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 RosensteinWhat to expect when Mueller testifies: Not much Trump says he won't watch Mueller testimony Feds will not charge officer who killed Eric Garner 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 MeadowsLawmakers request documents on DC councilman ethics investigation House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran MORE (R-N.C.), along with Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDOJ, Commerce slam House Dems contempt vote as 'political stunt' White House blasts 'shameful and cynical' Barr, Ross contempt vote House votes to hold Trump Cabinet members Barr, Ross in contempt MORE (R-Ohio), last month filed articles of impeachment against Rosenstein, the top Department of Justice official overseeing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump 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.