On Tuesday, conservative think tank scholar Greg Weiner urged Democrats in The Bulwark to continue the impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump — and suggested that the warning letter to House Democrats from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone proves he has no legal recourse to challenge it.
“The most compelling evidence for impeachment is now in the public record. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s refusal to cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry is an attack not on its recipients — House Democrats who, through a process of legal alchemy, he accuses of violating phantom processes — but rather on the relationship between Congress and the executive branch,” wrote Weiner. “President Donald Trump is now claiming for himself and, crucially, future presidents, the authority to determine the legitimacy of legislative oversight.”
Weiner argued that impeachment is now a necessity for three key reasons: To hold Trump accountable, to assert the separation of powers, and to follow the evidence laid out by Cipollone himself.
“Cipollone’s letter is a game-changer precisely because it is not about the president’s conduct — which Democrats are always primed to attack and which Republicans are forever willing to excuse,” wrote Weiner. “It sweeps away the clutter of Trump’s outsized personality to clarify the constitutional stakes. In that sense, the letter is not a constitutional crisis. It is a constitutional opportunity.”
In fact, Weiner argued, the impeachment inquiry should focus on the abuse of power inherent in the letter itself.
“On the basis of Cipollone’s letter alone, the House could immediately debate articles of impeachment rooted in abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,” wrote Weiner. “That would clarify the question for Congressional Republicans, which is not whether they are willing to apologize ad infinitum for President Trump personally — they are — but rather whether they are willing to go on record as foregoing their power of oversight of future Democratic administrations. Democrats will eventually occupy the White House and Republicans will eventually control the Congress. Whether that happens in 2021 or beyond is not the point. The survival of congressional oversight is.”
“Oversight of the administration’s antics in Ukraine can continue, of course. But the obstruction case is ready for trial. The evidence is indisputable, and indisputably clarifying,” concluded Weiner. “What is on trial is not the transient fabulism of Donald Trump but rather the enduring architecture of the Constitution.”
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