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Can a presidential election be undone?
Posted By Drew Zahn On 05/17/2011 @ 8:05 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Throughout the ongoing controversy over Barack Obama’s eligibility to occupy the Oval Office, questions have arisen about the consequences of removing a sitting president from power.
Would a constitutional crisis ensue? Can a presidential election be “undone?”
The recent publishing of previously “lost” testimony from President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial reflects on those questions, arguing the people have a right, duty and process for removing a president who disregards the Constitution.
“The cry also is raised that to remove the president is to create a constitutional crisis by undoing an election,” wrote Rep. James E. Rogan, R-Calif., in his prepared closing argument – which was not delivered as planned – for the impeachment trial. “There is no constitutional crisis created when the simple process of the Constitution comes into play.”
He continued, quoting Dr. Larry Arnn of the Claremont Institute, who said, “The people elect a president to do a constitutional job. … If the president is guilty of acts justifying impeachment, then he, not the Congress, will have overturned the election. He will have acted in ways that betray the purpose of his election. He will have acted not as a constitutional representative, but as a monarch, subversive of, or above, the law.”
Rogan’s “lost” argument is now published in his new book, “Catching Our Flag,” a volume of his comments and detailed diary notes as a member of the 13 House managers who prosecuted Clinton’s trial before the Senate.
Rogan told students of Hillsdale College that he had written his closing argument, but during a recess right before he delivered the speech, he was compelled to change his plans.
“In my prepared closing argument before the Senate, I had tried to summarize for my children and my grandchildren what the trial was about,” Rogan told Hillsdale. “But the Chief Justice called a break just before I was up, and while in the back room I heard some remarks on television that called for an immediate response. When I rose to speak, then, I jettisoned most of my prepared text.”
But now, for the first time in “Catching Our Flag,” Rogan’s original, “lost” comments are being made available to the public.
Many of Rogan’s other, never-before-heard arguments also reflect a parallel between what Clinton was accused of doing and what some would accuse Obama of doing, were he demonstrated to be ineligible to be president.
For example, Rogan had “jettisoned” the following prepared comments from what he actually said before the Senate:
Not all of Rogan’s prepared remarks were jettisoned, however, as he carried much of his closing argument into the Senate, including comments that would be eerily poignant today, should Obama be found ineligible:
“The mere fact that a person is elected president does not give him the right to become president, no matter how overwhelming his vote margin,” Rogan told the Senate. “Votes alone do not make a person president of the United States. There is a requirement that precedes obtaining the power and authority of obtaining the presidency. It is the oath of office. It is swearing to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. It is accepting the obligation that the laws are to be faithfully executed.
“No oath, no presidency,” he continued. “It is the oath of office, and not public opinion polls, that gives life and legitimacy to a presidency. This is true no matter how popular an elected president may be, or how broad his margin of victory.”
The entire text of Rogan’s “lost” argument can be read in Appendix 4 of his newest book, ““Catching Our Flag,” an uncensored, behind-the-scenes look at what went on during America’s last presidential impeachment.
“This first-hand narrative provides a fascinating inside tale of politics, power, expendiency and intimidation,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who wrote the foreword. “Other books in this subject invariably rely on fading recollections (or wholesale fantasies). Congressman James Rogan was more than a witness; he was a leading figure in the most important trial in our country’s political and legal history. It is a story only he can tell.”
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