This week, Donald Trump admitted to soliciting a foreign government to investigate a political opponent for personal gain. Specifically, Trump called on the Ukrainian government to launch an investigation into his Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Rudy Guiliani, the President’s personal lawyer also confirmed:
The requests made by Trump and Giuliani serve as evidence that the President and his Administration were attempting to encourage a foreign power to intervene in the electoral process of the United States. And this is illegal.
According to Paul Seamus Ryan of Just Security:
“Federal law prohibits a foreign national from directly or indirectly making a “contribution or donation of money or other thing of value” in connection with a U.S. election, and prohibits a person from soliciting, accepting or receiving such a contribution or donation from a foreign national. Federal law defines “contribution” to include “any gift … of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” And the FEC by regulation defines “solicit” to mean “to ask, request, or recommend, explicitly or implicitly, that another person make a contribution, donation, transfer of funds, or otherwise provide anything of value.”
And that’s all the law requires. Whether or not Ukraine came through, whether or not the communications involved a quid pro quo, the solicitation of a thing of value from the Ukraine President in connection with a U.S. election could be a federal crime.”
In addition to the President and at least one member of his Administration using the office of the Presidency to place leverage on the Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election, there are indications that a $250 million military aid package was also held up as part of the effort to force Ukrainian participation.
The Democratic Party has called this a potential tipping point in terms of efforts to impeach the President. And pressure seems to be mounting in the House of Representatives.
Adam Schiff responded to the revelation of Trumps dealings with the Ukraine saying, “If the President is essentially withholding military aid at the same time that he is trying to browbeat a foreign leader into doing something illicit that is providing dirt on his opponent during a presidential campaign, then that may be the only remedy that is coequal to the evil that conduct represents.”
But as noted by many experts, the likelihood that the GOP controlled Senate will move to convict the President even if he is impeached by the House is slim to none. So, while many would argue, Impeachment proceeding should move forward, such proceedings will not likely remove Trump from office.
Fortunately, impeachment may not be the only remedy.
Another pathway to removing Trump from office might be available. Democrats might be able to prevent him from qualifying to run in 2020.
After the Civil War, the Union passed a number of measures to ensure that the Confederacy would not rise to power. Among these were known as the Reconstruction Acts. Included in the Reconstruction Acts is the 14th Amendment, which is most widely known for it’s Equal Protections Clause. That clause is found at the end of Section 1. If we read all the way down to Section 3, though, we will find the following:
“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
To put it in more accessible terms, the “Travis Translation” of the Constitutional Law Reporter clarifies:
“No one can be a Senator, Representative, Elector or officer of the United States — or United States military officer, or member of a State Legislature, or a Governor, or a judge of any State — if they took an oath to support the Constitution and then took part in a rebellion against the United States, or gave aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States. But Congress can change this with two thirds vote.”
Theoretically, Trump could be prevented from seeking re-election through enforcement of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. But some questions will need do be answered.
Could a lawsuit, or multiple lawsuits, be launched against Donald Trump, the Republican Party, or its state leadership for violating the 14th Amendment if they place Donald Trump on the ballot in light of his admitted attempt to overthrow the federal government through election manipulation? Could the courts find themselves in a position to disqualify Trump from running for President in 2020?
Perhaps the most important question is, would the Democrats move to enforce the 14th Amendment and disqualify Trump from running for President in 2020 if they knew they had the power?
You can find Dr. GS Potter on Twitter at @strategistirl