I am somehow on the mailing list of Colorado Common Cause (CCC). This organization is no fan of President Trump, and with each perceived Trump transgression CCC’s fundraising emails have gotten more alarmist. “Resist Fascism”, the headers read. “Take Back Our Nation“ And my personal favorite: “Save Our Democracy”. According to CCC and almost every other progressive group the President represents an imminent and mortal danger to the nation that can only be held at bay by united and unceasing resistance (and generous donations) from Fair-Minded Progressives (many of whom prefer to “resist” by setting fire to buildings, smashing up police cars and assaulting middle-aged Trump voters). Donald Trump has certainly united and galvanized the Democrat Party, just as Barack Obama did the Republicans. We may not know what we’re for, but we damn sure know what we’re against.
I can sympathize with the Left’s angst. So far the Trump Administration is getting a solid thumbs down in nearly all quarters. But Americans should be troubled by the remedy being floated, and how shaky the legal ground is under it. Almost every Democrat is at least hinting, if not screaming, that the President should be removed from office. The only means to that end, short of proving that Mr. Trump was actually born in Kenya (or Moscow), would be for Congress to impeach him.
Here’s the problem: Impeachment is a very high bar to clear, even if the President’s party is not in control of Congress. It requires the House of Representatives to formulate and pass articles of impeachment, the charges of “high crimes and misdemeanors”- bribery, treason and such. Senators then act as the jury (Chief Justice Roberts would preside), and 67 of them must vote for impeachment before the President will be shown the door. In the history of the Republic no Presidential impeachment has ever gone the distance, and it has been attempted only three times.
The closest call came in 1868 when facile, politically-motivated impeachment articles were brought against President Andrew Johnson, ostensibly because he fired his Secretary of War. Johnson avoided being tossed by two votes in the Senate, where anger at his refusal to punish the Confederacy more severely ran hot.
The next instance laid bare the demonstrably illegal machinations of good old Dick Nixon, who spared himself the ignominy of being frog-marched out of the White House by resigning the office before his proceedings got under way. One president a near victim of political infighting, the other a textbook example of a high crime.
The sordid case of President Bill Clinton falls somewhere in between. A puerile Republican House brought charges which the Democrat Senate dismissed with a collective yawn, that body apparently not overly concerned that the President lied to Congress about getting to third base (the cigar evidently scored) with the lusty Ms. Lewinsky. High crime? Maybe. Politically motivated? Definitely. On that sliding scale the shadowy charges swirling around the Trump Administration have a distinctly Andrew Johnson/Bill Clinton caste to them. Continue reading