When the Founders conceived the U.S. Constitution, they were under the assumption that the head of state in America would be guided by honor – that an impeachment would virtually never be necessary, that the shame of the prospect would force the accused to step down from office. That model of leadership with integrity is absent in today’s political climate. In former president Donald Trump’s second, and more serious indictment, he has been charged with 37 counts relating to his retention of classified documents. Yes, Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden should also be prosecuted – but that does not exonerate Trump. But it is also true that we have never prosecuted Presidents before: not Clinton, not Nixon, not LBJ, not even Jefferson Davis. The DOJ is crossing a line – not a constitutional line, but a “bright line” of institutional practice, as our guest calls it, and that is enormously significant. Where did statesmanship go? Just where will this Trump indictment lead the nation?
John Yoo is a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the former head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department. He is the Emmanuel Heller Professor of Law at the University of California Berkeley School of Law. He is also a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution. His most recent book is Defender in Chief: Trump’s Fight for Presidential Power.