For the second time, Michael J. Gerhardt will appear before Congress as an expert on impeachment. In 1998, when President Bill Clinton was facing impeachment, he was the only expert on a panel of 19 witnesses summoned by both parties to offer insight into the process.
Thirty years ago, Mr. Gerhardt published his first law review article, titled “The Constitutional Limits on Impeachment and Its Alternatives.” Since then, Mr. Gerhardt, 63, an Alabama native who earned degrees from Yale University, the London School of Economics and the University of Chicago, has focused on constitutional conflicts between presidents and Congress. He has written six books on impeachment, constitutional authority and the separation of powers.
Mr. Gerhardt, now a law professor at the University of North Carolina, has written more than 100 law review articles and dozens of editorials on the subject, including for The New York Times. He also served as CNN’s expert on the impeachment process during the proceedings against Mr. Clinton, a role he is reprising this year.
What he brings to the hearing
As a recognized authority, Mr. Gerhardt has pushed back against the criticism unleashed by President Trump and his allies against the current impeachment inquiry, deeming it to be “fully legitimate.” In The Atlantic last month, he declared that “the nonsense that the president’s defenders have proliferated,” combined with the president’s “protestation that the Constitution allows him to do whatever he wants,” results in an executive branch that belies the vision established in the Constitution.
In an interview last week with Slate, he said Mr. Trump “has dismissed the rule of law as being relevant to his life.”
“Some of us who still take the Constitution rather seriously believe that those articles of impeachment that had been approved against Richard Nixon turn out to be relevant, as well, to the misconduct of President Trump,” he said.
Is he partisan?
Democrats invited Mr. Gerhardt, who also testified before the House Judiciary Committee this year as part of their hearings on the findings of the final report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
He served as deputy media director for former Vice President Al Gore’s first Senate campaign, and was involved in Mr. Clinton’s transition to the White House in the early 1990s. But he has said that Mr. Clinton “made his impeachment almost inevitable” in part because he “testified under oath in a way that was false.”
Mr. Gerhardt has been involved in confirmation proceedings for seven of the nine justices on the Supreme Court. For two of those nominations, he was special counsel to Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, during his time as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Kitty Bennett contributed research.