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The No.1 QUESTION Trump Supporters Must Answer... | The Mesh Report

The No.1 QUESTION Trump Supporters Must Answer…

the Mesh Report Staff November 11, 2019 Comments Off on The No.1 QUESTION Trump Supporters Must Answer…

Is it an impeachable offense?

That is the question of the hour. On “Fox News Sunday,” Chris Wallace pressed it on Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. It is a question every Republican supporter of President Trump should be prepared to answer. Democrats, by contrast, determined that the president was impeachable before he ever darkened the Oval Office door; it’s not worth asking them since their answer preexisted any real or imagined occasion for posing the question.

It is, of course, the question that must be asked. That does not make it a fair question. It is unfair because it assumes a fact that is not in evidence, namely: that we have a working definition of an impeachable offense on which there is agreement – or at least something close to consensus. We don’t.

In fact, even that explanation of the problem is misleading. To have a “working definition” in this context implies that we are dealing with a legal reality – as if the question were, Is it a contract?  Or, Is it a homicide? A contract or a homicide is a legal designation with a settled definition applicable in all circumstances.

By contrast, an impeachable offense is not a legal designation. It is, in our system, a political conclusion.

Well, OK, even that is an oversimplification. I grappled with the problem – at the crossroads of law and politics – in my 2014 book on the impeachment, “Faithless Execution.” (I wasn’t smart enough to wait until Donald Trump was president to write an impeachment book – I might have made a few bucks!)

The “impeachable offense” question comes down to whether a president’s alleged misconduct amounts to “high crimes and misdemeanors.” On this, the Framers believed they had a legal definition, although one more elastic than those that define offenses in the penal code. As Hamilton put it in “Federalist 65,” high crimes and misdemeanors are offenses that:

“…proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words from abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they chiefly relate to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

Legally, then, impeachable offenses need not be courtroom-prosecutable crimes. They are in the nature, instead, of abuses of power, derelictions of the office holder’s fiduciary duties.

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