Ron Steiner and John Compton speak on impeachment inquiry

John Compton (left), chair of the political science department and Ron Steiner (right), a law professor, spoke to The Panther about the key players in the impeachment inquiry. KALI HOFFMAN Photo Editor

Ron Steiner, a law professor at the Dale E. Fowler School of Law, predicts a government shutdown this month due to the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

“Inevitably, it sucks up a lot of time and energy from everyone. Money will run out Nov. 22. It’s hard to imagine how good faith is going on in the White House in this atmosphere. The government might shut down the last week of November,” Steiner said.

Steiner and John Compton, the chair of the political science department, will be speaking to students about Trump’s impeachment inquiry on Nov. 13. They spoke to The Panther about impeachment and what they will further discuss at the event, entitled “The Implications of Impeachment.”

House committees were investigating impeachable offenses when a whistleblower’s report leaked regarding a call Trump had made with the president of Ukraine, according to Compton.

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, publicly endorsed an impeachment inquiry in Sept. Other key players, according to Steiner, are Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Ken Starr, a circuit judge who did most of the fact finding, Chief Justice John Roberts, who would perform the actual proceedings and Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader.

“The Republicans are claiming there needs to be a certain process, but in fact the Constitution does not spell out a process,” Steiner said.

Steiner also emphasized there is a common misnomer about impeachment.

“Impeachment is not removal from office. Impeachment is what the House of Representatives does. It is obviously a very serious expression of doubt; it’s an invitation to the Senate to consider removing the President,” Steiner said. “It is looking likely that the President will be impeached (i.e. the House will send the President to trial). But it is unlikely he will be removed.”

The central question the inquiry revolves around now, according to Compton, is if the call to Ukraine made is an impeachable offense.

“No one knows what an impeachable offense is,” he said. “The Constitution mentions ‘misdemeanors.’ Here the crime is that Trump pressured a foreign government. It is not likely that would be criminal, but it is an abuse of power, so conventionally that would fit under misdemeanor.”

Comparing this impeachment inquiry to previous cases such as with Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon, Steiner said “we’re in a partisan environment right now.”

“The parties are entrenched in their opposition. You find very few Republicans willing to entertain the possibility that Trump would be removed.”

Compton agreed with this sentiment.

“With Nixon, Republicans thought they would be better abandoning him whereas today, most Republicans think they would hurt their reelection chances by turning against Trump,” Compton said.

The status of the inquiry is always changing, according to Steiner, but as of this past week, closed door depositions are finishing and witnesses are prepared to be questioned this upcoming week.

The White House is currently trying to delegitimize the inquiry process through saying “it is improper because it would reverse the outcome of the 2016 election,” according to Steiner.

“All impeachments always cancel the Presidency,” Steiner said. “So you can’t complain that the impeachment would invalidate an electoral result. That’s what impeachment does. There are people who say this would reverse the election. It doesn’t reverse the election. It puts Mike Pence in the White House.”

The Implications of Impeachment is scheduled for next Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 12 p.m. in the Student Union Great Room.