Can We Get an Annulment Instead of an Impeachment?

August 27, 2018 by Robert B. Reich
President Donald Trump.

The only way I can see the end of the Donald Trump presidency is if there’s overwhelming evidence he rigged the 2016 election — in which case impeachment isn’t an adequate remedy. His presidency should be annulled.

Let me explain.

Many people are convinced we’re already witnessing the beginning of the end of Trump. In their view, bombshell admissions from Trump insiders with immunity from prosecution, combined with whatever evidence special counsel Robert Mueller uncovers about Trump’s obstruction of justice and his aides’ collusion with the Russians, will all tip the scales. Democrats will take back the House and begin an impeachment, and the evidence of impeachable offenses will put enough pressure on Republican senators to send Trump packing.

I don’t believe this for a moment.

First, the Senate has never in history convicted a president of impeachment.

Second, even if Democrats flip the House in November, Republicans will almost certainly remain in control of the Senate — and so far they’ve displayed the integrity of lizards.

Third, Fox News and the rest of the right-wing sleaze media will continue to distort and cover up whatever the evidence shows — convincing 35 percent to 40 percent of Americans, along with most Republicans, that Trump is the innocent victim of a plot to remove him.

Finally, Trump himself will never voluntarily resign, as did Nixon. He’ll lie and claim a conspiracy to unseat him.

Trump has proven himself a superb conman, an entertainer-demagogue capable of sowing so much confusion and instigating so much hate and paranoia that he has already survived outrages that would have broken any garden-variety loathsome president — Helsinki, Charlottesville, children locked in cages at the border, firings and cover-ups, racist slurs, clear corruption.

In all likelihood, we’ll have him for another two and a half years.

Even if Trump loses in 2020, we’ll be fortunate if he concedes without being literally carried out of the Oval Office amid the stirrings of civil insurgency.

Oh, and let me remind you that even if he’s impeached, we’d still have his loathsome administration — Mike Pence on down.

But lest you fall into a miasma of gloom, there’s another scenario — unlikely, but entirely possible.

Suppose, just suppose, Mueller finds overwhelming and indisputable evidence that Trump conspired with Russian President Vladimir Putin to rig the 2016 election, and the rigging determined the election’s outcome. In other words, Trump’s presidency is not authorized under the United States Constitution.

Suppose these findings are so compelling that even Trump loyalists desert him, the Republican Party decides it has had enough, and Fox News calls for his impeachment.

What then? Impeachment isn’t enough.

Impeachment would remedy Trump’s “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But impeachment would not remedy Trump’s unconstitutional presidency because it would leave in place his vice president, White House staff and Cabinet, as well as all the executive orders he issued and all the legislation he signed, and the official record of his presidency.

The only response to an unconstitutional presidency is to annul it. Annulment would repeal all of it — recognizing that such appointments, orders, rules and records were made without constitutional authority.

The Constitution does not specifically provide for the annulment of an unconstitutional presidency. But read as a whole, the Constitution leads to the logical conclusion that annulment is the appropriate remedy for one.

After all, the Supreme Court declares legislation that doesn’t comport with the Constitution to be null and void, as if it had never been passed.

It would logically follow that the court could declare all legislation and executive actions of a presidency unauthorized by the Constitution to be null and void, as if Trump had never been elected. (Clearly, any Trump appointee to the court would have to recuse himself from any such decision.)

The Constitution also gives Congress and the states the power to amend the Constitution, thereby annulling or altering whatever provisions came before. Here, too, it would logically follow that Congress and the states could, through amendment, annul a presidency they determine to be unconstitutional.

After the Trump administration was annulled, the Speaker of the House (third in the order of presidential succession) would take over the presidency until a special election.

As I’ve said, I’m betting Trump remains president at least through 2020 — absent compelling and indisputable evidence he rigged the 2016 election.

But if such evidence comes forth, impeachment isn’t an adequate remedy, because even if Trump is removed, his presidency — all that he and his administration did when he occupied office — would be constitutionally illegitimate.

It should be annulled.

© 2018 By Robert Reich; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

  • TCA
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    Opinions

    America’s Mariners Are Essential Workers. It’s Time to Get Them Vaccinated
    Opinions
    America’s Mariners Are Essential Workers. It’s Time to Get Them Vaccinated

    The COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed appreciation for a strong, stable and resilient national logistics system. America’s mariners, who have safely ensured essential cargo continue to reach American’s doorsteps amid the current crisis, are the cornerstone of that system.  Though the vaccine distribution is ongoing, and... Read More

    Asian American Judge Challenges Racism Inherent in ‘Equity’
    Opinions
    Asian American Judge Challenges Racism Inherent in ‘Equity’
    March 31, 2021
    by John Kass

    Have you read, heard or seen that important news story about an Asian American federal judge — born in Taiwan and subject to discrimination growing up — who confronted and denounced those who discriminate by race? No? With all that’s been in the news lately about... Read More

    Before the BLM Movement There was Emmett Till and the Man Who Tried to Bring Him Justice
    Opinions
    Before the BLM Movement There was Emmett Till and the Man Who Tried to Bring Him Justice
    March 26, 2021
    by Mary Sanchez

    More than 40 years before Black Lives Matter emerged as a movement, Alvin Sykes was doggedly questioning police brutality in cases famous, and not. Sykes convinced the federal government to reopen unsolved 50-year-old civil rights era murders, scores of cases in Mississippi and other southern states, solving some and providing long awaited... Read More

    UWM’s Hardball Tactics Hurt Homebuyers and Our Economy
    Opinions
    UWM’s Hardball Tactics Hurt Homebuyers and Our Economy

    As COVID raged, and mortgage rates plummeted, last March my husband and I found ourselves unexpectedly in the market to purchase a new home just a few weeks before the birth of our daughter. Even though we thought we saved enough for a down payment and... Read More

    He Was Having a Bad Day
    Opinions
    He Was Having a Bad Day
    March 18, 2021
    by Leonard Pitts

    He was having a bad day. So said Cherokee County Sheriff’s spokesman Jay Baker by way of explaining last week’s mass shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors. The suspect, a 21-year-old white man whose name won’t be used here, is said to have told police he... Read More

    New Research Definitively Links Digital Tools to More Revenue and Hiring for Small Businesses During Pandemic
    Opinions
    New Research Definitively Links Digital Tools to More Revenue and Hiring for Small Businesses During Pandemic

    As Congress continues its investigation into large technology companies, the critically important role digital tools and services play for small businesses is once again being overlooked. Before Congress, regulators, or Attorneys General take any action that changes the way the digital ecosystem operates, they must stop... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top