair under oath does not rise to the level of the actions taken by either Nixon or Trump, both of which are clear abuses of power.
With respect to obstruction of Congress, Trump’s actions in blocking subpoenas and testimony are a direct violation of the Constitution. Nixon refused to turn over documents, including tape recordings, and Trump has refused to turn over documents. Thus, he has very much violated this prong of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” That means his team might want to come up with something better than “the issues aren’t crimes.” They may not be, but they are certainly Constitutional violations, and that is what impeachment is all about.
As for Team Trump’s allegations that impeachment articles are “a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president,” they can stuff it. The Electoral College does a better job of that than impeachment could ever do, given that Hillary Clinton secured three million more votes than Trump and lost the election. This might help them with their arguments: Trump is a narcissistic sociopath who thinks he can run roughshod over the world. The Democrats are merely showing him that they will not stand idly by while he does the same to our Constitution.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years