According To The Constitution, An Impeachable Offense Is Anything Congress Decides It To Be.
By David Todd McCarty | Monday, September 30, 2019
The term high crimes and misdemeanors is often misinterpreted in relation to our current understanding of our criminal justice system. The term was first used in 1386 in England in the impeachment of the King’s Chancellor, Michael de la Pole, 1st Earl of Suffolk for failing to follow the advice of a committee regarding improvement of the kingdom. The charge of high crimes and misdemeanors covered allegations of misconduct by officials, such as dishonesty, negligence, perjury of oath, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of public funds or assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty, unbecoming conduct, refusal to obey a lawful order, chronic intoxication, including such offenses as tax evasion. High refers to the office and not the severity of the crime.
On January 16, 1999, Lindsey Graham stood on the floor of the United States Senate and said, “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role,” the politician said. “Impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
Section Four of Article II of the Constitution also allows for involuntary removal from office. The president, vice president, Cabinet secretaries, and other executive officers, as well as judges, may be impeached by the House of Representatives and tried in the Senate.
Any official convicted by the Senate is immediately removed from office. The Senate may also choose to bar the removed official from holding any federal office in the future. No other punishments may be inflicted pursuant to the impeachment proceeding, but the convicted party remains liable to trial and punishment in the courts for civil and criminal charges.
We don’t need any more investigation to know that Donald Trump is supremely unfit for the office he holds, but we have an obligation to see how far the corruption goes within his administration. The Republicans who have provided the President with the political cover needed to operate outside the law will be forced to come to terms with their malfeasance. The main purpose of impeachment should not necessarily be to remove Donald Trump from office, but to shine a bright light on the egregious actions of this administration and all those who aided and abetted them.