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Authored by Stephen B. Young via RealClearPolitics,

Commentary

President Biden’s duty to the American people is to “faithfully execute” his office. As a public trustee, Biden took an oath to do what is right. He is a trustee of powers bestowed upon him by the Constitution in return for his promise to be dutiful.

Like every agent and trustee, Biden owes fiduciary duties to those who are served by his decisions. He owes them two duties: the duty of always acting with due care; and the duty of giving them his absolute loyalty, always putting their interests above his own.

A president’s failure to use due care or be loyal is ground for impeachment. Under our Constitution, impeachment for “high crimes and misdemeanors” is not a criminal proceeding. Rather, it is a civil proceeding to discharge from office one who has failed in his or her trusteeship.

John Locke put it this way:

Who shall be judge, whether the prince or legislative act contrary to their trust? … To this I reply, The people shall be judge; for who shall be judge whether his trustee or deputy acts well, and according to the trust reposed in him, but he who deputes him, and must, by having deputed him, have still a power to discard him, when he fails in his trust? If this be reasonable in particular cases of private men, why should it be otherwise in that of the greatest moment, where the welfare of millions is concerned, and also where the evil, if not prevented, is greater, and the redress very difficult, dear, and dangerous?

More than 50 years ago, when the impeachment of Richard Nixon was under consideration in the House of Representatives, I researched the English parliamentary practice of impeaching high officers for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The lead special counsel in the impeachment proceeding, John Doar, incorporated my conclusions into the articles of impeachment of Richard Nixon in these words:

In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

The same standard of abuse of fiduciary duties was later included in the articles of impeachment of Donald Trump:

In all of this, President Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

As we saw the Thursday before last, President Biden is no longer capable of acting with due care as steward of the best interest of the American people. He appeared physically and cognitively inept. His answers to simple questions were nonsensical. Even Nancy Pelosi wondered aloud, “Is this an episode or is this a condition?”

For Biden to remain in office, he will not be faithfully executing it. Rather, he will be using the powers of the office for self-serving ends, depriving the American people of a vigorous defender of our rights and privileges. If Biden does not resign immediately, he has committed an impeachable offense by causing “manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

Should Biden attempt to have his cake and eat it too, he might withdraw his candidacy for this year’s presidential election but not resign as president. If he affirms that he would not be qualified to execute the office of president in January 2025, then why is he qualified to serve in that office today? To withdraw from the presidential race but continue in office would be a violation of his duty of loyalty to the American people.

Joe Biden made a choice when he took the oath of office to serve as our president. If he can no longer be loyal or serve with due care, then he must resign his office or be impeached.

Stephen B. Young is global director of the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism. He was an assistant dean at the Harvard Law School and later dean and professor of law at the Hamline University School of Law.

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