April 6, 2018

The Week in Impeachment: Negligence is impeachable, FYI


This week brought mounting evidence of presidential negligence, incompetence, and instability, along with speculation as to whether the president would move from the “subject” of a criminal investigation to being its “target.” This highlights an emerging presidential defense: the president will claim he intended no crime, no lawbreaking, no collusion, oppression or endangerment of national security. The claims of “no intent” may ultimately bolster his defense against criminal charges — but they imperil his defenses against impeachment charges, because impeachment requires no intent. Impeachment focuses on harm to our country, our people, and our system of government, and not on the mental state of the official creating that harm.

Here are unintentional—indeed, witless—impeachable acts in which the president engaged this week.


First Charge: Dangerous, oppressive negligence, ignorance, incompetence, and incapacity in immigration policy


Second Charge: Negligence in staffing, oversight, and threat monitoring that leaves the US and its citizens vulnerable to ongoing cyberattacks from foreign governments


Third Charge: Continued oppression of the media


Fourth Charge: Failure to faithfully execute the office of president, negligently appointing, retaining, and supervising corrupt agency heads and ethics personnel


Fifth Charge: Negligent selection and retention of incompetent and dangerous personnel in public health



This week, the wife of fired high FBI official Andrew McCabe—a career public servant fired just days short of his retirement for angering an unstable president—described her personal view of presidential oppression, abuse of office, and interference with the administration of justice, as presidential tweets attacked her, her husband, and the entire senior leadership of the FBI. She—a respected physician—was recruited to run for public office. Her campaign was ultimately unsuccessful. Later, her husband was assigned to investigate Hillary Clinton’s emails. As she wrote this week in the Washington Post, after FBI Director James Comey had been fired,

…the president started tweeting about how the contributions to my campaign made it clear that Andrew (and all the senior leadership at the FBI) were corrupt and that he should be removed. It went one step further in the days before Christmas, when the president made threats related to my husband’s retirement.

But, as McCabe accurately explains:

This could not be further from the truth. In fact, it makes no sense. Andrew’s involvement in the Clinton investigation came not only after the contributions were made to my campaign but also after the race was over.

Our crisis continues to deepen. The president’s conduct reveals his indifference to facts. His own tweets reveal he does not understand important concepts such as what DACA is. It matters not whether he is willfully ignorant or witless. Dangerous negligence and incapacity are each as impeachable as deliberate acts. Under US law, impeachment includes no element of intent to cause harm or break a law.



Barbara Ann Radnofsky is a mother, wife, teacher, mediator and arbitrator. A lawyer since 1979, she was the first woman Texas Democratic U.S. Senate nominee and later the first woman Texas Democratic Attorney General nominee. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Houston and the University of Texas School of Law, she was honored as the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas in 1988 and has been listed for more than 25 years in “Best Lawyers in America" in multiple areas. She lives in Houston, where she is one of many co-owners of the Brazos Bookstore, and is the author of A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment, available now. Follow her at @TXBarbaraAnn!