May 28th, 2023
WASHINGTON -- The gravest constitutional crisis in American history shows no signs of resolution, as President Ted Cruz refused yet again to step down earlier this evening.
"The people elected me. I'm not leaving," Cruz said in a televised address. "I've broken no crimes. Every single action I've taken as president has followed the letter and the spirit of the law -- and no illegitimate vote from Congress can change that."
Cruz added some of the rhetorical flourishes which helped him ascend to the nation's highest office.
"I'm not leaving on a boat, I'm not leaving on a float," Cruz said.
Three weeks after the Senate voted to remove him following impeachment proceedings, Democratic lawmakers have begun to appeal to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hoping that the military may be able to resolve the situation, which has shaken American politics and law to its core.
On May 5, the House voted to initiate impeachment proceedings, claiming that Cruz's use of the 14th Amendment to slash government spending and shutter five Cabinet departments -- including Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Energy -- was a violation of Constitutional Law.
Cruz eliminated the departments after vetoing a debt ceiling increase passed by Congress. Attorney General Louie Gohmert claimed the 14th Amendment gave Cruz the power to slash expenditures to avoid a default on U.S. debt, even though they had been appropriated by Congress. Gohmert cited President Barack Obama's use of the 14th Amendment to borrow over what Congress had authorized in October of 2013. In that case, Congress failed to pass a debt limit hike despite the risk of default.
Senate Majority Leader Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., said she supported Obama's argument then -- but said Cruz's position was a blatant power grab. Baldwin led the charge for impeachment, but so far Cruz has refused to recognize it--claiming that, because he has broken no laws, the trial and vote for removal were not legitimate.
Admiral John Stark, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said he has consulted with the Department of Defense's general counsel but that for now, "as far as I'm concerned, Cruz is still the commander in chief."
Clark Wayne, a professor of history and constitutional law at Harvard University, said this crisis is ultimately rooted in the budget and debt ceiling standoffs of the early 2010s.
"Look, when Congress continually creates legislative situations which are either unacceptable or contradictory, that doesn't do good things for the rule of law," Wayne said. "And when the rule of law fails, well, bad things happen."