Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe has a history of passionate opposition to President Trump and calling for his impeachment, and he continued the trend Sunday by blaming Trump for a pair of shootings that took place over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Others have also placed blame on Trump for the shooting though Tribe goes as far as to declare Trump a terrorist. I have previously disagreed with Professor Tribe on these tweets against Trump and Republicans and this attack appears unhinged and entirely inappropriate for a respected academic.
“How many more people have to DIE violent deaths at racist hands before impeaching the president for inciting white nationalist terrorism and violence is taken as seriously as impeaching him for obstructing justice? The real national emergency is Donald J. Trump’s terrorism”
Recently, I wrote about an anti-Trump activist featured on CNN who tried to firebomb an immigration center. While the attack by Willem Van Spronsen followed over-heated rhetoric from various Democratic candidates, his political motives or associations were largely ignored by the media. As I said at the time, I think it would be grossly unfair to associate Van Spronsen’s violence with Democratic leaders or their rhetoric. There are also a high number of cases with Trump supporters or people wearing MAGA hats have been assaulted on streets or in cafes. No one is calling out the left for responsibility in stoking such flames. Nor should they. The point was only that the media routinely makes that nexus to Trump by those who are anti-immigrant or white supremacist. None of these political figures, including Trump, can fairly be blamed for the acts of a violent, disturbed individual. If we start to treat political speech as a type of criminal inducement, we would eviscerate the first amendment.
Tribe’s suggestion that an impeachment can be based on this highly tenuous connection does a disservice to the public which relies on academics to give honest and informed analysis. Moreover, there is a curious jumping of the rails in raising slaughters by white supremacists in calling for impeachment for obstruction. The suggestion seems to be that we should impeach a president to achieve a different purpose: remove Trump on obstruction to somehow end racial violence in the nation. That would seem to encourage members to impeach to achieve ulterior purposes outside of the scope of impeachment.
When asked later by the Fox News about the tweets, Tribe would only say that “There is an alarming pattern of incitements that together warrant being taken seriously in conjunction with other, more specific, offenses.” I am not sure what that means in the context of an impeachment. It suggests that a member should vote on one alleged offense while being motivated by other uncharged offenses. We would never allow that in a real court of law. Indeed, the mere suggestion to a jury would likely leave a lawyer in a contempt of court.
While impeachment is not a real court by any stretch of the imagination, it is still a proceeding with a defined standard for members to satisfy. Encouraging members to act with reference to charges outside of legitimate articles of impeachment is itself a type of reckless inducement.
Tribe subsequently clarified by saying that he is not saying that Trump “should be impeached” for “racist incitements alone,” rather that “impeaching the president for inciting white nationalist terrorism and violence [should be] taken as seriously as impeaching him for obstructing justice.”
Tribe later added that he was not suggesting impeachment for racist alone but “impeaching the president for inciting white nationalist terrorism and violence [should be] taken as seriously as impeaching him for obstructing justice.”
Again, “impeaching the president for inciting white nationalist terrorism” would seem a highly subjective standard for impeachment — a standing that could sweep dangerously into political speech protected by the First Amendment. Any majority party could claim that a president was encouraging violent or criminal conduct in his speeches or policies. It would turn a narrow constitutional standard nto a virtual invitation for political removals.
What do you think?