The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office upon Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. (Constitution, Article II, Section 4)
Trumputin is almost asking for it, many Democrats in Congress and throughout the country are demanding it, and the time has come to do it. Not Articles of Impeachment—yet—but the start of an inquiry in the House Judiciary Committee as to whether Articles of Impeachment should later be filed and debated in the House, to determine if the President, and others, should be impeached in the House and tried in the Senate.
So what would be the crimes that Trumputin is guilty of? “Treason” clearly is what Benedict Arnold was guilty of in the Revolutionary War, spying on George Washington’s troop movements and reporting them to the British. It is generally defined as “the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.”
In the Constitution, it is defined as follows: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort”. Some legal scholars say that Treason can only be charged in times when a war has been declared (which has not happened since World War II), but others (including me) strongly believe that a traitor can be guilty in a modern Cold War setting, such as when a President gives aid and comfort to an enemy such as Russia, favoring for whatever reason the policies and requests of that hostile government over the needs and best interests of his own country.
Some countries distinguish between “High Treason” (a violent attempt against the existence of constitutional order, such as an attempt to overthrow the government), and “Treason” (espionage, or betraying a secret to a foreign power to damage the home country or to favor that foreign power). Russia defines treason as “espionage, disclosure of state secrets, or any other assistance rendered to a foreign State, a foreign organization, or their representatives in hostile activities to the detriment of the external security of the Russian Federation”. Pretty clearly, Trumputin would be guilty of treason in Russia if he was a Russian citizen and did what he is doing now to our country. Is he giving Aid and Comfort to Russia?
Bribery is the act of giving or receiving something of value in exchange for some kind of influence or action in return, that the recipient would otherwise not offer. For example, Trump campaign operatives taking a meeting with Russian operatives to get “dirt’ on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Presidential campaign in return for lessening the sanctions on Russia if their candidate wins the election might well be considered “Bribery”. It certainly is a campaign law violation.
Likewise, Manafort’s and Gates’ secret meeting with Konstantin Kalimnik, a Russian spy, on August 2, 2016 at a New York City cigar club to provide “battleground” states polling data to the Russian to be passed on to Russian media operatives who would use that data to wage massive media campaigns in favor of Trumputin and against Clinton in the battleground states seems to be a clear example of a conspiracy to commit Bribery.
“High Crimes and Misdemeanors”
This term in the U.S. Constitution has existed in British law since at least 1386, when the King’s Chancellor, the Earl of Suffolk, was impeached for breaking a promise to Parliament. The use of the word “high” in the legal language of the 17th and 18th centuries meant activity by or against those who have special duties acquired by taking an oath of office that are not shared with common persons. A “high crime” is something that can only be done by someone in a unique position of political authority, who does things to circumvent justice.
The phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” in the 1780s, when the U.S. Constitution was written, was historically used to cover a very broad range of crimes. The phrase was adopted by our Founders with little discussion, as they knew the phrase well. My ancestor Benjamin Franklin found that the power of impeachment and removal was necessary for those times when the Executive “rendered himself obnoxious” and “when his conduct should deserve it”. The phrase covers all or any crime that abuses office. Alexander Hamilton defined it as “the abuse or violation of some public trust”.
Prior to the Clinton impeachment in the late 1990s, the House had begun impeachment proceedings against only 17 officials – one U.S. Senator, two Presidents, one cabinet member, and 13 federal judges. Since 1376, this offense has been applied to such offenses as:
- misappropriating government funds
- appointing unfit subordinates
- not prosecuting cases
- not spending money allocated by Parliament
- promoting themselves ahead of more deserving candidates
- threatening a grand jury
- disobeying an order from Parliament
- arresting a man to keep him from running for Parliament
- helping to suppress petitions to the king to call a Parliament
- granting warrants without cause
- chronic intoxication
The one common denominator in all these charges was that the official had somehow abused the power of his office and was unfit to serve.
How many of these accusations has Trumputin clearly been guilty of? A new one seems to pop up every day, including many of the offenses outlined above. With a strong majority in the House, the Democrats can easily pass Articles of Impeachment, but will Trumputin be removed by the Republican-controlled Senate? With 67 of 100 votes needed in the Senate to convict, and only 47 Democrats there, 20 GOP Senators would have to vote to remove their “elected” President, a difficult task to accomplish.
However, I agree with Senator Elizabeth Warren that all 100 Senators should be forced to cast their votes on whether or not to remove Trumputin from office, to show how patriotic they are: will the interests of party or country prevail? That vote will be stamped on their foreheads forever. What if Mitch McConnell refuses to schedule a trial in the Senate? The Constitution uses the term “shall”, requiring the Senate to try the charges of impeachment. If Mitch refuses to proceed, he should also be impeached in the House and tried in the Senate, and removed as Senate Majority Leader.
Additionally, there are 19 Republican Senators up for reelection in 2020 (plus three who are retiring), and only 12 Democrats, and it is possible that Trump will be defeated for reelection (if he does not work out a deal first). If the Democrats again control both houses of Congress and the White House in January, 2021, Trumputin will no longer be President and is certain to end up in the slammer for his crimes (unless he stages a coup and refuses to leave office).
We live in interesting times…