It has been 22 years since we heard the word impeachment in the context of a sitting president. And as anyone not vacationing on a deserted island knows, our Dear Leader is now the subject of an impeachment investigation by the House of Representatives. It all began with the whistleblower report of a July 25 phone call between former comedian and current Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and Donald J. Trump, the never-comedian always-despot masquerading as our president.
Trump will be the third president impeached. The first was Andrew Johnson, in 1868, for dismissing Edwin M. Stanton as Secretary of War. The second was Bill Clinton, in 1998, for lying under oath about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Both presidents were acquitted in trials by the Senate because the two-thirds majority needed to convict wasn’t reached. Smartly, Richard Nixon resigned before the humiliation of impeachment was delivered to him. Trump isn’t smart.
Impeachment is notoriously tricky: the Constitution prescribes no specific process for it, and neither does federal law. Basically, there is no set process with legal guardrails for impeachment: when Congress determines that such a proceeding is warranted, they must create their own playbook. If it’s true that the Founding Fathers saw impeachment as a last resort for removing a sitting president for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” then what is in the Constitution to describe it is maddeningly vague. There are, in all, just five clauses in the U.S. Constitution:
- Article I, Section 2, Clause 5: “The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”
- Article I, Section 3, Clause 6: “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.”
- Article I, Section 3, Clause 7: “Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”
- Article II, Section 4, Clause 5: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
- Article III, Section 2, Clause 3: “The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.”
So, the actual process of removing a president requires two steps. Step one: The House of Representatives investigates the accusations and votes for (or against) impeachment. Step two: If a president is impeached, the Senate holds a full trial. To remove a president, that aforementioned two-thirds majority is required. In our still-young history as a nation, this has never happened.
In this case, though, Trump’s high crimes are clearly higher than most. We’re not talking about getting a little on the side in the Oval and lying out of embarrassment by a stain on a blue dress. Or some long forgotten issue with a cabinet member. Indeed, our Dear Leader won’t settle for any ordinary crime. We now know that Trump, after asking the Russians to help him win the 2016 election, decided screw it, I’ll ask Ukraine:
Trump will be accused of withholding $400 million in Congressionally authorized military aid to Ukraine until President Zelensky agreed to investigate Hunter Biden and the company Burisma. Indeed, Ukraine’s top prosecutor is doing exactly that:
Ukraine’s top prosecutor said on Friday he would audit several important cases previously handled by his predecessors, including a criminal case involving the owner of a natural gas company that employed a son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he thinks Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails “could be” in Ukraine — the latest evidence-free theory he has floated amid a growing scandal over allegations that he attempted to strong-arm that country’s president to boost his campaign.
We know Trump takes responsibility for nothing. As impeachment began to loom, he called on the media to investigate Vice President Pence’s relationship relationship with, and phone calls to, Ukraine. (Mike, watch out! You’re about to be under that bus!)
I think you should ask for Vice President Pence’s conversation, because he had a couple of conversations also…
Which, of course, begs the question: If Trump thinks media is all Fake News and corrupt and the enemy of the people, why would he want them to work on his behalf? Why am I trying to make sense of this senseless buffoon? Impeach him!
No one is safe around the ever-impeachable Trump. Not even Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who, as one of Trump’s last original cabinet members, has finally been tarnished by the president’s high crimes and dirty dealings. Maybe Perry’s relationship with Ukrainian presidents, former and current, is all about selling US natural gas, I don’t know. I do know that Trump’s stink will now taint any honest work poor Perry ever did. Womp womp.
This president has gotten away with so much overt corruption, including making sure that he and his criminal-enterprise family financially benefits from his office. Point-blank asking a foreign government or two (China!) to investigate his political rivals while having his pal Rudolph Giuliani freelancing as a shadow Secretary of State, however, is beyond the pale. We may not have impeached and removed Trump for the 10 obstruction charges outlined in the Mueller Report, but we have plenty of evidence that he will more than deserve the charges in this impeachment. Recent polling shows that the American people are not on Trump’s side; more than half the country wants him gone. And now that there’s a second whistleblower — or maybe more — there will be more reports of even more criminality by the dirtiest president in US history. Step one is underway. Step two will mean the whole game.