There are principled Republicans calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump. Unlike the Watergate era, none of these principled Republicans are currently serving in Congress.
Prominent conservative attorneys released a public statement on Tuesday saying the framers of America’s Constitution would have held an impeachment trial in the Senate for President Donald Trump. Press Release:
New Statement from Checks and Balances on the Mueller Report
April 23, 2019
Statement from co-founders and additional members of Checks & Balances:
The release of the Special Counsel’s report is a significant milestone in the civic life of the country. As attorneys who believe in the Constitution, the rule of law, and the importance of truth, we believe the report raises issues that all Americans, and especially those in public life — regardless of political affiliation — must consider seriously.
We are grateful for the service of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the team of prosecutors and investigators who worked tirelessly for 22 months to conduct the most important national security investigation in a generation: the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, whether any Americans were part of those activities, and related matters. The Special Counsel team conducted itself professionally and in the highest traditions of the Justice Department.
The Special Counsel’s extensive investigation revealed, and the report released April 18th further confirmed, that there was a persistent effort by the Russian government to affect the 2016 U.S. election. U.S. intelligence community officials have continued to state publicly that these efforts continued through the 2018 midterm elections and remain a threat. Free and fair elections, without foreign interference, are at the heart of a healthy democracy. We call on the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General to ensure that the agencies under their guidance, supervision and direction have their full support and resources to address the ongoing national security threat presented by foreign interference in U.S. democratic institutions and processes. We call on Congress to conduct robust, bipartisan oversight to ensure that the threats posed by ongoing foreign malign activities are addressed as matters of the highest priority as we increasingly near the 2020 election.
The report further revealed a pattern of behavior that is starkly inconsistent with the President’s constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The Special Counsel’s investigation was conducted lawfully, and under longstanding Attorney General guidelines. The facts contained in the report reveal that the President engaged in persistent conduct intended to derail, undermine and obstruct ongoing federal investigations. In light of the longstanding Department of Justice legal opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted, we view it as irrelevant whether there is a prosecutorial recommendation that the crime of obstruction has been committed. Instead, we believe that the President’s conduct demonstrates a flagrant disregard for the rule of law — a disregard that is in direct conflict with his constitutional responsibilities, including his commitment under oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Information in the report also reveals that the President is willing to abuse presidential authority to pressure or remove Senate-confirmed officials for purposes that undermine lawful functioning of government and to direct subordinates to falsify the record on matters he knew were or likely were under investigation. The report’s details add to an existing body of information already in the public domain documenting the President’s violations of his oath, including but not limited to his denigration of the free press, verbal attacks on members of the judiciary, encouragement of law enforcement officers to violate the law, and incessant lying to the American people. We believe the framers of the Constitution would have viewed the totality of this conduct as evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors. Accordingly, Congress, which carries its own constitutional oversight responsibilities, should conduct further investigation.
Jonathan H. Adler
Donald B. Ayer
John B. Bellinger, III
George T. Conway, III
Carrie F. Cordero
Stuart M. Gerson
Peter D. Keisler
Marisa C. Maleck
Alan Charles Raul
Each of us speaks and acts solely in our individual capacities, and our views should not be attributed to any organization we may be affiliated with.
Republican and Antonin Scalia Law School professor J.W. Verret, a former member of President Donald Trump’s transition team, tweeted a statement over the weekend that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was sufficient grounds to impeach the president.
On Tuesday, he elaborated further in an article for The Atlantic. The Mueller Report Was My Tipping Point:
Let’s start at the end of this story. This weekend, I read Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report twice, and realized that enough was enough—I needed to do something. I’ve worked on every Republican presidential transition team for the past 10 years and recently served as counsel to the Republican-led House Financial Services Committee. My permanent job is as a law professor at the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School, which is not political, but where my colleagues have held many prime spots in Republican administrations.
If you think calling for the impeachment of a sitting Republican president would constitute career suicide for someone like me, you may end up being right. But I did exactly that this weekend, tweeting that it’s time to begin impeachment proceedings.
Let’s go back to the beginning. In August 2016, I interviewed to join the pre-transition team of Donald Trump. Since 2012, every presidential election stands up a pre-transition team for both candidates, so that the real transition will have had a six-month head start when the election is decided. I participated in a similar effort for Mitt Romney, and despite our defeat, it was a thrilling and rewarding experience. I walked into a conference room at Jones Day that Don McGahn had graciously arranged to lend to the folks interviewing for the transition team.
The question I feared inevitably opened the interview: “How do you feel about Donald Trump?” I could not honestly say I admired him. While working on Senator Marco Rubio’s primary campaign, I had watched Trump throw schoolyard nicknames at him. I gave the only honest answer I could: “I admire the advisers he’s chosen, like Larry Kudlow and David Malpass, and I admire his choice of VP.” That did the trick. I got the impression they’d heard that one before. I was one of the first 16 members of Trump’s transition team, as deputy director of economic policy.
In time, my work for the transition became awkward. I disagreed with Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and trade. I also had strong concerns about his policies in my area of financial regulation. The hostility to Russian sanctions from the policy team, particularly from those members picked by Paul Manafort, was even more unsettling.
I wasn’t very good at hiding my distaste. We parted ways in October amicably; I wasn’t the right fit. I wished many of my friends who worked on the transition well, and I respected their decision to stay on after Trump won. A few of them even arranged offers for policy jobs in the White House, which I nearly accepted but ultimately turned down, as I knew I’d be no better fit there than I had been on the transition.
I never considered joining the Never Trump Republican efforts. Their criticisms of President Trump’s lack of character and unfitness for office were spot-on, of course, but they didn’t seem very pragmatic. There was no avoiding the fact that he’d won, and like many others, I felt the focus should be on guiding his policy decisions in a constructive direction. The man whom I most admire in that regard is McGahn, Trump’s first White House counsel, who guided the president toward some amazing nominees for regulatory agencies and the judiciary.
I wanted to share my experience transitioning from Trump team member to pragmatist about Trump to advocate for his impeachment, because I think many other Republicans are starting a similar transition. Politics is a team sport, and if you actively work within a political party, there is some expectation that you will follow orders and rally behind the leader, even when you disagree. There is a point, though, at which that expectation turns from a mix of loyalty and pragmatism into something more sinister, a blind devotion that serves to enable criminal conduct.
The Mueller report was that tipping point for me, and it should be for Republican and independent voters, and for Republicans in Congress. In the face of a Department of Justice policy that prohibited him from indicting a sitting president, Mueller drafted what any reasonable reader would see as a referral to Congress to commence impeachment hearings.
Depending on how you count, roughly a dozen separate instances of obstruction of justice are contained in the Mueller report. The president dangled pardons in front of witnesses to encourage them to lie to the special counsel, and directly ordered people to lie to throw the special counsel off the scent.
This elaborate pattern of obstruction may have successfully impeded the Mueller investigation from uncovering a conspiracy to commit more serious crimes. At a minimum, there’s enough here to get the impeachment process started. In impeachment proceedings, the House serves as a sort of grand jury and the Senate conducts the trial. There is enough in the Mueller report to commence the Constitution’s version of a grand-jury investigation in the form of impeachment proceedings.
The Founders knew that impeachment would be, in part, a political exercise. They decided that the legislative branch would operate as the best check on the president by channeling the people’s will. Congress has an opportunity to shape that public sentiment with the hearings ahead. As sentiments shift, more and more Republicans in Congress will feel emboldened to stand up to the president. The nation has been through this drama before, with more than a year of hearings in the Richard Nixon scandal, which ultimately forced his resignation.
Republicans who stand up to Trump today may face some friendly fire. Today’s Republican electorate seems spellbound by the sound bites of Twitter and cable news, for which Trump is a born wizard. Yet, in time, we can help rebuild the Republican Party, enabling it to rise from the ashes of the post-Trump apocalypse into a party with renewed commitment to principles of liberty, opportunity, and the rule of law.
I would ask these principled Republican lawyers to name one Republican member of Congress who has called for the impeachment of Donald Trump. Anyone? Hello? That’s what I thought.
Every Republican member of Congress has placed their loyalty to their “Dear Leader” over their loyalty to their country, and their solemn oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. They are completely abdicating the powers and prerogatives of the legislative branch to the whims of an authoritarian mad man, a wannabe tinpot dictator. They are unfit to serve, and unworthy of the office they hold. Every one of these craven cowards should be turned out of office in disgrace.