Impeachment? When?




                          by Kenneth Bagnell


    Yesterday in history is never really yesterday. Consider for example, the insightful wisdom of Plato, born long ago in 428 BC: “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools talk because they must have something to say.” Have you already got the picture? It came back to me when, yet once again, I heard the noise of loudmouth Donald Trump, in Phoenix at a rally which, for reasons we’ll now consider, may provoke massive doubts as to his emotional or psychological health.       

       For example a regional newspaper, called “MinnPost,” headed his talk with this sentence: “Trump’s Phoenix speech: ‘lunatic’, disturbing’ or just plain scary”? (Can you possibly conceive that query    about, say, Justin Trudeau on the front page of The  Toronto Star?) In a Trump exploration, the unknown (to me) journalist pondered: “In conversation, when friends ask me how I’m feeling about President Trump, I have previously relied on the word ‘horrified.’ But watching last night, I moved to just plain ‘scared’.” I do understand.      

      That local wary response has now virtually become global. CNN had a riotous print response by an editor at large, in an on line article headed: “Donald Trump’s 57 outrageous quotes from his Arizona speech.” One example reveals Trump’s tone and temperate content in his speech: “I don’t believe that any President has accomplished as much as this President in the first six or seven months. I really don’t.” Can you believe it? Excuse me, Mr. Trump, but I have to say I don’t believe it, and am quite far from believing it. (Ironically a performer back in New York had a reference comment too good to ignore.  “Trump,” he said, “is a problem solver the way Godzilla is a city planner.” I know, I know it’s not nice, But it’s true.

        Trump’s life is, if it’s possible, exclusively materialistic and thereby has absolutely no faith based ethical inclination. Every mention of faith is either staged, incorrect or a falsity. I am not putting down men of great wealth. For example, he is utterly distant from the attitude of the late Nelson Rockefeller whose character was a Christian foundation, including the creative idea — the erection of Riverside Church in New York. Beyond that, Trump’s character, is wall- to-wall secular; as for moral principles and acts, it’s all vapid. (Today, as I write, Religion News Service just advised that a survey, probably for the fifth time, confirms that Trump supporters are the kind who see Muslims as threats. I know that. And I also know it’s largely ridiculous but the bingo crowd keep pumping it at us,) All this leads to a subject I’ll soon deal with: why American evangelical Christians became the flag wavers of Trump’s flamboyant election which any intelligent citizen knows is a huge problem and nothing else.

       Ironically, as I have touched on before, his presidential competitor, Hillary Clinton, is a truly sincere and serious Christian. (As we dealt with earlier, she is serious about considering the Christian ministry as a vocation.)

      Historians will, for years, be reflecting on how this awkward political mess – evangelical Christians supporting a crude secularist — took place. It will occupy political-sociologist thinkers for years. In fact the process is already underway, at least partly, in a book titled, “The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America.” (One reviewer put the question well up in the review: “How could so many conservative Christians have voted for a thrice married Casino mogul who has bragged about assaulting women and rarely goes to Church.” Indeed.)

       In any case, the confidence the evangelical community had in Trump has now waned, slightly indeed, and if they are at all rational, they are shaking their heads in embarrassment, disappointment and sadness. The highly respected Pew Research organization, has determined that the majority of citizenry – inside and outside the United States – now views Trump with head-shaking skepticism.  Moreover Trump and many of his key policies are unpopular, but also making US ratings abroad, decline quite steeply in many nations. According to a new Pew Research Center survey spanning 37 nations, a median of just 22 percent has confidence that Trump will endorse the right or prudent thing in international affairs. His respect of perspective stands in contrast to the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency when a median of 64% expressed confidence in Obama to direct America’s role in the world. Pew also determines that the decline in regard and respect for Trump is especially evident among the closest allies of the US in Europe and Asia, as well as in Canada. In it’s final sentence it notes: “Across the 37 nations polled, Trump only gets higher marks than Obama in two countries, Russia and Israel.”

   A friend asked me why there’s not enough uprising in the American culture seeking Trump’s impeachment? There’s no simple answer to that bold initiative.  But the majority recognize the facts. For example, the very respected journalist Carl Bernstein insists the media has not been rigorous enough to tip the scales further toward impeachment. “Republicans in Congress,” he said on CNN, “the highest of intelligence officials, the highest of military officers in our country, leaders in the business community (all of whom have dealt with the White House and many of them dealt personally with Donald Trump) have come to believe that he is unfit for the Presidency.” Bernstein believes that politically wise men and women solidly believe he lacks what Bernstein calls: “mental fitness.”

     What needs to be done? Some political figures, take the view that he can be rid of without going through the heavy bureaucratic issues that are impeachment. In fact, publications around the world from The New York Times to the British Independent are predicting it and preparing for it. But more recently, a Columbia Law School Professor, Richard Briffault, had the confidence and courage, to lay the process out for routine readers. Here is his summary, succinct and detailed:

      “Well, the constitution provides that the President can be impeached for treason, bribery, and what it calls other huge crimes and misdemeanors. The constitution doesn’t actually define what ‘other huge crimes and misdemeanors’ means.  The historical sense is that it basically means, kind of, serious political crime, sorts of crimes against the state, crimes that involve abuse of office, abuse of power, abuse of trust…”

           The combination of the scholarly learning and of the handful of impeachments that we’ve had suggest that the behavior doesn’t have to be a crime. We hear some people, mostly judges who have been impeached for behavior which wasn’t technically a crime and not all crimes would be the basis for impeachment.

          If somebody is convicted of speeding and jaywalking or maybe even drunk driving, that might not be considered serious enough to justify impeachment. The process would begin in the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives acts like a Grand Jury. It has the sole power to start an impeachment. They can do that by a simple majority vote.

       They would in effect adopt articles of impeachment. They would adopt some number of relatively specific charges that they can say is the basis that would justify forcing a President or a judge to forfeit their office.

     That would then proceed to the Senate. The impeachment is actually what the House of Representatives does. The conviction would be by the Senate. And the Senate acts as the court to try the impeachment.”

      So friends, there it is. Will it happen? I expect so; but when?


  1. John
    Sep 17, 2017

    To your well crafted and thought out comments, referring to your final line, I would add;-

    “It would be great to see the process commence last week. “.

    • John
      Sep 17, 2017

      The above comment came from John Vereshack . And thank you, John!

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