By Republicans’ logic, a president is free to commit insurrection so long as it’s at the end of his term.
As the Senate trial of Donald Trump nears, the defense is coming into view. It appears that most Senate Republicans will not defend Mr. Trump’s conduct around the Jan. 6 Capitol siege. Instead, they will rally around an argument about the chamber’s constitutional powers and the supposedly dangerous consequences for our politics if the Senate tries a “late impeachment.”
This argument is built on two closely connected representations, and Senator Rand Paul previewed them in his recent constitutional objection to “late impeachment.”
The first, in Mr. Paul’s words, is that “impeachment is a tool to remove someone from office. That’s it.” The Senate lacks the power to try an impeached president, once out of office, to determine if he is guilty of the charges the House has levied against him.
The second, Mr. Paul and others argued, is that Mr. Trump is now a “private citizen,” and so any action against him could serve no purpose other than revenge.
So less than a month after the events of Jan. 6, the impeachment process might be foundering on the remarkable claim — one that some senators seem to have adopted disingenuously so that they can avoid a defense of Mr. Trump’s action and pose instead as guardians of the Constitution. It is the claim that a president can escape the consequences of egregious, impeachable conduct, and in particular disqualification from future office, so long as the Senate runs out of time to try the case before the end of his term.
This Republican argument wholly misconstrues the text, history and structure of the Constitution’s impeachment clause. It is a mistake to minimize impeachment’s broader objectives by suggesting that removal from office was somehow its only or primary function.
The power to impeach specifically provides for two decisions: impeachment and conviction, resulting in removal, and then disqualification from holding office. As drawn from the English practice, and reflected in state constitutions at the time, both these actions were understood to serve the overall purpose of public accountability for egregious abuses of public office.
Indeed, several state constitutions at the time of the federal Constitution’s writing permitted impeachment only after public figures had left office. Public accountability and disqualification were the purposes of impeachment; the Constitution’s addition of removal from office was an expansion on these provisions.
The argument focused on Mr. Trump’s status as a former president is misguided and dangerous. When impeached, he was in office. Moreover, it is highly doubtful that the framers intended the impeachment clause to give the president free rein to commit impeachable offenses in the closing months of his term.
In any case, the Senate always decides on disqualification after the offender is a “private citizen,” since that is what he becomes upon conviction of an impeachable offense. The Constitution does not even specify that this second vote on disqualfication must be immediate. The Senate could vote weeks later, after deliberation and debate, well into the former president’s “private” life.
Still more fundamental: This “late impeachment” argument fails to grasp the constitutional framework within which the question must be considered. The Federalist Papers made plain the framers’ preoccupation with protections against the demagogue, the “unworthy candidate” of “perverted ambition” who practices “with success the vicious arts, by which elections are too often carried.” The provision for “disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit” was one of many instances of constitutional checks against popular passions that could lead to the election of officeholders who would threaten to subvert the Republic.
No basis exists for claiming that the drafters of the Constitution intended to leave presidents who have demonstrated danger to the Republic to seek the position again based on a mere happenstance of timing: that a Senate trial cannot take place after the president has been voted out of office.
Mr. Trump is being tried for conduct that the Constitution expressly singles out as a basis for disqualifying someone from office. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies from federal or state office anyone who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States or given aid and comfort to them. Mr. Trump has been impeached for taking such actions for the express purpose of promoting opposition to the transfer of power to his duly elected successor.
The House voted this impeachment with urgency, intending to have the Senate try, convict and remove Mr. Trump to disable any further maneuvers by him to retain office. This has hardly been a generalized political “witch hunt” against vague offenses.
Moreover, Congress holds a similar power in its ability to police its own ranks. Under Article 1, Section 5 both the House and Senate may expel a member by a vote of two-thirds. Neither has regularly exercised this power, but of the 15 Senate expulsions, 14 involved members who had supported the Confederacy during the Civil War. The House also expelled three members for support of the secession.
Enough Republican senators may adopt this argument against “late impeachment” to block conviction and the ensuing vote on disqualification. But the moment should not pass without calling out in clear terms the damaging constitutional precedent that this outcome will produce.
The Republican senators are effectively seeking to establish a “loophole” in the critical constitutional mechanism for holding presidents accountable for high crimes and misdemeanors — in this case, a trial and decision on disqualification of a former president who, while in office and as set forth in the article of impeachment, “gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government, threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government.”
Chief of Staff John Kelly over the past five months has imposed discipline and rigorous protocols on a freewheeling White House. But President Donald Trump has found the loopholes.
The president on occasion has called White House aides to the private residence in the evening, where he makes assignments and asks them not tell Mr. Kelly about the plans, according to several people familiar with the matter. At least once, aides have declined to carry out the requested task so as not to run afoul of Mr. Kelly, one of these people said.
True reform will require a bipartisan consensus around closing loopholes to pay for the lowering of statutory tax rates paid by businesses, and reducing burdens on working families. Changing tax law must be done in a fiscally responsible way, without cutting taxes for the very wealthy.
First, changes in the tax rates for individuals must at least maintain the current levels of progressivity
- Cutting tax rates for the very wealthy would deepen the income inequality that underlies the anxiety and anger among American voters. If Congress doesn’t preserve or increase progressivity, we won’t have the resources to pay for investments like infrastructure and child care.
- .. Congress must also maintain the estate tax, which is levied only on estates worth more than $5.49 million ($10.98 million for a couple), affects only the wealthiest 0.2 percent and protects small businesses, including family farmers.
- .. Many of the estates that are taxed have assets that have increased in value but have never been subject to capital gains tax, and never will be. The idea that the estate tax imposes double taxation is largely a myth.
- Second, tax cuts must be offset by revenue-raising measures. With the country in the ninth year of an economic recovery, the case for pure stimulus is weak, and digging a deep hole of debt by cutting taxes will make it harder to pay for other priorities.
- Tax cuts need to be revenue neutral, paid for by reducing tax subsidies, ending loopholes or generating new revenue.
- Third, Congress should rely on its Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office to estimate what a tax bill will cost.
- Claims that tax cuts pay for themselves must be treated with great skepticism.
- Such a reckless move would almost surely produce an explosion of debt. In 1981, 2001 and 2003, tax cuts based on projections that they would largely pay for themselves did not, and when deficits soared, future presidents had to make hard choices to restore fiscal stability.
- Fourth, business tax reform must not open up new loopholes for top earners to evade taxes. Proposals to lower the tax rate on “pass-through” income (income that partnerships, sole proprietorships, S corporations and limited-liability companies “pass through” to owners) would create a costly, unpoliceable loophole. Wealthy individuals and businesses could easily reorganize on paper to take advantage of low pass-through rates.
- most pass-through income goes to wealthy individuals and big businesses like hedge funds and large oil and gas pipeline companies organized as limited partnerships.
- Kansas instituted a similar policy in 2012 and repealed it this year after 100,000 new pass-throughs emerged — among them the coach of the University of Kansas basketball team, who had his salary paid to a pass-through entity to escape state income tax. Yet job and economic growth in Kansas lagged that of most neighboring states, evidence that the policy did not produce the growth that supporters promised
The rule requires brokers to act in the best interests of retirement savers, rather than sell products that are merely suitable but could make brokers more money. Financial firms decried the restriction, which began to take effect in June, as limiting consumer choice while raising their compliance costs and potential liability.
But adherence is proving a positive. Firms are pushing customers toward accounts that charge an annual fee on their assets, rather than commissions which can violate the rule, and such fee-based accounts have long been more lucrative for the industry.
In earnings calls, executives are citing the Department of Labor rule, known varyingly as the DOL or fiduciary rule, as a boon.
.. “Whether it’s in clients’ best interest is unclear,” said Steven Chubak, an analyst at Nomura Instinet. But the fiduciary rule is ”incentivizing firms to accelerate conversions“ to fees from commissions, he said, and “certainly the amount charged on a fee-based account versus a [commission-based] brokerage account is higher.” The push is speeding up an industry trend toward fees, which offer more predictable revenue than commission-based accounts.
.. The fiduciary rule also is supporting the shift to lower-cost index funds
.. Other changes stemming from the fiduciary rule could hurt over the longer term.
.. products such as higher-cost mutual funds face pressure from lower-cost passively managed funds
They worked with state officials in New Jersey to come up with a map that defined the area around 65 Bay Street as a swath of land that stretched nearly four miles and included some of the city’s poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods. At the same time, they excluded some wealthy neighborhoods only blocks away.
.. The tactic — critics liken it to the gerrymandering of legislative districts — made it appear that the luxury tower was in an area with extraordinarily high unemployment, allowing Kushner Companies and its partners to get $50 million in low-cost financing through the EB-5 visa program.
.. Apartments in the Bay Street building, marketed as Trump Bay Street, rent for up to $4,700 a month and offer sweeping views of Lower Manhattan. A nearby commuter train shuttles passengers to the World Trade Center within minutes. The area within a roughly three-block radius around the building had an unemployment rate of just 2.6 percent in 2015, according to census data...Under the EB-5 program, a wealthy foreigner can get a fast-track residence visa by investing at least $500,000 in a project in a “targeted employment area.”..Kushner Companies, meanwhile, is rushing to raise $150 million in low-cost financing through EB-5 for a separate project in Jersey City: a pair of luxury towers in an area called Journal Square...He also said jobs created by the project could be filled by workers from the depressed areas only miles away...Developers typically pay only 4 to 8 percent interest annually on money raised through EB-5, experts said. Conventional financing can carry interest rates of between 12 and 18 percent.