The Rule of Law and The Case for Impeachment

The rule of law is fundamental to our nation’s core values. If the American people lose confidence in the durability of the rule of law - the principle that all persons are treated fairly and equally - then we will lose our ability to govern ourselves.  This principle was tested during Watergate. Our nation passed that test, with the U.S. Supreme Court sending a clear and lasting message in the Nixon tapes case – no person, not even a President, is above the law.  

Impeachment is a tool that is not to be used lightly.  In the wake of a complaint filed by a federal employee that President Trump used his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, there are now powerful constitutional and moral grounds to consider impeachment.  Such an act constitutes a blatant and illegal abuse of power—conducting foreign relations not with the interests of the United States in mind, but with a focus on a President’s own political and personal interests.

As Colorado’s Attorney General, I am committed to protecting and defending the rule of law.  I have spent my professional life at the U.S. Department of Justice, educating future lawyers, and advancing the rule of law.  When this principle is being tested, I cannot remain silent.  

Impeachment proceedings are the proper next step to defend our Constitution.  The Constitution calls for impeachment in the face of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  As Alexander Hamilton defined the standard for impeachment (in Federalist 65), it is the appropriate remedy for an “abuse or violation of some public trust.”  Given the severity of President Trump’s alleged actions, impeachment proceedings are the proper and necessary next step by Congress.

We are living in a time when distrust in our institutions and our elected leaders is on the rise.  In the face of shocking reports about our President’s conduct, Congress now has an important job to do.  Acting with care, rigor, and integrity, it is up to the House of Representatives to consider articles of impeachment.  In the event that such articles are adopted, it goes to the Senate to conduct a trial. By following this constitutional procedure, and defending the principle that the law must apply to everyone, our nation sends an example to the world and to future generations that the rule of law is a bedrock principle that protects our constitutional democracy.