Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told the Senate impeachment trial Thursday that President Donald Trump should be removed from office because he did not obey the talking points prepared by bureaucrats who work for him.
According to Schiff, the president — who has primary authority under the U.S. Constitution to determine U.S. foreign policy — did not follow “U.S. policy” in speaking with Ukraine’s president.
I just want to underscore this: he’s not obligated to use his talking points. He’s not obligated to follow the recommendations of his staff no matter how sound they may be. But what this makes clear is it wasn’t U.S. policy that he was conducting. It was his private, personal interests that he was conducting. If it was U.S. policy, it probably would have been in the talking points and briefing material. But, of course, it was not.
The U.S. Constitution gives the President of the United States primary authority to determine U.S. foreign policy.
Article II, Section 2, includes the following:
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The Constitution does not discuss “talking points” prepared by officials who report to the president himself.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.