After voting for President Trump in 2016 and staunchly defending him in conservative publications, a Federalist Society leader appears to be having some very public buyer's remorse.
Steven Calabresi, co-founder of the powerful conservative legal organization, is now calling on the House of Representatives to do again what it has already done once this year: impeach Trump.
In a scathing opinion piece in The New York Times published online Thursday, the Northwestern University law professor points to what ignited his newfound ire with the president: a tweet Trump sent out shortly after news broke Thursday morning that the U.S. economy had suffered its biggest recorded contraction ever last quarter.
"With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA," the president intoned on Twitter. "Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"
With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020
Calabresi declared himself "appalled" by the tweet, which he characterized as "seeking to postpone the November election."
"Until recently, I had taken as political hyperbole the Democrats' assertion that President Trump is a fascist," the conservative legal scholar wrote. "But this latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president's immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate."
It was a remarkable turnaround for a man who as recently as November had accused House Democrats of conducting an "unconstitutional" and "Kafkaesque 'trial' " in their Trump impeachment proceedings.
Calabresi also had some stern advice for Republican lawmakers, many of whom have routinely approved conservative judicial nominees endorsed and promoted by the Federalist Society.
"President Trump needs to be told by every Republican in Congress that he cannot postpone the federal election. Doing so would be illegal, unconstitutional and without precedent in American history," Calabresi warned. "Anyone who says otherwise should never be elected to Congress again."
Calabresi's public distancing from the 45th president was applauded by other conservatives critical of Trump.
Former national security adviser John Bolton, whose scorching tell-all account of his time in the Trump White House was published last month over the objections of Trump's lawyers, tweeted that Calabresi's op-ed was "a must-read."
Trump, for his part, did not directly respond to his one-time ally's demand that he be re-impeached. Instead, the president sought to portray his provocative suggestion that the election be delayed as stirring a needed public debate.
"Glad I was able to get the very dishonest LameStream Media," Trump tweeted later on Thursday, "to finally start talking about the RISKS to our Democracy from dangerous Universal Mail-In-Voting (not Absentee Voting, which I totally support!)."
Many news organizations — including NPR — have noted that, contrary to Trump's assertions, there is no universal mail-in voting for the November presidential election, just as there is essentially no difference between mail-in ballots and absentee ballots.