While not conceding that he has engaged in high crimes andmisdemeanors, the White House and Democratic pundits are contending thatPresident Clinton should not be impeached, irrespective of whether hehas committed impeachable offenses. They argue that impeachment (andconviction) would be wrong for a number of reasons, including that itwould thwart the will of the people by overturning his election andignoring his high approval ratings. They also maintain that his policiesare too important to be interrupted by his removal from office.
While decrying the Republicans for partisanship and politicizing theprocess, it is the Democrats who are expediently injecting politicalissues into what should be a legal matter. The framers understood thatpolitical and partisan pressure would be brought to bear on any effortto remove a sitting president. Hamilton, in Federalist No. 65, said thatimpeachable conduct was "misconduct by public men, or, in other words,from the abuse or violation of some public trust." He explained thatthis conduct was "political" in nature in that it would relate chieflyto injuries done immediately to the society itself. Some people haveconveniently misconstrued and taken out of context his use of the term"political." Hamilton used the term only to describe the nature of theconduct, not the process. For in the very next sentences he acknowledgedthat the process may become partisan and that such a result was to bescrupulously avoided. In fact, he explains, the framers vested theSenate with the power to try cases of impeachment precisely because itwas the body most likely to remain impartial and independent in theprocess. So serious is the removal remedy that the framers required thatconviction occur only on a vote of two-thirds of the Senate.
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Conspicuously absent from the text of the Constitution and from anyof the historical writings explaining it, is a requirement that eitherthe House or the Senate in determining whether to impeach and convict,respectively, weigh the president's perceived performance in office, hiscurrent popularity or his policy initiatives against his allegedimpeachable offenses. It would have been inappropriate, illegal andunconstitutional, for example, for Congress to have declined to impeachPresident Nixon because of his revolutionary and exceedingly popular"door-opening" policies with China.
The Constitution is very clear and quite explicit that the onlyissues for Congress to determine in impeachment cases is whether thepresident in fact committed the alleged acts and whether those actsconstitute high crimes and misdemeanors. These issues must be decided ina trial before the United States Senate with the Chief Justice of theUnited States Supreme Court presiding.
Impeachment is not criminal in nature and does not involve criminalpunishment of the accused. The only permitted actions on conviction areremoval from office and disqualification from holding public office inthe future. The purpose of impeachment is not to punish the accused, butto preserve the integrity of the Republic by purging miscreants from andrestoring dignity and honor to the office.
The White House has been engaged in systematically undermining therule of law for the duration of this investigation and it continues inthat posture today. The president has done everything within his powerto obstruct the grand jury, which was convened for the purpose ofgathering and considering evidence of possible impeachable offenses andcrimes by the president and other members of the administration, fromperforming its duties. The president has caused many of his subordinatesto lie to the grand jury, has attempted to corruptly persuade MonicaLewinsky to lie in the Jones Deposition and to the grand jury, hasrefused to answer questions and lied to the grand jury and hasinterposed a number of phony privilege claims all to obstruct justice.
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In addition to his actions directly impeding the process of the grandjury, he has overtly attempted to subvert the Constitution by convertingthis from a legal matter into a political one. Rather than arguing hiscase on the merits, he has stonewalled, obstructed and viciouslyattacked his accusers. Instead of otherwise submitting to the process hehas endeavored to corrupt the public debate and further debase theConstitution and rule of law by: 1) convincing the people that hisobjectively immoral, reckless and illegal behavior is not in factimmoral or illegal; 2) arguing that even if his conduct is wrong andcriminal "greater ends" justify retaining him in office; 3) improperlyhiring private investigators to discover and expose embarrassing conducton the part of Congressmen and other perceived political enemies; 4)suggesting that the unconstitutional remedy of censure and fine besubstituted for impeachment.
The president has done and will continue to do everything both withinand beyond his power to corrupt the Constitutional process known asimpeachment. The framers were aware that partisan blood would flowduring such emotionally and politically charged times, but dideverything in their power to prevent the impeachment process frombecoming partisan or political. It is the solemn duty of Congress todetermine the issues before them in the manner prescribed by the framersand not to be sidetracked, intimidated or pressured into consideringother factors neither contemplated nor sanctioned by the Constitution.That means that Congressmen from neither party should be swayed bypartisan or popular considerations. The matter before them is gravelyserious. It is now a legal matter that must be decided on the merits,and irrespective of the polls or other extraneous issues.
While Congress has yet to decide whether his actions are impeachableand warrant conviction, the evidence is overwhelming that the chiefexecutive officer of the United States has engaged in a pattern ofconduct designed to mislead the courts, thwart the rule of law andundermine the Constitution. The framers provided a legal method fordealing with such behavior on the part of a rogue president. Theprospective integrity of the Constitution and the rule of law dependsolely on Congress, because this president has demonstrated his uttercontempt for our system. Congress will either rise to the occasion byresisting the political, partisan and popular pressure to resolve theseissues on a extra-constitutional basis and adhere to its constitutionalduties or it will become a co-conspirator with this president in thedestruction of this unique constitutional Republic. Regardless ofwhether it decides to impeach and or convict, Congress itself must actin conformity with its constitutional mandate. If Congress is unwillingto uphold the rule of law it might as well surrender the flag. Theprofound magnitude of the task before it is immeasurably greater thanthe abstract legacy to be attributed to it in academic history books.Undermining the rule of law is the first step towards eradicating ourpersonal liberties because our liberties depend on the principle oflimited, but orderly government that our founding fathers so carefullyand ingeniously incorporated into our Constitution. The burden is onCongress either to vindicate or nullify the blood of our Americanpatriots.