Impeachment of President Trump a mission impossible

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Democrats are daydreaming of impeaching President Donald Trump from the office following their ‘landslide victory’ in the upcoming midterm polls. The US Constitution, states that a president can be impeached if convicted of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Those looking to impeach Trump would need to show he has done something that falls into one of those categories. Impeachment proceedings begin in the House of Representatives, where lawmakers can introduce an impeachment resolution or a resolution authorizing an investigation into whether grounds for impeachment exist. If a House committee determines that there are grounds for impeachment, a resolution with a formal accusation of misconduct is presented to the full House for a vote. In order to impeach a president, a resolution must pass the House by a simple majority. When the President’s own party has control of Congress — as Republicans do now — that’s a difficult bar to clear. If a vote were to take place today, when there are five vacancies in the House, all 193 Democrats and 23 Republicans would need to vote for impeachment in order for it to pass.

Only two presidents in U.S. history have been impeached: Clinton in 1998 on charges of lying under oath to a federal grand jury, and Andrew Johnson in 1868 on charges of violating the Tenure of Office Act by firing the Secretary of War. Both Clinton and Johnson were Democrats who faced a Republican-controlled Congress, and both were still acquitted in the Senate because opponents failed to gather enough votes in the upper chamber. (Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.)

Impeachment in the United States is the process by which the lower house of a legislature brings charges against a civil officer of government for crimes alleged to have been committed, analogous to the bringing of an indictment by a grand jury. At the federal level, this is at the discretion of the House of Representatives. Most impeachments have concerned alleged crimes committed while in office, though there have been a few cases in which officials have been impeached and subsequently convicted for crimes committed prior to taking office. The impeached official remains in office until a trial is held. That trial, and their removal from office if convicted, is separate from the act of impeachment itself. Analogous to a trial before a judge and jury, these proceedings are (where the legislature is bicameral) conducted by upper house of the legislature, which at the federal level is the Senate.

At the federal level, Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 of the Constitution grants to the House of Representatives “the sole power of impeachment”, and Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 grants to the Senate “the sole Power to try all Impeachments”. In considering articles of impeachment, the House is obligated to base any charges on the constitutional standards specified in Article II, Section 4: “The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors”.

Impeachment can also occur at the state level. Each state’s legislature can impeach state officials, including the governor, in accordance with their respective state constitution.

In the United States, it is hard to impeach a president. The founders included the provision, from the very start, as the weakest, “break the glass in case of emergency” mechanism for reining in an out-of-control executive. He was already subject to a four-year term, so he would remain answerable to the people, and to two other branches of government, which could box him in constitutionally. But the founders’ fear of creeping monarchism — the very reason for their revolution — and their deep realism about human nature led them to a provision, rooted in English constitutional precedent, whereby a rogue president could be removed from office by the legislature during his term as well. At the same time, it’s clear they also wanted a strong executive, not serving at the whim of Congress, or subject, like a prime minister, to a parliamentary vote of “no confidence.” He was an equal branch of government, with his own prerogatives, empowered, in Hamilton’s words, to conduct his office with “decision, activity, secrecy and dispatch.” He stood very much on his own feet.

And so the impeachment power was both strong and weak. Strong as it hovered as the ultimate sanction for any president who might push his luck, but weak insofar as it was deliberately limited to the offense of subverting the Constitution itself or betraying the United States in foreign affairs: the famously grave and yet vague Anglo-American terminology of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which included “great and dangerous offenses.” These were essentially serious political crimes, which was why they had to be dealt with in the political arena rather than the courts. They amounted to one core idea: If the president was to start acting like a king, he could be dispatched.

It’s an old constitutional question for which there is no clear answer: can a sitting U.S. president be charged with a crime?

The question has become newly relevant as a special counsel investigates possible links between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russians who attempted to interfere with the 2016 election.

There’s no evidence that special counsel Robert Mueller will attempt to indict any of Trump’s associates, let alone Trump himself. But Mueller does have authority to prosecute any federal crimes related to the investigation. At least theoretically, that could include the president.

Mueller is reported to be looking into whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired former FBI director James Comey.

If Mueller’s team found evidence to bring charges against Trump, it could spark a legal battle that would almost certainly end up at the Supreme Court. And it’s not clear which side would prevail.

James Pfiffner, a public policy professor at George Mason University, concedes the question is “really difficult.”

“In principle, I think yes he can be indicted, but in practice probably not,” he says.
In Pfiffner’s view, the more constitutionally sound way of holding a president accountable is through impeachment, which effectively makes Congress the court that tries the president. But impeachment is a political, not legal, process, he says.

In my personal opinion, impeachment of President Doland Trump is a mission impossible. Whatever the Democrats may say or whatever the degree of their optimism on impeachment may be – the plain fact is, Trump is doing excellent in improving American economy and creating more jobs for his people. These are the basic points most possibly sensible Americans need to consider before jumping onto Hillary-Obama’s madness of impeachment. Anyone would understand a defeated Hillary Clinton is mad in setting President Trump out of office. But, at the end of the day, it won’t bring anything good to the American people. Moreover, we should not forget the diplomatic bankruptcy and economic failures of Barack Obama.

The most important task, in my opinion, for the Democrats now is to select a candidate for facing Donald Trump in the presidential election in 2020. Although some of the political analysts are skeptical of Trump’s consecutive second term, I think, if Democrats cannot show any miracle by picking a real potential candidate, Donald Trump will win a second consecutive term. The most important point here is to see, if the Democrats can change their decade-old antisemitic mindset and the wrong policy of appeasing terrorists like the Falestinians. Everyone knows, it was Obama’s wrong policies which resulted in emergence of ISIS and the return of trouble in Afghanistan. Should Hillary Clinton win the 2016 presidential election, the world would by now turned into a real mess with much enlargement of ISIS activities.

Donald Trump’s impeachment would be a curse for the American people. It will leave America into a Constitution crisis and a total uncertainty. Moreover, economy and job market will once again move towards negative trend. If someone is hating Trump’s immigration policy, they need to remember a fact – whatever this man has so far done and aspires doing are only for the good of the American people and the world. He has no personal interest. This man has been working 18 hours a day – without taking even a single dollar from the national exchequer. Yes, Obama and Hillary will not stop from the evil bids of fooling the American people. Here I want to repeat a famous quote from Abraham Lincoln – “You can’t fool all the people all the time”.

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