Conservative Harvard Law Professor Charles Fried, who was Ronald Reagan’s Solicitor General from 1985-1989, made an appearance Thursday night on MSNBC after signing his name on a letter declaring that President Donald Trump’s behavior is “fundamentally incompatible with the president’s oath of office” and warrants an “expeditious impeachment investigation.”
Fried appeared on All In with Chris Hayes to discuss why he believes Congress should act now. Fried, whose view of liberty is informed by the fact that, in 1939, he “escaped with his family from Czechoslovakia in advance of the Nazi invasion,” said that conservative “fellow travelers” — as Chris Hayes put it — are “horrified” by this “ignorant and foul-mouthed” president’s idea of the rule of law.
“[The fellow travelers Hayes asked about] are horrified,” Fried said. “It is the very opposite of the great Republicans, like Ronald Reagan, like Dwight Eisenhower. Can you imagine Dwight Eisenhower speaking the way this man speaks? Or Lincoln? Or Teddy Roosevelt? This man is ignorant and foul-mouthed.”
In one place during the interview, Fried provided an example of Trump’s ignorance about the Constitution.
“He says that the Constitution said ― and he said this to a bunch of high school students ― ‘I can do whatever I want, that’s what Article II says.’ Well it doesn’t, any lawyer knows that, any lawyer except maybe Bill Barr and [White House counsel] Mr. [Pat] Cipollone,” Fried said. “Our fidelity is to the law, and to the office. Not to a man.”
This was not the only time Fried took Attorney General William Barr to task during the interview. Fried went on to say that the most recent events — the president’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine and concomitant whistleblower complaint that sparked the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry — are not the only thing worth mentioning.
Fried noted that the Mueller Report, controversially, did not “exonerate” the president of obstruction of justice because former Special Counsel Robert Mueller “dutifully” followed Department of Justice guidelines against indicting a sitting president. The conservative scholar also said Barr “lied” about what was in the report.
“I would add the second — I would add the second part of the Mueller report, which quite dutifully would not say that the president can be indicted for obstruction of justice because his instructions from the Justice Department said so. But he said I will not exonerate him. That is in another place, and of course that’s the Congress,” Fried said. “And Bill Barr lied about what that report said when he thought that we weren’t going to see it.”
Fried was one of 16 conservative and libertarian lawyers on Thursday who signed a statement saying Trump is “abusing the office of the presidency for personal political objectives.”
“We believe the acts revealed publicly over the past several weeks are fundamentally incompatible with the president’s oath of office, his duties as commander in chief, and his constitutional obligation to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed,’” the group wrote. “These acts, based on what has been revealed to date, are a legitimate basis for an expeditious impeachment investigation, vote in the House of Representatives and potential trial in the Senate.”
[Image via MSNBC screengrab]
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