Impeaching a president of the United States isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires a stout gut among those who bring it, not to mention the target of such a drastic action.
The bar must be high. It must have a solid basis on which to make such a move.
Where am I going with this? I have this sinking feeling that the current president well might find himself in the crosshairs of those who want to bring such an action against him.
We’re hearing a growing — but still muted — rumbling in D.C. about the prospect of Donald J. Trump facing impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives. I’m attaching an item from The Hill in which former Labor Secretary Robert Reich — an acknowledged political liberal — has lined out at least four impeachable offense already committed by the president.
Here it is.
Reich says that Trump’s accusation that Barack Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower offices constitutes an impeachable offense, saying the president has recklessly accused his predecessor of committing a felony. He notes that the Constitution prohibits president from taking money from foreign governments; Trump, Reich alleges, has done so by “steering foreign delegations” to hotels he owns. Reich contends that Trump violates the First Amendment’s provision against establishing a state religion by banning travelers from Muslim countries into the United States. Reich also says the First Amendment bans any abridgment of a free press, but Trump has labeled the media the “enemy of the people.”
There’s a fifth potential cause, which Reich has asserted. It involves the possibility that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian government officials to swing the election in the president’s favor. Reich said such activity, if proven, constitutes “treason.”
Will any of this come to pass? I have no clue.
Think of the politics of it. Trump is a Republican; both congressional chambers are controlled by the GOP. Will the Republican House majority bring articles of impeachment to a vote, no matter how seriousness of whatever charges are considered?
The collusion matter strikes me as the most serious and the most likely to align Republicans along with Democrats in considering whether to impeach the president. I am not suggesting there is, indeed, proof of such collusion.
Remember as well that the GOP-led House managed to impeach a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, in 1998 on three counts relating to his seedy relationship with that White House intern. Conviction in the Senate, though, required a super majority of senators; the GOP fell far short on all three counts. Thus, the president was acquitted.
They based that impeachment on the president’s failure to tell the truth under oath to a federal grand jury that questioned him about the affair. He broke the law, Republicans said. There was your “impeachable offense,” they argued.
My major concern about the Clinton impeachment was whether the president’s offense had a direct impact on his office. It did not. Any of the issues that Secretary Reich lists, however, certainly do have a direct impact on the president’s ability to perform his duties.
The bar for whatever might occur with the current president is set even higher than it was for President Clinton, given that the president and the congressional majorities are of the same party.
You might not believe this, but I do not prefer an impeachment to occur. I do, though, want the unvarnished truth to be revealed about what the president thinks he can do with — and to — the exalted office he occupies.
If the truth is as ugly as some of us fear, then Congress should know how to repair the damage.