Professor Arthur Hellman Comments To Brazil's Leading Magazine, Epoca, On Presidential Impeachment
Lawmakers in Brazil are considering whether to begin impeachment proceedings against their president, and Epoca, Brazil’s leading magazine, called on Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman for commentary on presidential impeachments in the United States.
Brazilian President Dilma Roussef has been targeted for impeachment based on charges that her government manipulated accounts to disguise the size of the deficit and allow more spending in the period preceding her narrow re-election last year. Hellman told Epoca that a president’s violation of budgetary limits in the Constitution or laws could result in impeachment proceedings in the United States. The essence of impeachable behavior is abuse of power, Hellman said.
"If a president has violated laws that limit Executive spending, this can be considered abuse of power," Hellman told Epoca.
Hellman noted that the two impeachments of American presidents were for different reasons. Andrew Johnson, who became president on the death of Abraham Lincoln, was charged with violating laws limiting his power to dismiss executive officers. Bill Clinton was accused of lying about his involvement with intern Monica Lewinsky. Both were acquitted. Richard Nixon, accused of abuse of power, resigned before undergoing impeachment.