AG Barr Also Thinks Abuse of Power is Impeachable Without an Actual Crime

AG Barr Also Thinks Abuse of Power is Impeachable Without an Actual Crime January 23, 2020

Remember that famous memo that William Barr wrote for the DOJ when he was still a private lawyer giving them advice on how to handle the Mueller investigation? Turns out that in that memo, Barr told them that abuse of power was, by itself, an impeachable offense under the Constitution without any actual crime being committed.

Mr. Trump should not talk to investigators about his actions as president, even under a subpoena, Mr. Barr wrote in his 19-page memo, which became public during his confirmation. Mr. Barr based his advice on a sweeping theory of executive power under which obstruction of justice laws do not apply to presidents, even if they misuse their authority over the Justice Department to block investigations into themselves or their associates for corrupt reasons.

But Mr. Barr tempered his theory with a reassurance. Even without the possibility of criminal penalties, he wrote, a check is in place on presidents who abuse their discretionary power to control the executive branch of government — impeachment.

The fact that the president “is answerable for any abuses of discretion and is ultimately subject to the judgment of Congress through the impeachment process means that the president is not the judge in his own cause,” he wrote.

He added, “The remedy of impeachment demonstrates that the president remains accountable under law for his misdeeds in office,” quoting from a 1982 Supreme Court case.

This position is such an overwhelming consensus that virtually everyone involved with the Trump defense team and his closest advocates either still accepts it or once did before having a conversion on the road to Trump Tower. The position they are taking now is not just wrong, it’s downright laughable.

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