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Opinion

Unlikely Articles of Impeachment

white-houseBy-Robert B. Charles

Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, was — perhaps surprisingly — no fan of the U.S. Constitution’s impeachment provision. Initially an enthusiast, he found it personally frustrating. Having identified a miscarriage of justice by federal judges, he asked Congress to impeach the miscreants. Instead, Congress dawdled and acquitted. In 1807, Jefferson wrote to his friend William Giles: “Impeachment is a farce which will not be tried again.”

Jefferson was frustrated by the process, although not the principle. He was wrong when he predicted it would not be tried again, although right about its utility in reckoning with official misconduct. As a rule, it has been distracting, nearly unworkable, and a painful remedy to effectuate. Its greatest value may be as a deterrent to abuse, including by a president.

The provision’s history notwithstanding, one can imagine — if only imagine — what Articles of Impeachment against the current president might look like, if ever framed. They almost certainly never will be. As a remedy, impeachment requires gobs of time, offenses so egregious both parties are animated to action, and tolerance for national distraction.

Looking back on the last century, Articles could often have been framed — but were not. The Teapot Dome Scandal of the 1920s, which involved two cabinet secretaries, might have touched Republican President Warren Harding.  Misfeasance at some 60 military bases controlled by Franklin Delano Roosevelt — a discovery made by then-Senator Harry Truman — might have brought down the house.  FDR also famously tampered with the U.S. Supreme Court, spent 20 million dollars retrieving his dog from the Aleutian Islands (when he forgot it on a family vacation), and kept notorious company with Missy LeHand and Lucy Rutherford, all of which history forgave.

Likewise, President Eisenhower’s young vice president, Richard Nixon, narrowly avoided impeachment when accused of accepting thousands of dollars in unlawful gifts.  Nixon cleverly took a page from FDR, hiding behind one of his gifts, a dog. He said his children were attached to the dog. Dogs have a way of moving the American heart. He was forgiven. He would have to wait another decade for his own Articles.  Bill Clinton faced the arduous process head on; one wonders what — as a country — we got for our money.  Even those who objected to the Iraq War under President George W. Bush muttered the word. Still, impeachment has produced more heat than light. Nevertheless, what if presidential offenses raise systemic questions?  What if the officeholder is neither contrite nor seemingly aware how far off the mark he is? What then?  What might Articles look like against the current president?  Here are some examples:

Whereas the President of the United States knowingly violated two statutory provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act, one of which identifies as a felony the unmitigated, material support of an identified terrorist organization, and the second of which expressly required 30-day notice to the United States Congress prior to transfer of prisoners from the Gitmo Prison facility

…Whereas the President … publicly divulged the name of a senior US intelligence officer serving in a foreign country, in violation of Intelligence Identities Protection  Act of 1982, Public Law 97-200, United States Code Sections 421 to 426;

…repeatedly asserted false, material facts in association with prospective healthcare legislation subsequently signed into law; 

…propagated false statements with the intent of deceiving the American People concerning cause of death for four American citizens, including one United States Ambassador;

…failed to preserve the lives of innumerable combat veterans by refusing to respond, over a five year period, to life-threatening conditions documented by multiple inspector general reports on multiple Veterans Administration hospitals

…knowingly asserted executive privilege over thousands of documents related to secret shipments of firearms to criminals in a foreign country resulting in the death of a U.S. law enforcement officer…

 …knowingly utilized the powers of the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to search, seize data, intimidate American citizens, pursue private information without warrant, in violation of the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments;

 …knowingly collected private information on millions of American citizens for unknown purposes and without conforming these searches to the US Constitution’s “search and seizure” guarantees of the Fourth Amendment;

…knowingly sought to intimidate, chill and silence through abuse of law members of the press, both collectively and individually, suppressing “freedom of the press” to which all Americans are entitled under the First Amendment;

 …repeatedly abused executive authority through the unprecedented issuance of ultra vires executive orders and waivers of law not authorized by the US Constitution or by Congress;

Therefore the President of the United States shall be subject to impeachment in the United States Senate, under Article 2, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, for such “high crimes and misdemeanors” as are described in the foregoing Articles and petition for removal. 

Thomas Jefferson was prescient. These Articles will never be drafted. The workability of impeachment — especially against a sitting president — tends to discourage its use. Still, looking at them on paper is sobering. Even the fact that they could be framed, may encourage renewed accountability. Despite Jefferson’s frustration, our Third President believed in accountability for presidents and their appointees.  If Jefferson thought impeachment a “farce,” what would he say about executive leadership today?  Would he not be equally disappointed, reserving for them similar praise?

 

 

This editorial was first published in the American Thinker

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The Patriot

The impeachment process ‘starts’ in the House. When the process gets to the Senate, there it ends. So why talk about it when the Senate Leaders obtain more power now while they let the prez do what he wants to do. He’s been doing it for six years, so what makes you think anything will change…that is unless the Senate changes hands and I don’t believe it will while the subservient idiots who live off the working class keep voting for someone who will continue to give them the freebies that they live for. I have nothing but total disdain for the White House and its socialist cronies, excuse me, I meant to say Czars and the liberals who keep feeding the prez what he wants to hear. We get what we deserve and obama is what we got, so continue to live with it and remember how these years… Read more »

Bernie

Why is Congress ” Asleep ” on all the issues that the president has so wrongly be accused of ? ? Are they part of the whole scheme ? No on person can control like the president does ” Without support ? !

KarenFaye

This is usually such a pleasant forum, and people state their opinions, fears, and discuss current events about what is going on with our government. How did “Payne” get on here???? Is he a troll???? I’m very dismayed and puzzled by his comments.

Payne

I am not hiding anything, I just think this president and his wife have been disrespected in a way that goes beyond political differences and there is plenty of evidence to prove it!

Payne

Also it is your right to impeach, the procedure is clear and you have enough votes in the house to impeach so what are you waiting for? but you can’t convict now or even after midterms because it takes 67 senators and even if you took all open Senate seats in November you will still fall short. But you can make Obama an impeached president to join the list that currently has Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.

Payne

I think from some comments I read here the main reason the right hates Obama is because he is black or ‘half black’ as they like to emphasize. I know part of the reason for the hatred is politics and ideology but the main reason is his race, a gentleman would admit!

Pete Ferretti

The House of Reps. can’t lose if they attempt to either sue Obama or Impeach him or preferably both. The offenses against him are so many, just a failed process will be very impressive to many. GO FOR IT 1111

azandlovingit

Er, uh, excuse me Tom Reynolds, I think you quoted Dr. JCA1 as saying shove BABIES in our face, and the Dr said Shove BIBLES in our faces…..if you are going to get upset over what someone says, please read what exactly they did say……..I believe when one goes against the teaching of the Bible, and turns their back on God, who allows good in our life (not evil…that is the Devil’s doing and his alone) we invite the Devil to work in our lives…ergo – allow bad things into our life? That is our work, not God’s we allow it….get it? Duh, educate yourself before you say what you are against. To quote you, ” things we, personally and collectively believe are important, whether religion based or not.” You are so far from correct you are ignorantly blabbing about which you do not KNOW. Are you God and so… Read more »

DrJCA1

Please. Our side is no better than the slime on the left. Our so-called leaders run around crying, “lordy, lordy, god is on our side”, waving their bibles and yelling about how right we are because of their self-serving arrogance of belief. Sorry, but conservatives who shove their beliefs into law, shove their bibles in our faces, and demand that opposition to everything they feel is right and good be banished form the nation. This is absolutely no different than the liars and thieves on the left. Your religious beliefs are yours alone and do not belong in politics. If we are to win in the next few elections, we had damn well put this holier-than-thou garbage away and focus on the really important issues: the economy, jobs for the future, education of our children, care of our veterans, and care of our older folks. The holy-roller trash of abortions,… Read more »

Michael Diamond

I agree with the vast majority here that impeachment will never happen with the present congress. A law suit will not work either. It will bring attention to the president’s blatant lies and subterfuge, however it will require, in order to be effective, the cooperation of the executive branch of the government….not going to happen in my life time. The proper way to go about this, if it is possible at all, appears to be for the republicans and democrats who are disgusted enough with the outright lying of this president, to stop funding the executive branch. The executive branch requires the congress to approve its budget and provide the funds…it might be “our only hope, Obi Wan”. Of course I could be wrong….nah!

Dewey70

It has been stated that when Osama bin Laden observed our lack of resolve to the “Blackhawk Down” incident, he was encouraged to plan out and execute 9/11/01.

I think it safe to say that when Barry saw our Legislative Branch’s lack of resolve over Clinton’s impeachment, he realized that our nation could be his plaything with no accountability.

Ron Alford

I would be willing to bet it was a Democrat judge and a Democrat Congress.

Robert A Hirschmann

If that list is all we can get him on we might as well forget it. Even though the Muslim-in-chiefs whole agenda was to destroy America why should we try to stop him? After all, he is entitled to his opinion as an American (???) Citizen. His idea of taxing the public out of existence is basically only so our government can grow. Also so he can afford to take vacations in the manner in which he deserves. The Constitution is such an annoyance that it should just be ignored. And those damned pesky Republicans are a pain in the a$$. We should all stop pestering him and let him go about his business of making America a third world country like it should be.

rd44

Impeachment is a farce – and Jefferson understood it. There is supposed to be checks and balance – the reason for a three part government – Legislative, executive, and judicial. Obama and his socialist democrat party care not that he is executing his office like a tyrant dictator – The senate, led by the socialist democrat Harry Reid have effectively blocked, not even bringing it to the floor, every bill they have submitted – and then they have the gall to say the Republican’s are doing nothing – the problem with the Republicans – they don’t publish their attempts at fixing America’s problems – while Obama and Pelosi tour the country promoting their socialistic medicine. Newsmen and women – used to examine the government and be unbiased in their reporting of what was going on – but today – we have either a complicit news media or a cowed media.… Read more »

Rilla Opelt

We have a dictator in the White House and a corrupt senate and congress…I’ve been saying for 30 years “our government is selling us out” – with Obamination and a population who believe his blatant lies, the total corruption and demise of America is complete. I’m glad I’m old!

Kenneth L. Akin

Several justices were impeached during Jefferson’s tenure. Andrew Johnson was impeached but not convicted by one Senate vote over a dubious issue trumped up against him, Nixon resigned rather than be impeached over Watergate (looking rather minor considering the current imperial reign), Clinton was impeached for lying but was acquitted by a Democratic Senate, and Obama would never be convicted by the current Democratic Senate. We watch as our national heritage, history, and institutions are destroyed with impunity. Talk, talk, talk, and nothing happens. We have become the laughing stock of the world. No one takes us seriously anymore. No respect is shown to our Presidency. The radical muslim world hates us and is bent on destroying us. Our IRS is totally corrupt. Nothing is done about our borders because those people represent potential Democratic votes. Nothing was done about Fast and Furious. Benghazi goes unresolved. Eric Holder is the… Read more »

randal

everyone is trying to talk so intelligent and expounding on this situation of impeachment, lets just say it the way it is. a politician is not by any means going after another politician period. they are all in this together and will scream and through dust in the air but at the end of the day they will do absolutely nothing! our government is no different than organized crime and they have the power to take each other out, don’t make the family look bad. so they will go thru the exercise but no way are they going to throw one of their own under the bus. it’s not about we the people it’s about power and keeping it. I wish I didn’t feel like this but after years of observation I cannot come to any other conclusion! I am a small business owner and have to work with the… Read more »

Raymond B

What Bill Clinton got away with, I agree with Thomas Jefferson, “Don’t even bother.” Unless, UNLESS if its a republican then it might work

PaulE

I have to take exception to the writer’s premise that impeachment in and of itself is a farce. It is not. Where the failure lies in the process is in not having people of sufficient moral character and personal courage in positions of power within Congress, who take their oath to protect the Republic and the Constitution seriously. In short, to carry out the process as intended without regard to political party affiliation. We don’t have that today. Obama cannot be impeached by the current Congress, because any articles of impeachment filed by the House would not be adjudicated properly by the Senate. The Democratically controlled Senate would either choose not to move forward with a formal trial process or, if they did, they would vote to acquit Obama of all charges, no matter what the evidence showed. So the ONLY way to ever be able to leverage the impeachment… Read more »

Rik

Certainly, there is a great case for impeaching this presidential imposter currently inhabiting the White House. Yet, we hear not one word from the media outlets. Why? … Because he’s the first “black” president? Any talk of impeachment in our past history of this great nation pales in comparison to Obama, the Great Imposter! Maybe, after the upcoming elections, Republicans can retake control of the Senate … then the case for impeachment can be presented. Without control of the Senate, “Howdy Doody” Harry Reid would never let the case for impeachment reach the Senate floor for discussion, never mind an up or down vote. What will our history books say about Obama’s Presidential Legacy? … Oh yeah, that’s right, our schools don’t teach American History anymore. Think they’ll have a chapter entitled: Obama, the President who would be King! … A better title would be ” The Biggest Hoax in… Read more »