Impeachment was “an essential security for the good behavior” of the president otherwise “he will spare no efforts or means whatever to get himself re-elected.” — William Davie, Founding Father from North Carolina
In the case of the president “corruption was within the compass of probable events and might be fatal to the Republic.” — James Madison, Founding Father from Virginia
I am not a lawyer, nor an expert on the U.S. Constitution. I write as one person’s reflections on the impeachment process. Millions of U.S. citizens watched on TV or listened on the radio as the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives formally debated the two articles of impeachment against President Trump — one article dealing with an abuse of power when President Trump put pressure on President Zelensky of the Ukraine to investigate Trump’s possible rival for the 2020 election, Joe Biden.
The second article of impeachment deals with President Trump’s obstruction of Congress, by forbidding important witnesses to testify in the scandal over Ukraine, such as Vice President Michael Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and other members of the White House.
There’s a group called Republicans for the Rule of Law, led by Chris Truax, that has put up an ad that was sent to several Republican legislators. This group argues that “no one, not even the president, is above the rule of law, nor does he own the government.” Rather, the president is “only a caretaker acting on the behalf of the citizens in our country.” Mr. Truax adds that if Congress “asks for an accounting,” then the president ought to comply. Moreover, if the president really does think the facts will exonerate him, why won’t he let these facts be known? President Trump and his lawyers had the opportunity to come before the various House committees to testify, but chose not to appear. Now the Republicans say that the process was unfair.
The U.S. Constitution speaks about impeachment in Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7, and Article II, Section 4. The impeachment clauses were added to the U.S. Constitution in a debate on July 20, 1787. In that debate, Benjamin Franklin remarked that when the president falls under suspicion, we need a “regular and peaceable inquiry.”
According to our Founding Fathers, impeachment has three main goals or purposes: (1) to remind the country and the president that he is not above the law; (2) to deter abuses of power; (3) to provide a fair and reliable method to resolve suspicions about misconduct.
At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Ben Franklin noted that the impeachment process might be favorable to the president. He added that it was “the best way for his honorable acquittal when he should be unjustly accused” or, alternatively, the best way “to provide for the regular punishment of the executive when his misconduct should deserve it.” Though the House has accused President Trump of committing two impeachable offenses, the Senate under the majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, has already decided to go along with the executive branch of our government and exonerate President Trump of any impeachable offense. In my view, the Senate ought to go along with the legislative branch of government, viz., the House, in holding the president’s feet to the fire of impeachment.
Both Democrats and Republican senators ought to remember that their oath to defend the Constitution overrides protecting Donald Trump at all costs and all consequences.