IMPEACHMENT – IMPEACHMENT – IMPEACHMENT! There I said it. Seems that everyone is afraid to mention the word. Republicans because they can’t bring themselves to admit that Donald Trump’s election may turn out to be the functional end of the Republican Party (can you say Whig Party) and Democrats because they still fear a backlash from Trump’s blind supporters. While I agree that the issue of impeachment is and will remain premature until we have heard from Robert Mueller it still seems healthy to conjecture whether Trump as perhaps the most
(United States Constitution Article II, Section 4)
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
The President Shall Be Removed
The president shall be removed on conviction of treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors. Let us begin by noting that no president has ever been convicted after impeachment. There have been two attempts (Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998) both failed. But what can a president be impeached for? Basically anything a majority of the House of Representatives agrees on.
President Andrew Johnson was impeached on the charge of high crimes and misdemeanors. Namely violation of the Tenure of Office Act (nine counts) and one count of “making three speeches with intent to show disrespect for the Congress among the citizens of the United States.”
President Bill Clinton, on the other hand, was impeached on the charges of perjury (lying to a grand jury) and obstruction of justice. Clearly, perjury and obstruction of justice are impeachable offences.
In the case of President Richard Nixon for whom Articles of Impeachment were actually approved but who resigned before impeachment would have been impeached for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. Given these examples we have violation of an act of Congress, making speeches that are disrespectful of Congress, perjury, obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress as demonstrated impeachable offences.
Federal judges who are also subject to impeachment as civil officers of the United States have been impeached for perjury, conspiring to solicit a bribe, sexual assault, obstructing and impeding an official proceeding, and making false and misleading statements.
What are High Crimes and Misdemeanors?
The question whether the above offences are in fact “high crimes and misdemeanors” is irrelevant since the Supreme Court has concluded that such questions are political and therefore nonjusticiable (means the Supreme Court will not review such questions). So whether a president is impeached and tried is a matter solely for determination by a majority of the House (impeachment) and two thirds majority of the Senate (trial). Come January 3, 2019 there will be a Democratic majority in the House. Given the majority change there is no question that impeachment is a real possibility provided the evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors is forthcoming. So is it possible that President Trump may be impeached after January 3? The answer is a resounding – yes!
The President Will Resign
But in my humble view the impeachment of the president would result in his resignation before any trial could be held. He would claim, of course, that he would have won by a landslide had he decided to fight. If impeachment were truly imminent I believe he would resign. He would never suffer the indignity of being tried in the Senate. President Trump’s ego is far too big.
Finally, what would happen if the Mueller investigation implicated Vice President Mike Pence such that he would have to resign? Dare I say it? The next in line would be the Speaker of the House -Nancy Pelosi. We can always hope.