“We finally have a threshold for impeachment.”
David Priess is the Chief Operating Officer of the Lawfare Institute and the author of How to Get Rid of a President: History Guide to Removing Disliked, Inept, or Inappropriate Directors.
Opponents of President Trump’s impeachment on Wednesday claim the solemn event will further divide the country. This would be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but only if you choose to. You could instead use this bipartisan impeachment to get a grip on the hideous role of the president in last week’s events and declare him incapable of remaining president. If so, this impeachment would be an important first step in the long process of reckoning with the unprecedented conduct of this President and his enablers and the circumstances that led us to this point.
With Trump’s actions so far beyond his predecessors’ violations, there is no reasonable fear that this will lower the bar for impeachment. On the contrary, the fact that both Democratic and Republican officials backed this move for only the second time in the four impeachment votes of the American president – along with Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings in December 1998 at this rare club – shows that something is far beyond the pale goes out. even if not generally recognized as such, to obtain this result. What happened before, during, and after last week’s attack on the Capitol is a hell of a high threshold for bipartisan impeachment of this president. But after almost four years we finally have one.
“Trump unleashed a fascist element in our society.”
Alan I. Baron is a former special advisor to the US House of Representatives.
The impeachment process will not deter the supporters of President Donald Trump from their violent efforts to disrupt and destabilize the orderly government processes. There will be no unifying force in our political life. The people who invaded the Capitol are not representative of the vast majority of those who voted for Trump. However, they constitute a violent significant minority that Trump has encouraged, supported and unleashed. The genie is out of the bottle. If these insurgents are not stopped, the hardcore members will disrupt, intimidate and destroy our democratic processes for years to come and perhaps forever.
The impeachment process is unfortunately too cumbersome to become a widely used tool in American political life, at least as far as a president is concerned. The impeachment worked well in dealing with federal justice. All eight convictions were federal judges.
However, when the president is impeached, political considerations overwhelm legal issues. Trump’s 2020 Senate impeachment process was a farce and a thumb in the eye of those who believe in constitutional government. There were no witnesses, no evidence was presented, key witnesses were ordered not to testify, and the executive departments were prevented from producing relevant documents.
On January 6, 2021, we paid the price for this blatant rejection of the constitutional process. Trump clearly fears no impeachment, perhaps because his term expired on January 20, 2021. However, it must be remembered that impeachment has a second independent aspect: the blocking of a future federal office. That only requires a majority in the Senate. Fifty Democratic Senators as well as Vice President Kamala Harris could rule out any plans by Trump or his supporters for 2024.
The people who stormed the Capitol had a clear goal: to override the results of a fair election supported by the majority of American voters. Trump has tapped and unleashed a fascist element in our society that rejects and threatens our democracy. This must be stopped or the American experiment, which despite its shortcomings was a beacon of tolerance and legal justice, will fail.
If the Senate does not condemn it, it is difficult to imagine the relevance of impeachment for yourself.
Kim Wehle is Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Even among Donald Trump’s loyal supporters in Congress, the country is not divided over one truth: the events of January 6th were horrific, unbearable and must never be repeated. Also unassailable is the fact that America does not yet have the full story of what happened – the collapse of security and law enforcement at the Capitol, the complicity (if any) of the elected leaders and agency management, and the extent of the violation.
However, unless the Senate finds by a two-thirds majority that the President’s actions before, during, and after January 6, 2021 constitute high levels of felony and misdemeanor, it is difficult to envision the relevance of impeachment itself as a mechanism for presidential accountability in future administrations . This is tragic as the Framers clearly intended that impeachment had real power.
“A warning to all future presidents that they will face consequences.”
Allan J. Lichtman is a history professor and author of The impeachment case.
Contrary to what some critics might say, Donald Trump’s second impeachment doesn’t lower the bar on impeachment. Republicans charged Bill Clinton in 1998 for covering up a private consensual matter, but no charges followed until the misdeeds of President Donald Trump. Rather than promoting political impeachment, the current process warns all future presidents that they will face consequences if American democracy and the security of the American people are seriously compromised.
Congress will not promote unity by apologizing and ignoring the most serious violation in the history of the president. Liz Cheney, the third-largest Republican in the House of Representatives and daughter of the Vice President of George W. Bush, said: “There has never been a greater betrayal of office and oath on the Constitution by a President of the United States.” Unity can only be restored if the President is held accountable for these misdeeds and such a dire violation of the President’s oath is dealt with.
The storming of the Capitol was not a random occurrence accidentally triggered by overheated political rhetoric. Trump called his supporters to DC on Jan. 6 and said it was “wild”. The rally was coordinated by outside right-wing groups, including an arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association. Trump urged his loyalists to march on the Capitol and “demand that Congress do the right thing … fight like hell … you will never retake our country with weakness.” His ally Rudy Giuliani called for “test by battle”. Worst of all, while watching the violence, Trump rejected calls to try to stop the chaos. Desperate Republican senators and officials fearing for their lives tried to call for help from the president. No Answer. According to eyewitnesses, Trump was too busy to watch the attack on television with any pleasure. He just published a lukewarm video in which he called for peace far too late. There must be consequences for his behavior.
“Impeachment is not being used sufficiently.”
Matt Bruenig is the founder and president of the People’s Policy Project, a progressive think tank.
Impeachment won’t reunite anything because Republicans have no desire to unite. It won’t split any further as it doesn’t really affect how people see the parties. The views are already set.
I think impeachment will be used more in the future, possibly for purely political purposes, and that is a good thing. Impeachment is not used adequately. Actions should have consequences. Opposition parties should indict presidents at any time when they can.
“This is a unique case, but this is a uniquely lawless president.”
Norman Ornstein is a resident researcher at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor for the Atlantic.
Impeachment is already a tribal process, so the divisions are unlikely to deepen. If anything, it could be unifying, with at least some Republicans willing to say that this process of trying to delegitimize a legitimate election – and a president trying to incite violence to illegally stay in power – is so far beyond Goes beyond the limit that it requires Exceptional Measures. There is at least a slim chance that this jolt will modestly change the clear GOP strategy in the Senate, as we saw in 2009-10 and 2013-14, of filibustering everything and everyone and trying both Obama’s policies as well as the delegitimized president himself. This postponement could allow votes on some Biden strategies like health reform and Covid-19 aid – beyond what can be done in the context of reconciliation. However, the impeachment will not have any dramatic effects.
A bigger question arises: will there be efforts to drive out or blame the Republicans who advocated capturing the Capitol? I think that is necessary, but it could be more divisive than the impeachment of the president!
Second, I don’t expect any regularization of impeachment. This is a unique case as this is a uniquely lawless president. We have never had one so ruthless or corrupt.
“I believe impeachment is and should rarely be used.’
Joel Benenson is the founder of the Benenson Strategy Group. He was a strategist and pollster for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
With or without impeachment, Biden must work as president to fulfill his promise to bring the country back together. This theme was at the center of their campaign, and the worst mistake a new POTUS can make is to move away from a central theme and promise of their campaign, especially those based on the candidate’s core values. Biden’s decency and respect for others are attributes he has shown while he has been a public figure.
I believe that the issue of impeachment is and should be seldom applied, although Americans provide the general rationale for impeachment, which is not criminal activity but betrayal of the confidence in your office Possibly understand the process better. I don’t think there will be an appetite to significantly change the standards for impeachment because of Donald Trump’s repeated shameful behavior. The standards have stood the test of time.
In her wonderful book How democracies diePolitical scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt identify a key ingredient that enables authoritarians to take control: when the gatekeepers fail. This should be a wake-up call for any Republican official who stood by for four years instead of opposing Donald Trump.
“The impeachment will do nothing to heal the partisan divisions over the next four years.”
Leah Litman is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Michigan.
With just 10 votes, Republicans failed to show that they would join their Democratic counterparts in demanding unity against mob violence, rioting and electoral fraud, suggesting the impeachment will do nothing to heal the partisan divisions over the next four years . Trumpeting and reinforcing unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud should not be a partisan issue. Trying to overturn the results of a fair, democratic election should not be a partisan issue. Getting mobs to storm the capital, ransack the building and violently confront elected officials should not be a partisan issue.
Whether Republicans treat these things as partisan issues – and especially whether a significant number of Republicans treat them as partisan issues – will affect whether a large minority in the country feels encouraged to forcibly challenge the Biden government and whether elected Republicans have cover to refuse to cooperate in good faith with the administration and to politicize impeachment in the future. After the vote in the House of Representatives, this seems to be the most likely so far.
“The challenge now is to get more Republicans to recognize their patriotic duty to de-radicalize the GOP.”
Timothy Naftali is Professor of Public Service at New York University and former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. He is co-author of Impeachment: An American Story.
Although the rejection on Wednesday wasn’t as strong as it should have been, Congress nonetheless condemned Trump in the most bipartisan impeachment in US history. The challenge now is to get more Republicans to recognize their patriotic duty to de-radicalize the GOP and ensure that America has two constitutional parties. To sweep January 6 under the table with the implicit double lies about moral equivalence with the Black Lives Matter movement and that the attack was defined by anarchism would only encourage a sense of empowerment for the Trumpist right. We remain in a dangerous moment. If there wasn’t a clear and present threat to our constitutional institutions from an excited law, Republican Congressmen considering voting against Trump wouldn’t be afraid for the safety of their families, and members of our military wouldn’t sleep those nights in the halls of the Capitol.
As for impeachment, this second impeachment suggests that the process is as strong as ever. The founders empowered Congress with impeachment and deportation to respond to threats to our constitutional system posed by its sworn officials, particularly those at the highest levels.
Impeachments based solely on partisan anger are a misunderstanding of the spirit of our constitution, whether or not a quick effort. We have precedents for bad impeachments – the partisan efforts against Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. But is that what is really going on now?
Weeks after the November 3 presidential election, President Donald J. Trump fueled the cultural, social, and political fears of millions of Americans by claiming without evidence that he and his support were the victims of the largest election fraud in US history. He encouraged state and national challenges, denied election results, and claimed that if justice prevailed, he and his supporters would win. Step by step, our institutions have resisted these efforts to reverse the outcome of the 2020 elections. When Pence refused to block the confirmation of the votes and the GOP majority in the Senate turned against Trump, he continued to goad his army of supporters and watch them forcibly occupy Congress and obstruct the census.
The founders have not given future generations a precise definition of high crimes and misdemeanors, but in their debates and in their understanding of the existing English precedents they have made clear the spirit that should lead to impeachments. The future Congress should remove from office those who in 1787 threatened the continuation of their great work, as Trump clearly did. The unprecedented second impeachment on Wednesday was inspired by that responsibility.