Ethics / Impeachment / Trump Administration

Judiciary Committee Releases Report on Constitutional Basis for Impeachment While Major Newspapers Begin Endorsing Impeachment

Today, the House Judiciary Committee released a report (below) on the “Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment” which updates reports issued by the Committee in connection with the Nixon and Clinton impeachment investigations.  It concludes with an instructive passage:

As Madison recognized, “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it control itself.” Impeachment is the House’s last and most extraordinary resort when faced with a President who threatens our constitutional system. It is a terrible power, but only “because it was forged to counter a terrible power: the despot who deems himself to be above the law.”

The release of the report coincides with major newspaper editorial boards endorsing the impeachment of President Trump.

On Thursday, the Boston Globe (the 14th most read newspaper in the country) became the first major newspaper to call for impeachment.

The Constitution entrusts Congress with the impeachment power in order to protect Americans from a president who is betraying their interests. And it is very much in Americans’ interests to maintain checks and balances in the federal government; to have a foreign policy that the world can trust is based on our national interest instead of the president’s personal needs; to control federal spending through their elected representatives; to vote in fair elections untainted by foreign interference. For generations, Americans have enjoyed those privileges. What’s at stake now is whether we will keep them. The facts show that the president has threatened this country’s core values and the integrity of our democracy. Congress now has a duty to future generations to impeach him.

Today, it is the Los Angeles Times(the third most read newspaper) also endorsed impeachment:

The Times’ editorial board was a reluctant convert to the impeachment cause. We worried that impeaching Trump on essentially a party-line vote would be divisive. It is also highly likely that Trump would be — will be — acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate, and that, rightly or wrongly, he would point to that in his reelection campaign as exoneration.

But those concerns must yield to the overwhelming evidence that Trump perverted U.S. foreign policy for his own political gain. That sort of misconduct is outrageous and corrosive of democracy. It can’t be ignored by the House, and it merits a full trial by the Senate on whether to remove him from office.

As the House Judiciary Committee report explains

Holding the President accountable for “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” not only upholds democracy, but also vindicates the separation of powers. Representative Robert Kastenmeier explained this well in 1974: “The power of impeachment is not intended to obstruct or weaken the office of the Presidency. It is intended as a final remedy against executive excess … [a]nd it is the obligation of the Congress to defend a democratic society against a Chief Executive who might be corrupt.” The impeachment power thus restores balance and order when Presidential misconduct threatens constitutional governance.

In 1998, both parties agreed that Clinton’s actions (an affair with an intern and perjury) were wrong but disagreed on whether it merited removal from office.  Here Trump has repeatedly acted as if he is above the law, has wrongfully sought to monetize US foreign military aid to solicit foreign assistance to his reelection effort and has upset the Constitutional balance of power by obstructing Congress (as well as the Mueller investigation).  Unlike 1998, however, the Republicans will not even admit that Trump’s conduct was wrong, let alone impeachable.

What is making this a partisan impeachment is Congressional Republican’s total abdication of their Constitutional responsibilities.  That should not stop Democrats from following through with their Constitutional responsibilities and passing articles of impeachment.  Given that the President is already openly seeking to meddle with the 2020 election, we cannot wait until November 2020 to render a verdict of the Trump presidency.

Image by heblo from Pixabay