We expected something like this was coming, and here it is. Twenty-one state attorneys general, with Louisiana’s Jeff Landry leading the charge, are now publicly slamming the House Democrats’ impeachment circus. From a press release…
In an unprecedented action, 21 Republican attorneys general filed the first-ever “friend of the Senate” letter outlining the legal flaws of the perilous partisan move by the Democrats to use the impeachment of President Trump as a political weapon to destroy a cornerstone of the Constitution: the separation of powers.
The attorneys general argue the legal theories underlying both Articles I and Article II are legally and factually flawed, inherently destructive of separation of powers, and contrary to the Framer’s vision of impeachment power. The letter states that the House Democrats’ Articles of Impeachment are a partisan political ploy that will undermine the democratic process, both now and in the future, by weaponizing a process that should only be initiated in exceedingly rare circumstances and never for partisan purposes.
The 21 attorneys general urge the Senate to expressly reject the articles of impeachment to protect the Presidency and the Constitution.
RAGA Chairman and Attorney General for Louisiana Jeff Landry said: “Republican Attorneys General have grave concerns about the House Democrats’ politically motivated impeachment process. Impeachment seems to be just another effort by Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and liberal special interests to overturn the 2016 election results. The Democrats’ partisan attack on President Trump, using impeachment, will likely damage our American system of government for decades by weakening the separation of powers. Our filing urges the Senate to reject these partisan Articles of Impeachment to protect the integrity of the Constitution.”
Attorney General Alan Wilson for South Carolina, who was instrumental in the creation and coordination of the letter, stated: “The two Articles of Impeachment sent over from the House are fundamentally flawed, politically motivated, and fail to identify any high crimes or misdemeanors. Republican Attorneys General are asking the Senate to reject the manufactured theories upon which the impeachment articles are based. This impeachment proceeding threatens all future elections and establishes a dangerous precedent. That precedent will erode the separation of powers shared by the executive and legislative branches by subjugating future Presidents to the whims of the majority opposition party in the House of Representatives.”
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes added: “Republican Attorneys General agree that impeachment should never be a partisan response to one party losing a presidential election. Unfortunately, the Democrats never set out to ascertain the truth and have weaponized a process that should only be initiated in exceedingly rare circumstances. Impeachment casts a shadow over the office of the presidency, undermines constitutional authority, and hurts the interests of the United States at home and abroad.”
RAGA Executive Director Adam Piper echoed the sentiments of the attorneys general: “Time and time again Republican attorneys general prove they put the rule of law above politics. Today’s filing demonstrates their commitment to preserving the vitality of the presidency, legacy of our founding fathers, and sacredness of the impeachment process. The Framers intended for impeachment to only be used in nonpartisan and exceedingly rare circumstances. While Republicans are committed to keeping America great, Democrats are playing political games, setting a dangerous precedent for future generations, and risking the mutually assured destruction of a constitutional crisis.”
The letter is signed by 21 attorneys general including: Alan Wilson (SC), Jeff Landry (LA), Sean Reyes (UT), Steve Marshall (AL), Kevin Clarkson (AK), Leslie Rutledge (AR), Ashley Moody (FL), Chris Carr (GA), Curtis Hill (IN), Derek Schmidt (KS), Daniel Cameron (KY), Lynn Fitch (MS), Eric Schmitt (MO), Tim Fox (MT), Doug Peterson (NE), Dave Yost (OH), Mike Hunter (OK), Jason Ravnsborg (SD), Herbet Slatery (TN), Ken Paxton (TX), Patrick Morrisey (WV).
View the filing here.
This doesn’t have the force of law or anything, but as a matter of politics you can expect to see more and more of it. A number of states are getting rolling with their regular legislative sessions, and particularly in the redder ones you’re bound to see joint resolutions in the House and Senate condemning impeachment. We’ve suggested to a number of GOP legislators here in Louisiana that someone ought to bring one when the session begins, and the response was pretty positive to that.
Not that it’s going to change the minds of the Democrats’ leadership in either the House or the Senate. They’ve known impeachment was an electoral Vietnam War for them all along, and yet they charged ahead with it anyway.
Where this matters and why the pushback could become significant is, particularly in a number of red states like Texas, Florida, Georgia and Ohio but also in a number of swing states, there are swing, mostly suburban, districts where Democrats managed to grab House seats that otherwise ought to be Republican. Almost all of those freshman Democrats who really couldn’t afford to make a loser of a vote on impeachment did, and now they could well be in the crosshairs of their state’s attorney general who are jumping in on the issue, potentially their state legislators who might well call them out by name for having voted for impeachment, or others.
In other words, you might well see some of these Democrats in precarious electoral positions getting hit from above – by President Trump and some national PAC’s spending millions to trash them on TV for their impeachment vote – and below by the state-level actors in their states.
And this missive by the attorneys general is the first evidence of it. It won’t be the last.