Impeachment Redux

Clowns to the left of me, 

Jokers to the right…

From “Stuck in the Middle With you” written by Gerry Rafferty. 

It seems reasonably clear that Donald J. Trump, who has by now passed Richard M Nixon in the proverbial race to the bottom, has undoubtedly committed an impeachable offense. It is also reasonably clear that the Democratic Party, in its ongoing love affair with incompetence, is regrettably about to go out of its way to make removing him from office nearly impossible.

The single article of impeachment they are poised to pass is going to accuse Trump of inciting an insurrection. The problem is that the wording is an invitation to partisan sniping and the making of legal arguments that conflate Trump’s political offense with the criminal law. Not only is this going to make a conviction impossible, it is entirely unnecessary. 

National Review’s Andrew McCarthy suggests language that avoids these traps and gets to the heart of the matter. He writes: 

“If what the Democrats truly want is bipartisan consensus in the service of national security, rather than political combat, the articles of impeachment they plan to file should charge the president with (a) subversion of the Constitution’s electoral process, particularly the Twelfth Amendment counting of the sovereign states’ electoral votes; (b) recklessly encouraging a raucous political demonstration that foreseeably devolved into a violent storming of the seat of our government; and (c) depraved indifference to the welfare of the vice president, Congress, security personnel, and other Americans who were in and around the Capitol on January 6.”

The charges contained in McCarthy’s language appear to be beyond dispute. Congress could (and should) pass such an article with dispatch and send it along to the Senate. If the Senate wants to pretend it can’t find a way to vote on the article before January 20, or at least vote to censure Trump, so be it. What had heretofore been known as The Party of Lincoln, will have shown itself to be largely populated by cowering fools, utterly unwilling to stand up to mob violence, and incapable of protecting liberty and our institutions. 

Add to that the cynical calculations of the Democrats, some of whom wish to delay an impeachment trial until after Trump has left office, a course of action Jim Clyburn has suggested. The stated reason for this is that Trump could then be barred from office in the future. 

That is nonsense, for two reasons. First, the impeachment power was designed for removal from office, not punishment. After removal, punishment can be meted out the usual way. Second, As Bruce Ackerman points out in the Washington Post, Congress can ban Trump from holding federal office in the future using Section 3 of the 14th amendment. They could do so by finding that he engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution of the United States. Moreover, such a finding would not require an impeachment conviction. It would require a simple majority in both houses of Congress. That should be doable. 

If Congress decides to wait months to hold an impeachment trial (at which time Chuck Schumer will be majority leader) it will be simply because they wish to use it as a partisan cudgel while they pass the Party’s progressive wish list, including trillions in new “stimulus” that doesn’t stimulate.  All the talk of getting rid of Trump “immediately” will have been shown to be just that. Talk. And it will be politics as usual. 

JFB

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