Throughout American history, only four presidents have ever faced formal impeachment inquiries. They are Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump. Of those four, only two of them have ended up being actually tried: Johnson for unlawfully firing his Secretary of War in 1867, and Clinton for lying under oath and obstructing justice in 1998. Nixon resigned from office in 1974 before his impeachment for the Watergate Scandal got to a vote, as it was widely believed that he would have been Impeached by the House and Removed by the Senate.
And now there is Trump, the latest addition to the lineup, presently facing inquiries to find out if he will join the impeached ranks of Johnson and Clinton. Many Americans have accused Trump of committing impeachable offenses since before he was even elected in 2016. Now, however, he is finally under the gun, as the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is currently holding hearings in Washington D.C. to conclude if his actions are impeachable.
Beginning on December 9th, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, will begin the process of drafting the specific articles of impeachment.
Once the number and scope of the articles have been established , the president will be tried in the Senate for charges related to illegally soliciting foreign aid in the upcoming 2020 election and for abusing the office for political gain. Earlier this year, President Trump had a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. During this conversation, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate into former Vice President Joe Biden and his potentially nepotistic connections to a Ukrainian energy company, where his son started working during the Obama administration. The publically released transcript of the dialogue confirms this.
Because Biden is currently a Democratic Candidate for the 2020 Presidential race, Trump’s actions can be deemed an obstruction of the election through bribery. In addition to the request, Trump supposedly dangled two bargaining chips over Zelensky’s head—one being $400 million in military aid to Ukraine and the other being a coveted meeting at the White House.
On the surface, Trump’s search for dirt on Biden may not seem as severe as Johnson’s misdemeanors or Nixon’s Watergate chaos. Many Republicans at the hearing are dismissing the accusations, and while not disputing the facts, have chosen to loudly denigrate the process itself, run by the Democrats. Meanwhile, the White House itself has declined to participate in the hearing at all, calling it “Hoax”. In an effort to clarify the roots and foundation for the process back to the US Constitution, using the Founding Fathers’ original guidelines for impeachment, which was mapped out in Article One of the U.S. Constitution.
Yale University Law Student Soren J. Schmidt recently reported in “The Atlantic” that Impeachment’s place in the Constitution directly stems from the Framers wanting to ensure that the President could not bribe his way into another term.
Bribery has a long and Sordid History in US Politics
Schmidt writes in great length about how “treating” (as bribing voters with “treats” was called over 200 years ago) constituents with gifts and services around election time created immense corruption in U.S. politics following the Revolutionary War.
“Shall the man who has practiced corruption & by that means procured his appointment in the first instance, be suffered to escape punishment, by repeating his guilt?”George Mason in a debate Also attended by James Madison, July 20th, 1787
James Madison, in particular, lost the 1777 election for the Virginia House of Delegates because his opponent heavily “treated” (bribed) the voters. He took this experience to the Constitutional Convention ten years later where the fellow Founding Fathers agreed Presidents needed some sense of accountability and that obstructing elections would be an egregious misuse of power.
This is pertinent to Trump’s situation today, as his alleged wrongdoings are the epitome of why the Impeachment Clause even exists. Obviously, a few details are different, but the core issue remains the same – Presidents elected based on bribery and other illegal interference (such as the Russian interference in 2016) must be prevented from being re-elected by committing similar crimes.
The key point, often lost in the media, but glaringly obvious when the history and facts are taken into account, is that Trump was elected in 2016 under circumstances that point to significant interference by Russia, that was welcomed by Trump, as detailed in the Mueller Report.
And, far from leaving that methodology behind, facts within the House Impeachment report indicate that similar and even more egregious offenses are present in efforts to effect the upcoming 2020 election.
This situation is precisely why the Framers of the Constitution created the Impeachment Process; in order to prevent a President from maintaing power through bribery and other election related crimes, preventing the option of “correcting” a flawed election with the next one, since the scoundrel that would illegally influence their initial rise to power, would likely do it again in a desperate attempt to retain that power.
This is why, as has been stated by the Democrats in the House many times, there is a Constitutional requirement to Impeach Trump, since the evidence and the facts indicate that, short of being stopped by the constitutional remedy of Impeachment (and Removal), he will continue to attempt to commit bribery and other crimes, as necessary, to try and secure his re-election in 2020.
And, if that were to occur, our Constitution, and therefore our Democracy will have failed, and the much cherished checks and balances will also have failed, and there will be nothing left to stop a tyrant, even the would-be tyrant, from declaring an end to Democracy itself by appointing himself “President for Life”, as was the case in China recently.
As history will have it, the Founding Fathers would not take Trump’s side if they were alive today. To interpret otherwise is incredulous given the evidence.
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