Ex-Watergate lawyer: GOP effort to impeach Rosenstein could make Trump impeachment easier

Ex-Watergate lawyer: GOP effort to impeach Rosenstein could make Trump impeachment easier
© Greg Nash

Former Watergate lawyer Michael Conway on Sunday penned an NBC op-ed arguing that the recent GOP effort to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinTrump: Appointing Sessions was my biggest mistake Trump blasts Mueller, decries 'witch hunt' at 2020 launch Trump: I didn't fire Mueller since firings 'didn't work out too well' for Nixon MORE could make it easier to impeach President Trump

Conway, who acted as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee in the impeachment inquiry of former President Nixon in 1974, wrote that many of the arguments used to justify ousting Rosenstein were rejected by Republicans during Nixon's impeachment. 

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsGOP moves to block provision banning use of Defense funds for border wall Darrell Issa eyes return to Congress Oversight Republicans: 'Hundreds' of migrants in caravans have criminal histories MORE (R-N.C.), along with Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanOversight Republicans: 'Hundreds' of migrants in caravans have criminal histories Cummings requests interview with Census official over new allegations on citizenship question House Oversight Republicans release parts of Kobach, Trump officials' testimony on census citizenship question MORE (R-Ohio), last month filed articles of impeachment against Rosenstein, the top Department of Justice official overseeing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report MORE's Russia investigation. 

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The lawmakers quickly walked back the resolution, which did not have enough support in the House, but Conway argued that they set the bar low for what justifies impeachment.

"The resolution lowers the bar in defining what are 'high crimes and misdemeanors' — the ambiguous standard for an impeachable offense," Conway wrote. "Second, it reduces the threshold necessary for the House to commence impeachment proceedings in the first place." 

The proposal listed five articles as the basis for Rosenstein’s impeachment, three of which pertain to the allegation that Rosenstein withheld FBI documents from ongoing investigations into Mueller's probe.

"Meadows and company argue that the refusal of the executive branch to produce every document subpoenaed by Congress is grounds for impeachment," Conway wrote. "This is a theory that by Republican members of Congress rejected when Richard Nixon refused to turn White House tapes and documents over to the Judiciary Committee in 1974." 

Though there is "zero chance" Rosenstein will be impeached, Conway wrote "the existence of this new impeachment solution could make future impeachment proceedings easier to start — and maybe even easier to prove." 

Multiple Democrats have called for Trump's impeachment, particularly if Mueller's investigation uncovers evidence that his campaign colluded with Russia to get him elected in 2016.