March 5, 2021

Do Republicans believe the Founders would hold Donald Trump above the Constitution?

Legal experts weigh in on the Senate impeachment trial and the impact it will have on our Constitution.

Civil rights activist, professor, and legal analyst, Maya Wiley has written a compelling argument in the Atlantic. She says that Trump’s impeachment places the Constitution itself on trial.

“…impeachment is Congress’s way of reining in a president who has over-assumed foreign-policy authority. In this way, the impeachment of Donald Trump tests whether doing so is possible, which is a test of the Constitution itself,” wrote Wiley.

Renowned legal scholar Laurence Tribe shared the article on Twitter with accolades for Wiley.

Reading the article, one senses the deep reverence that Wiley has for the Constitution and also her alarm at how our system of government would move toward a monarchy without it. If Republican Senators refuse to see documents or call witnesses, even after the shocking new revelations made by former national security advisor, John Bolton, then they have given Trump the powers of an authoritarian ruler, not an elected president.

The Founders designed the Constitution to protect Americans from such would-be monarchs.

“Here, the Constitution’s central organizing principle to protect the country against an authoritarian regime is on the line: the balance of powers among the three branches of government,” wrote Wiley.

Now Donald Trump has refused to comply with impeachment proceedings to the point that the only thing left to stop advancing his consolidation of power is the 2020 elections. As we know, he has been impeached for attempting to undermine the elections with another foreign power –this time, Ukraine.

Wiley notes that Trump’s attorney, Alan Dershowitz, claims the Constitution doesn’t allow for impeachment for abuse of power, “only for crimes.” Below, legal expert Seth Abramson suggests quite a few possibilities for your consideration.

In October 2019, Wiley was outraged by Trump, calling for election interference from Russia and China on live television, not to mention Ukraine. She believes that abuse of authority could be a crime in these cases, but that you don’t necessarily need a crime to impeach.

“It was plain, central, unabashed, and it is also an abuse of authority,” said Wiley at the time. “Remember that in an impeachment, we do not need a crime, even though we have one here, I would argue.”

Now, we have a President who defies Congress at every turn. Although Senator McConnell claimed to be modeling the process on President Clinton’s impeachment, eliminating witnesses and documents would prove he has been in “total coordination” with the White House after all.

“Republicans have tragically endorsed Trump’s defiance of Congress’s every query. Remember that neither Richard Nixon nor Bill Clinton argued that they didn’t have to give Congress any documents, they certainly didn’t argue that they could block all witnesses in their impeachment investigations, and they didn’t get away with blocking evidence to the extent that they tried,” wrote Wiley.

Echoing Wiley, the editors of the Washington Post believe it would be a “perversion of justice” to truncate Trump’s trial. Doing so would be to destroy the guardrails put in place by the Founders.

Times columnist Will Wilkinson believes that if “Moscow Mitch” succeeds in covering up for Trump, it will require mass popular protests. Trump will have been cleared for attempting “election theft” by the Republican party.

Americans would be left without the safeguards of the Constitution to protect us. In addition, the credibility of our upcoming elections would be cast in great doubt. A “soft-authoritarian kleptocracy” would be in effect, which could be a “fatal blow to democracy.”

Clearly, Donald Trump has created a constitutional crisis of the highest magnitude for the United States. The question is, will Republicans place Donald Trump above our Constitution? Can any Republican picture the Founding Fathers argue that Trump should be allowed to continue down the corrupt path to authoritarian control over We the People?

Featured image: Trump and Founding Fathers by Matt Shirk via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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