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ORIGINAL THINKING

Alexander Hamilton dispensed of Trump’s impeachment defense in 1788

Alexander Hamilton portrait, cropped, close-up.
Alexander Hamilton portrait/public domain
High crimes, misdemeanors, and the meaning of an impeachable offense.
  • Ephrat Livni
By Ephrat Livni

Senior reporter, law & politics, DC.

Washington DC

US founding father Alexander Hamilton would probably counsel president Donald Trump to come up with a better defense than the one offered by Trump’s attorneys ahead of his looming Senate impeachment trial.

Trump’s primary argument—issued in a response to the House impeachment trial brief and summons he received this weekend—is that the impeachment is bunk because the articles fail to allege a “violation of law or crime, let alone ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ as required by the Constitution.” The president also complains that he’s been deprived of due process, relying on the standards outlined for criminal trials.

The historical record, however, doesn’t support Trump’s position that the two processes must mirror each other in form or function. Some have even called comparisons between impeachment and criminal proceedings “bogus” and “bad-faith arguments.”

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