Federalist #69 and the Mueller Report

FederalistDanielle Allen of Harvard University makes the connection in a piece at The Washington Post. Here is a taste:

The Mueller report has finally brought us face-to-face with the need to address the “delicate and important circumstance of personal responsibility” in the nation’s chief executive, as Alexander Hamilton put it in Federalist 69.

To quote the Mueller report: “The President has no more right than other citizens to impede official proceedings by corruptly influencing witness testimony.” In addition, the president bears a second burden of personal responsibility — not merely to execute the powers of his office (for instance, hiring and firing) but also to execute those powers “faithfully.”

That question of faithfulness is what Hamilton had in mind when he referred to the “delicate and important circumstance of personal responsibility.” The constitutional apparatus gave to Congress the power and responsibility of addressing that delicate matter. The most important question now before us is whether Congress will use its power — and indeed, rebuild it after a period of decline — to reinforce two core principles of the Constitution: that the president is not above the law and that he or she should be held to a standard of faithfulness.

Read the rest here.

Here is Hamilton in Federalist 69:

The President of the United States would be liable to be impeached, tried, and, upon conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors, removed from office; and would afterwards be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law. The person of the king of Great Britain is sacred and inviolable; there is no constitutional tribunal to which he is amenable; no punishment to which he can be subjected without involving the crisis of a national revolution. In this delicate and important circumstance of personal responsibility, the President of Confederated America would stand upon no better ground than a governor of New York, and upon worse ground than the governors of Maryland and Delaware.

3 thoughts on “Federalist #69 and the Mueller Report

  1. It appears Mueller was not satisfied with Barr’s summary and explanations of the Mueller Report. I think he did not consider it his place to indict the president but laid out that case expecting it would be picked up.
    Or at least a truthful summary that told the actual picture of obstruction and the rationale for not charging.
    But Barr made it like there was scant evidence which simply was not true.


  2. I am not sure that his near absolute inability to admit much less address the hostile attack on American republican democracy alone isn’t grounds for impeachment. Imagine a foreign power attacking us militarily and a president calling reports of it a hoax.
    Being willing to put his fragile ego first rather than heading off the Russians on their past election meddling and through his weak acknowledgement of it leaving the door open for more is dereliction of duty. Plain and simple.
    Grounds for impeachment are as simple as presenting the evidence of meddling and presenting his pathetic failure to affirm it when standing next to Putin, and his subsequent statements and tweets about the “Russian Hoax”. Sometimes he has meant the conspiracy aspect, but others the act of meddling.
    That alone should be enough.


  3. Kevin Williamson — who believed from the beginning that Trump was a man grotesquely unfit to hold the office and has not altered that view one iota — addresses the ongoing impeachment chic:

    “[T]he question of Donald Trump’s personal fitness for office already has been adjudicated as a political matter: That is what happened in the 2016 presidential election. Many critics, myself included, argued that Trump was unfit for the office, both morally and intellectually. We made our arguments, the voters consulted their own consciences, and, weighing these things however it is that voters weigh them, chose Trump. There wasn’t some occult intermediary step in there. That’s how things go in politics: The people behave just as if they had minds of their own! In terms of Donald Trump’s character and habits, there is practically nothing in the Mueller report — or in the public record since 2016 — that voters did not already know when they elected him.”


    “There are many reasons to oppose an impeachment at this time: One is that no one has made a very persuasive case for one, all of the Democrats’ arguments up to this point having been transparently pretextual. Another is that the Republican majority in the Senate all but ensures that the process would be purely symbolic, an exercise in chaos for pleasure’s sake. A third is that it normalizes the invocation of a procedure that should be reserved for extraordinary circumstances in the service of ordinary short-term partisan interests. For comparison, consider that there was no serious impeachment talk when Barack Obama authorized the assassination of U.S. citizens without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress — or when he took executive actions that he himself had described as unconstitutional only months before. That suggests a pretty high standard — and if “I think that guy is a fink!” ends up being a common rationale for impeachment, then you’d better make your peace with anarchy, because Washington is going to be a ghost town.”

    Ironically — or, then again, maybe predictably — the continued fixation on impeachment by Trump’s political enemies, even after Mueller dashed the hopes of all #RussiaCollusion disciples, will serve only to enhance his re-election chances. So, at the same time Trump sends out his daily barrage of angry tweets denouncing his foes and decrying the unending “witchhunt”, he also must be smiling. The best way to guarantee 4 more years of the Trumpenreich is to let Jerry Nadler, Maxine Waters, Adam Schiff, the indefatigable Eric Swalwell et al. become the faces of the D party for the next year. Go ahead, make his day.


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