“Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
If you think that this sounds like a description of Donald Trump’s “presidency,” then give yourself a gold star. All joking aside, “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” are what our constitution defines as impeachable offenses. And by now, anyone with a pulse realizes that Donald Trump has committed multiple impeachable offenses.
Just consider one of the more benign impeachable offenses that is alleged for Trump – obstruction of justice – that Trump seemingly commits day after day, tweet after tweet! Multiple experts, including former federal prosecutor, Senator Richard Blumenthal, say that Trump has obstructed justice repeatedly.
Not to mention the fact that, the day after Trump fired then-FBI Director Jim Comey (who was investigating Trump’s campaign), Trump bragged to his Russian pals, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” During this same now-infamous Oval Office meeting, Trump gleefully provided the Russians with highly sensitive, code-word level classified intelligence. Because Trump somehow thinks that the Russians are our friends.
Can you just imagine the utter outrage if President Barack Obama had fired the person who was investigating him for allegedly conspiring with Russia? Of if Obama had met with Russian officials in the Oval Office and bragged about firing the guy who was investigating him? Or if Obama had given the Russians code-word level classified intelligence?
People would be marching in front of the White House with pitchforks and burning tiki torches!
So what have House Republicans done? Instead of holding any serious hearings, they’ve hopped in Übers and headed to the White House to warn about “unmasking.”
The TrumpRussia scandal involves an alleged conspiracy to throw the election to Trump in exchange for Trump dropping sanctions and making other foreign policy shifts in favor of Russia. If this is not impeachable, then WHAT is?
Let’s face it. If President Obama had committed even one iota of the egregious acts alleged for Trump – firing the guy investigating him, conspiring with Russia, giving code-word classified intel to the Russians – if Obama had committed ANY of these, he would have been tossed out of office faster than Trump can demolish a Big Mac. And that’s pretty fast!
So let’s assume for the sake of argument that Trump has committed at least one impeachable offense, or two, or three… Let’s face it: it’s NOT much of a stretch! The question on everyone’s mind is:
What will it take for Republicans to grow a spine, and impeach and get rid of Trump?
First, a bit of historical perspective.
A multi-step impeachment process is required to remove a sitting president. First, the House Judiciary Committee has draft and pass impeachment charges – “Articles of Impeachment” – out of the committee. No surprise, the Republican House Judiciary Chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (aka “Not-So-Goodlatte) has blocked any hearings on impeachment, even though the first impeachment resolution was filed last summer!
After passing the House, the specific impeachment charges are sent to the Senate, which conducts a trial with the senators essentially serving as the jurors. It’s a much higher bar in the Senate and requires a two-thirds vote (67 of 100) to convict on a specific impeachment charge.
As mentioned, three presidents have faced at least part of the impeachment process thus far: Andrew Johnson (1868), Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon (1974), and Bill Clinton (1998-99).
Andrew Johnson faced politically motivated impeachment charges, stemming from his alleged violation of the obscure “Tenure of Office Act” that had been passed by Congress the previous year to protect the Secretary of War, Edwin McMasters Stanton, whom Johnson subsequently fired. In the end, Johnson was impeached by the House, but narrowly escaped conviction in the Senate by a SINGLE vote.
Now, onto the juicy stuff!
“Tricky Dick,” considered by many to be the most corrupt president in history (until Trump, that is), faced numerous impeachment charges, including Obstruction of Justice, Abuse of Power, Contempt of Congress, and Failure to pay taxes. Bill Clinton was charged with Obstruction of Justice, Abuse of Power, and two counts of Perjury.
Without even considering Trump’s “family business,” one could easily compile a LONG list of impeachable offenses committed by Trump. Indeed, one could reasonably argue that Trump already has committed the impeachable offenses that were alleged for both Nixon and Clinton:
Obstruction of Justice (check!), Abuse of Power (check!), Contempt of Congress (check!), Perjury…. Well, if or when Mueller interviews Trump, it’s a pretty safe bet that Trump will commit perjury, given his strong allergic reaction to telling the truth!
And what about the remaining potential impeachment charge for Trump: failure to pay taxes? Hard to say, because we haven’t gotten Trump’s tax returns. But you know who does have them? That right: Robert Mueller!
If Trump clearly has committed multiple High Crimes and Misdemeanors – leaving aside TREASON – why hasn’t Congress impeached this reprehensible excuse for a “president” already?
The short answer? Politics. Namely, House Republicans keep putting party over country by refusing to conduct serious investigations into whether Trump has committed impeachable offenses, including conspiring with the Russians to throw the election and subvert our democracy!
For better or for worse, the constitution makes it very difficult to remove a sitting president (or in Trump’s case, a sitting “president”). Among many things, our nation’s founders did not want politics to trump the people’s will.
No president has ever been impeached, convicted, and removed from office, although “Tricky Dick” Nixon surely would have gotten the boot, had he not resigned in disgrace.
In Bill Clinton’s case (of course, Clinton is a Democrat), Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress. The House voted to impeach Clinton on two articles of impeachment (perjury to a grand jury and obstruction of justice), whereas two other articles of impeachment failed to pass the GOP-controlled House.
In the Senate, where conviction requires a two-thirds vote (67 of 100), Republicans held 55 seats. All 45 Senate Democrats voted “not guilty” on both impeachment charges, thereby guaranteeing that Clinton would not be convicted. In addition, several Republicans, including Susan Collins, sided with Democrats and voted “not guilty.” In the end, the Senate failed to reach even a simple majority on Clinton’s conviction in the Republican-controlled Senate!
Clinton’s impeachment shows how difficult it is to impeach and convict a sitting president, even if the opposing party controls Congress. And of course, it is the opposite situation with Trump, where his own party controls Congress.
Before diving into Trump’s impeachment, let’s first review what happened with Nixon.
During the Nixon era, Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress by even greater majorities than Republicans held during Clinton’s impeachment. Yet despite these clear majorities, Democrats were not able to impeach Nixon quickly.
“Tricky Dick” Nixon himself got the impeachment ball rolling with his “Saturday Night Massacre,” which occurred less than a year after he was sworn into office, when in October 1973, Nixon tried to force then-Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire the Watergate Special Prosecutor, Archibald “Archie” Cox. After AG Richardson refused and resigned in protest, Nixon tried to force his Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox, who also refused and resigned in protest. Finally, Nixon turned to Robert Bork, who had no problem doing the “dirty deed,” and he fired the Watergate Special Prosecutor.
After Nixon fired the person investigating him (this sounds familiar!), the impeachment floodgates opened, and Democrats raced to file impeachment resolutions in the House. However, even though Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress, it took another 10 months before “Tricky Dick” resigned in disgrace, after it was clear that he would be impeached and convicted by Congress.
The key tipping point that finally triggered Nixon’s fall was the release of the “Smoking Gun” tape, where Nixon was conspiring with his aide, H. R. Haldeman, to cover up the Watergate break-in. The release of the “Smoking Gun” tape proved to be utterly damning to Nixon, and just a few weeks later, he resigned.
Based upon all of the reports thus far, it’s a safe bet that some sort of “tapes” exist for Trump.
There are many similarities between Nixon and Trump. They are considered by many to be the most corrupt presidents in our nation’s history. And they both blatantly committed obstruction of justice by firing the people who were investigating them. In Trump’s case, he fired Jim Comey, and now, he appears to be angling to fire Robert Mueller.
In Nixon’s case, there was the clear “Smoking Gun” tape, which left no doubt in the American public’s mind about Nixon’s complicity. In Trump’s case, it’s rather obvious to many that he has deep, long-standing ties with Russia, including massive debt that he owes to Russians. And it’s not just Trump – it’s his kids, his former campaign manager (Paul Manafort), his former National Security Advisor (Michael “Misha” Flynn) – seemingly everybody surrounding Trump has deep and nefarious ties with Russia.
But let’s not forget the elephant in the room – the literal and figurative elephant. In Nixon’s case, Congress was controlled by the opposite party, the Democrats. But in Trump’s case, Congress is controlled by the Republicans.
So Republicans: it’s up to you. Will you finally put our country over your party and investigate Trump for conspiring with Russia to throw the election and subvert our democracy? Will you finally fulfill your constitutionally mandated duty? Or will you do NOTHING and wait.
Fair warning, Republicans. If you wait, you won’t be in office much longer.
Take a look at the recent election results across the country. Democrats have won seats in deeply red areas: the U.S. Senate race in Alabama, won by a Democrat, Doug Jones; a special election in western Pennsylvania with over a 20-point swing was won by Conor Lamb, a Democrat.
Republicans, it’s time to look in the mirror. What do you stand for? Do you stand for us, the American people? Do you stand for our country? Or are you going to stick with your party and defend a guy like Donald Trump?
You can stand with us now, and move forward on impeaching Trump. If you don’t, we are going to VOTE YOU OUT.
And history will judge you.