THE IMPEACHMENT PROCESS
How does the impeachment process work?
“The Constitution gives Congress the power to remove a president before his or her term is up if enough lawmakers vote to say the president committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” It starts with an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee, hearings are held, and a vote is taken. If a majority of the House agrees to a resolution, called “articles of impeachment,” the President is technically “impeached” – something that’s happened to two presidents, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998.
But being impeached doesn’t mean the President is immediately removed from office. Think of it as an indictment. What happens next is the trial. That takes place in the Senate, presided over by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. The House appoints “managers” to make its case, and the President has a legal team to make his.
The Senate then votes – and needs a two-thirds majority to convict and remove the President from office. There are currently 47 Senate Democrats, so it would take at least 20 Republican votes to remove President Trump from office(FoxNews.com).”
Now, let us state right from the start that barring some dramatic new facts emerging, it is highly unlikely 20 Republicans will vote to remove President Trump. It should also be noted that impeachment does not overturn the election results.
Two sitting presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, have been impeached. Richard Nixon, in order to avoid being impeached, resigned. Chuck Colson gives a personal insight into the process, from his perspective of being directly involved with President Nixon.
“Nearly 25 years ago, I sat in the witness chair facing the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment hearings of Richard Nixon. It was hardly a happy day for me because I was there to testify under oath about all the transgressions we now know of as Watergate.
I left the hearings that night knowing I was going to prison, despondent because I knew that my friend President Nixon would soon be out of office. But, in a sense, I had a renewed confidence in the American system. Why? Because the congressmen seemed genuinely concerned about upholding the law. Even the Republicans, mostly partisan defenders of Nixon, recognized that the integrity of the presidency was on the line, and what was right had to take precedence over politics. Even though I was on the losing end, I was reassured that the American system was stronger than any man or partisan interest.
Chuck went on to note how those days were over, replaced by a culture in which political leaders were unwilling to put national interest above political ideology, and in which citizens had lost their confidence in the American system. . . . Still, in Chuck’s final analysis, after the Senate (wrongly, in his view) acquitted President Clinton, he reminded us that all the events of the cultural moment must be understood in light of something bigger, unchanging, and ultimately sure: And for all of us who are Christians, regardless of how we view this process, let us remind ourselves that we serve a God who rules over the affairs of men-whether they know it or not (Breakpoint.org).“
PRINCIPLE OR POLITICS?
If one examines the events of the last three years, it is not hard to see that this move to impeach President Trump is more a matter of politics than principle for a number of reasons.
- The talk of impeachment was there right from the time Trump was elected President. Newt Gingrich wrote an article entitled ‘The Resistance Against Trump Began the Day he was Elected – – This is not an Impeachment Process (Foxnew.com).’
- A comparison of what politicians said in 1998 and what they are now saying clearly shows that the pursuit of impeachment is based on politics not principle.
Then (as a senator from Delaware): “The American people don’t think that they have made a mistake by electing Bill Clinton and we in Congress had better be very careful before we upset their decision and make darn sure that we are able to convince them, if we decide to upset their decision, that our decision to impeach him was based upon principle and not politics.”
– Nov. 18, 1998, speech at National Press Club
Now: “It is a tragedy for this country that our president put personal politics above his sacred oath. He has put his own political interests over our national security interest, which is bolstering Ukraine against Russian pressure. It is an affront to every single American and the founding values of our country.”
– Sept. 25, statement
SENATOR CHARLES E. SCHUMER, D-N.Y.
Then (as a House member): “It is time we move forward, and not have the Congress and the American people endure a specter of what could be a yearlong focus on a tawdry but not impeachable affair.”
– Oct. 6, 1998, news report
Now: “This document” – a White House summation of the phone conversation – “demonstrates that President Trump made it abundantly and redundantly clear to the president of the Ukraine that he wanted him to investigate his political opponent and further that he wanted him to work with Atty. Gen. [William] Barr to make it happen. This document absolutely validates the wisdom of … [the] decision to open up a formal impeachment inquiry.”
– Sept. 25, news report
Now, least you think I am only using Democrats to make this point, let me quote a Republican.
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY
Then: “Our nation is indeed at a crossroads. Will we pursue the search for truth, or will we dodge, weave and evade the truth? I am of course referring to the investigation into serious allegations of illegal conduct by the president of the United States – that the president has engaged in a persistent pattern and practice of obstruction of justice. The allegations are grave, the investigation is legitimate, and ascertaining the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the unqualified, unevasive truth is absolutely critical.”
– Feb. 12, 1998, floor statement
Now: “Instead of working together across party lines on legislation to help American families and strengthen our nation, they will descend even deeper into their obsession with relitigating 2016. This rush to judgment comes just a few hours after President Trump offered to release the details of his phone conversation with President Zelensky. It comes despite the fact that committee-level proceedings are already underway to address the whistleblower allegation through a fair, bipartisan and regular process. It simply confirms that House Democrats’ priority is not making life better for the American people but their nearly 3-year-old fixation on impeachment.”
– Sept. 24 statement
The issue is about politics not principle. But let us remember the reason the founding fathers stated as the basis for impeachment was ‘Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors (U.S. Constitution Article II Section IV)’ was to prevent what still happens now in British politics where politicians can remove a leaders on the base of a vote of no confidence (parliament.uk)
HOW DID WE GET SO POLITICAL?
I am not a historian, but I believe the present divisive situation started back in 1987 with the battle over President Reagan’s nomination of Judge Bork to the Supreme Court. This was later followed by the battle over President Bush’s nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas in 1991. The tables were then turned with the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland by President Obama in 2016, which was held up by Republicans and not put to a vote. Then recently, we had the bitter battle over President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
On both sides of the aisle, it is not primarily principle. Rather it is primarily about politics and the quest for power.
One should note that the battle over the nominations for the Supreme Court also relates to the issue of abortion. However, the main issue, I believe, is the unwillingness of the left to accept the legitimacy of the 2016 election of President Trump. Hence the constant call for impeachment from the time he took office.
I am not seeking at this time to examine the evidence or otherwise for the impeachment of President Trump. What I have sought to do is to state that I believe that the issue is primarily political, not a matter of principle.
I do not always agree or condone the way President Trump has spoken or acted (The latest being the issue of Turkey and the Kurds). However, at the time of writing this Langstaff Letter, I do not believe that there are sufficient grounds for impeachment. I don’t believe that the accusations, which have currently not been proven, reach the level of ‘treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors.’
There is a need for all the facts to be presented and examined regarding all the issues involved, but I firmly believe that this is primarily political and not a matter of principle brought about by people who hate President Trump and have not yet accepted that he won the Presidential election in 2016 and do not want to see him reelected in 2020.