A large (and growing) number of prominent academic and/or popular historians of our poor, dear nation have signed a letter endorsing the impeachment of President Donald Trump. As of Tuesday morning, the number of signatories has cracked 750, but I gather the list is growing still.
The text of their petition is short, and pretty darn pithy for a bunch of highbrow scholars. Read the whole thing for yourself, here, but in case you don’t click through, the first paragraph says:
“President Trump’s numerous and flagrant abuses of power are precisely what the Framers had in mind as grounds for impeaching and removing a president. Among those most hurtful to the Constitution have been his attempts to coerce the country of Ukraine, under attack from Russia, an adversary power to the United States, by withholding essential military assistance in exchange for the fabrication and legitimization of false information in order to advance his own re-election.”
Being historians, they relied for backup on Alexander Hamilton, who wrote, as Publius in the Federalist papers, that impeachment was designed to deal with “the misconduct of public men” which involves “the abuse or violation of some public trust.” They believe the facts suggest that Donald Trump’s conduct fits the definition of “impeachable.”
In their own collective voice, the historians opined:
“It is our considered judgment that if President Trump’s misconduct does not rise to the level of impeachment, then virtually nothing does.”
I came across a quote that follows up on two of my recent columns, one about the question of whether a president has to have committed an literal crime to be convicted of “high crimes and misdemeanors” for impeachment purposes, and one about the cravenness of Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has destroyed his former reputation as a straight talker since his conversion to the Trumpian religion.
Apparently, during the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, for which Graham served as one of the prosecutors (representing the U.S. House, of which Graham was then a member), he argued that:
“You do not 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.”
Is that still his position?