In the years that go by the presidency of Donald Trump, there have been few who have warned about the possible eruption of a constitutional crisis "without background" in the modern history of the United States.
That moment, everything indicates, arrived this week, when Trump's lawyers in the White House sent a letter to the House of Representatives announcing that the Executive does not intend to collaborate, in any way, in the investigation for the purpose of dismissal that launched this body of Congress just over two weeks ago, after meeting a call in which Trump asked the president of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky to help against former vice president and political rival Joe Biden.
In the letter, the lawyers say that the investigation of the Chamber is “unconstitutional, partisan” and violates all the procedural rights of the president, since it does not offer guarantees for his defense.RELATED
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But according to several experts on the subject, it is Trump who is altering the balance of powers, the cornerstone of American democracy, by resisting the oversight role that the Constitution grants to the National Congress.
“If Congress cannot exercise its power of control or challenge (impeachment), that means that the president is above all and only responds to the political process that occurs every four years in the elections. And in essence that makes the president a king, ”says Melissa Murray, an expert in law and constitutional issues at the University of New York.
To clarify, it is not the first time that this type of friction occurs between the Executive and Legislative. During the Barack Obama administration, the then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, carried out all kinds of maneuvers to prevent Republicans in Congress from obtaining full access to a private server that she used to manage some of her internal communications.
So now they are after the legendary “crime buster” and greatest Mayor in the history of NYC, Rudy Giuliani. He may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer. Such a one sided Witch Hunt going on in USA. Deep state. Shameful!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2019
Former President Richard Nixon, in turn, refused for months to give Congress full copies of recordings that were made in the Oval Office, and only gave his arm to twist when ordered by the Supreme Court of Justice.
But usually, says Murray, these types of battles between the two powers are punctual and are resolved with an agreement between the parties or by a decision of the courts.
What is unusual in this case is that the president flatly opposes the idea that he can be investigated if he concludes, as Trump has apparently done, that the investigation against him is "unfair."
At the moment, the White House has refused to deliver the documents requested by the Chamber and is blocking the testimony of people under its command that could provide more evidence to the investigation.
The little that has been known is the result of a complaint filed by a CIA informant and the text messages delivered last week by Ambassador Kurt Volker, once he resigned his position.
In them, three US diplomats. UU. they discuss the pressure on the Government of Ukraine, and even talk about the concerns that exist about curbing military aid to this country as a hook for Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter in an alleged case of influence peddling.
Joe Biden joins his son Hunter Biden.
But it will be very difficult for the Democrats to move forward in the investigation if the Executive continues to refuse to collaborate.
The only legal argument Trump's lawyers have to go through the investigation is that the Chamber has not cast a vote to authorize the investigation for dismissal purposes. Something that did happen with the cases of Nixon, in 1974, and Bill Clinton, in 1998, and therefore is a precedent that must be applied.
But the Constitution does not establish that a vote is necessary, and simply confers the power on the Chamber to investigate criminal conduct of the head of state. Once that investigation is finished, the Chamber would present dismissal articles that do require a majority vote. If it happens, the case goes to the Senate, which is the one that carries out the political trial.
The theory is that the president of the House, Nancy Pelosi, did not want to make the vote that Trump claims, as she is trying to protect legislators from her home base that come from conservative districts and could be punished by voters in the elections of the year incoming.
But even if it does, the administration is unlikely to collaborate.
Faced with Trump's challenge, the only way left for the Democrats would be to go to court for them to decide.
Let me make something clear to President Trump: I'm not going anywhere.
You're not going to destroy me. And you’re not going to destroy my family. I don't care how dirty the attacks get.
– Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 11, 2019
But judicial proceedings could drag for months, if not years, something that suits Trump, as the issue would swallow both the process of primary elections of the Democrats, where they would be forced to focus on this issue to the detriment of others that matter more to citizens, such as the general elections planned for November of next year.
And even if the case will reach the Supreme Court of Justice – which is the one with the last word – the president has the right to win, because it is a conservative-controlled body in which two of its nine members were appointed by Trump .
Even if the Court ruled against him, the president could even ignore his determination, since the judiciary also has no teeth to enforce its determinations.
Trump denied that he has pressured his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky (d).
That, as long as he maintains the support of the Republicans in the Senate, where 67 votes are required to dismiss him.
Deep down, says Cornell University professor Josh Chafetz, this whole process is a battle for the heart of public opinion.
"If the public begins to turn against the president, the Republicans, especially the pro-establishment, will begin to abandon him regardless of what the courts say," says Chafetz.
If Congress cannot exercise its power of oversight or impeachment, that means that the president is above all
According to the latest polls (Washington Post, ABC, Marista, CNN), that battle would be won by the Democrats, since in these two weeks the number of people who approve an investigation for the purpose of dismissal has gone from less than 40 times. one hundred to little more than 50 percent, and includes an increasingly large number of Republicans and independents.
Democrats need more revelations to continue expanding that support.
But for Trump and his allies, the bet is exactly the opposite.
SERGIO GÓMEZ MASERI
EL TIEMPO correspondent
On Twitter @ sergom68