Impeachment Watch: New book is a guide to removing presidents

The impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

(Starting today, more short posts, including frequent updates about impeachment. Impeachment Watch items will be archived here.)

I wrote about Watergate veteran Elizabeth Holtzman’s new book, The Case for Impeaching Trump,“ yesterday, and noted that it joins several others on the impeachment bookshelf.

Yet another new book on the topic is out today: How to Get Rid of a President; History’s Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives by David Priess (@DavidPriess). From the publisher’s excerpt:

Looking at how we’ve come to eject presidents across more than two centuries—using means from the partisan to the personal, the institutional to the ad hoc, the fair to the foul—shines a different light on the American political experience. The overwhelming focus politicians, pundits, and scholars put on electing leaders needs to be balanced by attention to the odd mix of elegant and distasteful ways those leaders have left office. Through design or improvisation, presidents have been (or can be) ousted by voters, rejected by their own parties, removed in place by opponents or subordinates, dismissed preemptively, displaced by death, taken out by force, declared unable to serve, or impeached and removed.

Another excerpt, about Andrew Johnson, appears today at Politico. It describes how Johnson, who was impeached by the House but not convicted and removed from office by the Senate, was nevertheless hobbled by his political opponents. Priess writes:

Most of the same mechanisms used to undermine him remain in others’ toolkits today, which means it’s equally true now as it was under Johnson: You don’t have to formally eject an unpopular or unfit president from the White House if you can use various other means to limit the damage he is causing to the country.

Priess is a former CIA analyst and briefer whose previous book, The President’s Book of Secrets, was a history of the Presidential Daily Brief. He is a visiting fellow at the National Security Institute (NSI) at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School.

The NSI, which hosted a discussion with former director of national intelligence James Clapper and former CIA head Michael Hayden that I wrote about a couple weeks ago, serves as a sort of think tank for the right-wing deep state in exile.

Leave a Comment