Harvard lawyers think Donald Trump may have done enough to be impeached

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By Katie King on

Disclosure of sensitive information ‘most serious charge ever made against a sitting president’

A host of top US lawyers have penned an article in which they suggest Donald Trump may have breached his presidential oath.

Writing under a joint by-line in Lawfare, US security law experts legally analysed the “stunning” accusations made against Trump this week.

Briefly, the allegations are that the former reality TV star disclosed highly classified information to Russian officials. The information in question reportedly related to an ISIS operation. Deputy national security advisor Dina Powell said: “this story is false.”

The authors of the piece — Jack Goldsmith, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Matthew Kahn, Benjamin Wittes and Elishe Julian Wittes — appear content to conclude that Trump’s alleged actions were not criminal. This is because the president is exempt from criminal laws on the disclosure of classified information. But, they continued:

Questions of criminality aside… If the president gave this information away through carelessness or neglect, he has arguably breached his oath of office.

The article, whose authors include a Harvard professor, went on:

There’s thus no reason why congress couldn’t consider a grotesque violation of the president’s oath as a standalone basis for… This is particularly plausible in a case like this, where the oath violation involves giving sensitive information to an adversary foreign power… [L]egally speaking, the matter could be very grave for Trump even though there is no criminal exposure.

This latest article is one of many that have explored the legal issues surrounding a potential Trump impeachment. Another came from Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard. Writing in The Washington Post, he said: “the country is faced with a president whose conduct strongly suggests that he poses a danger to our system of government.”

Fellow Harvard Law School-er Alan Dershowitz seems to share these concerns. The former professor has described the reported disclosure of sensitive information as the “most serious charge ever made against a sitting president”.

But will the president care about these lawyers’ opinions? Maybe, maybe not, but it is worth noting Lawfare is already on Trump’s radar.

Earlier this year, the Republican namechecked Lawfare — a blog which has links to Washington research and policy institute Brookings — in a tweet about his travel ban litigation.

Though the quote appears to support Trump, what wasn’t mentioned was that the piece ended with a dig about “the incompetent malevolence with which [the travel ban] was promulgated.”

Maybe he’ll read the latest Lawfare article more carefully.

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