Opinion column: What the Trump impeachment taught us


“This impeachment led by House Democrats is akin to petulant children saying, since they didn’t win, they won’t play anymore unless they change the rules of the game.” – U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia

After the Revolution when internal disputes resulted in armed rebellions, it became clear America needed a central government to settle conflicts and pay its bills.

In 1787, when our framers met in Philadelphia to formulate our republic, their goal was to protect us from each other and the federal government. Fearing the president might abuse his authority, they granted Congress the power to remove him from office for “high crimes.” To keep them from politicizing impeachment, they limited its use for a few very severe offenses: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Due to it’s serious nature, past Congresses have exercised great caution before filing orders for impeachment. It was only used three times before this year. Andrew Johnson was impeached for defying Reconstruction in 1868; Richard Nixon in 1973 over Watergate, and Bill Clinton in 1998 for the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. It was recently cryptically used along party lines against Donald Trump for abuse of power? Nixon resigned in disgrace, while the other presidents were acquitted.

Impeachment is not limited to the federal government. Each state has constitutional provisions to impeach a rankling official for offenses against the state. Those that have the referendum can also recall a governor or other elected official if they are unhappy with their performance. But this is not impeachment since this prerogative is referendum driven by angry voters; not government officers.

Recall is often abused by citizens, but abusing the privilege of impeachment is a high crime itself.

Impeachment was first employed when President Andrew Johnson defied the Tenure of Office Act and fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. He violated Reconstruction mandates after the Civil War, granting amnesty to ex-Confederates. He allowed the passage of Black Codes and gave control of counties to former slave owners. He literally camouflaged the institution of slavery under a different name.

“I was sworn to uphold the Constitution as I understand and interpret it.” – Andrew Johnson

Johnson committed grave offenses against America, refusing to execute Reconstruction directives. He spurned efforts to assimilate former slaves into society and instigated segregation in the South. He abused power and defied laws passed by Congress. He only survived the 11 indictments against him by one vote since two Senate members felt this would impede our nation’s healing. As a result, it took over 100 years to do what should have been done at the end of the Civil War.

Richard Nixon faced an impeachment inquiry in 1974 for obvious acts of crimes and violations of power for trying to cover up his involvement in the Watergate break-in. Knowing he would most likely be the first president kicked out of office, he abdicated out of shame for disrespecting his ethics of the presidency before he could be formerly impeached and further humiliated.

“I am not a crook.” – Richard Nixon

In 1998, the impeachment of Bill Clinton for obstruction and lying under oath was certain before the votes were counted. The White House tried to persuade Democrats not to impeach him and make it appear politically driven. But the House Democrats showed respect for the law and charged Clinton with obstructing justice, perjury and subverting the rule of law, which were all high crimes.

“Clinton was impeached for lying under oath about his sexual behavior, not for the act itself.” – Ken Starr

During his Senate trial, Clinton used his legal wit and wisdom to dance around the definition of the word “is” to prove there was “reasonable doubt” he “actually” lied under oath. By the end of the day, Clinton not only persuaded a bipartisan Senate to acquit him, but he convinced much of America it was OK to cheat on your spouse. And this warmed the hearts of liberated women across America.

Clinton had a war room of reporters running interference during impeachment who painted him as the abused victim. When he was acquitted, his poll numbers rocketed. This enabled him to get revenge against those who had voted to impeach him. His operatives shuttled money into liberal races around the U.S. And the next election, Republicans paid a severe price for doing what they were obligated to do. The key figure in this strategy was Adam Schiff, who was “deputized” to retaliate in the future.

Unlike Johnson, Nixon and Clinton, Trump was targeted for impeachment the night the final votes in his 2016 election were counted. Media pundits, reporters and newly elected members of Congress were “forming a coup” before Trump set foot in the oval office. The New York Daily News opined, “It’s not too early to start an Impeach Trump campaign.” A Yale law professor said, “Many of Trump’s foes will more than likely try to impeach him on principle alone, just so they don’t have to deal with him.”

Constitutional experts of both political persuasions agreed it was unprecedented for anyone to talk about impeachment before a president took office. They claimed since impeachment is rarely used and the most disruptive tactic a political party could ever use to gain control without just cause; “It would throttle almost everything else happening from a federal policy perspective in this country.”

If impeachment is limited to “Treason, Bribery, or high Crimes,” why has the left shadowed Trump night and day trying to find a reason to impeach him instead of governing? With the election of so many naive House socialists that never read the Constitution, impeachment seemed like an easy way to get rid of Trump. And with the established left eager to avenge Clinton’s impeachment, they colluded with them.

“We’ll give this president every chance to prove he is innocent.” – Adam Schiff

CNN host Sarah Cupp said, “Impeachment is above all else a political act.” Trying to impeach a successful, elected president only because you don’t like him imposes contradictory demands on a party, and leaves them no way out. It is not a crime that Donald Trump turned to social media to defend himself from constant media attacks. This legal drama demonstrated how unqualified many House members are to hold office. The left shamefully confirmed the narrative “they are conspiring” to prevent this president from fulfilling his political mandate and commitment he made to America.

Despite a media that threw gasoline on the liberals “trumped-up” impeachment fires since he has been in office, at the end of this charade Donald Trump’s poll numbers improved remarkably with moderates and conservatives. The left proved they know less about U.S. Constitutional law than a 1950s USSR Communist.

“All the politicians I know are better talkers than doers.” – Donald Trump

Most learned a lot from past impeachments, but the socialists and the leftists learned nothing. They rewrote the rules of impeachment for personal gain to remove an elected president and that itself is an impeachable act. These offenders must be removed from office next election for crimes against their oath of office and legal ignorance. Voters have the power to do this: but only if they choose to. Impeachment is a punishable act as well as abusing the authority of using it for political advantage.

“An impeachable offense should be compelling, overwhelmingly clear and unambiguous. It’s not something taken lightly. We need evidence, not opinions for impeachment.” – Chip Somodevilla

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Reach William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13. He is a contributing columnist to The Center Square.

Reach William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13. He is a contributing columnist to The Center Square.