By Frank Bowman
This semester, I have the pleasure of teaching a seminar titled “Impeachment & the American Constitutional Balance” one day per week at Georgetown. I have a group of first-rate students who will be writing about a variety of impeachment-related topics throughout the semester. Sometimes, I’ll post their work here.
In yesterday’s class we talked about the historical definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and then turned to the week’s revelations about Mr. Trump’s contacts with Ukraine.
Max Lesser posed the following hypothetical, which readers may find thought-provoking:
It’s 2012 and President Obama is running against Mitt Romney. Obama has just “lost” the first presidential debate, and his re-election campaign looks to be in trouble. Obama has noticed his attacks on Mitt Romney having off-shore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands seems to be having an effect, however, and a plan is hatched.
The Cayman Islands have just been hit by a hurricane and are desperate for aid and relief. President Obama unilaterally directs his Chief of Staff to freeze $400 million in aid to the Cayman Islands. President Obama calls the Prime Minister of the Cayman Islands, who immediately requests the aid they desperately need and have historically received. Obama tells him the U.S. has been very good to the Cayman Islands in the past, better than any other country. The relationship hasn’t been, reciprocal, however, and the President needs a “favor.” He says the Prime Minister should look into the Romneys’ holdings in the Cayman Islands, especially his son Tagg, who appears to be cashing in on his father’s name. This is because President Obama is concerned about “corruption.” Nothing to do with re-election.
Obama tells the Cayman Islands PM to coordinate with his Attorney General Eric Holder and his non-government employee private attorney, Michael Avenatti, who has been the main point of contact this far. He says they will be in touch. The Cayman Islands PM realizes he will have little choice but to bend to these demands.
Obama administration staff, realizing the transcript of this call is likely criminal and at a minimum extremely problematic, violates protocol to store the conversation in safes meant for critical national security interests. A whistleblower comes forward to expose these actions, and the administration releases a transcript of the call that confirms the allegations.
A day later President Obama implies the whistleblower is a “spy” who should be treated the way we did in the “old days.” I.E. He appears to be obviously implying the death penalty.
How do you think the Republican House of Representatives will respond?