Several experts in the field of Constitutional law believe that Donald Trump’s decision to fire James Comey from his job as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is an impeachable offense. While the 45th President’s act is legally within the purview of his executive powers, it could also be seen as strong abuse of such power.
David D. Cole, a director within the ACLU stated in an interview that while the President is able to fire anyone serving under the executive branch, firing the third person to investigate connections between the President’s election campaign and Russian sources could also be considered obstruction of justice. Many believe that the timing of Comey’s firing was a calculated move on the part of the President to prolong investigations into the current White House’s relationship with Russia.
Cole went on to cite how Archibald Cox was an independent prosecutor who was fired during his investigation into the Watergate scandal of the Nixon administration. Much like the current President, Richard Nixon acted within the scope of his power; unlike the current President, it is a known fact that Nixon used that executive power in order to leave the Watergate investigation in abeyance. Cole remarked that Nixon’s efforts eventually came to betray him and that the same fate may likely befall the current President. The firing of Archibald Cox as an independent prosecutor was known as the Saturday Night Massacre and occurred on October 20, 1973; President Nixon resigned from his position less than a year later on August 9, 1974.
Louis Michael Seidman, another expert in Constitutional law, believes that the most likely scenario that lead up to Comey’s ejection is that Comey was on the trail of information more dangerous to the President’s reputation and validity than the risks run in firing someone investigating the corruption. Seidman added that he felt there was little to disparage the perception that the current President’s actions are tantamount to impeachable offenses.
Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean for Irvine School of Law, believes that fully impeaching the current President will be a long shot. Chemerinsky thinks the main issue is whether or not the President’s administration, such as his campaign aides, violated the law at any point. It is with this issue that Chemerinsky believes the American public should demand that its government appoint an independent special prosecutor to oversee the investigation of the current White House and its relationship with the Russian government. Were an impeachment of Trump occur, it would not remove him from power but would serve as an indictment. Removal from his job as President would only occur if two-thirds of the Senate agreed to remove Trump, at which point the order of succession would elevate Vice-President Michael Richard Pence as the 46th President of the United States of America.
While Donald John Trump is known as the 45th President of the United States, he is actually the 44th person to serve the American people; Grover Cleveland upsets the math between administrations and people by having served as both the 22nd and 24th President. The only American Presidents to ever face impeachment were Bill Clinton and Andrew Jackson, both of whom were acquitted of charges; Richard Nixon resigned from office before impeachment proceedings could begin, elevating Gerald Ford to the position.