Robert F. Jakubowicz: Nation's founders saw this day coming
PITTSFIELD — Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) at a Trump rally last week in Louisiana said: " President Trump has doubled the growth in the greatest economy in all of human history. And do you know what our Democratic friends have done to him? Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to impeach him. I don't mean any disrespect, but it must suck to be that dumb." He did disrespect Pelosi and worse he used a well-known Fascist excuse in his remarks.
Kennedy's irresponsible statement brings to mind the famous excuse for the justification of Fascist rule like that of Italy's notorious dictator Benito Mussolini, namely, that he made the trains run on time. This has become a historic political statement that conveys the idea that while having dictatorship-like rule may be bad, it gets things done. In Trump's case, he may act as if he is above the law and that may be bad, but he gets things done.
Notwithstanding all the public clamor from Trump and his supporters about the illegality of the impeachment investigation and it being nothing more than a witch hunt, Pelosi, as the speaker for the majority of members in the House of Representatives, is only doing her sworn duty under the Constitution " to support" that document. And in this matter of Trump the relevant duty is to decide whether actions by the president warrant and compel the use of the House's unique power to impeach the president. No other branch of government, federal, state or local is authorized to do this. This is an awesome constitutional power and duty given solely to the House of Representatives. It is only after that body decides to impeach, that the Senate gets the opportunity to decide whether to find a president guilty and remove him from office.
ANTICIPATED BY FOUNDERS
Now that the House has begun holding public hearings in its investigation of whether to impeach the president, a brief American history refresher on the intent of the drafters in inserting this impeachment power in the Constitution is in order to enable the public to better understand what is going on. There is little history and no court precedents for presidential impeachment because it has been rarely used. But James Madison, one of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention, kept notes.
According to those notes, Madison noted a concern about deciding on a single person as the national executive. The fear was that within the realm of "probable events" that at some point there would be a corrupt president. Madison argued that this made it "indispensable" that the Constitution have a provision to defend the people against the "incapacity, negligence or perfidy (perfidy is defined in the New Oxford Dictionary as "deceitfulness; untrustworthiness") of a president.
George Mason, another delegate, thought that no point was "of more importance than impeachment, because no man should be above justice (especially a president who) can commit the most extensive injustice."
The delegates had a problem with listing all the possible impeachment grounds. They thought "maladministration" as a ground would be too ambiguous. But they did not want to make it too easy to impeach lest it would make a president beholden to Congress, nor too difficult a matter so a corrupt president would remain in office.
Finally Mason proposed the general ground of "high crimes and misdemeanors." It was the ground used by the British to remove government ministers that did not have to include an indictable crime. Edmund Randolph, another Virginia delegate at the Convention, underscored this point of non-criminal grounds by pointing out that the violation of the emolument clause (there are several pending lawsuits against Trump for violating this clause) in the Constitution, while not a crime, would constitute one of these "high crimes and misdemeanors," as grounds for impeachment. This ground as well as the crimes of treason and bribery were finally inserted in the Constitution.
Based on this history of impeachment It is clear to me that the House does not have to find evidence of a crime against Trump to impeach him. But it must find an act or acts by him that are terribly and substantially detrimental to American democracy such as the abuse of his power, unethical conduct, violation of his public trust, deceitfulness, or untrustworthiness.
The public will now get the opportunity to watch and hear some of the witnesses and see the documents that have been presented to the House investigating committees behind closed doors. It should confirm Trump's quid pro quo deal to exchange badly needed military aid, that he deliberately withheld from an ally Ukraine, in exchange for that nation holding a bogus, public corruption investigation of Hunter Biden to taint his father Joe as a presidential candidate against Trump. This is a clear ground for impeachment.
The public should tune out the irrelevant nonsense of Trumpists with such baloney as a lack of criminal conduct by the president, identifying the whistleblower, blaming Pelosi and the Democrats, and since the economy is doing great leave Trump alone.
Robert "Frank" Jakubowicz is a regular contributor to the Eagle.
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