Because the US Constitutional power granted to the US House of Representatives is a rarely used tool, most Americans don’t understand how this process works. It’s up to the US House Oversight Committees to take the time to educate the public by clarifying any misconceptions regarding the impeachment process.
As per Wikipedia:
- First, the Congress investigates. …(this is the impeachment inquiry step.)
- “Second, the House of Representatives must pass, by a simple majority of those present and voting, articles of impeachment, which constitute the formal allegation or allegations. “…
- “Third, the Senate tries the accused.”
It appears that the American public suffers from a misunderstanding about how the impeachment process works and what it can accomplish? This disconnect is highlighted by a recent poll, indicating that an overwhelming majority (70%) of Americans say that a sitting president should be subject to criminal charges, but this is contrasted by polls showing that the majority of voters don’t favor impeachment. But what if the House initiating an impeachment inquiry is the only sure way to make the president pay a price for his crimes?
As per the June 12. 2019 Hill report, “Poll: Nearly 70 percent of Americans say sitting president should be subject to criminal charges” by Justin Wise:
“The national survey, which was released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University, found that 69 percent of Americans polled support charging a sitting president. Meanwhile, 24 percent of respondents said that a president should face charges for alleged crimes only after they leave the White House.”
“Fifty-two percent of Republican respondents voiced support for charging a sitting president, while 83 percent of Democrats said they’d favor charging a sitting president.”
The reality is that the American public may not be aware of, is that until January 2021 at the earliest, the only government entity that can act and is empowered to hold the republican President Donald Trump accountable for his numerous crimes based on the FBI’s 3/22/2019 final report regarding its 22 months long Trump-Russia probe, led by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller III, is the US House of Representatives via the constitutional mandated, non-legislative tool of impeachment.
By the way, if President Trump is impeached by the US House as directed by the US Constitution and because it’s not the equivalent of a criminal court, he can still be held criminally liable, once he leaves the White House in January 2021. But if he’s reelected for a 2nd term, he may never have to face any federal criminal consequences for his lawlessness, ever, because the “statute of limitations” is 5 years for the federal crimes he’s alleged to have committed.
In short, the only sure way to make President Trump pay for his criminal acts, which 70% of the US population wants, is for the US House to commence an impeachment inquiry no later than the end of September 2019.
Why impeachment may be the only way to hold President Trump accountable for all his misdeeds…
Because President Trump has managed to weaponize the US Department of Justice under the Attorney General Barr, who has proven himself to be the president’s eager and obedient partner in abusing the power of the state to advance the president’s political interests, we already know that he’ll never lift a finger to hold the president accountable, no matter how flagrantly the president abuses his power or how many laws he continues to break. Instead, the Attorney General Barr will probably invent a pretext for investigating the Democratic presidential nominee who’ll oppose the president in 2020.
But current anti-impeachment House Democrats led by the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have yet to answer to the following question, what’s the fall-out if by some fluke, President Trump wins reelection in 2020? What’ll happen is that there’s this 5 yr. “Statute of Limitation” which kicks in for the crimes President Trump is alleged to have perpetrated, as per the Mueller report, which means that he could walk away scot-free from criminal liability for any of the federal crimes that he’s been accused of doing. There are some who suggest that the “Statute of Limitations” can be tolled/ stopped while he’s serving his 2nd term in the White House but that’s not true in criminal law.
So, unless President Trump is subject to an impeachment inquiry by the House, he will not be facing federal criminal charges until after he leaves office, at the earliest, January 2021 and if he’s reelected, maybe never.
Link to Washington Post report: Trump would have been charged with obstruction were he not President...
To have the House avoid the subject of impeachment, the Democratic Party speaker has been insistent on having the House’s 6 oversight committees conduct investigations into the alleged criminal activities of President Trump and his partners in crime, without the formality of initiating impeachment proceedings, and to have the 2020 elections be the final voters’ verdict.
But if President Trump perceives that he will not be made to pay a price for all of his crimes as he seeks reelection, it only stands to reason that he, like any Bully-in Chief will claim vindication and he’ll only be emboldened to push the envelop even further to test how much more extreme authoritarian type behaviors he can get away with doing, and of course, this sets a dangerous precedent for the next few years and for future lawless presidents.
It’s no wonder that the US public has become so disconnected with the US Congressional members as their elected officials brazenly act to maintain their positions of power rather than taking the high road, doing what’s right, where their faith in the US Congress and government in general, has sunk to less that 20%, when in the early 1960s, their trust in government exceeded 70%.
As per (2018) The Economist’s index—which factors in due process, individual freedoms, and space for civil society—reduced the US ranking from a full democracy to a “flawed democracy.” In the early nineteen-sixties, more than 70% of Americans told Pew researchers that they had faith in government “most of the time” or “just about always.”
“In 2016, faith had sunk below twenty per cent. American politics is increasingly defined by contempt rather than a sense of common good.”
Past 3 impeached presidents were never convicted in the US Senate…
It’s important to note, that past presidents have never been successfully convicted (ousted) by the US Senate but this mark forever mars the president who has been the recipient of the -I-word, where the ‘articles of impeachment’ had been invoked by the US House of Representatives.
The 3 past presidents’ legacies were marred by the word, “impeached,” but they had never been convicted/ ousted by the US Senate. Two were tried but not convicted and President Nixon resigned in 1974, rather than undergo the humiliation of the US House voting to impeach him and his having to undergo a trial in the Senate. The US Senate’s and the US House’s responsibilities and duties are completely separate but it’s the House only which can initiate impeachment.
Both presidents Andrew Johnson, in 1868, for dismissing Edwin M. Stanton as secretary of war and Bill Clinton, in 1998 for charges of lying under oath in regards to sexual relations with a White House intern, were impeached by the House but they were acquitted during US Senate trial deliberations. Both presidents served out the remainder of their terms.
The US House formally initiates the “Impeachment Inquiry” where the investigative work would then be conducted solely by the US House’s Judiciary Committee, chaired by the Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler. After the investigation is finalized, the House members vote on whether the presidents should be impeached by approving “Articles of Impeachment.” Then the process moves to the US Senate where its members conduct the trial. Because the US Senate is staffed by a majority of Republican Party lawmakers, it’s unlikely that President Trump will ever be convicted/ ousted.
Our founders wrote the US Constitution with the core purpose to prevent tyranny. That’s why they created divided government. They had anticipated the future possibility of a would-be authoritarian type leader like President Trump, and so they gifted this country with the tool of impeachment to bolster our ability to save this democracy and to stand up for the “rule of law.” It’s the only non-legislative power that’s been granted to the US House of Representatives by the US Constitution: Article I, Section 2 gives the House of Representatives the “sole power over the impeachment” process. Article I, Section 3 gives the Senate the “sole power to conduct a trial regarding all impeachments.