CHICAGO — After months of anticipation, Congress finally heard testimony from former special counsel Robert Mueller. Laurence Tribe, a Carl Loeb University Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, said the ball is in Congress’ court. He feels if America has ever been a place primed for impeachment of President Donald Trump, this is it.
“The emphasis on Robert Mueller as some kind of white knight, who would clear something up, was always a mistake,” Tribe said.
Tribe said he thinks President Donald Trump needs to go and impeachment is the process to do it.
“It’s not technical, it’s not detailed. You don’t even need the details of the Mueller report to see it,” he said.
He said the problem is that Congress is “cowardly.”
“The Republicans are absolutely terrified of Trump,” he said. The Democrats are who want to replace him, are counting on doing it at the next election.”
However, there are more than 20 Democrats who want to be the nominee, diluting the party and giving Trump a statistical edge. That’s why the Harvard professor said impeachment is the next right step for both parties, but requires political buy in.
“The framers of the constitution designed the impeachment power as kind of fail based mechanism as an alternative to violence, revolution, sheer chaos,” he said. “It’s not a process for punishing anybody, it’s a process for cleansing the system and moving ahead.”
He said he doesn’t think there has ever been a case for impeachment as strong as this one.
Former President Bill Clinton was impeached, but acquitted, in 1998 over the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Former President Richard Nixon was never impeached, but resigned after the Watergate break-in.
Former President Andrew Johnson was also impeached in 1868 and nearly removed from office for his “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
“When Andrew Johnson tried to reverse the results of the Civil War, and reinstitute slavery, that was somebody who was a traitor to the Constitution, a trader to the Civil War amendment,” Tribe said.
While some may argue that it’s too late to begin impeachment proceedings, Tribe said it seems that the president is "Exhibit A" for what the framers designed the impeachment power to do.
"If he says, 'These guys didn’t even have the guts to impeach me,' then he’s really in a position to say that the whole thing was a hoax and a witch hunt which it wasn’t," Tribe said. "It puts America in a terrible spot, because the people we are counting on to have character and integrity, really are just showing cowardice."