Congressional Democrats Sing the Same Old Song

Apart from the issue of border security, congressional Democrats continue to obsess over the possibility of impeaching the president and the extent of the president's pardoning power.  Most notably, Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) recently promised to impeach President Trump in a profanity-laced tirade, while Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) moved to prohibit Trump and any future president from issuing pardons to "themselves, their families, their administration or campaign staff."  Given what we currently know, both issues are moot and reflect mere partisan rants.

Impeachment

The Constitution (Article 2, Section 4) specifies two specific crimes – treason and bribery – that merit impeachment and removal from office.  As set forth in Vox, the Constitution references a broader category of "other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" that could also justify impeachment.  To initiate articles of impeachment, a simple majority would be needed in the House.  A trial would then be held in the Senate with the chief justice of the Supreme Court presiding.  Given that Republicans gained additional seats in the Senate, conviction is highly unlikely.

Practically speaking, to impeach a president, there must be an impeachable offense.  To date, there has been no evidence of any offense by President Trump.  There has been a great deal of debate regarding the legality of the hush money payments and campaign finance laws and Trump's alleged real estate deals in Russia.  However, to date, there has been no credible evidence implicating the president.  Finally, Tlaib's recent and tasteless allegation against Trump is not an impeachable offense (even if some Democrats find it true).

Although many congressional Democrats continue to obsess over the opportunity to impeach President Trump, they would be well advised to consider the words of some of their predecessors.  During the impeachment process involving former president Clinton, some prominent Democrats warned against impeachment.  As stated in the Washington Post:

Wilentz, along with a group of other prominent Democrats – Samuel Beer, a retired Harvard government professor, Bruce Ackerman of the Yale Law School and former attorney general Nicholas deB. Katzenbach – argued that even if Clinton did commit perjury as the Republicans charge, he should not be impeached, because impeaching a president is such a grave and momentous decision that it must be reserved for extreme cases of "political crimes against the state," as Katzenbach put it.

Essentially, they were putting the committee on notice: Use the impeachment process to score a political point at your peril – future generations will not forgive you.

Based on the information that has been publicly disclosed to date, talk of impeachment is moot and appears to stem solely from partisan politics.  Moreover, according to the Washington Times, a new CNN poll found that 50% of Americans do not feel that President Trump should be impeached and removed from office.

Pardon Power

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution specifies that the president:

... shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

Interestingly, there is nothing specifying that a president cannot pardon himself. Therefore, some argue that the absence of any prohibitive language means that the president is well within his authority to do so.  Conversely, some opponents argue that there is nothing in the Constitution permitting a president to do so, and that such power would allow a sitting president to pardon himself at will and grant him unfettered power.

Both positions have merit, and nobody really knows whether the president's pardoning power allows him to pardon himself.  However, what is clear is that the question of the president's right to "self-pardon" is moot and irrelevant until, and if, an offense against the United States has been committed.  President Trump has not been accused of any crime to date, let alone a crime against the United States. 

Moreover, Cohen's proposal to limit the president's power to pardon others could well run afoul of the president's constitutional rights.  Finally, and tangentially, the Supreme Court's eventual ruling in Gamble v. United States could also impact the extent of the president's pardoning power as it relates to federal and state crimes.  For example, if the Supreme Court rules that a person may not be charged for the same crime in state and federal court (it is unlikely that the court will rule in this manner), the president could pardon someone for a federal crime without worrying about a parallel state crime for which the pardoning power does not apply.

Maybe it's time for Cohen and other congressional Democrats to focus their energy on other, more pressing issues that can help the American people and less on their personal, partisan, and deep-rooted desire to remove the president.

Mr. Hakim is a writer, commentator, and an attorney.  His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Western Journal, American Thinker, and other online publications.  

https://thoughtfullyconservative.wordpress.com

Twitter: @ThoughtfulGOP

Apart from the issue of border security, congressional Democrats continue to obsess over the possibility of impeaching the president and the extent of the president's pardoning power.  Most notably, Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) recently promised to impeach President Trump in a profanity-laced tirade, while Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) moved to prohibit Trump and any future president from issuing pardons to "themselves, their families, their administration or campaign staff."  Given what we currently know, both issues are moot and reflect mere partisan rants.

Impeachment

The Constitution (Article 2, Section 4) specifies two specific crimes – treason and bribery – that merit impeachment and removal from office.  As set forth in Vox, the Constitution references a broader category of "other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" that could also justify impeachment.  To initiate articles of impeachment, a simple majority would be needed in the House.  A trial would then be held in the Senate with the chief justice of the Supreme Court presiding.  Given that Republicans gained additional seats in the Senate, conviction is highly unlikely.

Practically speaking, to impeach a president, there must be an impeachable offense.  To date, there has been no evidence of any offense by President Trump.  There has been a great deal of debate regarding the legality of the hush money payments and campaign finance laws and Trump's alleged real estate deals in Russia.  However, to date, there has been no credible evidence implicating the president.  Finally, Tlaib's recent and tasteless allegation against Trump is not an impeachable offense (even if some Democrats find it true).

Although many congressional Democrats continue to obsess over the opportunity to impeach President Trump, they would be well advised to consider the words of some of their predecessors.  During the impeachment process involving former president Clinton, some prominent Democrats warned against impeachment.  As stated in the Washington Post:

Wilentz, along with a group of other prominent Democrats – Samuel Beer, a retired Harvard government professor, Bruce Ackerman of the Yale Law School and former attorney general Nicholas deB. Katzenbach – argued that even if Clinton did commit perjury as the Republicans charge, he should not be impeached, because impeaching a president is such a grave and momentous decision that it must be reserved for extreme cases of "political crimes against the state," as Katzenbach put it.

Essentially, they were putting the committee on notice: Use the impeachment process to score a political point at your peril – future generations will not forgive you.

Based on the information that has been publicly disclosed to date, talk of impeachment is moot and appears to stem solely from partisan politics.  Moreover, according to the Washington Times, a new CNN poll found that 50% of Americans do not feel that President Trump should be impeached and removed from office.

Pardon Power

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution specifies that the president:

... shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

Interestingly, there is nothing specifying that a president cannot pardon himself. Therefore, some argue that the absence of any prohibitive language means that the president is well within his authority to do so.  Conversely, some opponents argue that there is nothing in the Constitution permitting a president to do so, and that such power would allow a sitting president to pardon himself at will and grant him unfettered power.

Both positions have merit, and nobody really knows whether the president's pardoning power allows him to pardon himself.  However, what is clear is that the question of the president's right to "self-pardon" is moot and irrelevant until, and if, an offense against the United States has been committed.  President Trump has not been accused of any crime to date, let alone a crime against the United States. 

Moreover, Cohen's proposal to limit the president's power to pardon others could well run afoul of the president's constitutional rights.  Finally, and tangentially, the Supreme Court's eventual ruling in Gamble v. United States could also impact the extent of the president's pardoning power as it relates to federal and state crimes.  For example, if the Supreme Court rules that a person may not be charged for the same crime in state and federal court (it is unlikely that the court will rule in this manner), the president could pardon someone for a federal crime without worrying about a parallel state crime for which the pardoning power does not apply.

Maybe it's time for Cohen and other congressional Democrats to focus their energy on other, more pressing issues that can help the American people and less on their personal, partisan, and deep-rooted desire to remove the president.

Mr. Hakim is a writer, commentator, and an attorney.  His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Western Journal, American Thinker, and other online publications.  

https://thoughtfullyconservative.wordpress.com

Twitter: @ThoughtfulGOP