What do the following have in common? Maxine Waters, Al Green, Jared Huffman, John Yarmuth, Mark Pocan, Richard Blumenthal, Hakeem Jeffries, Keith Ellison, Joaquin Castro, Jamie Raskin, Sheila Jackson Lee, Ted Lieu, Angus King, Ted Deutch, Nannette Barragan, Donald Payne, Jr., Stephen Lynch, Steve Cohen, Elizabeth Warren, Jerry Nadler, and Yvette Clarke.
Yes, they are all Democrats and yes they are all members of Congress. Some have visions of higher office (Warren and Castro) dancing in their heads. And, yes all hail from and represent states or Congressional districts that are deeply blue. Except in the case of possibly King (technically an independent) and Warren, Castro and Ellison, they are basically nobodies.
However, they have all suddenly become constitutional and legal experts calling for, at a minimum, consideration of the impeachment of Trump. Castro suggested that Trump’s since-blocked travel ban could be grounds for impeachment since he overstepped his Constitutional bounds. If so, then perhaps Obama should have been impeached for the same as the Supreme Court determined several times in unanimous decisions that he overstepped his constitutional authority. Jamie Raskin suggested impeachment for violation of the Emoluments Clause- BEFORE Trump was inaugurated. The mechanics of impeaching a president-elect were never really explained by Raskin. Sheila Jackson Lee said Trump’s assertion that he was “wiretapped” by a previous administration was grounds for impeachment since, apparently, one cannot express a negative statement about Saint Obama despite the word “wiretap” being in quotations which could mean an accusation of “incidental collection of communications.”
The Constitution states that a President can be impeached for treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. “High crimes and misdemeanors” was a common 18th century legal phrase that did not mean a violation of a particular law or commission of a particular crime. Instead it referred to the actions of the high and mighty, or people with power. Our Framers did not intend that every president could be removed at the whim of any Congress (although they did in the case of Andrew Johnson). Instead, this was a catch-all phrase added in case the Chief Executive went bad.
A strict constitutionalist will tell you it must be anything for which an ordinary (that is, a non-President) would be liable for violating in a regular court of law. A more broad reader of the Constitution would say it could be for anything, or as then-Representative Gerald Ford said in 1970: “…an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”
It is that latter definition that opens any president to the whims of Congress. Thus far, those listed above are at the extreme edges of the Democratic Party. They represent deeply blue districts or states where it takes little balls to call for impeachment since their constituent’s hatred of Trump is palpable and their assertions play to that base.
In 2013, columnist Frank James stated: “Name a modern non-impeached president and someone probably imagined him being impeached.” Plenty on the Left were calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush over the Iraq War claiming that he led us into war based on a lie. There are even bumper stickers still available to that effect. Today, an online petition to impeach Trump has garnered almost 1 million signatures. But a similar online petition to impeach Obama garnered more than double the “impeach Trump” petition has gained.
Leaving aside the silly “grounds” for impeachment which basically boil down to “we don’t like you,” the biggest one we hear is that Trump attempted to obstruct justice. This, in turn, is based on a New York Times story about an ALLEGED memo authored by FIRED FBI Director James Comey which SEEMS to SUGGEST that Trump MAYBE SUGGESTED that the FBI POSSIBLY cease their probe of Michael Flynn. Further, these are the recollections and perceptions of a single person- Comey. Even further, parts of the memo were read over the telephone by “someone” to the New York Times.
Even more ghastly to the Left, at the same meeting, Trump allegedly asked Comey whether journalists who reveal national security secrets can be jailed. Obviously, those who leak the information can be jailed, but Trump may have simply been wondering whether the publishers of such secrets can be prosecuted. Trump is no Constitutional scholar, but then again the previous occupant of the Oval Office allegedly was and he ignored the Constitution with regularity (Fast and Furious, Lois Lerner, “unindicted co-conspirator” James Rosen, etc.).
Comey revealed that since July, 2016, the FBI had been investigating whether the Trump campaign and operatives in that campaign were colluding or coordinating efforts with Russian attempts to influence the election. After almost a year of an investigation, the answer appears to be “NO.” And as concerns Trump himself, the answer appears to be a more emphatic “NO,” and since we are talking about impeachment, this is the more important “NO.”
During the campaign, Trump expressed what some view as favorable comments towards Russia and Putin. Some of those comments were taken out of context, or perhaps the messenger wasn’t all that great. After all, Trump speaks like your average 5th grade student. Regardless, what is the qualitative difference between expressing better relations between the two countries and a sitting President in the midst of a reelection campaign telling a foreign ambassador from Russia to “wait until after the election” caught on an open mic? Surely, Obama’s statement is grounds for impeachment, right?
The only thing the Left and Democrats have of any possible substance is the vague possibility of obstruction of justice which they trotted out in knee-jerk fashion after the New York Times story ran. Assuming the Comey memo to be true, it must first be produced. Assuming it is, then the devil is in the details and it comes down to a simple question: was it a suggestion because “Flynn is a good guy,” or was it a command? If the latter, then perhaps we have an attempt, at least, at obstruction of justice. If the former, then we have a casual conversation between two members of the Executive branch and nothing more.
This writer realizes that there are some here at Redstate who have a palpable dislike of Donald Trump. We know the entirety of the Left and Democrats have a similar dislike. When Trump surprisingly won the election in 2016, many of my friends on the Left believed it was the end of the world. I assured them, not being a Trump supporter as my many articles to that effect reveal, that there was a Constitution in place and that it would prevail. I meant there were courts and the Supreme Court, Congress and future elections starting with the midterms that would be a check on the alleged abuses of a Trump presidency.
Impeachment was not one of those options and I am convinced as of this moment that nothing Trump did or said rises to the level of an impeachable offense. There is still lots to learn and possibly discover. The Democrats got their way and have their special counsel now. Before anyone jumps on the impeachment bandwagon, one should know the facts first. And quite frankly, nothing I have read or heard regarding the facts at this time necessarily implicates Trump himself in any illegal actions or an “impeachable offense” other than “we don’t like the guy.” It may be true that Trump says some stupid and silly things at times and he often digs himself a deeper hole than is necessary, but we have survived stupid and silly presidents in the past without resorting to impeachment. Consider the past eight years as Exhibit A.