Impeachment? No thanks!

September 20, 2019

Impeachment? No thanks!


President Donald Trump

For months the House of Representatives majority has struggled over impeachment. Do we? Don’t we? What?

Impeachment Basics

Briefly, to impeach the president, vice president, or any other civil officer involves bringing before the House articles of impeachment. A simple majority of the House members must vote aye to send any article to the Senate. There, a trial occurs. Two-thirds of the Senators who are present must vote to convict, to remove anyone from office.

No president has ever been convicted and removed from office. Only Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton had trials. In both cases, the Senate acquitted them.

The standard for impeachment is High Crimes and Misdemeanors. The Constitution offers no definition of those terms. In fact, the Congressional bodies set the standard, for if the House impeaches and the Senate convicts, no body exists with any lawful power to ignore the acts.

Nixon, Clinton and Not Now

I  watched the Nixon impeachment process circa 1974, and the Clinton debacle in 1998-9. The Nixon matter involved a break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters on June 17, 1972. However, as the investigation continued, we learned about a myriad of wrongful and criminal acts.

The Clinton case absorbed our attention throughout 1998. The impeachment process, itself, lasted for months.

Adequate grounds exist to impeach and convict Donald Trump. Regardless, I think the time for impeachment never existed and, if I’m wrong, it has surely passed.

Election Day 2020 arrives in 420 days. Very soon, really. In the Nixon case, articles of impeachment got presented to the House Judiciary Committee two years after the break-in.

The Clinton case took a year, but it was a She Said case, with corroborating evidence. Did it matter? That was the defense and what the case turned on.

Now, we have House committees stonewalled at every turn. Lots of court filings. Slow courts. No outcomes.

Two more things. First, the Nixon and Clinton impeachment processes did not bump up against a presidential election. Second, in 1974 the House had every reason to believe the Senate might convict President Nixon. With President Clinton the Republican majority in the House did not care about a conviction.

Today, there’s no reason to believe the Senate will ever come up with 67 votes to remove President Trump. We’re learning, in the past few days, about favors to Ukraine, in exchange for what might be promises to provide evidence against former Vice President Joe Biden. Heard any R Senators express outrage or concern?

I know, I know, the Constitution assigns certain responsibilities to the House of Representatives. It needs to do its job! Uh, no, not when doing so will waste the next 12 months and accomplish nothing.

What, Then?

Donald Trump has shined a spotlight on the weaknesses in our Constitutional construct. Ably, he has proved the fact that the law does not apply to him. So why are people—elected Ds in Washington–applying normal rules and processes to abnormal, abhorrent behavior? I don’t know or care, truly, for what they offer gets us nowhere.

So, do nothing? Nope. If I were da Boss, I’d be:

  1. Holding Congressional hearings, with constitutional scholars, to discuss fixes for outrageous conduct. Allowing for the indictment of future presidents, while they are in office. A special court to deal overseeing Congressional oversight. Statutes regarding a president’s business activities in office, to permit enforcement of the Emoluments Clause. Federalizing elections.
  2. Forcing the Rs, with creative legislation, to own Mr. Trump’s sleaziness. For example, someone ought to offer a bill which requires the retention of a president’s tax returns, whether the holder is a licensed tax preparer, a federally-insured bank, or a state revenue department. Let the Rs vote No. Let Mr. Trump veto the bill. Hang covering for this crook around their necks.
  3. Focusing the D campaigns for president and all lesser offices on the needs of Americans. Working people who get sick, who lose their jobs, and who want a better future for their children. Real Americans.

Mr. Trump is a one-off or the 252-pound canary who nauseates us with his every act and utterance. Either way, holding hearings and listening to smirking A-holes like Corey Lewandowski gets us nowhere. We need to prepare for the new day, which comes on January 20, 2021.

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