THE FOUNDERS LEFT THAT EXCEPTION OUT OF THE IMPEACHMENT CLAUSE
Untitled, Watercolor, Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Amy Lawrence**
Telling Fox “News” on August 23, 2018, “you can’t impeach someone doing a great job,” he again exposed his ignorance of constitutional principles. Judges don’t sign bills and the Impeachment Clause contains no “great job” exception.
It is unclear to me what Mr. Trump meant by “doing a great job.” Friday’s poll had his disapproval rating at 60% and approval at 36%. We are, according to him, the beneficiaries of his business and economic genius: the world markets will crash without him and only he can save us. My guess is markets will crash sooner if he stays in office and his current policies and tax cuts remain while the Congress continues to eliminate the reforms implemented to guard against another Great Recession.
Impeachment is not a criminal proceeding. The body of conduct qualifying one for impeachment would envelop most if not all of the growing number of criminal investigations of which Mr. Trump is the likely principal subject. Momentum is accelerating at breakneck speed with increasing numbers of charges, convictions and, of course, “flippers.” In the event Mr. Trump is chargeable with “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” — which could but would not necessarily include crimes such as obstruction of justice, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (bribing foreign officials) violations, Travel Act violations, money laundering, tax fraud/evasion, perjury, wire/mail/securities/bank fraud, RICO, campaign finance violations, false statements, failure to report foreign financial interests or accounts, “that Russia thing,” or conspiracy to commit one or more of the forgoing or any number of other crimes — Mr. Trump must face the most immediate and available check on his political power and ongoing legitimacy, “great job” or no.
See Russian Phallusy, https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner/russian-phallusy-92d99f604477 (discussing, among other things, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Interstate and Foreign Travel or Transportation in Aid of Racketeering Enterprise Act (Travel Act), Money Laundering Control Act)
See also Who Needs ‘Deep Throat’? We Have Trump, https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner/who-needs-deep-throat-we-have-trump-802daa826747 (discussing, among other things, Obstruction of Justice)
No Mr. Comey, If Impeachment Is Warranted, The Country Must Not Await The Next Presidential Election To Determine Mr. Trump’s Ongoing Fitness For Office, https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner/no-mr-comey-if-impeachment-is-warranted-the-country-must-not-await-the-next-presidential-92ec930389af
If impeachment is warranted, “great job” or not, the Country must not await the next election or the one after that to determine an elected official’s ongoing fitness for office. In order to heal and assure (a) the rule of law is no respecter of persons and (b) the Republic functions with true checks on power and its abuses, the body politic must witness the application, full force and execution of the constitutional check on the official. Moreover, impeachment would begin the process of this Country’s attempt to mitigate its newly-minted credibility deficit among its allies and enemies alike by assuring them we are a nation of laws, our word to them has meaning, this County will not permit a tyrant to run roughshod over its laws, history and credibility, and its elected officials treat their Oaths to protect and defend the Constitution above partisanship. It would also send a clear message that foreign interference in our elections will not go unchecked and unanswered, that is, we will not await another election which those interfering countries will again try and are trying to influence.
The United States is a nation of laws. Theoretically, “doing great” in one category would not excuse depravity or delinquency in others. Everyone, not the least of whom occupies the highest position of responsibility, must answer and be answerable to the rule of law. A debate exists over whether the executive can be charged with crimes while occupying the White House. My response is two-fold: (1) it’s time to take the debate out of the theoretical and test it as a real, justiciable case and controversy in, yes, that other branch of government that purports to serve as a check on the other branches’ uses and abuses of power; and (2) the Constitution provides the mechanism to address the political (as opposed to the criminal) side of that issue.
As I have said before, I understand the argument. Members of each political party believe in their party’s agenda. In order to have any meaningful opportunity to advance that agenda, the parties must have and maintain majority control of the elected branches of government (power), whether Executive or Legislative. This is, of course, all in the interests of serving the constituents. And, the argument continues, these goals can be achieved while keeping both a straight face and one’s Oath to defend and protect the United States Constitution.
This one is different. This one falls, or should fall, outside that argument. One cannot keep his Oath to defend and protect the United States Constitution, straight face or no, while changing the subject, averting one’s gaze, pretending otherwise, creating strawmen and phantom issues, or defending the indefensible. Nor can one maintain any credibility while compromising independence from the target (or subject, as the case may be) of the investigation. The potential violations are so dire and of such consequence, it’s time for members of Congress and the Senate to start behaving themselves, that is, placing their Oath of Office before personal or political agenda in the interests of our democratic, constitutional form of government.
I am not so naïve as to believe partisanship has not overwhelmed the entirety of congressional thought and this is not a pipedream. I previously posted I believe the only chance for Republicans to maintain the House, albeit very slight to non-existent, was to set aside partisanship and issue Articles of Impeachment now and vote to impeach. Take that first step. Yesterday. Last year. Will not happen, but it should, and it is a sad commentary on our divisiveness and dishonesty that it will, in fact, take the 2018 election to reach that point. They do not have to await Mueller. They have, and know, the evidence of obstruction which exists in abundance.
Breaching one’s solemn Oath to defend and protect the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic is among the highest crimes and misdemeanors against the United States.
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to lastamendment.com
**My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed nearly 500 pieces of my father’s work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father’s art reproduced in lastamendment.com are hers.