On Impeachment

Should the current Chief Executive be worried?

Supporters of corrupt Presidents, from Andrew Johnson to Bill Clinton… all use the same erroneous argument about the Impeachment provision of the Constitution.  “But he didn’t commit a high crime!”   

 

If only our Framers had specific indictable crimes in mind when they included… the all important Impeachment provision.  The historical record clearly shows “High crimes and misdemeanors”  is a standard based on all facets of public conduct.

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In Federalist 65, Hamilton writes : “those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

 

Madison argues in the Convention debates that impeachment can be used if the President “fails to discharge the duties of his office.”  

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“it will make him in a peculiar manner, responsible for [the] conduct” of executive officers. subject him to impeachment himself, if he suffers them to perpetrate with impunity high crimes or misdemeanors against the United States, or neglects to superintend their conduct, so as to check their excesses.”

Stopping the Buck- Truman

When Donald Trump turned on his “Generals” and Barack Obama fired General Stanley McChrystal… partisans were quick to compare the moves to Truman’s relieving of Douglass MacArthur.   Trump’s utter lack of policy depth caused a rift with his inner circle of former generals.   McChrystal was placed in the improper position of a celebrity and interviewed by a journalist who did not provide proper boundaries for what was on or off the record.  All of his comments, even the off-color ones, were printed in Rolling Stone magazine.  Obama didn’t like the opinions of his commander and fired him for personal reasons.

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These have all been politically motivated- Truman faced a Constitutional crisis in 1951. 

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MacArthur disobeyed orders from Truman… disregarded mandates from the United Nations, and was insubordinate when he met with members of Congress behind Truman’s back.  Truman understood that generals would disagree with him, may even do so publicly.  But MacArthur’s actions went far beyond critical words and Truman had to take action, “I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.”    The official public notice made it clear, in America, civilian authorities make policy, not soldiers.

“With deep regret I have concluded that General of the Army Douglas MacArthur is unable to give his wholehearted support to the policies of the United States Government and of the United Nations in matters pertaining to his official duties. In view of the specific responsibilities imposed upon me by the Constitution of the United States and the added responsibility which has been entrusted to me by the United Nations, I have decided that I must make a change of command in the Far East. I have, therefore, relieved General MacArthur of his commands and have designated Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway his successor.

Full and vigorous debate on matters of national policy is a vital element in the constitutional system of our free democracy. It is fundamental, however, that military commanders must be governed by the policies and directives issued to them in the manner provided by our laws and Constitution. In time of crisis, this consideration is particularly compelling.

General MacArthur’s place in history as one of our greatest commanders is fully established. The Nation owes him a debt of gratitude for the distinguished and exceptional service which he has rendered his country in posts of great responsibility. For that reason I repeat my regret at the necessity for the action I feel compelled to take in his case”

Trump has Jackson’s Worst Traits

Trump’s advisors insist he is the second coming of Andrew Jackson. Never mind that Trump has no record of public or military service, the similarities are portrayed as real and historic.

Such claims are ludicrous when measuring the commendable aspects of Jackson’s life. Military heroics and public service are glaring holes in the Trump resume.

However, both men struggled with insecurities and turned to conspiracy theories to explain away their inadequacies.

Trickery and Hickory
  • Jackson convinced himself, and thousands of his supporters, that the election of 1824 was stolen from him by a “Corrupt Bargain” between winner John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay. Despite evidence to the contrary, Jackson’s refusal to accept the Constitutional results altered our history.
  • Trump is unwilling to accept the fact that he did not win the popular vote in 2016. He and his supporters are trying to perpetrate the falsehood that millions of illegal votes were cast for his opponent. He has offered no evidence to support this claim.

Insecure delusions compelled both men to attempt to rewrite history- satisfying their unchecked narcissism.

Jefferson to Wasington- Free Press

Thomas Jefferson cautioned George Washington about the importance of a free press…. his words should serve as warning to citizens today…

“No government ought to be without censors, and where the press is free, no one ever will. If virtuous, it need not fear the fair operation of attack and defense. Nature has given to man no other means of sifting out the truth whether in religion, law or politics. I think it as honorable to the government neither to know nor notice its sycophants or censors, as it would be undignified and criminal to pamper the former and persecute the latter.”

Madison on Impeachment

Madison’s Constitutional Convention notes offer us clarity in our current discussions on impeachment.

  • A President does not need to commit an indictable crime to be impeached

  • Failing to properly discharge the duties of the Office was enough to impeach

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Madison recorded in his Convention notes-

 

“Mr. MADISON thought it indispensable that some provision should be made for defending the Community agst. the incapacity, negligence or perfidy of the chief Magistrate. The limitation of the period of his service, was not a sufficient security. He might lose his capacity after his appointment. He might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers. The case of the Executive Magistracy was very distinguishable, from that of the Legislature or of any other public body, holding offices of limited duration. It could not be presumed that all or even a majority of the members of an Assembly would either lose their capacity for discharging, or be bribed to betray, their trust. Besides the restraints of their personal integrity & honor, the difficulty of acting in concert for purposes of corruption was a security to the public. And if one or a few members only should be seduced, the soundness of the remaining members, would maintain the integrity and fidelity of the body. In the case of the Executive Magistracy which was to be administered by a single man, loss of capacity or corruption was more within the compass of probable events, and either of them might be fatal to the Republic.”