Thursday, November 07, 2019

'Smokescreen': Trump 'quid pro quo' a presidential duty, legal scholars say

S.A. Miller

The alleged quid pro quo transaction at the heart of House Democrats’ case against President Trump is closer to typical Oval Office deal-making than a high crime or misdemeanor worthy of impeachment, legal scholars say. Bartering with foreign leaders, they say, is part of a president’s job description. “All this discussion of quid pro quo is really a smokescreen,” said Robert G. Natelson, a constitutional scholar with the Independence Institute, a libertarian-leaning think tank in Denver. “Even if it were a quid pro quo, I think it is rather clearly neither a felony nor a misdemeanor.” The Constitution’s criteria for impeachment — treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors — refer to felonies and serious breaches of fiduciary duty or the obligation to act in the best interest of the U.S., he said. “It is not a breach of fiduciary duty for a president to make aid to another country conditional, and it is certainly not a breach of fiduciary duty for the president to ask the other country to investigate possible involvement in an American election,” Mr. Natelson said. Mr. Trump also prodded Kyiv to investigate Ukraine’s suspected interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Robert Ray, a former independent counsel who conducted the probe in the Whitewater scandal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton, said the quid pro quo — “something for something” in the original Latin — also doesn’t qualify as impeachable bribery. “If what the Democrats are pointing to is bribery, it is a long way short of that. You have to have more than a quid pro quo,” he told Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto. He said the deal-making would have to be blatantly illegal to qualify as bribery. “It has to be corrupt, which is to say something that the law is prepared to recognize as clearly and unmistakably illegal,” Mr. Ray said. The argument has gained credence with the Republican senators who will judge Mr. Trump if impeachment goes to a Senate trial. Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, told reporters this week that he wasn’t convinced a quid pro quo by itself was impeachable...MORE

No comments: