(Editor's Note: I originally published this on December 1, 2017, but with all this impeachment clabber I thought it worthwhile to repost it. RK)
Since President Donald Trump was elected we’ve seen our favorite loon, Mad Maxine Waters, rail against him demanding he be impeached, for among other things – he says things that hurt people’s feelings and he calls people names. Is that really grounds for impeachment?
Actually – if history means anything – yes! Let’s take a look at the Articles of impeachment for Andrew Johnson, where there were 11 Articles – all of which should have been laughed out of Congress, based on what was eventually declared unconstitutional, the Tenure of Office Act. This in effect gave Congress power over cabinet posts and not the President of the United States.
Most of the articles were all about the fact he had the nerve to fire his Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, (Stanton was an ally and tool of the radical Republicans and caused disruption in Lincoln’s cabinet also) without the consent of the Congress, and then appoint someone else to the job. The radical Republicans claimed he couldn’t do that because he didn’t have the right to fire Stanton in the first place therefore the job wasn’t open to be filled.
The real reason for this impeachment action was the radical Republicans in Congress didn’t want the Southern states to return in any way except as conquered territory and if they returned it would be under strict rules. Johnson was merely following President Lincoln’s plan for a lenient restoration of a defeated South.
I know it sounds insane, and I doubt Mad Maxine knows this, but when Andrew Johnson was impeached parts of one of the charges for impeachment was:
That said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his office and the dignity and propriety thereof ….…….
made and deliver with a loud voice certain intemperate, inflammatory, and scandalous harangues, and did therein utter loud threats and bitter menaces as well against Congress as the laws of the United States….
Which said utterances, declarations, threats, and harangues, highly censurable in any, are peculiarly indecent and unbecoming the Chief Magistrate of the United States, by means whereof ……
Andrew Johnson has brought the high office of the President of the united states in to contempt, ridicule, and disgrace, to the great scandal of all good citizens.In short, he talked too much and in a divisive manner - which they didn’t like - they were the first snowflakes. Wow, is Trump in real trouble now?
The Constitution says the President can be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. What’s that mean?
On Sunday June, 8, 2014 I wrote an article entitled, The Post Constitutional Era! Part XV about executive impeachment saying:
The president must “take care” that federal laws are executed. However, if the president and vice president fail they can be removed from office if they are impeached and convicted of treason, bribery, or other “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
There has always been a great deal of discussion as to what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors”. I will attempt to outline the historical foundation for that phrase. Jon Roland of the Constitution Society states that it had meaning and understanding to the Framers stating:
“to the Framers, and found that the key to understanding it is the word "high". It does not mean "more serious". It refers to those punishable offenses that only apply to high persons, that is, to public officials, those who, because of their official status, are under special obligations that ordinary persons are not under, and which could not be meaningfully applied or justly punished if committed by ordinary persons.”He further states:
“Under the English common law tradition, crimes were defined through a legacy of court proceedings and decisions that punished offenses not because they were prohibited by statutes, but because they offended the sense of justice of the people and the court. Whether an offense could qualify as punishable depended largely on the obligations of the offender, and the obligations of a person holding a high position meant that some actions, or inactions, could be punishable if he did them, even though they would not be if done by an ordinary person.”He notes the same values applies today in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, where civilians could not be punished, but those with “sworn” duties are held accountable for their failure to perform, and their “offenses which bear on the subject's fitness for the duties he holds, which he is bound by oath or affirmation to perform”, are punishable.
To the Founding Fathers the word "perjury" – derived from a number of Latin terms including – periurium - meaning “a false oath, perjury, and would have meant a "violation of an oath’". The president must swear: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
“He is bound by this oath in all matters until he leaves office because he has assumed an official role and that role is that of a “witness under oath” for the duration of his testimony”’, i.e. his term of office. That’s what perjury a “high crime” as it is a crime of high office. So when the President swears to "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States" and to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States", and fails to do so he is guilty of a “high crime”.
The author notes that to hold a “high” office comes to everyone as a privilege” – it isn’t a right, and removal is based on the preponderance of evidence, even if that "high crime or misdemeanor" is “referred to by a different name, when considered as such. Thus, an offense like "obstruction of justice" or "subornation of perjury" may become "abuse of authority" when done by an official bound by oath. As such it would be grounds for impeachment and removal from office, but would be punishable by its statutory name once the official is out of office.”
Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice, which truly are high crimes in every sense – and he was guilty as sin – and any normal person would have resigned in disgrace, but not Bill Clinton and the Congress couldn’t bring itself to kick him out of office. If the Democrats had demanded Clinton's resignation Gore would have been sworn in and then most likely would have won the next election.
Then we have Obama, who actually refused to enforce laws passed by Congress, a clear violation of his oath of office - as I've shown, perjury by definition - absolutely impeachable and completely provable. Apparently the nation could bear all of those real high crimes and misdemeanors.
But Trump talks too much. That’s unbearable!