Is Obstruction an Impeachable Offense? History Says YesBreaking News
tags: political history, presidential history, obstruction, Trump, Mueller report
Adam Liptak covers the United States Supreme Court and writes Sidebar, a column on legal developments. A graduate of Yale Law School, he practiced law for 14 years before joining The New York Times's news staff in 2002. He was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in explanatory reporting. He has taught courses on the Supreme Court and the First Amendment at several law schools, including Yale and the University of Chicago.
President Trump has been consulting the Constitution. In a Twitter post on Monday, he recited part of Article II, Section 4, the provision that allows Congress to remove federal officials who commit “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Mr. Trump wrote that he had done none of those things: “There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach.”
The president’s analysis had two shortcomings. It misstated the conclusion of the report issued by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which made no definitive judgment about whether Mr. Trump had violated criminal laws concerning obstruction of justice. And it failed to take account of what the framers meant by “other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
The phrase is vague, of course, but it plainly does not encompass every ordinary crime. Rather, it follows two offenses that give a good sense of the kinds of crimes the framers had in mind: treason and bribery. Those are crimes against the state and the justice system that undermine the ability of the government to function.
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