Professor Henner on “The Constitution and Impeachment; Politics and Law from the Framers to the Present”

CSIS Hosts Topical Lecture to Discuss Constitutional Framework for Impeachment

On Jan. 30, Professor Henner gave an interesting speech on the impeachment proceedings of President Trump. Before becoming a professor at Embry-Riddle, Henner taught Constitutional Law at Hofstra University School of Law, and The Arizona State University College of Law. He has also taught at international law schools in Berlin, Leipzig, and Antwerp. 

Henner has taught at Embry-Riddle for almost two decades in the College of Security and Intelligence and has taught many students different areas of study, such as U.S. Government, International Law, Jurisprudence, Intelligence Ethics and Global Criminal Justice. Professor Henner has a Postdoctoral Degree in International Law and a Juris Doctor Degree from Hofstra University. 

He started the talk by saying that “my lecture today is intended to be subjective.”  The discussion focused on the questions that were being brought up at the Senate trial. It was made clear that the process of impeachment is different from criminal law and that many people get confused. “Mens rea and intent should not be discussed.” He stated that he personally does not think of the Constitution in the mindset of the framers. “We should follow what the founders would think, and then act” in reference to today and that the Constitution was “intended by the framers to evolve.” It was said to the audience that there is not overwhelming evidence and that it violates hearsay. According to Henner, there needs to be evidence of treason and other high crimes from both sides. The claims on other crimes are too ambiguous. He broke it down further, discussing how treason and bribery are not stated in the Articles of Impeachment. Due process does not belong in the trial and that the President’s motives should not be discussed. 

The discussion moved onto the precedent of impeachment, such as in the case of President Andrew Johnson and President Richard Nixon. In the case of Johnson, they were searching for a replacement for the office and that the Articles of Impeachment did not exist at that time. Instead, they followed the Tenure of Office Act, which had the power to remove office-holders without the approval of the Senate. In the case of Nixon, there was an overwhelming public approval to get rid of him. They also heard witnesses from a federal grand jury and due process. “Has Trump gotten due process?” Henner asked, noting that they have a grand jury but are not allowed to cross examine. 

To sum it up, Henner concludes that the judiciary branch is separate from politics. Although there will be a decision from the Senate, “…Ultimately, it will be up to the voters.” To hear about the trial from the perspective of an individual who has great knowledge about the law was very interesting, and adds interesting context to the final conclusion of the impeachment trial.

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