Seth Abramson @SethAbramson Attorney. @Newsweek columnist. NYT bestselling author of a book on Trump's Iran policy, Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, amzn.to/2sQBWYL). Professor. Dec. 10, 2019 3 min read

I'm happy Democrats brought two articles of impeachment. I'm happy the first one lays out the elements of bribery. I think Democrats are doing their best. I also think four articles were warranted here and it was only politics, not justice, that reduced it to two. That's my take.

2/ I read someone saying the purpose of impeachment is to curb abuse of power. That's a euphemistic way of saying the Impeachment Clause specifically lays out treason, bribery, and a catch-all phrase whose central theme is abuse of power. But don't write bribery out of the story.

3/ Americans understand what bribery is. They understand what obstruction is. Contempt of Congress seems to many like an esoteric argument that should be resolved in the courts. Abuse of power seems to many like a noncriminal catch-all lacking the force of clear moral conviction.

4/ Of *course* abuse of power is impeachable. And of course contempt of Congress is impeachable, for the reason Democrats have stated: if the executive branch doesn't at a minimum act in good faith in independently assessing congressional requests, no POTUS can ever be impeached.

5/ But if you're on Twitter today and see attorneys upset that the d
Democrats didn't bring four articles, only two, understand that saying in response "it's a political process" isn't something attorneys are going to hear well because we took an oath to uphold the *rule of law*.

6/ The criminal justice system is of course wildly political, but that's only because it's broken. An attorney operating in the system in good faith and with honor works to uphold rule of law, our constitution, due process, justice, and mercy. Even if it's politically unpopular.

7/ To act like the impeachment process is the first time public servants have had to decide whether to make a politically unpopular decision because it was the right thing to do is disingenuous. We are constantly being tested and constantly failing. Today was a *partial* failure.

8/ One of the only things that actually gets me really angry on this website is when people talk about "teams" and tribalism and "winning" rather then principles. I, like so many of you, am chiefly driven by principles, not by sticking with the team. That's low-level moral logic.

9/ Being driven by principle does not mean abandoning strategy. It means *adapting your strategy to your principles rather than your principles to your strategy*. How this is not clear to Democrats in D.C. or anyone on this website is beyond me, because we all live it every day.

10/ The language chosen for the first article of impeachment means all those who vote for it believe Trump committed bribery. That makes not bringing a bribery article pretty much inexplicable, as that offense is listed explicitly in the Constitution as a purpose of impeachment.

11/ There will be a million armchair lawyers on Twitter today, folks who get politics but not the law and have not taken an oath, as I and hundreds of thousands of American attorneys have, to uphold the Constitution. And I've worked bribery cases. So I come from that perspective.

12/ If I hear a justification based on rule of law, the Constitution, the principle of equality under the law, justice, mercy, and faith in our democratic institutions that supports what Democrats chose to do, I'll adopt it. Until then I cheer on at least what they managed to do.

PS/ Sorry for the typo in the fifth tweet. God, I hate that. But there's nothing I can do about it now, unfortunately.

PS2/ I don't want to neglect to say that the irony here is that even if one had no principles whatsoever, it'd be politically and strategically *smarter* to have brought four articles, for a host of reasons that would require a separate thread I don't feel like writing right now.


You can follow @SethAbramson.



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