Twenty-one state attorneys general urged the Senate in a letter Wednesday to acquit President Donald Trump and reject the “dangerous” example being set by Democrats in their attempt at impeachment, Fox News reported.
In the extraordinary letter, the Republican officials argued that the Democrats are running roughshod over the separation of powers with flawed legal theories that would make virtually all future presidents liable for impeachment.
“This impeachment proceeding threatens all future elections and establishes a dangerous historical precedent,” the AGs wrote. “That new precedent will erode the separation of powers shared by the executive and legislative branches by subjugating future [o]residents to the whims of the majority opposition party in the House of Representatives.”
State AGs rip “dangerous” impeachment
Through days of marathon arguments this week, the Democrats have pressed their case that President Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, then engaged in a “cover-up” by blocking subpoenas for witnesses and evidence in the House impeachment inquiry. But in a letter to the Senate Wednesday morning, the 21 attorneys general warned that the Democrats were setting a dangerous precedent that would make all future presidents impeachable.
The articles of impeachment are not only lacking factual basis, they said, according to Fox, but are “fundamentally flawed as a matter of constitutional law.” In no uncertain terms, the AGs echoed President Trump by dubbing the impeachment a “partisan political effort that undermines the democratic process.”
“Even an unsuccessful effort to impeach the [p]resident undermines the integrity of the 2020 presidential election,” they wrote, “because it weaponizes a process that should only be initiated in exceedingly rare circumstances and should never be used for partisan purposes.”
The essence of the first article — that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine — is “based upon a constitutionally-flawed theory” that is “infinitely expansive and subjective” because it assumes the president’s motive, the attorneys said. Such a rationale could be used to impeach virtually any president, since the Democrats are — by their own admission — impeaching Trump because he tried to “cheat” in the 2020 election, a corrupt motive that they have ascribed to him with no proof.
“This ‘corrupt motive’ theory is infinitely expansive and subjective. It will erode separation of powers, making the [p]resident impeachable for what his political adversaries perceive his thoughts to be,” the AGs wrote.
Since the president has “broad discretion to conduct diplomatic and foreign affairs” as he sees fit, according to the Constitution, an impeachment based on an apparent “corrupt motive” in the president’s use of his foreign affairs power would set a dangerous example, they further warned. For example, a future president could then be impeached for making a nuclear deal with Iran or a trade deal with China, if the opposing party perceived that he was seeking his political advantage.
“It cannot be a legitimate basis to impeach a [p]resident for acting in a legal manner that may also be politically advantageous,” the AGs continued, according to Fox. “Such a standard would be cause for the impeachment of virtually every [p]resident, past, present, and future.”
The state attorneys general went on to attack Democrats’ Article II as “equally flawed” because it attempts to criminalize the president’s legitimate use of executive privilege. If the president can be impeached for invoking executive privilege, then the privilege is meaningless; in essence, Democrats are trying to usurp a privilege of the executive branch and place it under the “unilateral control” of Congress.
“Under the House’s ‘unilateral control’ theory of obstruction, the House has unilateral authority to decide whether executive privilege applies,” the attorneys wrote. “In a dispute between the political branches, in other words, the holder of the executive privilege is the House of Representatives, not the [p]resident. If the Senate does not decisively reject this theory of impeachment, the executive privilege will be rendered meaningless, along with separation of powers.”
The trial continues
The Washington Examiner reports that the letter was signed by attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
Their arguments echo president’s lawyers’: they aren’t denying that Trump pressured Ukraine or withheld documents, but rather, that his actions don’t count as impeachable offenses, and that Democrats are trying to criminalize the president’s use of his lawful authority.
For their part, Democrats will finish presenting their arguments for Trump’s conviction in the Senate on Friday, and then Trump’s lawyers will begin up to three days of rebuttal on Saturday, according to Fox. If the Senate votes subsequently against hearing additional witnesses, the trial could wrap up swiftly.