The search for the perfect impeachable offense against President Trump is reminiscent of overzealous prosecutors who target the defendant first and then search for the crime with which to charge him. Or to paraphrase the former head of the Soviet secret police to Stalin: show me the man and I will find you the crime.
All civil libertarians should be concerned about an Alice in Wonderland process in which the search for an impeachable crime precedes the evidence that such a crime has actually been committed.
Under our constitutional system of separation of powers, Congress may not compel the Executive Branch to cooperate with an impeachment investigation absent court orders.
Conflicts between the Legislative and Executive Branches are resolved by the Judicial Branch, not by the unilateral dictate of a handful of partisan legislators. It is neither a crime nor an impeachable offense for the president to demand that Congress seek court orders to enforce their demands. Claims of executive and other privileges should be resolved by the Judicial Branch, not by calls for impeachment.
The search for the perfect impeachable offense against President Trump is reminiscent of overzealous prosecutors who target the defendant first and then search for the crime with which to charge him. Or to paraphrase the former head of the Soviet secret police to Stalin: show me the man and I will find you the crime. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
The effort to find (or create) impeachable offense against President Donald Trump has now moved from the subjects of the Mueller investigation — collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice — to alleged recent political “sins”: “quid pro quo” with Ukraine and obstruction of Congress.
The goal of the impeach-at-any-cost cadre has always been the same: impeach and remove Trump, regardless of whether or not he did anything warranting removal. The means — the alleged impeachable offenses — have changed, as earlier ones have proved meritless. The search for the perfect impeachable offense against Trump is reminiscent of overzealous prosecutors who target the defendant first and then search for the crime with which to charge him. Or to paraphrase the former head of the Soviet secret police to Stalin: show me the man and I will find you the crime.
Although this is not Stalin’s Soviet Union, all civil libertarians should be concerned about an Alice in Wonderland process in which the search for an impeachable crime precedes the evidence that such a crime has actually been committed.
Before we get to the current search, a word about what constitutes an impeachable crime under the constitution, whose criteria are limited to treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. There is a debate among students of the constitution over the intended meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Some believe that these words encompass non-criminal behavior. Others, I among them, interpret these words more literally, requiring at the least criminal-like behavior, if not the actual violation of a criminal statute.
What is not debatable is that “maladministration” is an impermissible ground for impeachment. Why is that not debatable? Because it was already debated and explicitly rejected by the framers at the constitutional convention. James Madison, the father of our Constitution, opposed such open-ended criteria, lest they make the tenure of the president subject to the political will of Congress. Such criteria would turn our republic into a parliamentary democracy in which the leader — the prime minister — is subject to removal by a simple vote of no confidence by a majority of legislators. Instead, the framers demanded the more specific criminal-like criteria ultimately adopted by the convention and the states.
Congress does not have the constitutional authority to change these criteria without amending the Constitution. To paraphrase what many Democratic legislators are now saying: members of Congress are not above the law; they take an oath to apply the Constitution, not to ignore its specific criteria. Congresswoman Maxine Waters placed herself above the law when she said:
“Impeachment is about whatever the Congress says it is. There is no law that dictates impeachment. What the Constitution says is ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ and we define that.”
So, the question remains: did President Trump commit impeachable offenses when he spoke on the phone to the president of Ukraine and/or when he directed members of the Executive Branch to refuse to cooperate, absent a court order, with congressional Democrats who are seeking his impeachment?
The answers are plainly no and no. There is a constitutionally significant difference between a political “sin,” on the one hand, and a crime or impeachable offenses, on the other.
Even taking the worst-case scenario regarding Ukraine — a quid pro quo exchange of foreign aid for a political favor — that might be a political sin, but not a crime or impeachable offense.
Many presidents have used their foreign policy power for political or personal advantage. Most recently, President Barack Obama misused his power in order to take personal revenge against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the last days of his second term, Obama engineered a one-sided UN Security Council resolution declaring that Israel’s control over the Western Wall — Judaism’s holiest site — constitutes a “flagrant violation of international law.” Nearly every member of Congress and many in his own administration opposed this unilateral change in our policy, but Obama was determined to take revenge against Netanyahu, whom he despised. Obama committed a political sin by placing his personal pique over our national interest, but he did not commit an impeachable offense.
Nor did President George H. W. Bush commit an impeachable offense when he pardoned Caspar Weinberger and others on the eve of their trials in order to prevent them from pointing the finger at him.
This brings us to President Trump’s directive with regard to the impeachment investigation. Under our constitutional system of separation of powers, Congress may not compel the Executive Branch to cooperate with an impeachment investigation absent court orders. Conflicts between the Legislative and Executive Branches are resolved by the Judicial Branch, not by the unilateral dictate of a handful of partisan legislators. It is neither a crime nor an impeachable offense for the president to demand that Congress seek court orders to enforce their demands. Claims of executive and other privileges should be resolved by the Judicial Branch, not by calls for impeachment.
So, the search for the holy grail of a removable offense will continue, but it is unlikely to succeed. Our constitution provides a better way to decide who shall serve as president: it’s called an election.
Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of The Case Against the Democratic House Impeaching Trump, Skyhorse Publishing, 2019.
Published firs in the Gladstone institude
(Photo: Aish.com / YouTube)
Despite advances in modern medicine, China is setting up roadblocks to cope with an outbreak of an ancient plague that once wiped out one-third of the world’s population and may have been one of the plagues that God used to strike Egypt.
Chinese officials installed temperature scanners at airports and checkpoints on main roads in an attempt to stop the spread of Bubonic plague as a fourth case was discovered in less than three weeks. A program to exterminate rats and fleas, which carry the disease, was also launched in Inner Mongolia where the disease seems to be originating.
Demonstrators gather in solidarity with anti-regime protests in Iran outside the Iranian Embassy in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Reuters / Lehtikuva / Heikki Saukkomaa.
Four human rights lawyers currently imprisoned by the Iranian regime have been awarded with the annual prize of Europe’s most prestigious lawyers’ association.
The Iranian lawyers received the 2019 Human Rights Award from The Council of Bars and Law Societies Of Europe (CCBE) — a body that represents the bars and law societies of 45 countries and through them more than 1 million European lawyers.
The University of Bristol campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
The University of Bristol in England has adopted “in full” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, the school’s Epigram independent student newspaper reported on Monday.
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and Bristol’s Jewish Society (J-Soc) welcomed the move, saying, “The University of Bristol has not been free of antisemitic incidents and the adoption of this definition is an important first step in helping the university tackle anti-Jewish racism. We now expect the university to use this definition in outstanding disciplinary cases.”
Pope Francis Meets Thailand’s Buddhist Patriarch in Golden Temple (screenshot)
Pope Francis topped off his three-day visit to Thailand last Saturday with a meeting with Thailand’s supreme Buddhist patriarch Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong at Bangkok’s Ratchabophit Temple. The meeting took place in front of a 150-year-old gold statue of Buddha. The Pope followed Buddhist custom by removing his shoes.
During the meeting, the Pope gave the Buddhist Patriarch the Declaration on Human Brotherhood. The Declaration s a joint statement signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, last February in Abu Dhabi. The Pope met with the Imam last month to reinforce the Declaration.
An Israeli company says it is using space travel technology to help solve one of the most pressing problems down on Earth — the reliance on diesel fuel, a major source of pollution.
Israeli startup GenCell has developed an electric generator based on a hydrogen-energy technology used to power some of the most-famous space missions in history.
The verse (Deuteronomy 6:4) Shema Yisrael – “Hear Oh Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One” – is understood to (in Wikipedia’s words) “encapsulate the monotheistic essence of Judaism.” It’s understood to be a declaration not only there is one and only one God, but also that God’s oneness is all-inclusive. God includes every particle of existence is within Him. God is not just ruling over the world. God encompasses the world. Time and space and all of us are within God. Nothing stands outside of God’s Oneness, and God encompasses all existence equally
Watching events unfold in Israel is an experience in split-screen living. On the right side of the screen is the chaos outside our gates, in neighboring lands. And on the left side of the screen is the chaos inside.
On the left side of the screen on Tuesday, 15,000 Israelis gathered Tuesday evening outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to demand legal justice for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the face of what they view as an anti-democratic usurpation of political power by Israel’s legal fraternity.
It hard to believe that two weeks ago, Israel was on the brink of war. With the Palestinian Islamic Jihad firing nearly 500 missiles from Gaza into Israel within a 48-hour period, even Tel Aviv was put on alert and certain train routes were canceled. My mind immediately raced to a Christian group I was going to host for Shabbat in Jerusalem Israel – Pastor Leroy Armstrong of Proclaiming the Word Ministries.
Turkey’s little remarked on but ongoing mistreatment of historic churches is increasingly reflective of that nation’s growing sense of Islamic supremacism.
Before the Turks invaded it, Anatolia (present day Turkey) was an ancient Christian region; a large chunk of St. Paul’s epistles were sent to or dealt with its churches, including the seven of the Apocalypse. With the Turks’ conquest, colonization, and subsequent Turkification of Anatolia—hence why it’s now simply called “Turkey”—tens of thousands of churches were systematically desecrated and turned into victory mosques.
Sorek was the grandson of a Rabbi who survived the Holocaust, and was universally described as a kind, gentle soul. His funeral was interrupted by Palestinians shooting off fireworks celebrating his murder.
Two terrorists, including one affiliated with Hamas were arrested for the murder. And at the time, Hamas said in a statement, “We salute the hero fighters, sons of our people, who carried out the heroic operation which killed a soldier of the occupation army,” Hamas said in a statement. The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad also hailed the killing as “heroic and bold.”