Since Special Counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report was released to the public on Thursday, April 18, everyone has been talking about it. Even though Mueller found no evidence that the president had obstructed justice, some politicians aren't entirely convinced. Pushing the haters aside, Donald Trump's tweet about impeachment and the Mueller report claims he cannot be impeached. Well, that might not be the case.
On Monday, April 22, President Trump tweeted a response to people's claims that the Mueller report could lead to him being impeached, and pointed out that the special counsel found no evidence of obstruction or collusion. He wrote,
Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment. There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach. It was the Democrats that committed the crimes, not your Republican President! Tables are finally turning on the Witch Hunt!
The president is right that Mueller's report didn't find any collusion between Trump's 2016 campaign team and Russia, but it did note that the campaign expected to benefit from Russian election meddling, and the special counsel's report expressly did not reach a conclusion on obstruction, saying that the report "did not exonerate" the president. In a March 24 letter summarizing the report, Attorney General William Barr said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had not found there was enough evidence to conclude the president had committed a crime, and Trump was not formally accused of or charged with any crime, and the White House did not respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on the details alleged in the report.
However, Trump's tweet misses the mark for one big reason. When it comes to impeachment, most people assume that it only happens when a president is accused of a high-level crime, but that's not the case. According to Barbara Radnofsky, the author of A Citizen's Guide To Impeachment, presidents can be impeached if their actions are harmful or threatening to society as a whole — a requirement which doesn't need to include criminal activity. So, even if Mueller's findings didn't prove Trump committed any crimes, impeachment is still possible.
"Impeachment doesn't require criminal conduct, so even without Mueller's definitive conclusion on criminal behavior, there's no question that this is impeachable," Radnofsky previously told Elite Daily in an interview. She notes that the loss of faith in the office of the presidency that may come out of the report's findings are, technically, enough grounds for impeachment. "Undermining the integrity of the office is at the level of harm that causes the House to impeach and it's impeachable," Radnofsky says. The phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" is a legally vague term, which allows for a lot of interpretation — but no requirement of actual legal charges.
There have been some pushes to impeachment, as well, although as of publication there have been no formal moves to impeach Trump. In January 2019, a number of Democratic representatives reintroduced impeachment articles against Trump. Democrats urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to consider the articles, even though she said at the time that it was too early to consider impeaching President Trump. California Rep. Brad Sherman, Texas Rep. Al Green, and Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen were the three members of Congress who reintroduced these articles, which include a set of charges against political figures to initiate impeachment.
Pelosi has still pushed against impeaching Trump, but also hasn't completely ruled it out. During an interview with NBC News in January 2019, Pelosi stated that politics shouldn't be a factor into any impeachment proceedings.
"We shouldn't be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn't avoid impeachment for a political reason," Pelosi told NBC News.
One thing's for sure: There's plenty of time to consider impeachment. While the 2020 presidential campaign cycle is already revving up, the election itself is still more than a year and a half away. And even if Trump isn't impeached, that doesn't mean he would be off scot-free — as Mueller pointed out in the report, while precedent says that a president cannot be indicted while in office, once the president leaves office, all bets are off.
No matter what, I doubt this will be the last we hear of the Mueller report or impeachment. The political saga continues.