Democratic push to force Republicans to accept witnesses at Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the US Senate appeared to be flagging on Wednesday, raising the possibility the President could be acquitted as early as Friday. Read full article
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Don’t Be Confused by Trump’s Defense. What He Is Accused of Are Crimes.Feb 03rd, 2020 - 10:56 am - Link - Report abuse 0
President Trump has been accused of a crime. Two in fact: “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress.”
But many crimes aren’t written down in codes. Crimes derived from the “common law” — the body of law developed from judicial opinions and legal treatises rather than statutes — have been a staple of American law for centuries. Today in many states, district attorneys routinely charge people with things like “assault,” “forgery” and “indecent exposure” even where no statute makes those things a crime.
Common-law crimes are no harder to define with precision than crimes written down in a statute. If someone is accused of burglary in a state where the crime isn’t defined by statute, no defense lawyer would respond by announcing that burglary is vague or made up. Burglary is an established crime, even where its definition exists only in legal treatises and judicial opinions.
American legal treatises and judicial opinions have long recognized the criminal offense of “abuse of power.” In 1846, the first edition of the pre-eminent treatise on American criminal law defined this common-law offense as when “a public officer, entrusted with definite powers to be exercised for the benefit of the community, wickedly abuses or fraudulently exceeds them.” The treatise noted that such an officer “is punishable by indictment, though no injurious effects result to any individual from his misconduct.”
And the House, in its first article of impeachment, has accused Mr. Trump of exactly what the law prohibits: He “abused the powers of the presidency” for “corrupt purposes in pursuit of a personal political benefit.”
As for “obstruction of Congress,” that’s not only a common-law crime. Versions of the crime have also been listed in the federal criminal code since the 19th century.