There’s No Constitutional Crisis — But We May Witness A Congressional One [Opinion]
I’m no prognosticator — I can’t tell you what’s going to happen three months from now, three weeks from now, or even what’ll happen in three days’ time. The “era of Trump” has simply made it too difficult to make sense of much of anything these days.
But I can tell you this much: the present crisis we face in our democracy isn’t constitutional. It’s Congressional.
At this point, special counsel Robert Mueller has all but told the legislative branch that President Donald Trump has committed acts that warrant his impeachment. He’s been more gentlemanly about it, of course, taking seriously his role over the past two years to be an impartial investigator.
Mueller didn’t any direct calls for Congress to impeach Trump. Nevertheless, his words on Wednesday during a press conference announcing his stepping down from the special counsel’s office couldn’t be clearer.
Mueller made it known that the president’s actions, specifically when it came to obstruction of justice (but not necessarily limited to just those charges, either), were egregious. How bad were they? Mueller wouldn’t definitively state that Trump hadn’t committed a crime.
More Democrats call for impeachment after Mueller makes statement https://t.co/anHEYv63ir
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) May 30, 2019
The special counsel reiterated a point he made in his eponymous report, submitted in March of this year. “If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller stated.
So why didn’t he charge the president with a crime? Without saying it was his desire to do so, Mueller explained he was bound by the Department of Justice’s policies, among them that explicitly say “a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office,” he said.
Mueller left it in Congress’s hands to figure out what to do. Yet it would be difficult to interpret what else his words from Wednesday could mean, other than being a call for impeachment proceedings to begin, or at the very least be considered, against the sitting president.
There are some in Trump’s inner-circle, of course, who have tried to mince Mueller’s words. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., for example, tried to suggest that Mueller’s statements this week proved beyond a doubt that no charges of collusion, and indeed no charges of obstruction, were warranted against his father.
But legal experts disagreed, including Fox News contributor and legal expert Andrew Napolitano. On Wednesday, shortly after Mueller’s statement, Napolitano explained to his television audience what he had interpreted Mueller as saying.
Even though President Trump tried to say the “case is closed,” it wasn’t so. Far from it: what Mueller said instead was that there was “evidence that [Trump] committed a crime,” Napolitano said, per previous reporting from HillReporter.com.
Indeed, whether you’re an individual with legal training and expertise, or you’re a layperson who has taken an interest in the matter, Mueller’s words cannot be viewed in any other light.
So what happens next? That’s up for Democrats in the House to decide. They’ll have to determine whether impeachment proceedings should begin or not.
To be certain, after Mueller’s statement, more Democrats have called on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to back calls for Trump’s impeachment. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen: Pelosi said on Wednesday, per Politico, that she wanted “the strongest possible case” against Trump before moving forward on the question of impeachment, signaling her continued reticence on the issue.
Again, I cannot predict what will happen in the days ahead. But I do know that if nothing happens, if Trump is allowed to remain in office without any consequence for his misdeeds, it won’t be because there are fissures or problems with our Constitution; within that document, there exists a means to deal with a president who has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
No, the problem isn’t Constitutional at this point at all — if nothing is done at this point or in the immediate future, the blame will rest squarely with Congress itself for failing to act on this grave and disturbing matter.
Impeachment was designed for the very purpose of dealing with a corrupt chief executive. With one presently occupying the Oval Office, the legislative branch of government must now decide whether it will act accordingly.
The views held within this opinion article belong solely to its author, and are not necessarily reflective of HillReporter.com’s editorial stances.