Tulane experts available to discuss impact of impeachment inquirySeptember 24, 20192 min read
The call for impeachment is growing among House Democrats, and the following Tulane University experts are available to discuss the topic with media. For interviews, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Carolyn Scofield at 407-342-8809.
“Impeachment seems to be approaching Washington, D.C. like a runaway freight train,” says Stephen Griffin, W.R. Irby Chair and Rutledge C. Clement Jr. Professor in Constitutional Law. “Articles of impeachment tend to cluster around a criminal law model, even if they don’t directly accuse the president of having violated a specific law. They are written as if they are accusing the president of crimes. Having said that, the Ukraine allegations take us into new category.”
“Maybe what Trump did constitutes a campaign finance violation, but my guess is that’s not what worries the Democrats and that’s not the true gravamen of the impeachment,” Griffin says. “The true basis is the threat of Trump using foreign prosecutors and foreign intelligence services to go after his domestic political opponents. This would be a non-criminal accusation that the Republicans would attempt to defend on the basis that only a criminal violation can justify impeachment. But it’s also a charge that any Democratic politician can understand and easily explain to their constituents, something that wasn’t true of the Mueller Report. Also, there’s the point that if they don’t respond, Trump will up the ante again.”
“If they proceed with impeachment it will redefine the terms of the 2020 campaign. It will be much more about Trump, his fitness for office and the appropriate use of power —Trump's executive branch as well as Congressional power. I think it will hurt the discussion of issues. And it will further polarize the electorate. It will be interesting to see if impeachment raises the stakes for Republican voters as there is currently an enthusiasm gap in favor of the Democrats."
“If accurate, the recent reporting on the president’s efforts to get Ukraine to legitimate his claims of corruption against Joe Biden and his son may well be the catalytic event that leads to impeachment,” says Keith Werhan, Ashton Phelps Chair in Constitutional Law. “Standing alone, it is an example of the kind of presidential abuse of power for which the framers designed impeachment. Moreover, the Ukraine episode, as reported, fits a pattern of conduct by the president suggesting that the threat to the American system that the episode illustrates likely will accelerate as the president’s time in office unfolds.”
Keith Werhan Professor Emeritus
Keith Werhan specializes in constitutional law, particularly the First Amendment, and in administrative law.