For most of President Trump’s time in office, we’ve had to worry about his aggressive use of the executive power and his penchant for pushing or exceeding the limits of his authority. Unfortunately, we now are suffering from his failure to use the authority he actually possesses to protect us from the coronavirus pandemic.

Continue Reading Presidential Failure to Act and the Coronavirus Pandemic

It’s not surprising that the House has impeached only three presidents, four counting Richard Nixon’s resignation before his inevitable impeachment. Nor is it surprising that the Senate has never convicted a president on impeachment charges. Removing a president from office is a drastic action that should be used sparingly. But it is remarkable how rarely the House or Senate has censured a president.

Continue Reading Presidential Censure

Only time will tell whether it was prudent for President Trump to authorize the killing of Qassim Soleimani. But we don’t need to wait to recognize that the constitutional design for the executive branch has failed us. As I have observed before before, no person should possess the sole power to make these kinds of decisions.

Continue Reading Qassim Soleimani and the Problem of Presidential Power

As the House Judiciary Committee considers impeachment, there are three important questions for it to answer. Did President Trump violate his oath of office? If so, did his misconduct constitute high crimes and misdemeanors? And if so, should President Trump be impeached and removed from office?

President Trump has wanted to focus on the first question and stop further consideration there. Democratic members of Congress have focused attention on the second question and invited academic testimony there. But the third question is the most important one.


Continue Reading Asking the Right Questions on Impeachment

In general, one cannot be confident about the intent of the Framers, and that is true about impeachment. For example, while some observers have claimed that President Trump’s dealings with the Ukraine lie at the heart of the Framers’ reasons for impeachment, the issue is far from clear.

Continue Reading Impeachment and the Framers of the Constitution

President Trump’s decision not to host the G7 Summit at his Doral golf resort was not only prudent, it also reflects an important lesson for his supporters in Congress and elsewhere. They can stand with him by opposing impeachment charges in the House and blocking a conviction in the Senate, or they can resist his problematic behavior in the first place and prevent him from creating grounds for impeachment.

Continue Reading Averting Impeachment and Conviction

Though the criticisms of President Trump’s withdrawal from Syria have been exaggerated (see here and here), the bipartisan condemnation reflects the fact that Trump does his greatest damage to the national interest on matters that are not grounds for impeachment. When he abandons our allies, emboldens our enemies, or engages in damaging trade wars, he may be guilty of bad policy choices, but those choices are not high crimes and misdemeanors. They are matters to be judged by the voters on Election Day.

Continue Reading Missing the Bigger Picture with Impeachment

While President Trump clearly has given good reason to consider impeachment, the question remains whether impeachment is the appropriate way to address his misconduct. In one view, we should hold Presidents to high standards and impeach them if they fall short. In another view, impeachment should be reserved as a last resort when other responses to presidential wrongdoing are inadequate.

As the Framers of the Constitution observed, accountability to the public is our chief restraint on Presidents (and other elected officials). If Presidents violate their duties, they can be voted out of the Oval Office. In addition, Congress and the courts can check and balance a wayward President. Impeachment is an important tool, but as we have seen with other presidents, it can be misused for political purposes, including being used to undo an election.


Continue Reading To Impeach or Not to Impeach

When Special Counsel Robert Mueller declined to recommend an indictment of President Trump earlier this year, an important factor was the long-standing view that presidents are immune from criminal prosecution while in office. So how come a federal judge in New York rejected the President’s efforts to block a criminal probe of his hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal?

Continue Reading Prosecuting the President?

There clearly are good reasons for members of Congress to contemplate impeachment of President Trump. He tried to secure assistance from Ukrainian President Zelensky to promote his reelection campaign, he has used his office to promote his personal financial interests, and he has tried to obstruct justice. Whether he has abused his position to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors can be determined through further investigation and proceedings.

But some members of Congress, as well as some political observers, have invoked arguments that go too far. As the House moves forward with its impeachment inquiry, it is important that it does so on solid ground—otherwise, it risks making the process look like it’s more about partisan disagreements than about high crimes and misdemeanors. Here are some misguided arguments that have been made.


Continue Reading Getting Impeachment Right