The Constitution and Oath of Office should guide Congress on impeachment
In 1776, Thomas Paine advocated independence from Great Britain by stating that in a free republic “the law is king.” Paine contended “for as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.”
However, President Donald Trump’s lawyers John Dowd and Jay Sekulow in a 20-page letter (January 2019) to Robert Mueller argued the president has complete power over Department of Justice investigations; the president is omnipotent. Trump’s legal counsel’s argument and subsequent touting of executive privilege contradicts the fundamental reason the revolutionary patriots fought to depart English rule.
This begs the question: who should be King in the United States, the president or the law?
Mueller’s 448 page report clearly documented Trump’s pre-election and post-election behavior. Investigative reporters, political scientists, Constitutional law experts and Department of Justice legal-beagles acknowledge Trump may have obstructed justice as a misdemeanor 10 times. Mueller, et al, properly left enforcing the law decision to Congress.
But, the country is divided. Should members of the House of Representatives, having seen evidence of the 10 allegations, start impeachment hearings? Should the Democrat-controlled House not conduct any hearings since the Republican-controlled Senate would most likely not have two-thirds vote to impeach Trump? Should both the Democrats and Republicans keep silent so as to not interfere with their self-serving 2020 election hopes? If hearings are not held, that will set a precedent that subsequent presidents can behave in whatever manner they so desire and futurists will say “it was determined by 535 members of Congress in 2019, A.D., threats, impediments and obstruction in the due administration of justice were acceptable.”
Enter the Oath of Office our Senators and Representatives vowed to uphold and the answer to the dilemma is settled. All 535 members of Congress said, with one hand placed on the religious artifact of their choosing: “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States . . . so help me God.”
Articles I and II of the Constitution grant the House of Representative “the sole power of impeachment” and the Senate “the sole power to try all impeachments.” Moreover, the Congress is obligated (key word) to remove the president, vice president and all civil officers from office on impeachment for and conviction of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” A plethora of Trump’s alleged threats, impediments and obstruction of justice have been documented and presented to Congress.
In good old high school geometry classes, we learned about the transitive law: if A equals B, and B equals C, therefore A equals C. Logically, since members of the House of Representatives took an oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, Constitution Articles I and II are clear in their intent and multiple misdemeanor allegations about Trump are now available for judicious review, the House must, not maybe, but must start impeachment hearings, even if the political repercussions of such action may damage Democrats down-the-road. And, if the obstruction allegations are forwarded to the Senate, they must, not maybe, but must be the final jury, again, even if their yea or nah vote damages the Republican Party.
Dear Senators Ernst and Grassley and Representatives Axne, Finkenauer, King and Loebsack: Honor your Oath of Office, our Constitution and get behind the impeachment process or resign from office; place Americans before partisan politics, please. To do nothing is a blatant dereliction of duty and a slap in-the-face to Iowans of all political persuasions who also support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.
Steve Corbin is the Professor Emeritus of Marketing, University of Northern Iowa. He can be reached at Steven.B.Corbin@gmail.com.