It’s been a dream of Democrats and “Never Trump” Republicans since January 2017:
President Donald Trump forcibly removed from office.
A popular satirical video on YouTube even shows Trump and his team in handcuffs being dragged away by the FBI, all to the soundtrack of “From Russia With Love” — a jaunty nod to the accusation that the 2016 Trump campaign “colluded” with Russian operatives.
Such wild fantasies always help the opposition get through hard political times. Republicans had dreams of destruction and humiliation about President Bill Clinton, Democrats about President George W. Bush.
But at the end of a week in which talk of impeachment grew and grew — thanks to stunning legal developments involving various key people in Trump’s orbit — University of California public-policy professor Robert Reich said Trump’s impeachment and removal from office wouldn’t be enough. That even his indictment wouldn’t be enough.
He wrote that the Trump administration “should be annulled,” in toto.
To be sure, Reich admits such an outcome is a very, very long shot. “In all likelihood, we’ll have [Trump] for another two and a half years,” he wrote on his website last Friday. He then added:
“Don’t bet on him losing in 2020, either.”
But Reich, who served as secretary of Labor in Clinton’s administration, then returned to his annulment argument.
He asked his readers to consider the possibility that Special Counsel Robert Mueller “finds overwhelming and indisputable evidence that Trump conspired with [Russian President] Putin to rig the 2016 election and that the rigging determined the election’s outcome,” leading to even congressional Republicans and Fox News to seek Trump’s ouster.
Such a finding may seem like la-la land (Trump insists there was no collusion and calls Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt”), but Reich asks us to humor him.
“In other words,” he wrote of this scenario in which there’s hard evidence that Trump worked with Russia to win the election, “Trump’s presidency is not authorized under the United States Constitution.”
[I]mpeachment 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.
There is, no surprise, a problem with this argument. Reich acknowledges that the U.S. Constitution says nothing about an administration being wiped from official history like a purged Stalin crony.
But the 72-year-old scholar and policy wonk believes the U.S. Supreme Court — or the states and Congress through constitutional amendment — could bring presidential annulment into existence. It should be noted that if this unique political solution were a thing, November’s midterm elections would be even more important, which just might be the reason Reich is floating this far-out idea.
“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,” he wrote.
Of course, Reich might want to be careful what he wishes for. Few notions are more likely to drive Republicans to the polls — or infuriate independent-minded progressives, for that matter — than that of a Nancy Pelosi presidency.
— Douglas Perry
(c)2018 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)
Visit The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) at www.oregonian.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.