Below is my column in the Hill on the increasingly divisive rhetoric and actions taken on Capitol Hill. Rather than plot a course to between greater unity, many are seeking to muscle through extreme measures that will only further aggravate and deepen our divisions. The media from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times have run editorials encouraging aggressive moves to secure control of the Senate, including the ending of the filibuster. That move would make every vote a muscle play — producing sweeping changes in a country that is clearly divided and seeking political compromise.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi ramped up the attacks on members of her own house this week, accusing them of giving “aid and comfort” to those who want to destroy the nation. The comments came after Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., denied a public accusation by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., that she personally took rioters around the capitol for a tour before the attack on January 6th. Boebert pointed out that the “rioters” were her family members and she has never given such tours. Rather than encouraging colleagues to avoid baseless and inflammatory accusations pending review of what occurred on January 6th, Pelosi threw gasoline on the fire and accused her colleagues of giving “aid and comfort” to those who were trying to destroy the Constitution and the country. It is, in my view, another failure of leadership by the Speaker in her duties to the institution as a whole. Continue reading ““Aid and Comfort” To the Enemy: Speaker Pelosi Ramps Up Attacks On Republican Colleagues Amidst Calls For Expulsions”→
“I can pardon everybody’s mistakes except my own.” Those words of Cato of Elder have long been the principle guiding presidents who have resisted the temptation of issuing themselves self-pardons. There have been ample abuses of this power, but that is one dishonor that presidents have spared the country. Despite predictions by many in the media, Trump left office without adding that ignoble distinction. He did not grant clemency to himself, his family, or close associates like Rudy Giuliani. What is so telling is that we are so shellshocked from the last four years that this act of restraint was a reason for celebration and praise. Notably, the lack of the self-pardon might not be a welcomed by critics as it may appear. There is now no impediment to a charge for incitement, a much-touted possible charge that some of us believe would fail ultimately in the courts on either the trial or appellate levels.
Below is my column in the Hill on why President Donald Trump might want to consider skipping the upcoming Senate trial. This is an expanded version of that column. Rumors continue to suggest that Trump is considering Rudy Giuliani as counsel — a role that would be viewed as open contempt to the Senate and, as Karl Rove noted, would increase the chances of a conviction. There is a better defense: no defense.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a newly elected Republican member from Georgia who pledged yesterday that “On January 21, 2021, I’ll be filing Articles of Impeachment against Joe Biden for abuse of power.” That is precisely what I criticized Democrats for doing in challenging the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s election starting on the inauguration and raising repeated demands for impeachment for acts ranging from his criticism of NFL kneelers to his inflammatory tweets. It was wrong for them and it is wrong of Greene and any other Republicans who want to engage in this type of retaliatory impeachment effort.
With the entry of the 217th vote, the House of Representatives have impeached President Donald Trump for a second time. As I have previously stated, my primary objection to this action is the use of a snap impeachment that dispenses with the traditional hearing or inquiry of impeachment. There was no opportunity to debate the language or the implications of the language. Indeed, the House gave the President a threshold challenge based on this process. With the addition of a possible trial after Trump leaves office, the rush to judgment could become a parade of constitutional horribles. The use of impeachment to “remove” a president who has already left office is ripe for challenge on the Senate floor and even later in the federal courts.
As reported by Newsweek, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D., N.J.) has gone public with an extraordinary allegation against some of her colleagues that they conducted secret surveillance in a conspiracy with rioters at the Capitol. If true, those members could be criminally charged and expelled from the House. Conversely, if Sherrill has no such evidence, she could (and should) face a resolution of censure or resolution.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi shocked many in Washington by appointing Eric Swalwell as a house managers in the impeachment of President Donald Trump as he continues to face calls for his removal from the House Intelligence Committee due to his alleged intimate relationship with a Chinese spy. Swalwell has been bunkered down to avoid questions from the media and the public, but he will now be one of those prosecuting the case against the President.
Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on my concerns over the planned “snap impeachment” this year. In my view, impeaching on the speech alone would raise serious concerns over the use of impeachment in the future. Many Democrats, including members of Congress, refused to accept Trump as the legitimate president when he was elected and refused to do so as rioting broke out at the inauguration. Many of the same members have used the same type of rhetoric to “take back the country” and “fight for the country.” The concern is that this impeachment will not only create precedent for an expedited pathway of “snap impeachments” but allow future Congresses to impeach presidents for actions of their supporters. The point of this column is to call for greater caution and deliberation before we take this step to consider the basis and implications of this impeachment. As with the calls to use the 25th Amendment, there are real dangers to any opportunistic or hurried use of this option. There is also the alternative of a joint and bipartisan condemnation of both houses, which would be both justified and unassailable.
As I have said, there could be evidence to support impeachment on the proposed incitement article but it would have to be found before or after the speech to show an intent to spark rioting or to allow it to continue. As with the 25th Amendment claim, such evidence would be found from within the White House and through a traditional impeachment inquiry.
Below is my column in USA Today on the call to use the 25th Amendment to “remove” President Donald Trump. As a threshold matter, the 25th Amendment does not “remove” a president but rather shifts his powers to the Vice President. The only method for removal of a president from office is impeachment. The 25th Amendment refers to the Vice President as “acting” in his capacity. However, “removal” is a common way of expressing the substitution under the 25th Amendment. The main problem is not the nomenclature but the standard. Section 4 actions under the amendment are designed for physical or mental incapacities. Such evidence may exist but it has not been disclosed. Vice President Mike Pence would need to disclose such evidence of mental illness or irrationality in the President. The speech alone is not a basis for a 25th Amendment “removal.”
This week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is continuing to call for the invocation of the 25th Amendment or impeachment as alternative courses of action. She and others have expressed a preference for the 25th Amendment due to the limited time remaining before President Trump leaves office. However, neither time nor the text for a 25th Amendment action is supportive in this effort. More importantly, without such clear evidence of mental incapacity, the use of the 25th Amendment could introduce even greater instability in our system.
Below is my column in the Hill on the riot at Congress and its implications for our country. As shown by the unfounded rush for a “snap impeachment,” we are experiencing a crisis of faith in this country — not only in our Constitution but ourselves. Pushing for a snap vote (and snap judgment) on these issues will only exacerbate our divisions. This is a time for deliberative, not impulsive, action in Congress.