Trump’s impeachment: politics and the Constitution

Hosted by

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts follows Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Barbara Feinstein (D-CA) as he arrives for the beginning of the impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 16, 2020. Photo credit: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

President Trump may not be removed from office, but America’s third presidential impeachment trial will still make history. Did he abuse his power?   That’s now up to the Senate. But Republicans are denying it’s even a crime.

“That’s a way to just continue to move the goalposts, to continue to defend the president by defining whatever it is that he did, as something that is not impeachable,” says Dahlia Lithwick, legal affairs correspondent for Slate.

Former Republican strategist Tim Miller explains it this way: “Republicans know that the president did what he’s accused of. Their issue is that they do not want to face his ire, or they don’t want to face his voters’ ire by embarrassing him.”

There’s no dispute that Trump withheld Congress-approved military aid for Ukraine. Was he digging for dirt against Joe Biden?  If so, “it will happen again, preventing … a free and fair election” this coming November. That’s how Quinta Jurecic of Lawfare and the Atlantic describes the Democrats’ argument. 

Corey Brettschneider, author of the new book, “The Oath and the Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents,” says, “If you eviscerate the power to check a president who’s abused power, you don’t just eviscerate it for this moment in history, you eviscerate it for the future.” 

And speaking of oaths, Republican Senators have sworn to be fair. At the same time, they’ve promised President Trump’s acquittal.  They even want to prevent House Democrats from introducing evidence.

Credits

Guests:
Quinta Jurecic - Managing editor of Lawfare and contributing writer to the Atlantic. - @qjurecic, Dahlia Lithwick - Legal Affairs correspondent for Slate - @dahlialithwick, Tim Miller - Contributor to The Bulwark and a communications consultant. He previously served as senior advisor to the anti-Trump Our Principles PAC, communications director for Jeb Bush, and spokesman for the Republican National Committee. - @Timodc, Corey Brettschneider - Professor of political science at Brown University and a visiting professor at Fordham Law School - @BrettschneiderC

Host:
Warren Olney

Producer:
Andrea Brody