The last week of September the news was even more obsessed than usual by the possibility of impending impeachment.
The now infamous phone call between our President and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky prompted the frenzy.
Two years of impeachment talk have worn us out. Well, at least me. In fact, I had hoped that Congress, specifically the House of Representatives, would get on with issues critical to its constituents — issues such as climate change, health care, guns — the list goes on. Congress had — still has — much to do and seemed to suffer distractions, daily. A major part of that distraction was the debate over whether to impeach or not to impeach our President.
On Sept. 24, House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, in a press conference declared, “I’m directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry,” the California Democrat said in televised remarks Tuesday after a meeting of House Democrats.” — Roll Call, Sept. 24.
The disclosure of the July 25th phone call between our President and the newly elected Ukraine President sparked Pelosi’s move. She was — and appears to remain — reluctant to invoke impeachment proceedings.
However, now there is more than just yammering about the word impeachment. And to that point, what exactly is impeachment? Harvard Professor Lawrence Tribe provided the most understandable description of impeachment. The actual impeachment is a vote. However, that vote was preceded by a fact finding impeachment inquiry in the House. Then, those findings are submitted to the floor of the full House.
If the House votes, on a simple majority, that the official (the President, in this case) is guilty of high crimes or misdemeanors (treason), then the articles of impeachment move to the Senate. The Senate then holds a trial. That requires more than two-thirds of the Senate vote to remove the official from office. The Senate proceedings are overseen by the Supreme Court Chief Justice (in this case, John Roberts). Failing the two-thirds vote, the official remains in office. However, if two-thirds or more of the Senate finds the official guilty, he is removed from office — and in this case — the Vice President takes over. There is no option for appeal!
Regarding impeachment, one of our most articulate founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton wrote, “...there will always be the greatest danger that the [impeachment] decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of the parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.” -Los Angeles Times, Sept. 26.
It is extraordinary that a phone call could generate such an avalanche.
However, the phone call compelled action. Admittedly, reading — and thus hearing — our President ask the Ukranian President to help dig up “dirt” on a political opponent was appalling.
Granted, if President Trump felt that Sen. Joe Biden’s son — Hunter — was somehow embroiled in shady dealings, then the President should have passed his concerns along to our FBI. That would have been appropriate! As it was, the transcript from the Ukrainian phone call — released by the White House on Sept. 25 — gave the appearance that our President would not distribute nearly $400-million dollars in military aid, unless the Ukranian President complied with our President’s request.
Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau apparently investigated Burisma Holdings Limited — an energy company.
Hunter Biden served on Burisma’s board starting in 2014, well after the investigation of the company was completed.
Coincidently, Former Vice President Biden was liasioning with the Ukraine for President Obama when Biden’s son accepted the position.
I must admit, that even though it was legal for Hunter to accept the position, the appearance of a conflict of interest is too great, therefore, something I would advise against.
Even so, it does not reach the level of soliciting involvement by a foreign country to provide information that could be used to meddle in our nation’s elections.
Granted, we can easily get side tracked in arguing about who is guilty of what. It will get us nowhere! The fact remains, there is a good chance that our President will face impeachment. Plus, it is likely that it will be exceedingly messy!
In moving toward impeachment, Rep. Pelosi appointed the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), to head the Ukraine investigation for now. Other committees that are investigating possible misdeeds by the administration should follow Rep. Schiff’s lead. Those committees include: Oversight and Reform, Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, and Ways and Means.
Hopefully, those committee members can be both quick and thorough. Hopefully, subpoenaed papers, phone records, texts, and witnesses are promptly presented to Rep. Schiff’s committee.
Hopefully decisions can be reached without delay.
Hopefully, during the impeachment proceedings, any representatives not devoted to the impeachment investigation can spend their time tending to other critical issues.
Having watched an investigation into Richard Nixon and the impeachment of William Clinton, I am not relishing another go-round. No matter which party you favor, in the moment, it feels as though everyone loses.
Actually though, having been through the two previous cases, I have hope. Of course, we may appear a mess to the rest of the world, but democracy is sometimes messy. Yet, somehow we always come out stronger when we — as a country — endure these trials.
As historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin suggested, this is a good opportunity for a giant civics lesson. Who knows, perhaps we will learn more about the intricacies of our democractic-republic.
We should all make an effort to leave partisan preferences out of the impeachment process. This should not be a moment when we are devoted to party. We need to be more concerned about the security of our Constitution. After all, our Constitution is the foundation of our democracy!
Per Doris Kearns Goodwin’s advice, “Facts should drive us.”