Impeachment is not the answer
By Jim Coogan
As we get closer to the 2018 mid-term elections, many Democrats are hoping to make congressional gains that could stymie president Trump’s agenda. While that may be an understandable goal on their part, the thought that control of Congress could be an avenue to impeach and remove Trump is a bad idea.
Article I of the U.S. Constitution stipulates that civil officers of the United States, including the president, may be removed from office for “high crimes and/or misdemeanors.” It’s a two-stage judicial process where the House of Representatives by simple majority proposes formal charges and then things move to the Senate where a two thirds majority determines guilt or non-guilt. It’s been used sparingly. Only two presidents have been indicted for crimes that allegedly fit these categories. Andrew Johnson and William Clinton were impeached and found not guilty of the charges. Richard Nixon would have been impeached but he resigned from the presidency before the House could bring formal charges against him.
Impeachment is a bad idea because it will, as it clearly has in the past, end up as a purely partisan exercise. In Andrew Johnson’s case it was the still raw political edges still remaining from the recently ended Civil War that saw the effort to remove the 17th president. Johnson, a Democrat, was seen by the Radical Republicans as being too soft on the defeated states of the Confederacy. In Clinton’s case, it was because he lied about the Monica Lewinsky affair and the insurgent Republicans under Newt Gingrich saw an opening to dump a president from the opposing party.
In today’s bitterly divided American political landscape, any call for impeachment by the Democrats would be viewed by Trump loyalists as an end-around move by the party out of power to overturn the legitimate election of a president. It is a fact that a large number of American voters who are already suspicious about anything that comes out of Washington, would feel that they were cheated by a corrupt system. It would lead to chaos and further the social and political instability that we are already experiencing.
Even if the Democrats flipped the House of Representatives in November and regained power in that chamber, it would be a grave mistake to use their majority to introduce articles of impeachment. Even if that could be accomplished, getting two thirds of the Senate to find the president guilty would be impossible. Meanwhile we would have many Americans believing that all of the hysteria about a so-called “Deep State” is true.
Another factor that Democrats should consider is that just floating the idea of impeachment will become a rallying point for the Republican base. And they will work all the harder in mobilizing their supporters to prevent the anti-Trump forces from making congressional gains. In the end, talk of impeachment will just be a distraction from the real issues Democrats should be campaigning about. If it keeps up, our embattled chief executive will become a sympathetic figure. And that’s the last thing Democrats should want to happen.
Today’s news (6/1/18)prove we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg on this one!!!
One has to wonder what the parents of Otto Warmbier, the 22 year old student who was brutally beaten to the point of death in North Korea, thought when they saw a U.S. President today shaking hands with a representative of the government that did it. The diplomat, reportedly very close to dictator Kim Jong Un, was given the royal treatment in Washington as our president pushes the time line for a Singapore summit meeting. Never mind that most foreign policy experts rate North Korea as the most oppressive regime in the world, on a par with Soviet Russia under Stalin. This the same day that tariffs were slapped on Canada for “unfair trade policies.”
For those who may have forgotten, Warmbier took a poster off the wall in his hotel and ended up serving 18 months of hard labor, during which time his teeth were knocked out and his brain bashed to the point where he could not recover when belatedly released. But I guess the North Korean diplomat rated a hug and handshake from our current chief executive who apparently sees our neighbor to the north as more of a threat to us than a brutal regime that executes dissenters while starving the people it enslaves. There was blood on at least one pair of hands here.
Pardon my pardon
By Jim Coogan
Donald Trump’s newly discovered power of the presidential pardon has produced some interesting consequences. This authority, listed in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution holds a whole lot of potential for our chief executive. Recently Trump pardoned Scooter Libby an aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice lying about revealing the identity of a CIA undercover agent. A few months ago he pardoned Phoenix, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpiao who had been convicted of defying a court order to stop profiling illegal immigrants. Because Arpiao was an early supporter of Trump, he got a reprieve from the president. Clear and simple, Trump used the presidential pardon in this case as a political tool to court the anti-immigration block of voters in Arizona.
I doubt that Trump ever heard of black boxer Jack Johnson, a man convicted of violating the Mann Act in 1913 when he took a white woman across state lines. President Obama didn’t pardon Johnson when he could have. But as a means of tossing a symbolic bone to black voters, Trump pardoned Johnson yesterday in a clear move to draw some African American voters into his camp. Ironically, Johnson would not have been able to rent an apartment in one of Trump’s real estate holdings. And whether Johnson should or shouldn’t get a pardon is not the issue. It is the obvious political use of the pardon that is in question here.
If he wants to, Trump could get a lot of political mileage out of using the presidential pardon. If, for example, he exonerates Confederate president Jefferson Davis, he could solidify and maybe even expand his southern white base. He could pardon Al Capone and ingratiate himself with Italian-American voters. Maybe he could grant forgiveness to the Rosenbergs – Julius and Ethel. There’s a potential constituency there. I suppose he could go all the way back to Benedict Arnold, Trump seems obsessed with what he views as “traitors,” lumping into that category, anyone who disagrees with his plans for making America great again. Hopefully someone in the administration would brief him on the particulars of the Arnold case before he cleans up the record.
Trump has been raising the possibility that he may pardon some of the people who are caught up in the current Russia probe. At the very least, he’s sending a thinly veiled message that if they stick with him, they can expect a “get out of jail” card from the commander in chief. No negative testimony against Trump – no jail time.
Trump isn’t the only one to play fast and loose with presidential pardons. Bill Clinton granted a pardon to billionaire Marc Rich who had been convicted of bank fraud. Rich had been a big donor to the Clinton campaign. There was a smell to that one. President George W. Bush pardoned six Reagan officials who had been convicted of crimes related to the Iran-Contra case. And of course, there was the Nixon pardon.
The presidential pardon clause in the Constitution may have seemed to the Framers to be a good idea back in the day. It’s now become purely a political tool and it should be scrapped.