Newly released articles of impeachment are essentially claiming that President Trump can be impeached even if he did not break the law if he had “illegitimate motives.”
From the Judiciary Report:
The question is not whether the President’s conduct could have resulted from permissible motives. It is whether the President’s real reasons, the ones in his mind at the time, were legitimate.
“If I want to think about speeding 80 miles an hour and I talk about thinking about it but I actually don’t, I’m not guilty of anything other than harboring a bad thought,” Hanson said on “The Story.“
“So Trump may or may not, we don’t really know, the evidence suggests he didn’t think about delaying aid and that aid was delayed, but it wasn’t cut off. Maybe [Trump] thought about cutting it off. But that’s not a crime.”
Breitbart reports the House Judiciary Committee released a report Saturday in which it argued that a president may be impeached for “illegitimate motives” even if his actions are “legally permissible.”
The 52-page report, written by 20 members of the staff for the Democratic majority, attempts to provide a legal and constitutional basis for the Democrats’ ongoing effort to impeach the president.
The report states: “The question is not whether the President’s conduct could have resulted from permissible motives. It is whether the President’s real reasons, the ones in his mind at the time, were legitimate.”
That novel theory is only one of several questionable features of the report.
1. The report ignores all of the “expert” legal scholars who testified three days before. The report does not bother to cite any of the testimony from Wednesday’s lengthy hearing, with three witnesses called by Democrats and one called by Republicans. That suggests the report was written well in advance of the hearing. The report does cite published works by one of the witnesses, Micharl Gerhardt, but ignores those of his writings unhelpful to their case.
2. The report uses the same misquote used in the hearing, and by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The Democrat staff cite President Donald Trump as saying Article II of the Constitution means can do whatever I want as president.” As Breitbart News explained Friday, that is a misquote (backed by deceptively-edited video in the hearing), because Trump was talking specifically about his power to fire the Special Counsel (which he did not).
3. The report invents an absurdly broad standard for “bribery.” The report, backed by selective and misleading claims about the Framers’ intent, declares: “Impeachable bribery occurs when the President offers, solicits, or accepts something of personal value to influence his own official actions.” That standard would implicate every elected official in the United States, all of whom accept campaign contributions in return for policy promises.
4. The report cites radical left-wing activists committed to impeaching Trump. The report cites “scholars” such as Zephyr Teachout, who is on the advisory board of a group called “Impeach Trump Now.” It also cites Harvard’s Lawrence Tribe, who declared in December 2016 that Trump’s impeachment should “begin on Inauguration Day.” It ignores contrary views, even by left-wing sources like Cass Sunstein, whom it quotes selectively (see below).
5. The report invents an absurdly broad “abuse of power” standard. Sunstein wrote in 2017 that “abuse of power” was, by itself, too vague: “Almost every American president has, on more than one occasion, passed the bounds of his power, in the sense that his administration has done something that it is not lawfully entitled to do.” (They cite his book on impeachment, but ignore that point.) Notably, “abuse of power” is not in the Constitution.
6. The report actually defends the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson and cites it as precedent. The Johnson impeachment is almost universally regarded as an error. Yet the report, after conceding that a president “cannot be removed” simply because of “unpopular policies,” argues that Johnson should have been removed for exactly that, because he had “illegitimate motives.” This astonishing claim, citing Tribe, is worth quoting in full:
Read more here.