President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense is to argue that abuse of power isn’t an impeachable offense, but it turns out Attorney General Bill Barr informed him that abuse of power IS an impeachable offense over a year before his Ukraine scandal.
In July 2019, Trump called up Ukraine President Zelensky in an effort to force him into opening a sham investigation into his political rival ahead of the 2020 Election. Not long after the damning phone call ended, Trump froze military aide to pressure Ukraine into doing his bidding. Only in September after a whistleblower came forward did he finally release the funding.
This is a textbook case of abuse of power, which is why the House passed two articles of impeachment against him, both of which are now being considered in the Senate trial.
Trump and his lawyers, Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz, have come up with an absurd defense by arguing that abuse of power is not a crime so it’s not impeachable.
The problem with this defense is that Barr himself has already debunked it. Back in 2018 when he wrote a memo to aid Trump during the Russia investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Barr directly informed Trump that abuse of power is, indeed, an impeachable offense according to the New York Times.
“In summer 2018, when he was still in private practice, Mr. Barr wrote a confidential memo for the Justice Department and Mr. Trump’s legal team to help the president get out of a problem,” the Times reported on Tuesday. “The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was pressuring him to answer questions about whether he had illegally impeded the Russia investigation.”
“Mr. Trump should not talk to investigators about his actions as president, even under a subpoena, Mr. Barr wrote in his 19-page memo, which became public during his confirmation,” the paper continued. “Mr. Barr based his advice on a sweeping theory of executive power under which obstruction of justice laws do not apply to presidents, even if they misuse their authority over the Justice Department to block investigations into themselves or their associates for corrupt reasons.”
“But Mr. Barr tempered his theory with a reassurance,” the Times pointed out. “Even without the possibility of criminal penalties, he wrote, a check is in place on presidents who abuse their discretionary power to control the executive branch of government — impeachment. The fact that the president ‘is answerable for any abuses of discretion and is ultimately subject to the judgment of Congress through the impeachment process means that the president is not the judge in his own cause,’ he wrote.”
Barr would also go on to cite a specific Supreme Court case to strengthen his argument. “The remedy of impeachment demonstrates that the president remains accountable under law for his misdeeds in office,” the high court ruled in 1982.
So, Trump has known for over a year and a half that abuse of power is impeachable. He knew while he was trying to extort Ukraine in July, and he knows now. Therefore, Trump’s entire defense just went limp and Democrats should use Barr’s words against him at the trial.
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