Statement by Members of Checks and Balances and Likeminded Constitutionalists on Need to Remove and Hold Donald J. Trump Accountable

January 7, 2021

While the walls of the Capitol were breached, the guardrails of our democracy have held. Congress has in the end performed its constitutional duty. The country has narrowly averted insurrection and a further lurch toward autocracy.  The undersigned members of Checks and Balances and likeminded constitutionalists are gratified that hundreds of members of Congress – and even resigning members of the administration – have placed principle and the rule of law above their own political preferences. In particular, we applaud Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his courage and moral clarity.  Telling the people the truth is the beginning of the process to restore American constitutional democracy.

We decry, however, that so many Republican officeholders have been willing to violate their oaths by yielding to tribalism, power politics, conspiracy theories and the cult of Trump. The American people deserve much better than this.  Rather than fomenting sedition, the Republican demagogues should have explained to their constituents and the electorate at large that the system worked: No material or substantial electoral fraud was ever proven or even plausibly alleged, allegations were investigated properly, state legislatures and executives discharged their duties honorably, and legal challenges were adjudicated fairly and promptly. Leaders are responsible for communicating that, in America, dislike for the political outcome must not become disbelief in the outcome, in the absence of compelling, credible evidence to the contrary.  For this election, there was no such contrary evidence at all.

At this juncture, with President-elect Biden set to take office in under two weeks, the question presents itself as to how to safeguard the country in the meantime – while also holding President Trump accountable for dereliction of his duty to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, his attempted corruption of and interference with the 2020 election, his abdication of responsibility for and inability to discharge his duty with regard to distribution of life-saving vaccines to protect the country from a devastating pandemic, and for inciting violence, insurrection and treason by his supporters. For this malfeasance and inability, Trump should be removed from office by impeachment and conviction, and by invocation and execution of the 25th Amendment.  Both constitutional remedies are necessary and appropriate to hold Trump accountable and to protect the nation.  Those processes should be carried out immediately, unless he resigns first. This will provide an opportunity for the people’s political leadership in the legislative and executive branches to go on record condemning Trump’s deranged destruction of our democratic norms, and to ensure he can do no further damage. American history requires teaching this lesson or we will be consigned to repeat it.

Checks and Balances has dedicated itself since 2018 to help uphold the nation’s fundamental legal principles regardless of party and policy preferences.  We realize now that the state of our political division is so severe – and abdication by senior politicians so abject – that upholding basic facts, simple reality, is as critical as upholding principle. Following the inauguration of President Joe Biden, we intend to continue to do what we can, individually and collectively, to help protect the rule of law, fundamental democratic norms and constitutional principles – and to help advance a shared understanding of crucial factual realities.

We hope the Biden administration and the new Congress will learn lessons from our country’s recent brush with autocracy, and reverse the trends that have turned Americans with different political views into enemies.  In that vein, we also invite likeminded lawyers and others, irrespective of party or ideology, to join in this ongoing project throughout the years ahead.

Dennis Aftergut
Donald Ayer
Frederick Baron
Frederick Beckner III
John B. Bellinger III
Richard Bernstein
Travis Brown
Robert M. Chesney
George T. Conway
Miranda Fleischer
Charles Fried
Stuart Gerson
Peter D. Keisler
Edward J. Larson
Marisa Maleck
Irina D. Manta
John M. Mitnick
Norman Ornstein
Richard Painter
Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker
Carter G. Phillips
Trevor Potter
Alan Charles Raul
Jonathan C. Rose
Peter D. Ross
Paul Rosenzweig
Andrew Sagor
Robert B. Shanks
Michael Shepherd
Ilya Somin
Laurence H. Tribe
Joyce Vance
J.W. Verret
Keith E. Whittington (joins except with respect to 25th amendment)

Each of us speaks and acts solely in our individual capacities, and our views should not be attributed to any organization with which we may be affiliated.