How a Democratic House alone could oust Trump

Bob Carney, Jr. was a candidate seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Minnesota in the 2018 election.

The New York Times recently published a two-year investigation debunking the Trump-as-a-self-made billionaire myth.  President Trump reportedly received over $400 million in today’s dollars from his Father, Fred Trump, through “dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud.”  Many wealth transfers were based on wildly unrealistic real estate appraisals – valuations were also distorted by padded expenses. 

Some Democrats are trying to downplay widespread impeachment talk.  After all… an impeached President Clinton stayed in office when a highly partisan Senate didn’t reach the required two-thirds to convict.  In today’s hyper-partisan environment, isn’t the same result inevitable?  If so… then why bother?  Shouldn’t we at least wait for Robert Mueller’s report?

Important as it is, let’s leave the Mueller investigation aside -- to focus on Congress and its explicit powers.  More specifically, let’s assess a crucial but frequently ignored Constitutional limitation that shapes the impeachment and removal process: the President’s federal pardon power applies “except in Cases of Impeachment.”  Consider this fact: by resigning before the House impeached him, President Nixon remained eligible for the pardon he received from President Ford.  Under our present circumstances, this pardon “exception” is an intended Constitutional incentive for a President to resign.  It could be the key to getting America out of our present mess.

Here’s how: If the Democrats win the House, their power to make Trump unpardonable is probably enough to force a deal with Republicans in 2019– regardless of what the Senate does.  The House can obtain Trump’s tax returns – relying on a 1924 Federal law used to obtain and make public information from President Nixon’s tax returns.  As investigations proceeded, and trucks delivered pallets of Trump tax returns to Congress, this question would inevitably emerge:  what could the Justice Department do with a Democratic Attorney General and an impeached-by-the-House, unpardonable ex-President Trump?

This answer would become clear: an ex-President Trump, his associates, and possibly members of his family, would likely spend years fighting Federal and State indictments -- including conspiracy and obstruction of justice counts -- for various underlying alleged tax violations and other crimes.  Life in prison would be a real possibility for an unpardonable Trump… other family members could face decades.   

The Nixon history suggests an alternative: a looming House impeachment could trigger a bi-partisan deal involving President Trump, his family, vice President Pence, other Trump associates, members of both parties in Congress, New York and possibly other states.  Please note: given what we know about Trump – including the recent New York Times investigation -- the premise for this scenario is that prosecutions would be clearly warranted based on the law and facts from Trump’s tax returns shipped to Congress – anything less and this could properly never happen.  That being said, here’s a deal that could work:

First, Congress and Vice-President Pence would agree that Trump and other designated people would receive full and unconditional federal pardons. That’s what Nixon received.

Second, New York (and possibly other states) would enact legislation signed by their Governor waiving State legal processes for anyone receiving such a federal pardon.  Because New York’s governor couldn’t extradite him, this would allow Trump to retire to Mar-a-lago, sheltered from New York State prosecutors.

Third, President Trump would resign.

Fourth, vice-President Pence would issue the pardons, and agree not to run in 2020, serving as a caretaker President.

And we’re done. 

The economy is going well – frankly we need that to continue.  Congress could and should complete a massive investigation -- including a full public report on what happened.  A joint House/Senate censure resolution could be considered.  Recommendations for reform could be made and considered.  Vice-President Pence could run for any office any time after 2020.

We the People can learn from all this, and do better.  We can start thinking more about what unites us -- and start finding ways to work together.

We can drain the Wall Street/Real Estate money swamp.

In short: Pence 2019… Hindsight 2020.

Our Constitutional system is founded on the idea of checks and balances.  This realistic, achievable, checks-and-balances solution would vindicate the rule of law and turn America towards building a better future.  We the People should elect Democrats to the U.S. House this midterm election.

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