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Professor David Driesen Discusses "Rethinking Impeachment" with Politico

Posted on Friday 5/10/2019
David Driesen

Here’s Why Democrats May Rethink Impeaching Trump

(Politico | May 10, 2019) Democrats know that impeachment is a losing proposition against President Donald Trump right now.

But there’s another rationale for launching impeachment that has some Democrats reconsidering the idea — getting access to the sensitive documents and testimony that Trump’s team is withholding.

Judges have repeatedly ruled that Congress has a greater claim to sensitive government documents and personal information when it can point to an ongoing legal matter, instead of just a congressional investigation or legislative debate. And impeachment would give lawmakers that legal matter — the process is essentially a court procedure run by Congress where the House brings charges and the Senate holds the trial.

The idea might seem toxic to House Democratic leaders who have so far resisted impeachment overtures against the president, aware that the politically explosive move wouldn’t get through the Republican-led Senate and could turn off voters ahead of the 2020 election.

But legal experts and lawmakers across the ideological spectrum acknowledge that formally unleashing impeachment would bolster Democrats’ arguments that they deserve to see the president’s tax returns, interview senior officials, peruse special counsel Robert Mueller’s trove of evidence and see the details of Trump’s personal dealings with foreign leaders. So far, the Trump administration has vociferously argued it doesn’t need to acquiesce to such demands, which it says are merely part of a political hit job. The president’s personal attorneys have even punched back with lawsuits in some cases ...

... Absent opening up impeachment proceedings, Syracuse University law professor David Driesen said he thinks the Trump administration has the upper hand in its court fights over the ignored subpoenas and requests. The current argument that the information is needed to help Congress craft legislation just won’t cut it, he said.

“I think the courts — especially conservative judges — are more likely to give weight to an impeachment inquiry than the claim that this is somehow relevant to legislation,” he said ...

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