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Memo to Congress: Impeachment probe needed now!
Posted By Tom Tancredo On 09/09/2011 @ 4:38 pm In Commentary | Comments Disabled
Barack Obama is indeed succeeding in his plans to “transform America,” but not in the way voters expected on Election Day in 2008. The number of the president’s actions that arguably qualify as impeachable offenses is staggering.
The question before the country is what to do about it.
True, Obama faces the voters in 14 months, and that will be seen by many as a reason to avoid the turmoil of an impeachment proceeding. But one process has nothing to do with the other. Elections proceed on an established calendar, but if he has committed acts that warrant removal by way of impeachment, that process should proceed independent of the election calendar. While impeachment must never be used to override an election victory, neither should the prospects of electoral defeat be used as an argument to avoid impeachment.
Obama has demonstrated contempt for the Constitution and is increasingly resorting to rule by decree. He is recognized by a growing number of Americans as a danger to the republic – certainly a danger to our liberties and also a serious threat to our national security.
It is time for the House of Representatives to take its constitutional responsibility seriously and launch an impeachment investigation. The investigative committee should hold hearings, collect and weigh the evidence, and then present its findings to the Congress and the nation.
Has Obama committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” that warrant impeachment and removal? There is much evidence that says, yes, he has.
Impeachment of the president is justified on constitutional grounds if any of the following 12 questions is answered in the affirmative:
If the president is not guilty of any of these crimes, then a thorough investigation by a House committee with subpoena power will clear the air. If he is guilty, then the U.S. House of Representatives has a moral obligation to vote for a resolution of impeachment, and the U.S. Senate must bring him to trial.
If the leaders of the House believe that some or all of these actions are indeed impeachable offenses but nonetheless refuse to launch a formal investigation to ascertain all the facts, then there are two parties involved in Obama’s assault on the Constitution – the perpetrators and their accomplices. In layman’s terms, Obama and his radical cronies are busy robbing the bank, while the House Republican leadership waits in the getaway car.
If some or all of the allegations are adopted as true by the House but rejected by the Senate as inadequate grounds for removal, that means the president of the United States can ignore the particulars of his oath to defend the Constitution. It means he can govern by edict instead of “taking care to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.” It means that Barack Obama has indeed succeeded in his plans to “transform America.” It means we are perilously close to crossing the line between constitutional republic and dictatorship.
There is no question that the impeachment and removal of Barack Obama is within the proper scope and purpose of the Constitution’s impeachment provisions.
The history of the nation’s two presidential impeachment cases shows that although treason and bribery are the only crimes mentioned by name, this does not limit Congress’ authority to bring an indictment on other serious charges. Constitutionally speaking, “high crimes and misdemeanors” can mean almost anything Congress in its wisdom wants it to mean.
Clearly, the authors of the Constitution did not intend that presidents should be vulnerable to removal for light or petty reasons, hence the use of the adjective “high” in front of the words “crimes and misdemeanors.” Nevertheless, what constitutes a “high crime” is up to Congress to decide.
It is also clear from history that the identification and naming of impeachable offenses is as much a political judgment as a legal one. The assignment of separate and distinct roles to the House and the Senate – and the two-thirds vote requirement for conviction and removal – were deemed by the founders as sufficient safeguards against removal of a president for transient or narrowly partisan reasons.
We learned that lesson forcefully in the Clinton impeachment case. Politics can and will play a part in the process, but that is expected and entirely consistent with constitutional principles.
President Clinton was charged with two counts each of perjury and obstruction of justice. The House thought the crimes serious enough to adopt the impeachment resolution in December of 1998. Two months later, the Senate disagreed and voted for acquittal – or more precisely, failed to muster the required two-thirds vote for conviction. In the House vote, only five Democrats voted for impeachment, and in the Senate, not a single Democrat voted for conviction. So much for keeping politics out of the courtroom.
The peculiar and revealing thing about those two Clinton impeachment votes is that no one seriously doubted the guilt of the president on the perjury and obstruction charges. But Democrats in Congress believed that even if true, the charges did not warrant removal from office. They reasoned that the charges dealt with a private matter – Clinton’s sexual escapades – and not government business.
The Clinton case illustrates that for both Democrats and Republicans, in the last analysis, what is an impeachable offense is inevitably a political question as much as a legal one. Scholars and lawyers may have an opinion, but Congress’ opinion is the only one that matters. Congress’ supreme authority on impeachment questions is as much an embodiment of our separation of powers doctrine as the president’s broad prerogatives in foreign policy.
Admittedly, the likelihood of the present Democrat-controlled Senate casting a two-thirds vote for conviction and removal is almost zero. However, this does not discharge the House from its constitutional obligation to pursue the matter if – in their considered judgment – the evidence warrants.
The questions posed above all relate to actions affecting national security and unlawful political intervention in the execution of our nation’s laws – not mere policy differences. Obama’s disastrous economic policies, his ideological war against domestic energy production and his reckless proposals to add new trillions to our national debt– all are policies that are damaging to our nation’s well-being. However, such policies are not in themselves impeachable crimes. His contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law is a different matter altogether.
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