As impeachment hearings begin, some have raised dubious objections to the process from a constitutional basis. Former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker suggested there can be no impeachment since “abuse of power” is not a crime, while University of Chicago Law Professor Steven Calabresi argued that President Trump was denied the Sixth Amendment right to counsel in the closed hearings held by House Democrats.
Neither argument is compelling. The fact is that, if proven, a quid pro quo to force the investigation of a political rival in exchange for military aid can be impeachable, if proven. Yet the more immediate problem for House Democrats may not be constitutional but architectural. If Democrats want to move forward primarily or exclusively with the Ukraine controversy, it would be the narrowest impeachment in history. Such a slender foundation is a red flag for architects who operate on the accepted 1:10 ratio between the width and height of a structure.
The physics is simple. The higher the building, the wider the foundation. There is no higher constitutional structure than the impeachment of a sitting president and, for that reason, an impeachment must have a wide foundation in order to be successful. The Ukraine controversy is not such a foundation, and Democrats are building a structurally unsound case that will be lucky to make it to the Senate before collapsing.