Note: Yesterday, I testified before the House Judiciary Committee in Part II of a hearing on “Examining the Allegations of Misconduct Against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.”
The hearing, at which three other lawyers also testified, explored impeachment principles. Below is the written testimony I submitted prior to the hearing.
Chairman Goodlatte, Congressman Nadler, members of the committee, my name is Andrew C. McCarthy. For over eighteen years, I was a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, retiring from the Justice Department in 2003 as the chief assistant United States attorney in charge of the Southern District’s satellite office (which oversees federal law enforcement in six counties north of the Bronx).
During my tenure in the office, I investigated, tried and supervised the prosecution of numerous criminal cases, running the gamut from organized crime and narcotics trafficking through political corruption and terrorism. In addition, I held various executive staff positions in the office, including deputy chief of the appellate unit, in which I wrote and edited briefs submitted by the United States to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and prepared other prosecutors for oral argument (in addition to writing briefs and presenting oral argument in numerous of my own cases).
During my Justice Department service, I was twice awarded the Justice Department’s highest honors: the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in 1987 for the “Pizza Connection” organized crime and international narcotics trafficking case targeting the Sicilian mafia, and the Attorney General’s Award for Extraordinary Service in 1996 for the terrorism prosecution against the jihadist cell of Omar Abdel Rahman (a/k/a “the Blind Sheikh”) responsible for (among other atrocities) the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and an unsuccessful plot to bomb New York City landmarks.
Since retiring from the Justice Department, I have been a writer, focusing on matters of law enforcement, national security, constitutional law, politics and culture. Concededly, I tend to come at policy matters from a conservative and constitutionalist perspective; nevertheless, I have always believed the application of legal principles and precedent should be a non-partisan endeavor, just as it was when I was a prosecutor. In my post-Justice Department career, I have written several books, including (in 2014), Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.
In a nutshell, Faithless Execution argues that the Framers saw impeachment as an “indispensable” tool (to quote James Madison) in the constitutional framework of divided authorities, which obliges Congress to police executive overreach. The principal purpose of the Constitution is to limit the power of government to intrude on the liberties and suppress the rights of the American people. Separation of powers is the primary way the Constitution guarantees these liberties and rights. Thus, the Framers were deeply worried that maladministration — including overreach, lawlessness, or incompetence — could inflate the constitutionally-limited executive into an authoritarian rogue who undermines our constitutional order.