Impeachment has never gotten past the Senate in its previous trials. William Jefferson Clinton’s approval rating actually rose 10 points after he was acquitted by the Senate. Andrew Johnson’s popularity didn’t benefit, but he continued to serve. Richard Nixon resigned before an impeachment hearing knowing it was likely that he would be found guilty of obstruction of justice (a high crime) so we can’t be sure how he would have emerged. Clinton was tried by the House for a similar offense and found guilty.
What were the grounds for Johnson’s impeachment? President Johnson was accused of violating the Tenure of Office Act (which states that the Senate must approve of the dismissal of certain high ranking officials). Johnson had dismissed Secretary of War (under Lincoln), Edwin M. Stanton and in his place, Johnson appointed the popular General Ulysses S. Grant.
Congress overruled Stanton’s suspension and Grant resigned his position. Ignoring Congress, Johnson formally dismissed Stanton on February 21, 1868. Angered by Johnson’s open defiance, the House of Representatives formally impeached him on February 24 by a vote of 126 to 47. They charged him with bringing “disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt, and reproach the Congress of the United States.”
If impeachment is never passed in the Senate, and if, in fact, it sabotages the party seeking to uphold constitutional integrity, why do we bother?
We bother because there has to be a standard by which we hold those who ultimately administer justice to perform. If we do not have such a standard, or if we ignore the premise to uphold the charter by which we have agreed to abide, then, eventually…there is nothing left of what John Adam’s coined as a “great democratic experiment.”
Democrats are taking a great risk. If Trump gains in popularity (ala Clinton) and if impeachment stalls in the Senate because politicians are slave to popularity, Democrats could take a big hit.
Yet, if we stand for nothing, then what is left standing?
Trump has a malignant disregard for the rule of law. Several of his actions at least appear to collude with nations that do not hold America’s interests. Is that not worthy of being questioned? In fact, shouldn’t we demand the most thorough investigation at every turn? If there is even a shred of evidence that the President coaxed a foreign government to influence an American election in any way, shape or form, isn’t that something to be vigorously examined?
Clinton lied about a personal matter. But evidence suggested he lied under oath. That oath is our standard; the agreement that frames American justice. And he was impeached by the House.
Johnson defied an act of Congress, albeit one that probably wouldn’t receive much attention in post-Restoration America. But he did and he was impeached by the House.
Is anyone of the mind that those crimes are worse than a president making deals with Ukraine to dig up information on a political opponent? To the point that a president with a proclivity for cozying up with oppressive foreign powers shouldn’t be examined? Impeachment in the House is one phase, that is all, but it is necessary to calibrate accountability in our elected officials.
If you are a Trump supporter, and you truly believe in his innocence, then why aren’t you saying “Bring in on! This is how America works!
In fact, why aren’t you saying “Thank you for reminding us to live by the charter we profess to cherish”?
In fact…wasn’t it James, in the Bible, who teaches us to rejoice in our trials?