The first thing that hits you when you read something by or about Laurence Tribe is Carl Loeb, which is a bit ironic given that Loeb made his fortune as a Wall Street financier. But it’s right there, front and center, of his Washington Post op-ed.
By Laurence H. Tribe
Laurence H. Tribe is Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School.
The time has come for Congress to launch an impeachment investigation of President Trump for obstruction of justice.
It’s an impressive thing, to hold an endowed seat at Harvard Law School. He has attributed credibility. And, indeed, Larry Tribe has done much in his career to earn that credibility, even though he’s done a few things to raise questions as well.
But Larry now has a serious issue to raise, one worthy of valuable real estate in the WaPo.
The remedy of impeachment was designed to create a last-resort mechanism for preserving our constitutional system. It operates by removing executive-branch officials who have so abused power through what the framers called “high crimes and misdemeanors” that they cannot be trusted to continue in office.
Sure, people have been screaming for Trump’s impeachment before he even took office, but those are just silly people. Not serious people like Larry Tribe.
Ample reasons existed to worry about this president, and to ponder the extraordinary remedy of impeachment, even before he fired FBI Director James B. Comey and shockingly admitted on national television that the action was provoked by the FBI’s intensifying investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia.
Even without getting to the bottom of what Trump dismissed as “this Russia thing,” impeachable offenses could theoretically have been charged from the outset of this presidency. One important example is Trump’s brazen defiance of the foreign emoluments clause, which is designed to prevent foreign powers from pressuring U.S. officials to stray from undivided loyalty to the United States. Political reality made impeachment and removal on that and other grounds seem premature.
There are certainly significant issues here, though Tribe’s leap to the conclusion, “Trump’s brazen defiance,” for example, suggests that Larry isn’t about to await any sort of legal analysis or facts to stand in the way of achieving his goal of ridding America of this blight. It’s not that these aren’t issues, and haven’t been raised by others in more substantive fashion, but Carl Loeb’s seat-warmer is on a mission.
No longer. To wait for the results of the multiple investigations underway is to risk tying our nation’s fate to the whims of an authoritarian leader.
Just how far is Larry Tribe prepared to go to save the nation and sell his soul? Much farther than anyone would have ever expected of this lion of Harvard Law.
On April 22, Tribe shared a story from a website called the Palmer Report — a site that has been criticized for spreading hyperbole and false claims — entitled “Report: Trump gave $10 million in Russian money to Jason Chaffetz when he leaked FBI letter,” a reference to the notorious pre-election letter sent by former FBI director James Comey to members of Congress that many have blamed for Hillary Clinton’s November loss.
The “report” the article points to is a since-deleted tweet by a Twitter user named LM Garner, who describes herself in her Twitter biography as “Just a VERY angry citizen on Twitter. Opinions are my own. Sometimes prone to crazy assertions. Not a fan of this nepotistic kleptocracy.” Garner, who has 257 followers, has tweeted more than 25,000 times from her protected account.
Fake news? That hardly seems to cover the utterly batshit crazy conspiracy stuff Larry has latched onto here.
“I don’t know whether this is true,” Tribe’s tweet reads, “But key details have been corroborated and none, to my knowledge, have been refuted. If true, it’s huge.”
Key details? Sounds serious. None refuted. Really serious. And if true, it’s not just huge. It’s HUGE!!! How could the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School do any less than to spread the word, lend his Loebness to the notion that this conspiracy could be HUGE!!!
Reached by email, Tribe said that he was aware of the Palmer Report’s “generally liberal slant” and “that some people regard a number of its stories as unreliable.” Still, he added, “When I share any story on Twitter, typically with accompanying content of my own that says something like ‘If X is true, then Y,’ I do so because a particular story seems to be potentially interesting, not with the implication that I’ve independently checked its accuracy or that I vouch for everything it asserts.”
Of course, the usual caveat, that a retwit isn’t an endorsement, so that there remains a level of plausible deniability, much as was the case when Larry was twitting that Trump was a space alien sent here by a malevolent race to find a new food source.
Asked whether he had considered his role in spreading unconfirmed information, given his stature in American society, Tribe responded that “I really don’t have anything to tell you about my thoughts regarding my personal role in sharing information over social media in this usually agnostic manner.”
Larry isn’t a Trump hater. Larry doesn’t wear a tin foil hat when he teaches class at Harvard Law School. Larry just wants to share info over social media in “this usually agnostic manner.” You know, for the sake of America, just in case it’s HUGE!!!
Some might question the propriety of the Carl Loeb prawf at Harvard Law School spreading the insane conspiracy nonsense that has captured the interest of the likes of Louise Mensch, a totally legit Brit who definitely seems like a reliable source for Tribe to spread about, just in case it’s true. Then it would be HUGE!!!
The question is not whether Trump has committed a high crime or misdemeanor, or whether he should be impeached. The question is whether Carl Loeb would be pleased with the idea that the professor who sits in his endowed seat should be on the twitters giving the twitting prez a run for his money on who can spread the most factually baseless crap possible.