Lawfare Blog, a highly-respected blog dedicated to national security issues and staffed by law professors, law students, and former Bush and Obama officials, has laid out the argument for Trump’s impeachment.
The byline includes six writers, including Benjamin Wittes, the editor-in-chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution; Jack Goldsmith, co-founder of Lawfare and Harvard Law School professor; and Susan Hennessey, managing editor of Lawfare and a Brookings Fellow in National Security Law.
NBC News’ Bradd Jaffy referred to the article below as a “must-read:”
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) May 16, 2017
Lawfare laid out a chronological series of events that led to today’s bombshell news.
First, this is not a question of “leaking classified information” or breaking a criminal law.
Second, this is not a garden variety breach, and outrage over it is not partisan hypocrisy about protecting classified information.
Third, it is important to understand the nature of sources and methods information in order to fully understand the gravity of the breach.
Fourth, it really matters why Trump disclosed this information to Russian visitors.
Finally, Lawfare got to the most important point:
Fifth, this may well be a violation of the President’s oath of office.
When Trump took his oath of office, he swore to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of [his] ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” When Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador – representatives of an adversarial foreign power, and furthermore, one whom the FBI is currently investigating for interfering with our Presidential election – he was decidedly not “executing the Office of the President” to the “best of his ability.”
More importantly, violating the oath of office does not fall under a specific criminal statute. The three times that Congress has “passed or considered seriously articles of impeachment against presidents,” it cited oath violations:
There’s thus no reason why Congress couldn’t consider a grotesque violation of the President’s oath as a standalone basis for impeachment—a high crime and misdemeanor in and of itself. This is particularly plausible in a case like this, where the oath violation involves giving sensitive information to an adversary foreign power. That’s getting relatively close to the “treason” language in the impeachment clauses; it’s pretty easy to imagine a hybrid impeachment article alleging a violation of the oath in service of a hostile foreign power. So legally speaking, the matter could be very grave for Trump even though there is no criminal exposure.
At this point, Congress would – as it has in the past – have justifiable cause to formally start impeachment proceedings against the President. Dan Rather recently wrote, “I have never seen so many members of a political party rally around incompetence, intemperance, and inanity;” whether Republicans in Congress, many of whom have shamelessly shilled for Trump thus far, can bring themselves to put country over party is a different matter altogether.
Trump has violated the President’s oath of office. Now is the time for him to be impeached.
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Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.