Donald Trump has been accused of two impeachable offenses – conspiring with the Russians for political interference and working with Michael Cohen to violate campaign finance laws. Both would imply that he was elected as a result of fraud. Law Professor Michael Glennon of Tufts University pointed out that if Trump goes down for these crimes, Vice President Mike Pence will as well.
Glennon isn’t just wildly speculating, he’s arguing in a new Washington Post op-ed that the Constitution should be interpreted to see the Vice President and the President as a unit when it comes to impeachment based on election fraud. His argument is since the time the Constitution’s impeachment provisions were written, the role of the Vice President was very different. The founding fathers could not have predicted how the two political parties would have played out this day in age.
He explained “The initial system was designed to select as president and vice president the two individuals most qualified to lead the nation, whatever their political philosophy […] It did this by permitting members of the electoral college to cast two votes for the office of president. The individual who received the most votes would be president, and the runner-up, vice president.”
When Aaron Burr was elected to be Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President in 1800, that created some problems. The 12th Amendment was supposed to rectify this problem by requiring electors to cast separate ballots for president and Vice President. This made the unified administration’s the most likely electoral outcome it it created another flaw.
“Yet the change had critically important — and unnoticed — implications for impeachment. The election of a two-person ticket, rather than an individual, had the potential effect of permitting a vice president and his political party to benefit from electoral fraud by the presidential candidate so long as the vice president himself avoided committing an impeachable offense. A party’s ill-gotten gains — the presidency and all its appointments and prerogatives — would then remain in its hands even though its leader, the president, had been impeached and removed from office. Electoral corruption would still be rewarded.”
Since punishing election fraud was why impeachment was invented, he argues that there is “every reason to believe that after the amendment’s adoption, the Constitution has in this respect continued to mean what it did in 1787: that the presidency ought not be occupied by someone who attains it as the result of a stolen election.”
If Trump’s impeachable crimes helped him get elected then Pence is out right behind him, and then we are looking at the first female president, Nancy Pelosi. However, another constitutional scholar, Lawrence Tribe was not in agreement with this argument.
Lawrence tweeted “This is just wrong as a matter of constitutional law.” He continued, “There’s a lot to commend Glennon’s reasoning now that vice presidents and presidents are chosen as a team, but as a basis for amending rather than enforcing the Constitution that we currently have.”
Glennon’s scenario is probably the most far fetched scenario out there at the moment, but this does go to show how many ways people can interpret the constitution. The scholars will most likely be debating this until the end of time despite how it plays out in this situation.
Regardless of all this, even if Mueller reveals damning evidence against Trump, the question still remains will enough Republican Senators vote to remove him? If they are willing to do that what are the odds they will also vote to remove Pence?
Republicans will most likely do anything to avoid letting Pelosi take over. Glennon’s point is well thought out and whether it’s required or not, removing them as a set does make the most sense in situations like these. This should be fixed now for any future situations. A crooked president shouldn’t get to select his predecessor.