President Donald Trump on Thursday morning revealed some profound confusion about the Constitution he’s sworn to preserve, protect, and defend — particularly the parts that detail how a commander in chief can be removed from office.
Asked during a Q&A session with reporters whether he’s concerned about getting impeached, Trump said, “I can’t imagine the courts allowing it.”
“I’ve never gone into it — I never thought that would even be possible to be using that word,” he continued. “To me it’s a dirty word, the word ‘impeach.’ It’s a dirty, filthy, disgusting word.”
Trump reveals he has absolutely no clue how impeachment works, says, "I can't imagine the courts allowing it." (The courts have nothing to do with impeachment, which is the domain of Congress.) pic.twitter.com/EUCI688QD7— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 30, 2019
There’s just one problem. As Lawfare’s Quinta Jurecic explained last month when Trump posted tweets suggesting he’d appeal his impeachment to the Supreme Court, the courts have nothing to do with it. Impeachment is a congressional process:
[W]ithout a dramatic change in the underlying case law, Trump’s suggestion of appealing an impeachment conviction to the Supreme Court is genuinely absurd. The Constitution establishes that “[t]he House ... shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and that “[t]he Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”
Jurecic notes that Trump likely got the idea that impeachment could be appealed to the courts from Alan Dershowitz, a staunch Trump defender who regularly appears on Fox News and penned a recent book called The Case Against the Democratic House Impeaching Trump, which suggests “[w]ere a president to announce that he refused to accept the actions of the Senate in voting for his removal … and that he would not leave office unless the Supreme Court affirmed his removal, the people might well agree with him.”
Trump’s comments expressing confusion about impeachment come as calls for the House to begin hearings toward that end are becoming louder. In the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s televised statement on Wednesday in which he pointedly did not exonerate Trump of impeachable offenses, numerous Democratic presidential candidates spoke out unambiguously in support of impeachment hearings. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jerry Nadler (who chairs the House committee that would initiate impeachment proceedings) did not go quite so far. And even if the House were to impeach Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate would be extremely unlikely to remove him from office.
Impeachment wasn’t the only thing Trump expressed confusion about on Thursday morning. In response to another question, he asserted that “Russia did not help me get elected” — a position that contradicts not only the Mueller report but also a tweet Trump posted just an hour earlier in which he claimed “I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.”