Tuesday 17 September 2019

'I would head to Supreme Court if impeached' - president

Challenge: US President Donald Trump speaks during the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Bloomberg
Challenge: US President Donald Trump speaks during the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Bloomberg

Chris Stevenson Washington

Donald Trump has said he would "head to the US Supreme Court" if Democrats in Congress launched impeachment proceedings against him.

Just minutes after he was condemned by the UK government's spy agency for promoting a conspiracy theory that it had helped the Obama administration covertly surveil his election campaign, the president launched the latest in a series of angry tweets about the Mueller report.

He wrote: "The Mueller Report, despite being written by angry Democrats and Trump haters, and with unlimited money behind it ($35,000,000), didn't lay a glove on me. I DID NOTHING WRONG. If the partisan Dems ever tried to impeach, I would first head to the US Supreme Court".

In a second tweet, Mr Trump added that there are "no 'high crimes and misdemeanours', there are no crimes by me at all... We waited for Mueller and WON, so now the Dems look to Congress as last hope".

Mr Trump likely sees the Supreme Court as more favourable territory for him, given that he has nominated two conservative judges during his term in the White House that have been confirmed on to the court. First, there was Neil Gorsuch and last year came Brett Kavanaugh. That helped create a right-wing majority on the court.

However, while Mr Trump has shown some knowledge of impeachment procedure, it is debatable that the Supreme Court could step in on what would be a Congressional matter.

First, the House of Representatives has the power to push for impeachment of the president - indeed, a number of Democrats have tabled such articles of impeachment.

While no articles have yet been approved by a vote in the House, if they were to be, the Senate would then take over.

The Senate would then hold a hearing over impeachment, presided over by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. This acts as a trial, with the House acting as prosecutor.

It is the Senate that holds the power, however, with members able to ignore the advice of the chief justice in voting on impeachment.

Article 2 of the US constitution states that officials such as the president can only be impeached over "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours" - with Mr Trump tweeting that this does not apply to him.

However, historical context suggests that those writing the constitution believed that this also encompassed political misconduct.

Meanwhile, yesterday, Britain's electronic espionage agency dismissed fresh claims it spied on Mr Trump's presidential election campaign as "utterly ridiculous".

Mr Trump highlighted a claim by a former CIA analyst that British intelligence assisted the administration of Barack Obama by spying on his 2016 run for the White House.

Mr Trump tweeted: "WOW! It is now just a question of time before the truth comes out, and when it does, it will be a beauty!"

However, GCHQ responded by referring to a statement it issued when similar allegations surfaced in 2017, dismissing the claim it was asked to conduct "wiretapping" against the then president-elect as "nonsense".

"They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored," the statement said.

Irish Independent

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