As much as you may view this as politics, it is also education. Impeachment is a complicated business with a single motive: to protect the American Constitution.
I can see all the sides of this impeachment. I understand why Nancy Pelosi wanted to wait and I can see why she changed her mind. I agree with the three scholars who feel that if Trump doesn’t warrant an impeachment, no one does. On the other hand, I also completely understood the one who felt we needed to give the people time to absorb the data and get on board.
I also understand that since the President’s office has categorically refused to provide any of the documents or testimony required by subpoenas, is there any value in waiting when — even if the Supreme Court nods in the Democrat’s direction — it does not necessarily mean the President or his coterie of evil-doers will comply. It would not be the first time an American President refused to obey an order from the Supreme Court.
So what are we to do? If it were possible — if the election weren’t so close — I would slow it down and allow more Americans to understand why impeachment is critically important to us.
Is it possible to slow it down? I don’t think so. But I don’t have answers. Just many more questions.
The Constitution gives Congress the authority to impeach and remove “the President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States” upon a determination that such officers have engaged in treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
The last word in this sentence is very important in today’s political world.
Without doubt, Donald J. Trump and members of his entire crew aboard and piloting his Ship of Vipers have amassed enough misdemeanors by their refusal to abide by the numerous subpoenas they are ignoring at his order.
The charge of high crimes and misdemeanors covers allegations of misconduct by officials, such as perjury of oath, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty, unbecoming conduct, refusal to obey a lawful order, chronic intoxication, and tax evasion. Tax evasion is a key phrase here and the reason Trump is fighting so fiercely to prevent the House or anyone else from accessing his returns.
The Constitution does not define bribery. It is a crime that has long existed in English and American common law. It takes place when a person gives official money or gifts to influence the official’s behavior in office. For example, if defendant Smith pays federal Judge Jones $10,000 to find Smith not guilty, the crime of bribery has occurred. It seems to fit Trump to a T. Only this time, he withheld money from Ukraine for a political favor against his political opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, and son Hunter.
It should be remembered that the impeachment process is political, not criminal.
According to the rules of impeachment:
- The House Judiciary Committee holds hearings and, if necessary, prepares articles of impeachment. These are the charges against the official.
- If a majority of the committee votes to approve the articles, the whole House debates and votes on them.
- If a majority of the House votes to impeach the official on any article, the official must then stand trial in the Senate.
- For the official to be removed from office, two-thirds of the Senate must vote to convict the official. Upon conviction, the official is automatically removed from office and, if the Senate so decides, may be forbidden from holding governmental office again.
Rule 3 doesn’t give Mitch McConnell or Lindsey Graham — or anyone else the right to block the impeachment.
The oath used today has not changed since 1966 and is prescribed in Title 5, Section 3331 of the United States Code. It reads:
“I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
In contrast to the presidential oath, where it’s used only by tradition, the phrase “so help me God” has been part of the official oath of office for non-presidential offices since 1862.
Each and every one of them swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
When the subject of an oath arose during the Federal Constitutional Convention in 1787, the founders were divided. Should an oath be required in a free country at all? And should state officials swear allegiance to the federal Constitution, or should federal officials swear to uphold state constitutions as well as the U.S. Constitution?
According to the History, Art And Archives web page of the House of Representatives: “Delegate James Wilson of Pennsylvania viewed oaths as ‘left-handed security only’ and that ‘a good government did not need them and a bad one could not or ought not to be supported.’ The lexicographer and political writer Noah Webster called oaths ‘instruments of slavery’ and a ‘badge of folly, borrowed from the dark ages of bigotry.’ Both Wilson and Webster argued that people would be naturally inclined to support just governments, so oaths were unnecessary. Many others thought such concerns were overwrought. In his 1833 Commentaries on the Constitution, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story wrote that requiring oaths for government officials ‘would seem to be a proposition too clear to render any reasoning necessary in support of it.’”
The web page continues: “The current practice for swearing-in Members is an innovation of Speaker Nicholas Longworth of Ohio, who abandoned the practice of Members taking the oath by state delegations in 1929. Longworth altered the practice because he hoped the mass swearing-in would better ‘comport with the dignity and solemnity’ of the ceremony and, according to some historical accounts, to avoid a potential attempt to challenge the seating of Oscar De Priest of Illinois, the first African- American elected to Congress in the 20th century.
“While subsequent Speakers went back to the original method, in 1937 Speaker William B. Bankhead chose to return to the en masse swearing-in and this has remained the practice. Since the 80th Congress (1947–1949), Members have also been required to sign an oath, which is held by the Clerk of the House.”
During the Constitutional Convention, James Madison of Virginia successfully argued that an election every four years did not provide enough of a check on a president who was incapacitated or abusing the power of the office. He contended that “loss of capacity or corruption . . . might be fatal to the republic” if the president could not be removed until the next election.
This is an excellent defense to the oft used mantra of “let the voters decide.” George Mason of Virginia proposed adding “maladministration.” He thought treason and bribery did not cover all the harm a president might do.
As we can sadly see, Mason’s fears were well-founded.
If the Founding Fathers could see how our entire governmental process has been stolen by the Republican Party, they would likely suffer apoplexy.
Likely if the Democrats were the target of impeachment charges, they would vote party line to quash the impeachment. It’s how every presidential impeachment attempt has ended.
In a perfect, ethical and moral political world one can only dream that the Democratic Party would stand erect and purge their embarrassment. Obviously, the Trumplican Party will cling to their crooked, vile captain and vote nay. Like Captain Queeg in “The Caine Mutiny,” Donald Trump, Captain of his Ship of Vipers, sits and juggles his marbles — as it were.
Check out the original on The Shinbone Star. They have written some brilliant material that can answer a lot of questions. No, they are not a neutral voice, but they are also right.