You are herecontent / MSU College of Law Professor: Can President Bush Be Impeached After He Is Gone?
MSU College of Law Professor: Can President Bush Be Impeached After He Is Gone?
During his last press conference as the acting president, George Bush said there is “no such thing as short-term history” and time will vindicate his decisions to protect America from terrorism. But could President Bush’s actions during his years in office embolden his opponents to pursue the former president with articles of impeachment?
Brian Kalt, associate professor of law at Michigan State University College of Law, does not support any movement to impeach President Bush, nor did he back the impeachment effort against President Bill Clinton. But the constitutional law expert argues that this country could someday fall into circumstances – though admittedly rarer than regular impeachment – where late impeachability could be a practical consideration.
"Congress might feel as though late impeachment was the only way to vindicate its authority. I can easily imagine (1) President Obama deciding not to pursue criminal charges against President Bush and his administration over the torture and surveillance controversies; (2) a netroots-led partisan groundswell that spurs the House to pick up the matter, as the only authority with the power to investigate and make public the former administration's actions; and (3) impeachment emerging as the only way to break through the ex-president's assertions of privilege and hold him accountable.”
Kalt also believes more generally, late impeachment could serve as a deterrent to bad behavior, particularly if the criminal penalties facing a president are insufficient. Pursuing an ex-president also removes the accusation that members of Congress are trying to force a duly elected president out of office.
“There is a real value in the public investigation, airing of the evidence and accountability,” said Kalt. “There is a real difference to me between allowing someone to fade away and discovering and forcing him to answer publicly for his misdeeds.”