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"I Have Been Traduced": Trump's Moves Against Impeachment Witnesses Are Neither Unlawful Nor Unprecedented


Added 02-14-20 07:55:02am EST - “Below is my column in the Washington Post on the continuing controversy over the actions taken against impeachment witnesses by President Donald Trump. I recently explained that these actions are n?” - Jonathanturley.org

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Jonathanturley.org: ““I Have Been Traduced”: Trump’s Moves Against Impeachment Witnesses Are Neither Unlawful Nor Unprecedented”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Below is my column in the Washington Post on the continuing controversy over the actions taken against impeachment witnesses by President Donald Trump. I recently explained that these actions are not, as claiming on CNN, clear criminal acts of witness retaliation. While I was critical of the moves, this column addresses why they are neither unlawful nor unprecedented.

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” Those words, from the fictional Capt. John Yossarian in Joseph Heller’s satiric novel “Catch-22,” could well have come from President Trump. Trump’s move against two impeachment witnesses (and a third man, the twin brother of one of the witnesses) has enraged and struck many as pure retaliation, and has led to calls for criminal and oversight investigations. Yet, while I believe that actions taken against Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and National Security Council staffer Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman were wrong, they are both legal and not unprecedented.

Various experts, such as CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, have described the removals as “criminal” while Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on 74 inspectors general for “immediate action to investigate any and all instances of retaliation” against whistleblowers by the Trump administration.

The suggestion that the president’s actions are criminal is ironic on several levels. In 1867, Congress passed a law making retaliatory firings of public officials by a president a “high misdemeanor.” That law led the House to impeach President Andrew Johnson after he fired Edwin M. Stanton, the secretary of war. The case failed in the Senate, and the Supreme Court later noted that the Tenure of Office Act was facially unconstitutional. It would be equally unconstitutional to make the moving of Vindman back to the Pentagon or the termination of Sondland a crime. This post-trial action is not obstruction or witness tampering, and those officials are not guaranteed to retain such positions indefinitely.

What made these actions wrong, however, was that they appear as retaliatory as they were unnecessary. Both Vindman and Sondland were reportedly planning to leave their respective posts within a few weeks. Trump clearly wanted to fire them to send a message – a message visibly conveyed by the image of Vindman being unceremoniously escorted out of the White House. Moreover, the removal of Vindman’s twin brother (who never testified) smacks of medieval blood-revenge punishment.

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