Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz pointed out on Friday that the Supreme Court had undercut the Democrats’ second article of impeachment by agreeing to hear three White House appeals against subpoenas.
The second article of impeachment passed by the House Judiciary Committee earlier Friday on a party-line vote accuses President Donald Trump of “obstruction of Congress” because he appealed to the courts rather than immediately obeying congressional subpoenas.
George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley had warned Democrats not to impeach the president for obeying the Constitution: “If you impeach a president, if you make a ‘high crime and misdemeanor’ out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power. It’s your abuse of power. You’re doing precisely what you’re criticizing the president for doing. We have a third branch that deals with conflicts of the other two branches.”
But the House Judiciary Committee ignored Turley’s warning, passing two articles of impeachment. The first accused Trump of “abuse of power” — a new standard never before used against a president — and “obstruction of Congress.”
Appearing on Hannity on Fox News that evening, Dershowitz pointed out that the Supreme Court’s decision later the same day completely undermined the second article of impeachment.
Dershowitz: Look, the most important development happened today. The Supreme Court of the United States absolutely pulled the rug out of part two of the impeachment referral by granting certiorari, by granting review in a case where Trump challenged a congressional subpoena, and the Supreme Court said, we are going to hear this case.
Hannity: All three cases, by the way.
Dershowitz: One of them is a state case — but think of what that message is. It’s “Trump was right.” you don’t have to comply with a subpoena of Congress unless the court tells you you have to comply. we don’t know how the court is going to come out, but they made it clear that is a viable issue. So that charge, that ground of impeachment should be immediately removed by the House and not sent to the Senate. There is nothing to it anymore after the Supreme Court today said they were going to review on an issue when the president challenges the subpoena power of Congress. All done, it’s over!
The two congressional subpoenas involve a subpoena for Trump’s private financial information from the House Oversight and Reform Committee; and a similar subpoena by the Intelligence and Financial Services Committees for the private financial information of Trump and his children. The third case involves New York State.
None of the subpoenas is directly related to impeachment, but the House resolution authorizing the impeachment inquiry — in a break from tradition — deputizes other committees to conduct inquiries outside the Judiciary Committee, and Democrats have suggested they will continue such inquiries even though two articles of impeachment are already before the House.
The House is expected to vote on both articles by Wednesday.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.