Impeachment scholar says Trump’s lawyers misrepresented his work ‘quite badly’ in defence brief

'They didn’t have to be disingenuous and misleading like this,' says law professor Brian Kalt

James Crump@thejamescrump
Tuesday 09 February 2021 11:59

Pelosi says Trump impeachment trial will test if Senate shows 'courage' or 'cowardice'

A law professor has accused the legal team of former President Donald Trump of misrepresenting his work “quite badly” as part of its argument that his impeachment trial is unconstitutional.

On Monday, Mr Trump’s lawyers for his second impeachment trial, which begins on 9 February, argued that the proceedings are unconstitutional because only a sitting president can be impeached.

The brief relied heavily on a 2001 article by Michigan State University law professor Brian Kalt, mentioning him 15 times to support the legal team’s argument.

However, Brian Kalt, who is a prominent constitutional scholar focusing on impeachment and the presidency, responded to the memo on Monday claiming that it distorted his work.

“Trump’s brief cites my 2001 article on late impeachment a lot,” Mr Kalt wrote as part of a Twitter thread on Monday in response to the brief.

“The article favoured late impeachability, but it set out all the evidence I found on both sides–lots for them to use. But in several places, they misrepresent what I wrote quite badly,” he added.

Read more: Follow live Trump impeachment updates

In the brief, Mr Trump’s lawyers quoted Mr Kant saying that “when a President is no longer in office, the objective of an impeachment ceases,” but the professor told Reuters that his article “actually says the opposite.”

Mr Kant wrote on Twitter that “they didn’t have to be disingenuous and misleading like this,” and claimed: “In several places, they misrepresent what I wrote quite badly.”

He added in a statement to Law&Crime: “In a typical legal case, one of the worst things a lawyer who values his or her credibility can do is to cite authorities that actually say the opposite of what the lawyer claims.

“An impeachment trial is unlike a typical legal case in a lot of ways, but I hope that this is not one of them. I hope that the senators realise what it means when lawyers misuse sources in this way.”

In a statement on Monday, David Schoen, one of Trump’s two lead lawyers, said: “I can assure you that it was never our intention to in any way mislead as to Professor Kalt’s position.”

He added: “Ultimately Professor Kalt did not agree with our position, but he did explain it well and we wanted to give him credit for that.”

Mr Kalt signed an open letter alongside 150 other legal experts last month, that explained why the impeachment proceedings against Mr Trump are supported by the constitution.

Paul Campos, a law professor at the University of Colorado Boulder also said his work was distorted in the brief, telling Reuters on Monday that he was shocked to be cited, adding that it took “an incredible amount of chutzpah” to do that.

Mr Trump’s impeachment trial, his second in just over a year, begins on Tuesday, following the House vote to impeach him for his role in inciting the Capitol riots on 6 January, in which five people died and several more were injured.

Mr Trump could be barred from running for President again if he is convicted by the Senate.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments