Former Clinton Cabinet Member Calls for Trump's Presidency to Be 'Annulled' if He's 'Guilty'

'The Constitution does not specifically provide for annulment of an unconstitutional presidency'

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich / Getty
August 29, 2018

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich wrote in a new column that Donald Trump's presidency should be "annulled" if evidence emerges that he "rigged" the 2016 election.

Reich, who ran the Department of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997, argued in a piece for Newsweek that removal from office would not be sufficient if Trump is guilty because his presidency would be "constitutionally illegitimate."

"The only response to an unconstitutional presidency is to annul it," he wrote. "Annulment would repeal all of an unconstitutional president's appointments and executive actions, and would eliminate the official record of the presidency. Annulment would recognize that all such appointments, actions, and records were made without constitutional authority."

Reich then added a significant caveat: "The Constitution does not specifically provide for annulment of an unconstitutional presidency. But read as a whole, the Constitution leads to the logical conclusion that annulment is the appropriate remedy for one."

This scenario, Reich wrote, is "unlikely, but entirely possible":

After all, the Supreme Court declares legislation that doesn't comport with the Constitution null and void, as if it had never been passed.

It would logically follow that the Court could declare all legislation and executive actions of a presidency unauthorized by the Constitution to be null and void, as if Trump had never been elected.

The Constitution also gives Congress and the states the power to amend the Constitution, thereby annulling or altering whatever provisions came before. Here, too, it would logically follow that Congress and the states could, through amendment, annul a presidency they determine to be unconstitutional.

If Reich's wishes come true, that would, at a minimum, mean the removal of at least one Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, and potentially another in Brett Kavanaugh, who appears headed for confirmation barring any late Republican revolt. It would also undo the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, bipartisan reform to Dodd-Frank, the Right to Try Act, and the executive order he signed in June that halted the administration's practice of separating illegal immigrant parents from children at the border.

In his column, Reich wrote that Trump could certainly be impeached if Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in November, but added that he would not be convicted with Republicans likely retaining control of the Senate.

Do not count on Trump losing in 2020, either, Reich wrote: "A malignant bullying megalomaniac who lies like most people breathe, and who's able to suck the oxygen out of every news cycle, might pulverize any Democratic opponent."

Newsweek published a story in January headlined, "Hillary Clinton Could Still Become President if Russia Probe Finds Conspiracy Evidence." However, the body of the story did not offer a plausible scenario so much as one writer's wish that it would occur.

The author interviewed a Harvard professor who had written a Medium post three months earlier arguing Clinton would become president if Trump resigned, Vice President Mike Pence resigned, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) became president, and that Ryan then "should nominate the person defeated by the treason of his own party, and then step aside and let her become the president."