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Presidential Impeachment

The purpose of this paper is to explore the topic of presidential impeachment. What is it? When is used?t Has it been used? Should it be used to remove President Trump from office? Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution states, “The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment”. Article 2, Section 4 states, “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”. The mechanism, according to is: “The Constitution does not specify how impeachment proceedings are to be initiated.

Early in our history, a Member would rise on the floor of Congress and propose an impeachment, which would then be assigned to a committee. In recent years, Members of the House Judiciary Committee have initiated the proceeding and then made recommendations for the whole House’s consideration. If the House votes an impeachment resolution, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee recommends a slate of managers, whom the House subsequently approves by resolution, and who then become prosecutors in the trial in the Senate.”

So the House brings the charges and the trial is held in the Senate. Two-thirds of the Senate must vote to convict before an official can be removed. The President may not pardon a person who has been impeached (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1). If an official is impeached by the House and convicted by the requisite vote in the Senate, then Article I, Section 3, Clause 7, provides that the person convicted is further barred from any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States. There have not been any successful impeachments over the years. Presidents Andrew Johnson and William Clinton had their trials end in acquittals by the Senate. There were discussions and a bill of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. However, Nixon resigned before the full House could vote on the impeachment charges against him ( Presser, Professor of Law at Northwestern University, wrote this about what is actually an impeachable offense, “There has been considerable controversy about what constitutes an impeachable offense.

At the Constitutional Convention, the delegates early on voted for “mal-practice and neglect of duty” as grounds for impeachment, but the Committee of Detail narrowed the basis to treason, bribery, and corruption, then deleting the last point. George Mason, who wanted the grounds much broader and similar to the earlier formulation, suggested “maladministration,” but James Madison pointed out that this would destroy the President’s independence and make him dependent on the Senate. Mason then suggested “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” which the Convention accepted”. The charge of high crimes and misdemeanors covers allegations of misconduct peculiar to officials, such as perjury of oath, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty, unbecoming conduct, and refusal to obey a lawful order. “Because “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” was a term of art used in English impeachments, a plausible reading supported by many scholars is that the grounds for impeachment can be not only the defined crimes of treason and bribery, but also other criminal or even noncriminal behavior amounting to a serious dereliction of duty. That interpretation is disputed, but it is agreed by virtually all that the impeachment remedy was to be used in only the most extreme situations, a position confirmed by the relatively few instances in which Congress has used the device” (Presser).

On February 24, 1868 President Andrew Johnson was impeached with a charge of Violating the Tenure of Office Act. He was acquitted on May 26, 1868.

Wikipedia states, “The Tenure of Office Act restricted the power of the President to suspend an officer while the Senate was not in session. If, when the Senate reconvened, it declined to ratify the removal, the President would be required to reinstate the official. In August 1867, with the Senate out of session, Johnson made his move against his foe Secretary of Defense Stanton, suspending him pending the next session of the Senate. However, when the Senate convened on January 4, 1868, it refused to ratify the removal by a vote of 35-16. Notwithstanding the vote, President Johnson attempted to appoint a new Secretary of War because he wanted, by such action, to create a case through which to challenge the legitimacy of the Act before the Supreme Court. Proceedings began within days to move toward impeaching Johnson, the first impeachment of a United States President. After a three-month trial, Johnson avoided removal from office by the Senate by a single vote”.

Stanton resigned in May 1868. He was against Stanton because of their widely different views on post-Civil War reconstruction. On December 19, 1998 President Bill Clinton was impeached with a charge of Perjury and obstruction of justice. He was acquitted on February 12, 1999. These charges stemmed from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Clinton by Paula Jones. Clinton was subsequently acquitted of these charges by the Senate on February 12, 1999. Two other impeachment articles, a second perjury charge and a charge of abuse of power, also failed in the House. These can up because, according to Wikipedia; ”Clinton gave a sworn deposition on 17 January 1998 where he denied having a “sexual relationship”, “sexual affair”, or “sexual relations” with Lewinsky. After rumors of the scandal reached the news, Clinton publicly stated, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” Months later, Clinton admitted that his relationship with Lewinsky was “wrong” and “not appropriate.” Lewinsky engaged in oral sex with Clinton several times”.

Currently there is talk that there should be an impeachment of President Trump. This has been an issue ever since his election. Many Democrats think he is unfit to serve and want him removed from office. In June Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) unveiled a proposed article of impeachment against President Trump for allegedly obstructing justice in a federal investigation. He says that Trump’s alleged attempts to pressure since-fired FBI Director James Comey to drop the agency’s investigation into former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn amounts to obstruction of justice. Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) was working separately on a similar resolution charging that Trump tried to obstruct justice, along with other actions that could merit separate impeachment articles (Marcos).

Most Democrats are not joining his cause. In conclusion I think the impeachment process was been used properly in the past. It should be reserved for very serious issues that occurred while in office. It should not be used because you don’t like or agree with the President. I do not think there is any current evidence of an impeachable offense by President Trump.

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