Eight impeachable offenses: Legal grounds for launching House Judiciary Committee investigation

“The purpose of impeachment is not to punish for past crimes, but to remove from office a dangerous official who threatens the rule of law and the republic itself,” wrote Ron Fein, John Bonifaz, and Ben Clements in their Take Care blog post about their new white paper, The Legal Case for a Congressional Investigation on Whether to Impeach President Donald J. Trump (Free Speech for People, Dec. 6, 2017).

The paper’s purpose is to summarizes the legal grounds for Congress to pass a resolution calling on the House Committee on the Judiciary to investigate whether sufficient grounds exist for the impeachment of President Trump. From the abstract:

President Trump’s abuse of power and corruption of the presidency are far worse than the Watergate scandal and the abuses that gave rise to the proposed articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon that were reported out of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives shortly before Nixon resigned. Abuse of power, corruption, and the threat to our republic are manifest today. They require a thorough and deliberate investigation in the House of Representatives. The factual summaries of the grounds for impeachment are based on publicly reported facts, including statements made by President Trump himself, and testimony to Congress. The legal analysis is based on the text, structure, and history of the Constitution and federal law, and legal and political precedent.

In the white paper, the authors identify eight impeachable offenses that could be grounds for a congressional investigation:

  1. Obstructing justice;
  2. Violating the Foreign Emoluments Clause and Domestic Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution;
  3. Conspiring with others to commit crimes against the United States involving the solicitation and intended receipt by his presidential campaign of things of value from a foreign government and other foreign nationals, and to conceal those violations;
  4. Advocating illegal violence, giving aid and comfort to white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and undermining constitutional protections of equal protection under the law;
  5. Abusing the pardon power;
  6. Recklessly threatening nuclear war against foreign nations, undermining and subverting the essential diplomatic functions and authority of federal agencies, including the United States Department of State, and engaging in other conduct that grossly and wantonly endangers the peace and security of the United States, its people and people of other nations, by heightening the risk of hostilities involving weapons of mass destruction, with reckless disregard for the risk of death and grievous bodily harm;
  7. Directing or endeavoring to direct law enforcement, including the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to investigate and prosecute political adversaries and others, for improper purposes not justified by any lawful function of his office, thereby eroding the rule of law, undermining the independence of law enforcement from politics, and compromising the constitutional right to due process of law; and
  8. Undermining the freedom of the press.

Recommended. — Joe

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