Opinion | Impeachment fails nation: Trump committed no crime
December 19, 2019
On Dec. 18, President Donald Trump became the third president in the history of the United States to be impeached by the House. The House passed two articles of impeachment: obstruction of congress and abuse of power.
As predicted in my piece earlier this month, the partisan split was vast. Not one Republican voted in favor of either article of impeachment. Two Democrats voted “no” for article one, and three voted “no” for article two.
Neither of these articles are going to pass. That’s the dirty little secret. Every congressperson knows it and has known it since the inquiry began.
Given the Republican majority that must be overcome to reach the 2/3 vote threshold needed to convict the President of either article, removal of the president is nearly impossible. This is why Speaker Pelosi seems reluctant to refer the articles to the Senate for a trial.
This impeachment has been nothing but an embarrassment to this great nation.
The impeachment inquiry began following President Trump’s September phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, in which Trump brought up allegations surrounding former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s potentially corrupt dealings with Ukrainian company Burisma Holdings.
One’s view of President Trump’s phone call can be perceived two ways and it once again boils down to your preconceived opinion of the President.
If you dislike Trump and are cynical of his intent, you likely believe his urging of President Zelensky to investigate was inappropriately motivated to get dirt on Biden for the 2020 campaign. This would be grounds for impeachment.
If you favor Trump or grant him the benefit of the doubt, you likely believe he was fighting corruption in general.
Regardless, there was no crime committed. The Democrats initially argued there was a quid-pro-quo, which is not criminal activity if it was meant to fight corruption at large.
The standards for impeachment in Article 2, Section 4 allow removal in case of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Despite a plethora of testimonies none of these criminal bars could be reached; they lacked evidence of elements such as intent to prove crimes like bribery occurred.
Instead, Democrats opted to cynically read the call for a fight against corruption as an abuse of power.
The contempt of congress article of impeachment is referencing the Executive branch’s refusal to comply with subpoena requests from the Legislature for the purposes of the impeachment inquiry.
This article can be essentially boiled down to “the President didn’t do what we want, so we want to get rid of him.”
The Executive is not subject to the whims of the Legislature. The Constitution established equally powerful branches of government in the separation of powers and system of checks and balances.
The Executive may exert executive privilege to shield its members and information from congressional review. Congressional subpoenas lack the same authority judicial subpoenas carry.
If the House wanted the subpoenaed persons or documents, they had the option to ask the Judiciary to enforce the subpoenas. The Supreme Court did such in U.S. v. Nixon (1974), establishing the Judiciary’s role in determining where executive privilege ended.
But Speaker Pelosi and the majority opted not to seek the Judiciary for such subpoenas, saying “we cannot be at the mercy of the courts.” They decided to push for impeachment on yet another non-criminal article.
This is where the great embarrassment of this circus lies. Never has a President been impeached by the House based upon no high crimes or misdemeanors.
President Johnson was impeached on eleven articles including firing a secretary in conflict with the Tenure of Office Act. President Clinton was impeached on two articles including lying under oath and obstruction of justice. President Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment for his crimes.
The lack of bipartisan Republican support for the impeachment is due to the giddiness of the Democrats to impeach without the evidence of criminality.
Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats spoke on how “No member came to Congress to impeach a President” but it was their solemn duty to uphold the law. What a farce.
Representative Tlaib, a member of the infamous “squad,” is currently selling “Impeach the mf” t-shirts for her reelection campaign. Impeachment is her platform.
This impeachment is the direct result of a Democratic base whose members to this day refuse to accept the result of the 2016 election.
The Senate will acquit the President of both articles and it will rightly be left to the American people to decide whether President Trump deserves another term.
Matthew is a sophomore in LAS.