Budowsky: Let’s discuss impeachment

Budowsky: Let’s discuss impeachment
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Today President Trump berates, insults, attacks, undermines and humiliates Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war McCabe book: Sessions once said FBI was better off when it 'only hired Irishmen' MORE, in my view as part of a plan to remove Sessions and fire special counsel Robert Mueller. These aggressive acts of obstruction of justice would violate the presidential oath of office, the president’s duty to preserve and protect the constitution, the president’s duty to faithfully execute the laws of the land, and the president’s duty to protect the nation from foreign enemies.

Ernest Hemingway advised authors to write one true sentence. Among the truest words describing the Trump presidency were written by Professor Laurence Tribe of the Harvard Law School, in an op-ed in The Washington Post discussing impeachment and obstruction of justice. He wrote that “in Nixon’s case, the list of actions that together were deemed to constitute impeachable obstruction reads like a forecast of what Trump would do decades later.”


All who believe in preserving and protecting American democracy should read the full text of the obstruction of justice article of impeachment against Richard Nixon.  You will see that Professor Tribe is right about the unmistakable similarities between what Nixon did then and what Trump does now.

As Trump stands on the precipice of triggering a constitutional crisis by firing yet one more leader of the investigation protecting American democracy from foreign attacks against us, Congress and leading constitutional authorities representing all points of view should begin a serious national discussion of exactly what would constitute the impeachable offense of obstruction of justice.

Today, Trump wages political wars against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and special counsel Robert Mueller.

Previously the president fired New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara while his office was investigating Russia and money laundering related matters.  He fired former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates shortly after she warned the White House about grave danger to national security from the Russia scandal. He fired former FBI Director James Comey, threatened him with the lie that he might have taped their crucial meetings, and bragged to the Russian foreign minister that by firing Comey he cut short investigations involving Russia.

Trump has sought to bully, intimidate, threaten, influence or fire material witnesses to potential crimes and leaders of every major investigation of the Russia scandal.

Trump has made assertions of unlimited presidential power to pardon any person for any crime, which reasonable people might believe is an attempt to influence suspects and material witnesses to potential crimes to refuse to accept plea bargains or to commit perjury, by leading them to believe they will be pardoned for whatever crime they commit out of loyalty to him.

Trump aggressively abuses his power by pressuring Sessions to pursue a partisan investigation of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bernie Sanders records announcement video ahead of possible 2020 bid Overnight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants MORE.

Trump repeatedly makes false statements about matters central to the Russia investigation. And he aggressively tries to hide crucial information, including his tax returns and full details about any business ties to Russia, that could clear him and others of wrongdoing or provide probative evidence of wrongdoing if it occurred.

Trump has compared intelligence services battling Russian espionage against America to Nazi Germany while he attacks leaders of the Justice Department and the FBI.

I am not advocating here that the president should be impeached. I am proposing that congressional leaders and constitutional scholars immediately begin a profound, informed and nonpartisan discussion about exactly what would constitute an impeachable offense, and evaluate Trump’s past and future actions by that standard.

Republican leaders would be well advised, in the interest of their party and our country, to join Democrats and prevent Trump from firing and replacing Sessions through a recess appointment, which would enable Trump to fire Mueller and trigger the firestorm of national outrage and constitutional crisis that would inevitably result.

When Benjamin Franklin was asked whether our America is a monarchy or republic, he replied: “a republic, if you can keep it.” Let us never forget those timeless words.


Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics. 

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.