For the last umpteen months, almost since he took office, impeachment talk has centered on the most hated/admired President since Andrew Johnson, Donald Trump.
Wait. Since Nixon… No. Clinton.
Wait! Franklin Roosevelt was really, really hated in 1932. Then he was loved and went on to four terms. Which, by 1951, caused another change of heart: limiting a President to two terms via the 22nd Amendment.
We are a fickle country.
If you want to get rid of a President or other high official, you have two options, the 25th Amendment for mental incompetence, and Article 2, Impeachment for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Article 2 also gives The House of Representatives the “sole Power of Impeachment” and the Senate “the sole Power to try all impeachments”.
When she was only 28 and the House of Representatives first considered impeaching Richard Nixon, Hillary Clinton helped write a report on Impeachment. It noted that 83 federal officials had been served with Articles of Impeachment since the Constitution made it out of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in 1789.
In 1974 the House used the report in deciding to impeach Nixon. It must have been a pretty impressive piece, because Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.
Over the years, only 8 Presidents have faced impeachment and, of those, only two have actually been impeached: Andrew Johnson and, ironically, Hillary’s husband, Bill. Both were acquitted.
More ironically, Congress is using the same report today as they consider impeaching Hillary’s nemesis, Donald Trump.
At 0 for 3 since 1789, it is small wonder Pelosi is leery of impeaching a President.
Of course that leaves out all those non-presidents who have been impeached over the years.
The first judge to be impeached was John Pickering in 1803. He was nominated by George Washington, no less. Even so, he lost his job due to mental instability and intoxication on the bench.
Mental instability and intoxication are pretty common excuses today for everything from petty theft to wife-beating and mass murder; Impeachment is a high bar.
Since 1803, 15 judges, two presidents, one Secretary of War, and one Senator have been impeached. Eight were found guilty and removed from office. One case was dismissed. Seven were acquitted. Three resigned.
The most recent federal judge to lose his job, Thomas Corteous, of Louisiana’s Eastern District, was caught taking bribes and lying about it. Too bad he couldn’t use the instability/intoxication excuse.
Which brings up Brett Kavanaugh. Remember him from way back in July of last year? And Christine Ford, the woman who claimed he sexually assaulted her during high school? Remember Trump and GOP leaders preventing the FBI from a complete investigation of Ford’s claims? Or Deborah Ramirez’s claim, corroborated by at least 7 others, that Kavanaugh waved his penis in front of her at a Yale party?
At his hearing, Kavanaugh admitted to liking beer, but despite of some weird tears and outbursts, he was never accused of mental instability or intoxication. Instead he was approved for the Supreme Court in a historically close vote, 50-48.
It is now being reported that another Yale woman was also visited by Kavanaugh’s waving penis. So, now Democrats are calling for him to be impeached.
That makes two people the Democrats want to impeach, Kavanaugh and Trump (for some reason, they’ve left out Senate Leader Mitch McConnell – must be his good looks).
The problem for Democrats is that impeachment efforts usually fail. With a Republican Senate, the prospects of impeaching Trump or Kavanaugh are about the same as either one retiring and moving to the Bahamas.
So, why even start impeachment if you know it might fail?
Beyond that, the impeachment of Trump or Kavanaugh may well define the entire 2020 Presidential campaign, smothering a long list of kitchen table subjects, such as climate change, healthcare, economic inequality, education, infrastructure, etc…
Politics is not included in the Constitution, beyond some ground rules. The Constitution doesn’t suggest when to do anything about “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” It simply offers a way to stop them. House members decide when, or even whether, to do so.
So, if Congress sees “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” should it use the Constitution or not? If it doesn’t act now, will it weaken the Articles of Impeachment for future use? Is Impeachment a political or moral tool?
If the House does nothing, is it doing something?