By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) After plotting for nearly three years - since the night Donald Trump defeated the most criminally investigated presidential contender in the history of the republic, Hillary Clinton — the Garbage Party got its wish: Impeachment.
On Wednesday, despite having no evidence of any “high crimes or misdemeanors,” which is the constitutional standard for impeachment, House Democrats voted to return two articles against the president anyway.
Most Americans, according to polling data, were against impeachment.
Most voters represented by Democrats in districts Trump won in 2016 were against impeachment.
None of the ‘evidence’ Democrats presented during a few weeks’ worth of ‘hearings’ was legitimate. There were no witnesses to any criminal activity allegedly committed by the president.
So in other words, because Democrats hate this president and hate his politics, they elected to impeach him on that basis alone.
Just like the House did to President Andrew Johnson right after the Civil War, as constitutional attorney and law professor Jonathan Turley wrote in his blog Wednesday.
He recounted the history:
“Let them impeach and be damned.” Those words could have easily come from Donald Trump, as the House moves this week to impeach him. They were, however, the words of another president who not only shares some striking similarities to Trump but who went through an impeachment with chilling parallels to the current proceedings. The impeachment of Trump is not just history repeating itself but repeating itself with a vengeance.
The closest of the three prior presidential impeachment cases to the House effort today is the 1868 impeachment of Andrew Johnson. This is certainly not a comparison that Democrats should relish. The Johnson case has long been widely regarded as the very prototype of an abusive impeachment. As in the case of Trump, calls to impeach Johnson began almost as soon as he took office. A southerner who ascended to power after the Civil War as a result of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Johnson was called the “accidental president” and his legitimacy was never accepted by critics. Representative John Farnsworth of Illinois called Johnson an “ungrateful, despicable, besotted, traitorous man.”
Johnson opposed much of the reconstruction plan Lincoln had for the defeated south and was criticized for fueling racial divisions. He was widely viewed as an alcoholic and racist liar who opposed full citizenship for freed slaves. Ridiculed for not being able to spell, Johnson responded, “It is a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.” Sound familiar? The “Radical Republicans” in Congress started to lay a trap a year before impeachment. They were aware that Johnson wanted their ally, War Secretary Edwin Stanton, out of his cabinet, so they then decided to pass an unconstitutional law that made his firing a crime.
To leave no doubt of their intentions, they even defined such a firing as a “high misdemeanor.” It was a trap door crime created for the purposes of impeachment. Undeterred, Johnson fired Stanton anyway. His foes then set upon any member of Congress or commentator who dared question the basis for the impeachment. His leading opponent, Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania demanded of them, “What good did your moderation do you? If you do not kill the beast, it will kill you.”
As with Trump, the Johnson impeachment was a fast and narrow effort. On paper, his was even faster, since Johnson was impeached just days after the approval of an inquiry. But the underlying investigation began more than a year earlier and was actually the fourth such effort. Yet it also was largely based on the single act of firing Stanton. It collapsed in the Senate due to seven courageous Republicans who voted to acquit a president they despised. One of them, Edmund Ross of Kansas, said that voting for Johnson was like looking down into his open grave. Ross then jumped because he felt his oath to the Constitution gave him no alternative. …
Some critics have actually cited Johnson as precedent to show that impeachment can be done on purely political grounds. In other words, the very reason the Johnson impeachment is condemned by history is now being used today as a justification to dispense with standards and definitions of impeachable acts.
Turley, who testified during one of the Democrat-led House’s sham impeachment inquiries and said then the Garbage Party had no evidence of crimes and thus no grounds to impeach, noted in his column that Trump’s impeachment articles are even thinner than those laid out for Johnson.
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In Johnson’s case, there was the ‘pretense’ of the crime of firing Stanton; in Trump’s case, there isn’t even a pretense.
Election Day 2020 can’t come quickly enough. Americans of either political party who are upset at the Democrats’ slipshod treatment of the Constitution and the institution of the presidency should vote that way.
If we allow impeachment to be based on something so subjective as personality, style, and use of social media, then no president is safe.
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