As we head into a new year, a new decade and a presidential campaign year to boot, perhaps it is time to reflect on 44 previous presidents who served prior to President Trump and see how many of them committed egregious “abuses of power” and should have been impeached on the same grounds as President Trump was before Christmas.
Drawing extensively from an article written for the History Collection by Larry Holzwarth, would these same Democrats have voted to impeach the following presidents for their clear “abuse of power”?
- George Washington: President Washington invoked the first instance of “executive privilege” (thank God) when he declined to provide written correspondence between him and John Jay, who negotiated a trade treaty with former hated enemy Great Britain.
In 1787, opponents in Congress called for his impeachment. George Washington. Good grief.
- Thomas Jefferson: The third president was presented with a golden opportunity to double the landmass of the United States in 1803 for a mere $15 million from an apparently-crazed Napoleon who needed the cash. Jefferson clearly did not have the ability to offer more than the roughly $3 million Congress had appropriated for the possible deal, but he authorized Secretary of State James Monroe, an ardent anti-Federalist, to make the deal despite the obvious overreach of constitutional power that even Jefferson realized.
He should have been impeached for “abuse of power,” right? Instead, we got all that land for 3 pennies per acre and New Orleans too.
- John Quincy Adams and the abrogation of a treaty with the Muskogee Indians and the Governor of Georgia:Too complicated to go in detail, but suffice it to say his opponents wanted him removed from office.
- Andrew Jackson: Old Hickory refused to reauthorize the Second Bank of the United States. Sen. Henry Clay, who was paid by the Second Bank of the U.S. to lobby for them while a sitting U.S. senator (!) took umbrage. Jackson, who hated Clay — the feeling was mutual — said Clay was, “as full of fury as a drunken man in a brothel.” Jackson was censured by the Senate but many wanted him impeached for “abuse of power”.
- John Tyler: Vetoed two tariff bills supported by his own party, the Whigs. His own party wanted to get him out of office immediately.
- James K. Polk: Got the U.S. involved in the Mexican War in 1845 under dubious circumstances. Opponents said: “Impeach 11!”
- Abraham Lincoln(!): He suspended the writ of habeas corpus which allowed the army to arrest suspects without charging them with a crime. It was a time of war, of course, but the U.S. never passed a declaration of war against the South which led to charges of abuse of power against Mr. Lincoln.
- Andrew Johnson: Lincoln’s successor, he fired Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, which violated the Tenure in Office Act which Congress had passed to protect Lincoln appointees. The House passed articles of impeachment against Johnson and the Senate failed to convict him by one vote.
All over firing a political appointee. Good. Grief.
- Teddy Roosevelt: He was accused of “abusing” his executive power in many ways, including extensive prosecution of business under the Sherman Antitrust Act, threatening striking coal miners and buying up millions of acres of national forest lands.
- Presidents McKinley, Hoover, FDR, Truman and LBJ:All exceeded their constitutional powers and faced calls of impeachment from political opponents in Congress. LBJ bugged the campaign offices of GOP candidate Barry Goldwater but got away with it, unlike Richard Nixon, who tried to do it just eight years later but got caught.
We may have crossed the political rubicon in America where every future president will be impeached 10 seconds after being sworn in on Inauguration Day. “Abuse of power” is just a political slogan for “we hate that guy and despise his policies.”
One day, future historians will look back in horror at what the Democrats did on Dec. 18, 2019. It is no way to run what used to be the greatest democratic republic in the world.