Response: There are two kinds of contempt, civil and
criminal. Civil contempt is used to coerce someone into obeying a court order, like a
grand jury subpoena. Susan McDougal was incarcerated for at least 18 months because she
would not testify before a grand jury which had subpoenaed her to do so. Civil contempt is
brought under a federal statute (28 U.S.C. sec. 1826). Civil contempt is not at issue
here, because the judge does not want to coerce the President into doing something;
instead, the judge wants to punish him for what he did.
When a court wants to punish
someone for behaving improperly, it uses criminal contempt. There is a federal statute on
this, as well (e.g., 18 U.S.C. sec. 401). Criminal contempt is a criminal offense, like
any other. This means one facing possible criminal contempt is entitled to all the
procedural protections (notice, hearing, counsel, presumption of innocence, guilty beyond
a reasonable doubt, etc.) one receives in any criminal proceeding.