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Sunday, October 6, 2019

Impeachment Is A Complex Process

Many thanks to Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Starr Newspaper for another post this week. He gives us a clear picture of what is ahead. Roger lives in Robbinsville, NC.
Roger Carlton, guest writer

Whether you are an R, D or an I is unimportant. 
Whether you lean left or right or are in the middle of the political spectrum is unimportant. Whether you are for or against the wedge issues of today like gun control or right to life is unimportant. What is important is that our democracy is about to go through the torture of an impeachment process for President Trump.


This column is about the process of impeachment and draws no conclusions about the allegations made by a whistle blower regarding the President's conversation with his counterpart in the Ukraine. You will be able to decide for yourself as the process unfolds over the next few months.

Impeachment means that the President and other high federal officials may be removed from office as defined in Article 2 Section 4 of the Constitution for Conviction of Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

What this phrase means is that the incumbent has abused the power of the office. The allegations made by the whistle blower and the transcript of a telephone conversation, which included the American and Ukrainian presidents, have caused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi  to end her recalcitrance and authorize the House Judiciary Committee to investigate. They can draw up Articles of Impeachment should the Committee so determine.

These charges must be crystal clear as to what laws are violated and must be written so that the American public understands what the alleged infractions are. There should be no hemming and hawing as happened when Robert Mueller testified regarding his probe into Russian interference in our election process.

The House of Representatives receives the Articles of Impeachment and then votes with majority rule to forward the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate which acts as judge and jury except in cases of presidential impeachment when the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides.

A two-thirds majority of the Senate is necessary to convict. The President is then removed and the Vice President takes the office. The new President then picks a Vice President who must be confirmed by both the House and the Senate. The new President and Vice President serve until the next general election which is in November 2020.

The American public is tired of all this partisan activity and now we will be confronted with a whole heap more of tired. Keep in mind that impeachment has been tried before. Eight Presidents have been threatened with impeachment and only two have made it to trial before the Senate.

Andrew Johnson, who became President after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, was impeached over his attempts to fire Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. President Johnson failed to force the post Civil War southern states to allow former slaves to vote and other rights granted by the Thirteenth Amendment. Stanton openly argued with President Johnson. Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act to protect Stanton. The fight continued until Johnson's impeachment passed the House of Representatives and eventually failed in the Senate. Stanton resigned and the next President Ulysses S. Grant nominated Stanton to the Supreme Court. He was confirmed by the Senate but died four days later at the age of 55. Talk about irony.

President Nixon would have been impeached over the Watergate affair but had the good grace to resign prior to putting the country through the trauma. It has been alleged that Henry Kissinger brokered a deal that incoming President Ford would pardon Nixon if charges were brought and he was convicted as a civilian. President Ford did pardon Nixon for any crimes he might have committed. It cost Ford his re-election bid. 

 President Clinton's Impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky affair passed the House but failed in the Senate. So no President has ever been booted from office by the impeachment process.

One thing is for sure. This process will be ultra-political and the evidence and testimony presented will have only marginal impact on the ultimate decisions by both sides of Congress.

Educator Laurence J. Peter summed it up when he said, "Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them."

Let's  be both informed and patient as this nasty business unfolds the way the Framers wanted when they established the process more than 200 years ago.



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