Friday, May 19, 2017

Robert Reich — a Step Beyond Impeachment: The Annulment Of The Trump Presidency

“The time has come for Congress to launch an impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice.

“The remedy of impeachment was designed to create a last-resort mechanism for preserving our constitutional system. It operates by removing executive-branch officials who have so abused power through what the framers called "high crimes and misdemeanors" that they cannot be trusted to continue in office.

“No American president has ever been removed for such abuses, although Andrew Johnson was impeached and came within a single vote of being convicted by the Senate and removed, and Richard Nixon resigned to avoid that fate.

“Now the country is faced with a president whose conduct strongly suggests that he poses a danger to our system of government.

“But whether it is devotion to principle or hunger for political survival that puts the prospect of impeachment and removal on the table, the crucial thing is that the prospect now be taken seriously, that the machinery of removal be reactivated, and that the need to use it become the focus of political discourse going into 2018,” according to the Washington Post as published by the Chicago Tribune.

Robert Reich suggests we need more than impeachment:

There are already ample grounds to impeach Donald Trump. If, in addition, it is found that Trump or his aides colluded with Russian operatives to rig the presidential election of 2016, the nation should consider a step beyond impeachment: The annulment of the Trump presidency.

I'm not talking about airbrushing Trump out of history, as former Soviet dictatorships used to treat leaders who fell out of favor. I'm referring to action that officially negates the Trump presidency as an historic error.

The Constitution doesn’t mention a presidential annulment, but it is within Congress’s power to enact a bill that voids all actions that Trump has taken as president. This would include everything Trump did on his own -- including all executive orders and all regulations or repeals of regulations since his inauguration. (The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court would not be included in the annulment because it entailed Congressional action.)

The bill of annulment would also stipulate that henceforth, all official listings of presidents of the United States would note that the Donald Trump presidency had been annulled. And the president who replaces Trump (presumably, Michael Pence) would officially be listed as the forty-fifth president of the United States.

Some will argue that we shouldn't even be considering such a thing until or unless Trump is impeached. But I think it useful to consider the possibility earlier than that. Nixon was impeached for covering up a two-bit burglary. If Trump was involved in Russia's rigging of the 2016 election -- the most serious attack on American democracy in history -- the appropriate response requires something more. (And would give voters even more incentive to flip Congress in 2018 even if by then Trump is well on the way to being impeached.)

Why President Donald Trump must be impeached

Laurence H. Tribe