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Robert Reich: Don’t Impeach Trump, Annul His Presidency – OpEd


The only way I see the end of Trump 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 Mueller uncovers about Trump’s obstruction of justice and his aide’s 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 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.

He’s 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.

Don’t bet the house on him losing in 2020, either. A malignant bullying megalomaniac who lies like most people breathe, and who’s able to suck the oxygen out of every news cycle, might pulverize any Democratic opponent.

Even if he 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 – Pence on down.

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

Suppose, just suppose, Robert Mueller finds overwhelming and indisputable evidence that Trump conspired with 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 an unconstitutional president’s appointments and executive actions, and would eliminate the official record of the presidency.

Annulment would recognize that all such appointments, actions, and records were made without constitutional authority.

The Constitution does not specifically provide for 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 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.

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.

As I’ve said, my betting is 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 Trump’s presidency would be constitutionally illegitimate.

It should be annulled.

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Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

18 thoughts on “Robert Reich: Don’t Impeach Trump, Annul His Presidency – OpEd

  • August 26, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    What the heck was this? You can’t “annul” a presidency under any circumstances, and, besides, he’s president because a majority of the Electoral College voted for him, and there is absolutely nothing in the Constitution suggesting any elector’s vote could be declared invalid after the fact.

    I’ve joked that Trump has some sort of mutant ability to make people who talk about him stupider, but every day it looks less like a joke.

  • August 26, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    Simply the most brilliant ‘take’ on the entire trump fiasco I have ever read!
    Congratulations, Mr. Reich!

  • August 27, 2018 at 12:24 am

    This is how you get more Trump. Robert, please convince all of the news shows to interview you and let you spread your cunning plan far and wide.

  • August 27, 2018 at 4:05 am

    How absolutely stupid. This is another example of progressive mentality attempting to void our constitution. We has TWO valid methods of getting rid of Mr. Trump. Impeachment and election. Impeachment would do fine if there were clear evidence of a crime. There isn’t. And if lawyers have to twist and gyrate a law to suit their concept of a crime, then it isn’t going to fly. Yes, Clinton did commit perjury. But Ken Star had to fly to the moon and back to get there. And Americans don’t want that. So move on to election. We don’t have to reelect him in 2020. BUT people better not cheat to attempt to reach their goal either. Do it right, or the results will never turn out as desired.

  • August 28, 2018 at 12:22 am

    May you never be empowered by the Constitution, again. Let the waters wash you & your ideas away…

  • August 28, 2018 at 12:38 am

    Mr. Reich should stick to economics. There are many issues that he could offer solutions to that could be worked out with bi-partisanship support. Instead he has become a political hack. This is very disappointing to me. His “Work of Nations” is a great book. Unfortunately, he has lost his mind.

  • August 29, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Shout it from the rooftops, Mr. Reich! Get on every TV, radio and podcast you can! You need to be heard! The American public needs to hear you! You could be a strong factor in yet another reason Trump will win in 2020!

    • August 30, 2018 at 9:23 am

      With zero proof? You must be one of those fascists I keep hearing about.

  • August 30, 2018 at 8:01 am

    Lets see here if the whack-jobs get their way and annual Trump and if we annual an actual illegitimate president Barack Obama (shut up screaming and cqlling me names still doesn’t make him not born in Kenya clowns)thats 12yrs with no president!Its like Bush jr was still pres without Cheney calling the shots.

  • August 30, 2018 at 8:11 am

    Dude, this is the best, I mean the BEST dream fantasy yet.

    Tell me, is Trump Derangement Syndrome painful?

  • August 30, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Ending wars, economy flourishing, still -after all these months of investigation- no proof of collusion, pointing other countries on their responsibiities, even Mexico happy with the new trade deal..
    what has Trump done wrong?, I wonder

    • December 27, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      With all due respect, if we soend our time on pipe dreams like “annulment” and “consitutional amendments” tobgetbrid of Trump, he will almost certainly win in 2020.

      The answer now, is the same as it was in 2008. Feet on the street activism. Knocking doors. Sending postcards. Raising money. It ain’t glamourus, but it works.

  • August 30, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Wow. So by this reasoning, if it should turn out that Barrack Obama really wasn’t born in the US, and thus was ineligible to be President…annulment!

    Finally, a clear path to ridding ourselves of Obamacare! For that I thank you, Mr. Reich!

  • August 30, 2018 at 10:05 am

    Robert, thou art beside thyself! Much learning doth make thee mad!

  • August 30, 2018 at 10:12 am

    I think you’re on to something here. If obama was never a US citizen. . . then HIS “presidency” could be annulled. I think we’re going to see this happen. Whoohooo!!! God LOVE President Trump. He has done more for this Country than any other President, and he’s only been in office 18 months.

    If you really think you have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting President Trump removed, you need psychiatric help. There is going to be an electoral massacre in November, one they’ll talk of in the history books.

  • August 30, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    There’s only one way to erase a President from history, Mr. Reich. You can actually observe it happening right now.

    Step 1: Win the Presidency
    Step 2: Erase the harmful policies and legacy of your predecessor.
    Step 3: Make America Great Again

  • August 30, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Mr. Reich you are committing sedition by trying to remove a duly elected President by the People under the Constitution. Berkeley pretty much sums you up. You are an enemy of the United States and her people. How dare you speak such vile rhetoric because your gal lost. I’ll bet you’re a Marxist in favor of doing away with our Constitution. We the People who voted for President Trump will not stand down!

  • August 30, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    Those that scream the loudest have the most to hide. Wonder what Mr. Reich doesn’t want uncovered.


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