Professor Alan Dershowitz delivered a show-stopping defense of the Constitution Monday night during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
He is right. “Abuse of power” and “obstruction of justice” are not appropriate reasons to impeach a sitting president under any circumstance.
It is time to update the Constitution with a 28th Amendment that specifically clarifies the “high crimes and misdemeanors” that must be proven to remove a president using our 21st-century sensibility of what constitutes legitimate grounds for impeachment.
Presidents Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and now Donald Trump have been subject to trial in the Senate. All three impeachments were virtually 100% political in nature. Congressional opponents of each impeached president simply hated him so much they chose to impeach him rather than wait for the next election.
The Trump impeachment revolves around Democrat accusations that President Trump violated a single process clause of the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 as part of his alleged quid pro quo scheme with the president of Ukraine to investigate possible corruption involving Joe and Hunter Biden.
Professor Dershowitz annihilated the basis of the Democrats’ impeachment effort when he said: “You cannot turn conduct that is not impeachable into impeachable conduct, simply by using words like quid pro quo and personal benefit.”
The Trump impeachment is the mirror image of the President Clinton impeachment fiasco of 1998. Republicans wanted to get rid of Bill Clinton the day he was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 1993. A special counsel was named to look into his involvement in the Whitewater land deal in Arkansas; White House travel agents being fired and improper use of FBI files. Eventually, almost by accident, investigators came up with what Republicans considered “sufficient grounds” for his impeachment.
They charged Clinton incorrectly, according to Professor Dershowitz, under the “high crimes and misdemeanors” clause of the Constitution. President Clinton was charged by the GOP-led House of “lying under oath” (perjury) and “obstruction of justice.”
Clinton was not charged with “providing aid and comfort to the enemy.” He was not charged with selling nuclear weapon secrets to the Russians or Communist Red China. He was not charged with leading an overthrow of our democratic republic and replacing it with a communist dictatorship. He was not charged with anything of any magnitude that might have jeopardized the security and prosperity of America.
President Trump was impeached by the current Democrat-led House with similar vague and indefinite charges — “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress.”
Every president could be charged with such cryptic accusations by ardent opponents under a separation of powers lawsuit. None should be removed from office for having different political goals and philosophies than the majority of Congress at the time.
The American people deserve better. We propose that Congress and the state legislatures amend the U.S. Constitution with the following 28th Amendment to be more specific:
“The President of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason in the form of Giving Nuclear Weapon or Privileged National Security Intellectual Property to Any Enemy, Domestic or Foreign; Or Committing a Personal Felony Against Another U.S. Citizen.”
We have a “destruct mechanism” in the Constitution in force today to get rid of “bad” presidents: four-year terms and elections. Short of personally killing someone or selling sensitive top-secret information to our enemies who want to do us harm as a nation, there is nothing that merits such a colossal waste of time and taxpayer money to remove a president from office that cannot wait until the next presidential election.
We have to put a hard stop to these partisan kangaroo courts conducted under the current ambiguous language of the Constitution. In the last 22 years, Democrats and Republicans have tried to reverse a presidential election based on politics and emotions, not actual facts of dangerous criminal behavior in the White House.
For the good of the nation and future of the American Democratic Republic, pass and ratify this 28th Amendment to the Constitution.