Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe said Congress has plenty of evidence to use in an impeachment case against President Donald Trump — but he laid out two specific examples that could be grounds for removal.
Tribe co-authored a new book, “To End A Presidency,” that examines the constitutional role of impeachment and how it could be applied in the current political climate.
“This is about how impeachment can succeed and how it can fail and how serious it is,” Tribe told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “It’s the only protection the framers provided against the president who is a complete renegade, doesn’t obey the rule of law, threatens democracy — but we have to take it seriously. We can’t just shoot from the hip and talk impeachment day and night. We have to wait and see what (special counsel Robert) Mueller discovers, among other things.”
Tribe said there’s ample evidence to make a case for impeachment, but he paraphrased a famous quote by the character Omar Little from HBO’s “The Wire”: “You come at the king, you best not miss.”
“I’ve seen the number of things that look like they could be in an article of impeachment, both about obstruction of justice and about cooperation, collusion, conspiracy — whatever you want to call it, because the technical legal terms, as my book explains, really aren’t critical,” Tribe said. “There’s plenty there to make impeachment plausible. I think just talking impeachment sort of day and night is like crying wolf — this is not a bullet you can shoot twice.”
The impeachment process was designed as a worst-case scenario, Tribe said, and had never been used to remove a president from office — although Richard Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment.
“It tells me the framers set up a structure that would work only if we had a really extraordinary danger to the republic, someone who, very luckily, we haven’t had in the past,” Tribe said. “There’s always a first time.”
Tribe said impeachment was not just around the corner, because removing Trump would require a conviction in the House and 67 Senators to impeach, but he also said it would not necessarily blow up the republic.
“It’s not a silver bullet,” he said. “It’s also not a doomsday device.”
He said two recent developments could be enough, once more evidence was gathered, to attract broad public support for removing Trump from the White House.
“For example, if it turns out, as it now appears, that the president was willing to give a special break to a dangerous company so it could spy on America, ZTE, in exchange for 500 million bucks from China to help him pay for the Indonesia project, that would be explosive, and it might well do the trick,” Tribe said.
The president’s new lawyer went on Fox News to discuss an explosive report by the New York Times about a possible Russian spy working for the Trump campaign, and Tribe said that could be enough to impeach.
“The fact is that the Justice Department had strong evidence that there was a Russian spy, that Carter Page was actually a Russian spy planted in the United States and going back and forth and revealing secrets to Russia while being part of the campaign,” Tribe said. “If that kind of thing blossoms as fully as I think it might, even this supine Congress that hasn’t stood up to him might wake up.”