Editor’s note: This is the second part of a column about the impeachment of former President Donald Trump. The first part was published on Saturday’s Forum page.
The First Amendment was violated. The criteria laid out in the impeachment clause was violated. The clause states that an official can be impeached for “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.” None of these were included in the Article of Impeachment. Due process was violated. There was no hearing, no counsel, no witnesses, no evidence.
The Bill of Attainder Clause was violated in that the Article of Impeachment was referred to the Senate. This action itself said that Trump could be impeached as a private citizen (more on that later). Oh, note that the Article of Impeachment was delivered past the deadline.
This “snap” impeachment came about in less than 50 hours. Alexander Hamilton called this “the most dangerous thing to allow impeachment to go forward simply because you have enough votes to do it.” And that is exactly what the House Democrats did.
The report was 76 pages in length. Twenty-six pages comprise the appendix. Fifty pages are no more than op-eds and contain not one sliver of evidence. But the left sees the Constitution merely as a pesky document, and they are not going to allow it to prevent their attempt to stop them from attaining their end results, by any and all means possible.
This has turned impeachment into a weaponized political norm to be used politically instead of as an extraordinary measure to remove a president accused of “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
The precedent has been set. Now, the majority party can attack the minority party just to weaken it then forge ahead with its own agenda. The Dems have done this twice. The first time was when they had a policy disagreement with the president over the extent to which we should withhold aid to the Ukraine in exchange for anti-corruption efforts. Now, they are using it to try to discipline speech that they find uncomfortable. That is a very dangerous precedent for our democracy.
Another legacy is that of a broken Constitution, which has long been targeted by those who hate it and hate America.
The Senate trial
This ushers in a Constitutional crisis. At stake is whether Congress can impeach a private citizen. Also at stake is the issue of the balance of powers to put forth in the Constitution.
“The Constitution is clear: The president shall not be removed from office or impeached before the impeachment process is complete.”
He is no longer in office. He’s no longer president. It no longer applies to him nor is it in Congress’ hands. Congress lacks jurisdiction to try a man no longer in office.
It also mandates that judgment in the case of impeachment shall not exceed further than removal and disqualification. This does not apply to private citizens. The House ceased impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon in 1974 after he resigned. Why? He was no longer president; he became a private citizen.
Bill of attainder
A bill of attainder is the legislative branch imposing punishment on a private citizen. To guard against the practice of perpetual impeachment, the framers made bills of attainder unconstitutional.
Dershowitz explains and Starr concurs. According to the Constitution, “if you remove him from office, then you can disqualify him.” You cannot just disqualify him. The Constitution does not say removal or disqualify; it says removal and disqualify. Again, the Constitution does not say that he can be removed or disqualified. If not in office, he cannot be removed. And this is what this disqualification controversy is all about. Actually, there is no controversy. The Constitution says it; that settles it!
Chief Justice John Roberts sees through this charade. No president is being impeached, so he has chosen not to preside over the trial of a citizen. But the Senate goes on with its “dog and pony show,” knowing that private citizen Trump will be acquitted. So, ice down your Cokes and pop your corn, folks. The curtains of the “impeachment theater” are raised. The show must go on!
The Dems have arranged for thousands of National Guard troops to be stationed in D.C. They have built a fence topped with razor wire around the area. All of this to say, “By gawd, we’re in power now! So, sit down and shut up!” Reminds me of Lord Acton’s statement: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
God help us!