Newt Gingrich gained his undeserved fame by being a shameless Republican shill. He led the charge to impeach Bill Clinton, claiming that he had obstructed justice, but he now says it is impossible for the so called president, a Republican, to obstruct justice because he is the president.
If this sounds like total lunacy, that’s because it is.
Gingrich has also claimed that impeaching Trump violates the Constitution, which is also lunacy. It echoes the lunacy of Trump himself, who retweeted, back in February, the claim by arch lunatic Alan Dershowitz, that invoking the 25th Amendment to relieve the Trump of the powers and duties of the office would violate the Constitution.
Just to reiterate what should be obvious, it may be possible to find ways in which parts of the U.S. Constitution are in tension with, or even contradict, other parts, but invoking either the impeachment process or the 25th Amendment to protect the republic from an insane, incompetent president in no way violates the Constitution. It is sort of the Constitution’s immune system, designed to allow the republic to vomit up corrupt officials to avoid poisoning.
Republicans have fixated on the idiotic claim that either impeachment or 25th Amendment relief are somehow illegitimate attempts to “overturn” the 2016 election.
This is nonsense on stilts.
Neither the impeachment provisions in the original Constitution, nor the 25th Amendment, make any reference at all to how the official in question came to occupy the office. Both clearly assume that they did so via a valid procedure.
That’s not the point.
The Founders recognized that no procedure is always reliable. They thought, erroneously, as we now know, that the electoral college would ensure only the best (property owning, white) men would become president. It obviously is not working.
Even with their misplaced faith in the electoral college, and other procedures for appointing federal judges, to take another example, they knew that some corrupt officials would manage to gain high office. They wanted to make sure their Constitution allowed them, and future generations, some mechanism to remove those corrupt officials. So they put impeachment into the Constitution, providing that “[t]he President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States” were susceptible to removal via impeachment on showing of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors” (Article, II, Section 4). They gave the House of Representatives “the sole power of impeachment” (Article I, Section 2), and the Senate “the sole power to try all impeachments” (Article I, Section 3). Note, the President is first on the list of impeachable officials.
Other than that, the Constitution says nothing much about impeachment. The Supreme Court has refused to decide a case challenging the Senate’s procedure for conducing an impeachment trial (Nixon v. U.S., 506 U.S. 224 (1993)) on the grounds that the Constitution explicitly assigns that responsibility to another branch of the federal government.
Trump is losing the argument over impeachment, which he should, since he has no valid argument to make against it. Whether the Senate will vote to remove him is an open question. At the moment, it seems unlikely. But what Trump and his toadies are trying to do now is to claim that the House lacks the authority even to conduct an impeachment investigation.
This is manifest absurdity borne of desperation. It is a claim that is entirely devoid of any support in the Constitution or other law in the United States. We should not be surprised that Trump himself falls for such idiocy. He has shown repeatedly that he knows nothing of the Constitution, law, or legal procedures.
His toadies should know better. Their desperation is showing.