In the past, economist Robert Reich has expressed deep skepticism when it comes to impeaching President Donald Trump. Reich, in an August 2018 article, asserted that Democrats should “annul” his presidency rather than pursuing impeachment — stressing that Republicans would probably continue to control the Senate after the midterms and that not one president in U.S. history has actually been removed from office via the impeachment process or convicted in a Senate trial. But Reich, in a May 13 op-ed for Newsweek, argues that Trump has crossed the line so badly in recent weeks that pursuing impeachment is now “the right thing to do.”
Reich, who served as secretary of labor in the Bill Clinton administration, acknowledges that the GOP still has a majority in the U.S. Senate and that possibly, “an impeachment inquiry plays into Trump’s hands by convincing some wavering voters that Democrats and the ‘deep state’ are out to get Trump, thereby giving him more votes than he’d otherwise get.” But, Reich emphasizes that with Trump vowing to ignore all congressional subpoenas, the U.S. now has a “constitutional crisis” on its hands — and that pursuing impeach is the moral thing for Democrats to do despite the “political risk.”
“By issuing a blanket refusal to respond to any congressional subpoena, Trump is saying Congress has no constitutional authority to oversee the executive branch,” Reich explains. “He’s telling America that Congress is a subordinate branch of government rather than a co-equal branch. Forget separation of powers.”
Reich adds, “By spending money on his ‘wall’ that Congress explicitly refused to authorize, Trump is saying that Congress no longer has any constitutional authority over spending. Goodbye, checks and balances.”
By undermining the United States’ system of checks and balances, Reich stresses, Trump is doing something that demands an impeachment inquiry from House Democrats.
“The core purpose of the United States Constitution is to prevent tyranny,” Reich observes. “That’s why the framers of the Constitution distributed power among the president, Congress and the judiciary. That’s why each of the three branches was designed to limit the powers of the other two. In other words, the framers anticipated the possibility of a Donald Trump.”
Reich concludes his Newsweek op-ed by asserting that an “impeachment inquiry” is now the constitutional duty of House Democrats—even if it isn’t politically advantageous for them.
“Donald Trump surely appears to be usurping the powers of the Congress,” Reich writes. “Under these circumstances, the Constitution mandates that the House undertake an impeachment inquiry and present evidence to the Senate. This may not be the practical political thing to do. But it is the right thing to do.”