In a recent poll conducted by CNN, only 36% of voters favored impeachment of Donald Trump. Recently, it has been a mainstream topic of discussion on whether or not President Trump should be impeached. Some figures, such as Nancy Pelosi, have stated he’s “not worth it” and impeachment would be “divisive for the country”. Others agree that the impeachment process is a risk with little to gain.
A popular argument against impeachment is that the Senate will not convict Trump and it will be a waste of resources and time. Many against impeachment conclude the process wouldn’t only be divisive but can help the President’s chances of being re-elected. Opponents claim an assault on Trump would energize Trump’s base and turn off Democrat voters in the 2020 election.
On the contrary, supporters of impeachment have been increasingly vocal. Robert Reich, Former U.S. Secretary of Labor and political commentator, acknowledged the risks involved in impeachment of Trump in a recent Newsweek op-ed. He added impeachment “probably won’t reveal much that’s not already known”. However, Reich argues the reason to follow through with impeachment is that the process is “important to do for its own sake”. Furthermore, he cites a litany of grievances against President Trump, pointing to his propensity to elevate his office to the position of a king by circumventing the authority of co-equal branches of government. He also states “the core purpose of the Constitution is to prevent tyranny” and “the framers anticipated the possibility of a Donald Trump”. The overall basis of his argument is that the Constitution should serve as a check against Presidential authoritarianism, hence opening a route to impeach the President.
The Constitution states the following: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
We must analyze this and identify the relationship of the text to the impeachment of a sitting President and the duty of Congress. The question of whether to impeach Trump is the most significant, relevant, and maligned subject matter of modern times.
The above quote is taken directly from the United States Constitution. It states “The President… shall be removed… on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”. The document does not say “could” be removed or “may” be removed; it says, “shall be removed”.
Modal verb: shall
1. (in the first person) expressing the future tense.
“this time next week I shall be in Scotland”
2. expressing a strong assertion or intention.
“they shall succeed”
For the sake of discussion, let’s accept this definition on its face and accept the belief that the Founders had the same meaning in mind. That brings us to consider when one “shall be removed”?
The answer is dependent on two conditions being met:
The first condition for removal is “on impeachment for”. The second condition for removal is “and conviction of”, then several crimes are listed; “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” One cannot get to the requirement of impeachment predicated by the directive “shall be removed” without meeting those two conditions.
Since it is a requirement to do the action directed, “shall be removed”, it follows that it must be a requirement to complete the two conditions or at least attempt to do so in order to comply with the Founder’s intent. Failing to do so is abdicating the checks and balances authority provided for by the constitution, allotted to Congress, to prevent there being a ‘tyrant’ in the White House.
According to many ‘originalists’, it is important to interpret the Constitution according to what the Founders intended at the time of conception. Such a stance could have important implications with any Supreme Court interpretations arising from potential impeachment.
Once Independence was declared, a governing document was written to guide how the government was to be built and maintained. The constitution is the foundation of the rule of law in America, rather than an individual. In the document, the power of impeachment is directed at members of the Executive Branch and given to Congress. The House is to bring a case of impeachment to establish cause and the Senate is to try the case. If guilty, the removal from office proceeds, separate from other criminal charges that may be handed down in subsequent indictments.
“The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” – The Constitution of the United States
There are charges that could be levied against a sitting President, specifically, “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”. The result of an Impeachment trial can be for the President to remain or to be removed from office. As stated, the House “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment”, meaning they should have the power to introduce the process. The Supreme Court is left out of this process, except for the Chief Justice who presides over the Senate. No other body, nor individual, of any type can bring forward an Impeachment charge.
Did Trump commit offenses that rise to the level of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”? The answer is likely yes, including, but not be limited to, violations of the ‘emoluments clause‘, ‘obstruction of justice’, and ‘witness tampering’. So, one question remains: Should President Trump be Impeached?
In accordance with the Constitution of the United States, there is little doubt on this question. Congress has a clear direction and there are rules and procedures to be followed, as per the Constitution. There is no room for whimsical interpretation or political fancy to attempt to adjudicate this course of action. The course of action is clear as it became apparent that Trump violated laws within the realm of impeachable offenses.
The next actions should be prescribed by the Constitution. The Constitution does not mention names, nor political parties. It does not say no impeachment should occur if there is a chance of innocence. The duty of the House is clear, President Trump should be impeached. It’s the law.