Can’t decide about whether or not the President should be impeached? Well, we have our own ideas. To help you decide, here are the facts about impeachment.
Impeachment is one way that many governments have of removing elected officials, or even some appointed officials. Impeachment is actually the indictment of or charges against an official.
The Particulars of the Trump Impeachment Case
In this particular case, President Trump has been charged with, and occasionally seems to admit to, withholding military support that Congress had approved and was sending to Ukraine. He withheld it in order to leverage a request for information about his political rival in the 2020 election. Seeking support of this kind from a foreign country to interfere in a U.S. election is a major offense. Despite the testimony of concerned high-ranking people who heard the phone call, President Trump contends that he was not seeking support from the President of Ukraine for his political campaign.
The President, perhaps even more seriously, prohibited his staff from participating in the House Intelligence Committee investigation, which is the first part of the “impeachment” proceedings. It is illegal to “obstruct” that is, to prevent witnesses from reporting to investigators in a proceeding in which the person has been subpoenaed. The President did this, prohibited members of his staff and heads of other departments and those who had direct knowledge from participating in the investigative phase. That is obstruction of justice and that is punishable with criminal penalties, i.e., jail time.
Why Is Impeachment Such a Serious Matter?
It should be obvious why this is serious. If people were not obliged by the justice system to show up for investigations, criminals, even murderers, would never be convicted of crimes. Similarly, if foreign countries were allowed to become involved in our elections, determining who would win and who would lose, our elections could become meaningless, and no one would participate or vote. That would leave an opening for any dictator to enter and control the country with the support of very few wealthy people. We have evidence that this has already happened. We have evidence, provided by our own intelligence agencies, that, in 2016, foreign influences had definite effects upon the outcome of the Presidential election.
An Impeachment Is an Investigation and a Trial.
So, returning to the operations of impeachment trials, usually when an individual is impeached, they must go to trial. The trial part of the impeachment is the part where the official can be convicted on the charges not by a court, but by a legislature or parliament, sitting in judgment and voting for or against conviction and expulsion. That is the way impeachments are resolved. A judgment either convicts or exonerates the official on the articles of impeachment.
Because impeachment and conviction of officials involve an overturning of the normal constitutional procedures by which individuals achieve high office (election, ratification, or appointment) and because it generally requires a supermajority, they are usually reserved for those deemed to have committed serious abuses of their office. In the United States, for example, impeachment at the federal level is limited to those who may have committed “Treason, Bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,”
What Is President Trump Accused of Having Done Wrong?
One of those crimes actually described as impeachable is “not spending money allocated by Parliament” which happens to be exactly what President Trump, in one instance, is charged with doing. Obstructing justice, preventing someone from testifying in a court case…or an impeachment trial…is a crime. Presidents can be impeached for committing a crime. President Trump is accused of coming a crime when he obstructed justice by forcing individuals not to follow directions from subpoenas by a congressional committee.
Trial By “Peers,” by the Senate
So those are the charges. Whether he is guilty of them must be determined by an impartial, objective Senate. This, we know from experience is almost impossible. Today, as unlimited funds have allowed the very rich to simply pool vast funds and elect their own Senators, the hope for objectivity is almost gone. You might as well go directly to the Koch Family or the Mercer family or the head of the National Rifle Association for a vote, not the Senate.
Some of the confusion about the impeachment of President Trump stems from the fact that the situation was so clear and the facts leading to the impeachment charges, which came from the intelligence committee in the House of Representatives, were so transparent. We had the transcript of the phone call and a dozen people who were not only listening but also whose job it was to make an accurate record of it. Those individuals…and others who were not allowed by the White House to respond to subpoenas…heard the conversation and said that the President did, indeed, ask the President of Ukraine to investigate his political opponent’s son.
Why is there such conflict between the Republicans and the Democrats? Well, if you consider that the image of the Democrats in the media is that they are basically for the poor and minorities, including illegal aliens, that would be one factor. If your impression is that Republicans are now the party of White, intolerant Southerners and Westerners, passive, college-educated Northerners, and capitalism-without-democracy business owners, then you have that as your opposing party. The reality is quite different.
Nationally, President Trump has a disapproval rating of 6-8 points higher than his best approval rating. His direction for the country….he gets a disapproval of an average of well over ten points and as high on occasion as 42 points greater disapproval. In polls on reelection, he loses to every single Democrat by at least 3 to 4 points, but those numbers will at least double when only one Demorcrat is on the ticket.
Why point this out? Because the entire impeachmnent proceeding could have been hacked, perhaps was, by a political process that is determined by money. Virtually all the Republicans left in the House of Representatives are protégés of the rich.
Money Talks. And Republicans Speak for Those with Money.
Let’s just take one example, although you could go through each and every House or Senate Republican and get a similar result. Take Doug Collins, Republican of Georgia, who has been a leader in tearing down all the Democratic arguments for impeachment, simply stating, in a manner of speaking, that the whole process is biased, unfair and silly.
In his most recent election, Collins received $35,000 of the money that was passed out by the Kochs to (only) Republican House members in Georgia. So, what is so corrupt about that?
Well, that wasn’t the only money he received. He got $52,000 from Walters Management (they gave $0 to any Democrat.) He received $46,000 from Home Depot, $44,000 from Wilheit Packaging, $41,000 from AFLAC, $36,000 from National Auto Dealers Assn,, $36,000 from the National Community Pharmacists Assn., $35,000 from Georgia Power, $34,000 from AT&T, $34,000 from NCTA, the National Internet and Television Association, $31,000 from Cox Enterprises, $31,000 from Microsoft Corporation, $30,000 from Coca Cola, $29,000 from the American Bankers Assn., and the list goes on and on and on.
Why would these big corporations give to a Congressman from Gainesville, GA in such munificent amounts? Why would they work so hard to re-elect a man who won his last election with 79% of the vote in a district that gave Trump 77%of its votes, and 224,412 votes for Collins to 57,823 for his opponent?
Do you need a roadmap, a lesson in civics, a simple lesson in money and politics to figure this out? This anti-gay, anti-civil rights, anti-Muslim, anti-women’s rights, pro-corporate tax cuts, pro-NRA Congressman will do whatever is necessary, say whatever is necessary to keep those million-dollar paydays coming from the rich and powerful. And he will do so despite the fact that he has a seat that he virtually cannot lose and needs no money—zero campaign funds to win. As Trump says so often, Collins might well be able to “shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue” and still be elected in the 9th District of Georgia.
Collins is just one of the roughly 200 Republicans in the House who are collecting the same kinds of money from Republican corporations and individuals and PACs. The Republican Supreme Court opened it all up for them with Citizen’s United and now the money just flows. And even if each House member on the Republican side gets a million bucks, like Doug Collins, and he gets a lot more than that, any one of the Right Wing oligarchs funding them could pay it out of his own pocket and have money left over for another house or boat or airplane.
But let’s get back to impeachment. So now, the Senate will soon have the so called “articles of impeachment” which are basically the charges against the President. The next step in the impeachment process is a trial with the Senators acting as jurors and the Supreme Court Chief Justice (John Roberts) acting as judge. The President has a lawyer or lawyers. The House, which indicted the President, has a lawyer who will act as prosecutor, laying out the case for impeachment and removal from office. The Senators vote. If the President wins, he stays President and life goes on. If he loses, he is dismissed and Mike Pence becomes President.
The point is this: to be objective, to get the real facts, you need to reach out beyond the comments of House Republicans who make claims that crimes really aren’t crimes. You need to go beyond the idea that Democrats have been out to get Trump for the many, many violations of law and propriety and good taste and equanimity. Not to mention the variously estimated 9,000 to 13,000 times he has lied to the public.
We now lived in a nation where the income and wealth inequality is at its all-time high. We live in a country where billionaires, unlike John D. Rockefeller Jr., who bought up land in the most beautiful parts of the country and donated it to the American People, instead are buying up land and destroying it with oil wells and then leaving it totally devastated. As you can see from only the one example, Republicans are surrogates of the Rich and no longer protectors of average citizen and the poor.
When surveys are done of average citizens, the anti-Trump numbers among those who are simply asked if they like him or not, range far above 70%.
So one cannot say that Republicans represent the average American when they claim that the impeachment process was “rigged.” They are not speaking for the average American, though perhaps Doug Collins may be, in his district. They are speaking for their bank accounts and their very comfortable life styles paid for by an oligarchical society.
The “fix is in” as they say, when we hear comments from Senator McConnell speaking about his coordination with the White House on plans for the impeachment. Make no mistake about it. That is like the head of the jury going to the alleged criminal’s house to arrange for details of his trial. It is absurd and it is corrupt.
Money is the root of all evil, perhaps, but it is definitely the operating principle in the lives of Republican politicians. Remember, they took the money to get themselves elected, not merely to stay elected. Most Senators have all the money they need. The only reason they could take the amounts that would make “poor” Doug Collins look like a Class D player, is greed.
You can’t stop greedy Republican Senators from voting to keep President Trump in office. They are already there, with their billionaire backers. You can’t persuade them to suddenly become honest and fair and objective.
Trump is not in Washington to drain the swamp. Trump is the swamp. If you want to drain the swamp, you need to be clear-eyed about this impeachment and when they vote to keep Trump in office, you must vote every Republican out of office in 2020. Every single one. The apples are rotten to the core and the whole barrel is rotten right down to the bottom.