Friday, December 13, 2019

The Final Verdict on Impeachment

Friends, like you I'm sick of hearing about impeachment.  Lindsey Graham said it best: it's a "crock," and the sooner this country moves on, the better.  That being so, the House of Representatives, which sadly Democrats control, does have the "sole Power of Impeachment," and thus, if the House votes to impeach, we have to go through the motions.  My latest article, soon to appear in American Greatness, considers the merits of the Democrats' case through the lens of their two articles of impeachment.  I find the arguments for impeachment severely wanting, as you might imagine.  See if you agree.

The Democrats Want To Impeach President Trump...Because He Made Politics Political

As Democrats in the House of Representatives gird themselves to vote for articles of impeachment against President Trump — potentially booting him out of office and nullifying the results of the 2016 election — Americans should reflect on their audacity. 

Neither of the articles of impeachment references a specific crime in any statute book. Instead, the Democratic leadership has made up two brand new offenses: “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress”. What they have in common, in addition to their novelty, is their vagueness, which makes them profoundly unsuitable to serve as the grounds for the cancellation of the people's will, as expressed in the last presidential election.

With respect to “abuse of power,” while the media has obsessed over questions of a “quid pro quo” involving pressure on Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in return for military aid, the truth is that the substance of the Democrats' charges relates to Trump's motivations, not his actions. Pressuring foreign governments to act in certain ways is absolutely normal in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. It is, therefore, the Democrats' charge, as stated in the article of impeachment, that Trump pressured Ukraine to “announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage,” that really matters. In other words, Trump acted “for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit...[He] compromised the national security of the United States...[and] ignored and injured the interests of the Nation.” That, at the end of the day, is the substance of the Democrats' case against President Trump; he betrayed the country and his oath of office.

The most obvious problem here is that the Democrats have advanced no proof that President Trump's Ukraine policy is or was guided by his desire to win the 2020 election. They consider this notion to be incontestable, since, by process of elimination, they can think of no other reason why anyone would suspect the illustrious Biden family of wrongdoing. This is a long way from proving President Trump's corrupt motivations, however.

But there is a deeper, more fundamental flaw in the Democrats' “abuse of power” case against the President. We should recall that every President, and every member of Congress, is subject to election and reelection. It is seldom the case that any elected official will make important decisions without reference to his or her “personal political” interests. Moreover, whether those decisions, taken in part to advance one's political career, ultimately redound to the benefit or harm of the nation is inherently subjective. 

The Democrats have thus advanced a new standard for impeachment — that no politician should ever behave politically — which is, on its face, impossible to sustain because of its ambiguity and its incompatibility with political reality. How many actions of President Obama, for instance, were derided by Republicans as motivated by “personal political” motives? How many, according to Republicans, “harmed” the nation? Democrats are plunging us into an impeachment maelstrom, wherein any federal officeholder could be, and perhaps will be, impeached on the slightest provocation, if the House of Representatives is ill-disposed towards him or her and suspects that their underlying motivations were “political”. 

The truth is, therefore, that this new, improvised, and ambiguous philosophy of impeachment is itself an “abuse of power.” It's propagators should be punished accordingly, but not through a politicized impeachment process. They should be evicted from office by the voters at the earliest opportunity: in 2020.

The same logic applies with respect to the Democrats' second article of impeachment, which charges President Trump with “obstruction of Congress.” The Democrats allege that Trump has “directed the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives pursuant to its 'sole Power of Impeachment'.” They further allege that “no President has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate...”

The first flaw in this logic is that Congress could, if it sorely wished to compel the testimony of any administration official, or obtain any relevant document, litigate the matter to a satisfactory conclusion. If, as the Congress claims, it is unconstitutional to deny the Judiciary Committee, say, the testimony of Mike Pompeo or John Bolton vis-a-vis the impeachment inquiry, then why not solicit the federal courts, up to and including the Supreme Court, to issue an order compelling them to comply with their obligations? That is precisely how the standoff with President Nixon in 1974 was ultimately resolved: the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to hand over the Oval Office tapes, and he did so. Congress could pursue the same remedy now, but it refuses, because it is in a headlong rush to impeach President Trump — for what are transparently “personal political” reasons: Congress hates Trump, but it also wants to dispose of impeachment before the start of an election year.

Once again, though, there is a deeper, more fundamental problem with the Democrats' case against President Trump for “obstruction of Congress.” It is absolutely normal for presidents to refuse to turn over documentation to Congress, and to order administration officials not to appear at hearings. This is called “executive privilege.” The executive branch need not accede to every request of Congress for information, because there is a presumption that the proper functioning of the executive requires a degree of privacy and discretion. 

The Judiciary Committee's fig leaf to conceal this gaping hole in their rationale for impeachment is that Trump's non-cooperation with House investigations has been “unprecedented” and “comprehensive” — two more ambiguous standards that, once again, could arguably be applied to any President, in any era, failing to comply with a Congressional subpoena for any reason. A disagreement about the extent of executive privilege, however, should not constitute an impeachable offense. 

Take the “Fast and Furious” scandal of 2010-2014. The Obama administration decided to sell guns to Mexican criminals in order to obtain intelligence on the drug cartels for which some of them worked. The intelligence never materialized, but a Border Patrol agent was killed by one of the guns. Republicans in the House of Representatives understandably wished to obtain testimony and documents from the Obama administration about this travesty, but the Obama Department of Justice refused to comply, citing executive privilege. Ultimately, the House held Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, and a federal court upheld Congress' right to receive the information. 

By the logic of the Democrats now sitting on the Judiciary Committee, this “unprecedented” failure to comply with a Congressional investigation should have been impeachable. The fact that a federal court found that executive privilege did not apply in this case suggests that the actions of the Attorney General, and presumably of the President, were unconstitutional — and yet neither man was impeached. This is because Republicans respect the gravity of impeachment and preferred to let the American people render a verdict on the fitness of President Obama and his Attorney General. Now, though, Trump-hating Democrats prefer to substitute their own judgment for that of the American electorate. They would happily impeach Donald Trump on any pretext, because it is what their infuriated electoral base demands.

In the end, the Democrats in the House of Representatives have invented two novel justifications for the removal of a president from office, and they have crafted these justifications in such a way that they can be used against any president, now and in the future, who rubs Congress the wrong way. By jettisoning Congress's traditional restraint on matters of impeachment, and seeking to remove President Trump for alleged wrongdoing that is not susceptible to proof beyond a reasonable doubt, Democrats are opening the floodgates to a wave of “personal political” impeachments that may arise in the decades ahead. Future American politicians may thus view the results of U.S. federal elections not as determinative of the country's leadership, but as mere suggestions from the voters, which may be vetoed by our all-knowing political elite. By no means should this very real abuse of power by House Democrats be tolerated by the American people. 

To save our democracy, therefore, we must defeat the campaign to impeach and remove our 45th President, Donald J. Trump.

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: He appears weekly on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480.

And here it is at American Greatness: 


  1. I agree, the only abuse of power is coming from the dems and I am afraid if /when the president is re elected it will continue on.

  2. Dr. Waddy: Thank you for a well thought out and concisely and convincingly written analysis of this shameful process. It will certainly be one of my main references when I wish to consider the details. I have avoided doing that for the most part during these "hearings", inquisitions rather,because I see them as pure partisan politics, which must be countered in an equally partisan manner, and in order to contain my outrage at the American left for using this one branch of the government they control in such a shameful manner. In another sense, though, I thank them for showing us yet again just what they are about and how they would rule - in complete disdain for the real America and by "any means necessary" - and if the country is destroyed thereby "oh well, it deserved it".

    Augustus Howard wrote in the NY Post some three weeks ago:" The impeachment hearings are an act of political oppression . . . but let us assume . . . that there was a quid pro quo . . . No. To the contrary, it could be argued that it is both legitimate and appropriate for the president, as a fiduciary officer of the United States - a guardian of taxpayers' money - to assure that recipients of aid are not engaged in corrupt actions, particularly when those actions may be linked to American officials . . . But none of this is about facts, truth or due process of law. The impeachment charade - the rest of the antiTrump, establishment effort to overthrow the results of an election (unquote- which did not please it and was therefore unendurable and unacceptable unquote) - is instead a case study in raw power politics and ruthless, relentless bullying... Congressional Democrats ... want . . . those who cchallenged the permanent, elite government class, to know they can never win. Stand with us or suffer the consequences, just like the president you supported".

  3. Dr. Waddy: The above, including your comments, will be my guide in reasoning through this abomination.. I trust the real America already sees this for what it is and will visit the consequences on the America hating American left and all of its toadies and apologists in 2020 or perhaps even before. This IS Civil War II in a political sense.

  4. Dr. Waddy and Linda: The totalitarian American left is going to the wall in this. It knows that if President Trump is reelected its post 1972 disingenuous concession - to try to obtain full power through "lawful", institutional means - is finished. That is of course because President Trump will deny them the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future.

    And so, for them, this is Pickett's Charge, this election and everything which could affect it is for them the hill they MUST fight on! They were soooo very close, on Nov.7, 2016, to sealing the deal for good (a President Hillary would have permanently subjected the real America, as Cuomo is doing in NY). Their rejection, especially at the hands of one so openly disdainful of their haught and their presumptuousness, has been as agonizing as to have addled them. Perhaps the Pickett's Charge analogy, in this sense, doesn't hold. Lee at least had good reason for the charge.The left is acting from existential desperation.

  5. Linda, you may well be right that the Left and the deep state would come at Trump again, even in a second term. They would be exasperated, and what other play would they have? On the other hand, once Trump IS impeached, and once the Senate frisks that aside with contempt and the polls remain steady, the Dems may conclude that it's a waste of time and effort. Quite a few of them may pack up their brie and crackers and head for the hills. Let's hope their worst nightmare comes to pass!

    Jack, the Augustus Howard piece is very well-argued. "Bullying" defines the last four years, I would say. First it was the media, and then it was a media-Democratic Party-deep state trifecta of meanness and small-mindedness.

    And you're right about the Supreme Court. The Left is very worried about it. They're already girding themselves for a long struggle -- and one in which the courts themselves will be the object of their attacks. I think they assume that mass action can intimidate even conservative judges into submission. Maybe. I personally think they overestimate the dedication of their foot soldiers. We shall see.

  6. Dr. Waddy and Linda: When President Trump wins reelection it may initiate an unprecedented era in American politics. The sanctimonious left may give up trying to achieve power by "lawful" means ( and though to them the" law' is ever just what they say it is and no more, still, our fundamental legal structure has remained)or it may choose to attack that institution they almost captured - the Judiciary - both out of juvenile pique and for want of any other strategy within the law. Congress is insolently responsive to the"mob" (in the long run; this momentary impeachment tantrum notwithstanding)and AOC must wait until after the damage has been done.

    Their prospects are dim and that is as it should be in a just and progressive nation. (Yeah, I'm not above Clinton style preemption in the use of that term). "Progress" to the left of course, means totalitarianism realized.

  7. Jack, everything about the Trump era is "unprecedented," but I know what you mean: once he gets re-elected, the liberal mask might come off, and people will finally see them for what they are -- America-hating extremists. We can only hope. Bringing the media on-side seems like an impossible dream, but really all it would take is a threat to their corporate sponsorships. I'd like to think that, if Trump is re-elected, some corporations might start to see the writing on the wall...