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Trump says he’d go to Supreme Court over impeachment — but that’s not how it works

Donald Trump
President Trump at the White House on Wednesday.
(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

President Trump said Wednesday he’d go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court “if the partisan Dems” ever tried to impeach him.

But Trump’s strategy could run into a roadblock: the high court itself, which said in 1993 that the framers of the U.S. Constitution didn’t intend for the courts to have the power to review impeachment proceedings. The Supreme Court ruled that impeachment and removal from office were Congress’ duty alone.

“I DID NOTHING WRONG,” Trump tweeted. He said not only were there no “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” one of the bases for impeachment outlined in the Constitution, there were “no Crimes by me at all.”

He alleged Democrats committed crimes and said they’re looking “to Congress as last hope!” because “We waited for Mueller and WON.” That was a reference to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

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The Mueller report did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election but revealed that Trump tried to seize control of the Russia investigation. In the report, released last week, Mueller laid out multiple episodes in which Trump directed other people to influence or curtail the investigation after the special counsel’s 2017 appointment, but Mueller said those efforts “were mostly unsuccessful,” largely because “the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

FULL COVERAGE: Robert Mueller finishes his investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign »

Trump’s threat to “head to the U.S. Supreme Court” would seem to face an uphill battle. In his 1993 opinion, Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote that a federal judge’s appeal of his impeachment was not reviewable by courts. He said the framers of the Constitution “did not intend for the courts to have the power to review impeachment proceedings.”

If the courts were allowed to review impeachments, Rehnquist wrote, it could plunge the country into “months, or perhaps years, of chaos.”

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Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn, said this week in a statement that Mueller’s report, even in redacted form, “outlines substantial evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction and other abuses.”

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged divided Democrats to focus on fact-finding, rather than the prospect of impeachment after the damning details of Mueller’s report.


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