Larry Horist | Nov 18, 2022 | 52
To impeach or not to impeach
The possibility of impeaching President Biden should the GOP take control of the House was the subject of an NBC discussion between “Meet the Press’ host Chuck Todd and South Carolina Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace.
In response to a question from Todd, Mace said there would be some pressure to impeach Biden. She generally pushed back against such talk, however – saying that she would not vote for an impeachment if there was no due process.
Democrats and the media like to use the impeach Biden issue as part of a fearmongering campaign to scare voters away from Republicans. Since there are no investigations at this time that would establish grounds for impeachment, a quick and early action to impeach is extremely unlikely.
Todd acted surprised that Republicans would even consider talking impeachment at this point. What are the grounds? Although Todd did not ask that obvious follow-up question. Perhaps he did not want to hear the number of issues that might be impeachable offenses.
But you can hardly blame Republicans in view of the way in which Democrats proceeded to impeach President Trump – twice. Democrats were planning to impeach Trump even before he was inaugurated. On the first day of Trump’s term in office, the Washington Post called it “the first day of the Trump impeachment.” Articles of Impeachment were filed in the House shortly after the Inauguration.
Impeachment was one very serious matter. It has been likened to an indictment with a reasonable anticipation of conviction and removal by the Senate. Although there have been threats of impeachments in the early days, the only one that passed the House and put the President on trial in the Senate was the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868.
It was over the removal of a Cabinet member after the assassination of President Lincoln – an unsettled issue at the time. He was spared conviction by a single vote. The Supreme Court ultimately declared that a President could fire a Cabinet member even though the person was confirmed by the Senate. President Nixon avoided an all but certain impeachment – and likely removal from office – by resigning. He had lost the support of the Republican senators. His transgressions were egregious.
President Clinton got impeached over a tawdry affair with a White House intern – and ultimately committing perjury for which he was found guilty in court and lost his law license. But there was no chance Clinton would be found guilty and removed from office for his private indiscretion. The impeachment amounted to nothing more than a bad mark on his record – more like a House sanction on steroids.
The highly political and preplanned impeachments of Trump further degraded the procedure. It was no longer a question of “high crimes and misdemeanors” but political enmity. The party that has the majority in the House can vote for an impeachment at any time for any reason – even purely political ones.
Like the Clinton impeachment, Trump’s two impeachments were passed along party lines with no hope of winning a conviction in the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admitted as much when she said the value of the impeachment was to put a stain on Trump’s record.
If that has become the modern-day purpose of the impeachment, then we may see most future presidents getting impeached over policy or personal matters. A President should be removed from office only for the gravest of offenses – and impeachments should meet that standard.
It is often said that a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich because the standard is so low. If that is now how legislative “prosecutors’ view the impeachment, we may be subjected to impeachment hearings every time Congress changes hands – and the President is of a different party.
I can understand why Republicans may feel a level of entitlement in looking to impeach Biden – but I hope they do not without a proper investigation of VERY serious dereliction of duties. And there are a couple of issues on the horizon that could develop. But when you have all or most of one-party voting to impeach and the other voting against, you know you have a bad impeachment.
So, there ‘tis.