Democrats & Liberals Archives

'The Impeachment Option'

Before Alberto Gonzales or Phillip A. Cooney can render entire sections of Articles I and II of the U.S. Constitution covering Impeachment either voluntary or subject to revisions, I thought I’d put together a simple blog pamphlet outlining the basic parameters, which are surprisingly easier to understand than 5 Card ‘Texas Hold ‘Em’ Rules.

The progress towards accountability in the aftermath of the Downing Street Memo has succeeded far beyond my wary expectations. And, I certainly hope the Republicans and the Conservative Echo Chamber will find themselves similarly confronted on this issue, as they have been cornered of late having to defend Bush's Social Security scam, Terry Schiavo, Dr. Frist and the Justice Sunday Theocrats, John Bolton and their President's ill-advised veto threat of stem cell research funding.

Yet, as the discussion will inevitable hinge on whether the intended manipulation by the Bush administration - clearly (and so far, irrefutably) stated in the DSM - actually rises to the level of 'treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors', I will nonetheless encourage those on the Left to follow my lead.

If ever challenged by someone on the Right to show proof, be sure to always point to the 'seditious crimes' committed by President Bill Clinton which led to the Articles of Impeachment successfully brought against him - and contrast them against the deceptions of George Bush, that led us into such a disastrous, unnecessary war.

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Constitutional scholars have actually reached a consensus presently as to what constitutes an impeachable offense, constructs revised ironically as recently as the Watergate Hearings of the early 1970s'. Interpretations as to what constitutes 'high crimes and misdemeanors', boil down to four schools of thought:

The first general school of thought is that the standard enunciated by the Constitution is subject entirely to whatever interpretation Congress collectively wishes to make...

This view has been rejected by most scholars because it would have the effect of having the President serve at the pleasure of Congress.

Second,

The second view is that the above Constitutional standard makes it necessary for a President to have committed an indictable crime in order to be subject to impeachment and removal from office.

Another Watergate irony here is that this interpretation was strongly advanced by Congressional Republicans in defense of Richard Nixon. Arguing that the subsequent cover-up of the DNC headquarters' break-in did not constitute violation of any law. This is where I believe Bush's Defenders can make their only plausible stand against Articles being brought. But, let me conclude with the other two points.

The third approach is that an indictable crime is not required to impeach and remove a President. The proponents of this view focus on the word "misdemeanor" which did not have a specific criminal connotation to it at the time the Constitution was ratified.

This third interpretation has been the most revised of the Articles' standards, alternately judged ideal after being re-worded to being 'too vague', even in its current draft. On spec, this school of thought can be judged a wash. Yet, I predict it may come in handy for those Masters of the Illogical Fallacies on the Right, proficient in 'muddling' the facts.

The fourth view is that an indictable crime is not required, but that the impeachable act or acts done by the President must in some way relate to his official duties. The bad act may or may not be a crime but it would be more serious then simply "maldministration."

This final interpretation holds the most promise for the Democrats because it provides the lowest threshold of wrongdoing to prove, but with the most unambiguous and applicable depiction of Bush's actionable abuses.

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Now, I am not going to get myself into the same trick bag that has befallen many an arrogant, first year law clerk, so don't expect me to go out on a limb and connect these dots to the four Articles of Impeachment brought against President Clinton. However, what I find simple, yet significant enough to point out in conclusion, is what constituted 'indictable crimes', and from what incident(s) or action(s) involving President Clinton, these impeachable offenses arose from:

Article I: Perjury Before A Grand Jury - Monica Lewinsky Federal Grand Jury, Paula Jones Civil Rights case

Article II: Perjury In A Sworn Affidavit - Paula Jones Civil Rights case

Article III: Obstruction Of Justice - Impeding and making false statements to influence testimony of others

Article IIII: Abuse Of Power

- The President made false and misleading statements for the purpose of deceiving the American people
- The President made false and misleading statements to members of the Cabinet and White House aides
- The President frivolously asserted executive privilege
- The President made perjurious, false and misleading statements to Congress

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Seemingly, if I've fast-forwarded through to the climatic finish to this drama, when in reality we've not even gotten through the opening credits, my detractors here will maintain it's proof of a formulaic plot by the Dems, who will fail once again to get their man, in the end. Yet, even as I write this WatchBlog post, there has emerged more damning revelations of this administration's intended manipulation, and failure to plan for an Iraqi Invasion aftermath. Certainly, such evidence will bolster a mounting case to bring Impeachment charges, however I have personally set my sights much lower.

I will continue to make the pragmatic political argument, that the Dems and the Left need not achieve the exaggerated, conspiratorial goals dictated by the Right. Because, as Harry Reid & Co. have keenly discovered, there are considerable political rewards to be earned, even in failing to stop the Bolton nomination and confirmations of three extremist jurists.

Leaving Impeachment still, as a viable option.

Posted by Bert M. Caradine at June 12, 2005 8:10 PM