Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Impeachment: How the Constitution’s Framers understood the term ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’

From the moment Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave the green light to House Democrats to begin an official impeachment process, the likeliest outcome has seemed pretty clear, at least to me. The House, controlled by Democrats, will almost certainly vote to impeach President Donald Trump. A few Democrats might not support the impeachment, but the numbers are there.

The Senate, controlled by Republicans, will not vote to convict and remove Trump. At the moment, I could imagine one Republican – Mitt Romney – voting to convict. I suppose, if you gave free rein to your imagination, perhaps Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and even a couple of others might wobble. But it would take a two-thirds vote – 67 senators, to convict and remove Trump, which would require 20 Republican votes for conviction. I don’t know if anyone seriously thinks there are 20 possible Republican votes to convict. I do not.

On the other hand, I do feel that Trump has almost certainly committed impeachable offenses that would justify conviction and removal, perhaps quite a few of them. So there’s that. But what are impeachable offenses?

The moment seems ripe for us to try to understand what the impeachment clauses are doing in the Constitution, and how they might apply to the Trump case, so I’ve been reading “High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump,” by Frank Bowman III, a law professor, legal historian and former federal and state prosecutor. It’s a fine logical, factual legal tour of the key issues, from which I learned a great deal.

Bowman is not the only scholar seizing the moment to share his expertise on the topic, but his book is a also fabulous overview of impeachment history. You should read it. But in case you don’t get around to it right away, I’ll pass along some things that struck me as helpful in thinking through the case for (and against) the impeachment of Trump.

Let’s start with the mysterious (at least to modern ears) phrase describing the proper basis for impeaching and removing a president: “Treason, bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The contemporary mind rebels at the phrase. Treason and bribery are so specific, but what “other high crimes” might be comparable grounds for removing a president is an open question and what the heck is the word “misdemeanors” doing in there? To modern ears, “misdemeanor” refers to the dinkiest kinds of minor violations that don’t even merit a jail term, let alone removal of a president.

The meaning in 1787

Bowman cleared this up for me, by explaining the 1787 meaning of the term, and where the Framers got it, which is from English law and history. (The Framers had spent most of their lives as subjects of the British crown and the British legal system.) There’s a lot more to Bowman’s history and analysis of impeachment, and I highly recommend the book. But to keep this a manageable Monday read, I’ll focus on the first part, in which Bowmen illuminates how that strange phrase got into the Constitutional definition of an impeachable offense.

The very idea of “impeachment” was borrowed from English law, where it had long existed as a way for Parliament to remove government officials. England had (and still has) no written Constitution like ours, but relied on the accumulation of cases over the centuries, including cases of officials who were “impeached” (an old English term, derived from the French “empecher” which means to prevent or preclude ) and removed from office.

Bowman definitely argues and demonstrates that “high crimes and misdemeanors” was borrowed by the Framers from British legal tradition, and – perhaps more pertinently — that under that tradition an official didn’t have to have violated a concrete criminal statute to be impeached and removed from high public office.

Britain’s unwritten constitution was (and is) based on centuries of precedent, and had clearly established (by doing it many times over the centuries) the power of Parliament to impeach and remove officials.

But until I read Bowman, I didn’t know that, from the 1600s forward, Parliament relied on the exact phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” when impeaching and removing public officials for various misdeeds, many of which were not literally “crimes.”

Briefly added ‘maladministration’

As our Framers drafted what became Article II, Sec, 4, which lays out the grounds for impeachment, they first had a draft that referred to “treason, bribery or corruption” as grounds for impeachment. They dropped “corruption.” But naming just two specific crimes seemed too limited. So they briefly added “maladministration” as a ground for impeachment.

But they didn’t want the Congress to be able to remove a president on vague-sounding grounds that might be no more than policy disagreements, which James (“Father of the Constitution”) Madison argued would make the president too subservient to Congress.

So they replaced “maladministration” with “other high crimes and misdemeanors,” which had been used for centuries by Parliament to impeach various British officials who had abused their powers, but not necessarily violated a specific criminal law. It was adopted by a vote of 8-3 (each state having one vote and apparently only 11 of the 13 voting that day), and never removed.

To me, this all but settles the question of whether a president has to have committed an actual felony or any specific criminal act to be impeached.

Bowman writes that, from the 17th century forward (this would have been the period most familiar to these 18th-century American Framers, who had grown up as British subjects) Parliament routinely employed the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” at the beginning of articles of impeachment to describe the list of offenses justifying impeachment of English officials, the details of which would be spelled out further, often for acts of “corruption,” a phrase that Bowman says often refers to the misuse of office for the personal benefit of the officeholder being impeached.

Whether, for example, asking or pressuring the leader of a foreign power to dig up dirt on a possible future political opponent, fits that description, is certainly a fair question. But to reinforce to the main point, Bowman writes:

“Parliament commonly impeached for conduct that was not a statutory or common law crime. This undeniable fact reveals one of the most important points about ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ as a term of art. It does not means what it appears to mean.

“In fact, the phrase ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ doesn’t appear in old English criminal statutes or law books, but was first used in an impeachment case against the Earl of Suffolk.”

A different meaning of ‘misdemeanor’ in this context

According to Bowman, in the English impeachment cases: “the word ‘misdemeanor’ did not mean a common law criminal offense less serious than a felony, or at least it was not limited to such offenses. Instead, the words ‘crimes and misdemeanors’ though they could include indictable offenses, were used more in their colloquial sense of ‘bad behavior.’

“The word ‘high’ in front the phrase signaled seriousness and political character,” Bowman writes. “The whole phrase came to mean nothing more than ‘the kind of serious bad behavior Parliament has thought worthy of removal and punishment.”

Bowman notes that if you don’t know this history, and you see “other high crimes and misdemeanors” on a list that starts with “treason and bribery,” modern readers will assume that these are all terms for various levels of criminality. But, he argues, that is wrong and was understood by the Framers not to be the case because they knew the whole phrase had resulted in impeachments of English officials who had committed no specific crime for which they could be convicted in court and locked up.

“Over and over, Parliament impeached ministers for conduct alleged to subvert its conception of proper constitutional order in favor of the ‘arbitrary and tyrannical’ government of ambitious monarchs and their grasping minions,” he wrote. “This was the tool Mason wanted for Congress,” referring to Virginian George Mason, the Framer who was influential in the creation of the final impeachment language.

“When the convention accepted Mason’s addition of ‘high Crimes and misdemeanors,’ to ‘treason and bribery,’ it was choosing political impeachment,” not just enforcement of criminal law.

Bowman ends this chapter of his book thus:

“In adopting impeachment provisions that allowed the removal of a president for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ the founding generation conferred on Congress the power …to identify for themselves the essential characteristics of the American Constitutional system to defend that system by removing its chief executive officer if he or she, by any individual act, pattern of behavior or culpable inattention, places it at risk.”

History of the three impeachment cases

Bowman’s book also covers the three big presidential impeachment cases of U.S. history, covering Presidents Andrew Johnson (who was impeached in the House and came within a single vote of being convicted in the Senate); President Richard Nixon, who resigned when it was clear that he would be impeached and removed; and President Bill Clinton, who was impeached by the House but not convicted by the Senate and served out the remainder of his term.

He also analyzes various categories of possibly impeachable conduct, including many categories that might arguably apply to the current occupant of the Oval Office, and does a great job of explaining how they fit into the history and law of impeachment through the American centuries

Bowman’s book, published by Cambridge University Press is titled: “High Crimes and Misdemeanors; A history of impeachment for the age of Trump.”

Comments (83)

  1. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 12/02/2019 - 11:10 am.

    It is too bad, I believe, that the Senate trial does not go down in 2 phases:

    The first is a vote on whether or not the “high crimes and misdemeanors” forwarded on by the house are legitimate grounds for removal of the President: regardless of Trump’s guilt of innocence.

    If any of the charges are deemed legitimate, then phase 2 would judge Trump’s guilt or innocence on the commission of these “validated charges”. If they are not deemed legitimate it’s over.

    Get Senators down on the record that for now and in the future, precedent has been established that these specific items are “high crimes and misdemeanors” to be applied to future Presidents, D or R.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 12/02/2019 - 12:49 pm.

      After holding a trial about a lie about a sex act between a president and an intern, there is no embarrassment in the GOP about claiming that lies about soliciting the help of foreign governments and various criminal types to affect elections and smear people to be a big nothing-burger.

      It all depends on which side of the bread is being buttered.

      Do you want to ruin the fun?

    • Submitted by George Kimball on 12/02/2019 - 01:05 pm.

      It seems to me it would be more prudent to NOT attempt to resolve that “first” step, a vote to establish if the stated offenses are legitimate grounds for impeachment, at a time when Congress is in the midst of an impeachment investigation. Better to establish some collective understanding of the relevant Article 2 language during calmer times.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/02/2019 - 02:12 pm.

      I’m not sure that it would make a difference.
      There are enough Senators elected by people who want Trump in office no matter what the facts are so that the 2/3 majority is unreachable.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/02/2019 - 03:16 pm.

      I don’t really see the point. The term “high crimes and misdemeanors” is broad enough that it can be read as encompassing any misconduct committed while in office. If the House votes to send articles of impeachment, that should resolve the inquiry into whether those charges are sufficient cause (as the House is the sole judge of the sufficiency of the articles). It is up to the Senate to make the further judgment that impeachment (or some lesser sanction) is or is not warranted.

  2. Submitted by Barry Peterson on 12/02/2019 - 12:18 pm.

    I find it lacking in the hearts and minds of many in the U.S. Senate (The Legislative Branch) who are first and foremost interested in protecting a member of their political party, and not, it seems, interested in serving as a check and balance over the Executive Branch, as is their duty. During the Nixon period, this wasn’t entirely the case, and Mr. Nixon resigned before his ever being impeached, knowledgeable that members of his party would vote against him.

    I have wondered whether or not members of the Republican Party, in Congress, are not only partisan, but may be involved in some of the relations with those who may have been responsible for attempting to influence our elections from eastern Europe.

  3. Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 12/02/2019 - 12:19 pm.

    Lefties are fond of saying that traditions must change with the times. I don’t often agree with that sentiment, but in the instance of impeachment I have to admit it has happened whether I like it or not.

    When the GOP impeached Bill Clinton over a fairly minor lie under oath, the nature of impeachment was forever changed. It was bound to become a favored tactic for the party out of power, and today, it’s gone completely off the rails with this latest debacle.

    As with many lefties, the author is living a highly agitated life, seemingly placing his entire basket of hopes and dreams on the success or failure of the far left’s attempt to remove Trump beyond the ballot box. It’s doomed to fail, and not healthy really. In my opinion everyone will be a little happier if we acknowledge Trump’s re-election is a foregone conclusion, and go on about our business of throwing monkey wrenches in one another’s legislative agendas.

    • Submitted by Kevin Schumacher on 12/02/2019 - 03:44 pm.

      Just curious Connor; do you think that a President corecing a foreign official for personal political gain is an impeachable offense?

      • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 12/03/2019 - 10:03 am.

        Perhaps. But that’s not the issue before us.

        It may have been different if Joe Biden hadn’t used foreign aid to coerce a foreign government for personal / family financial profit. But he did.

        It may also be different if Joe wasn’t currently running for President, but he is. The American public has the right to know about the million dollar no-show job Joe strongarmed for his son.

        • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/03/2019 - 10:12 am.

          Tell us, Mr. O’Keefe, how “It may have been different if Joe Biden hadn’t used foreign aid to coerce a foreign government for personal / family financial profit. But he did.” This is a common Republican talking point, but I’ve seen no evidence presented that Trump-style arm-twisting by Biden actually took place. What’s your source of information for the allegation?

        • Submitted by Kevin Schumacher on 12/03/2019 - 10:34 am.

          As you said, “that’s not the issue before us”. It sounds like you do think that such would be an impeachable offense.

        • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 12/03/2019 - 04:18 pm.

          “It may have been different if Joe Biden hadn’t used foreign aid to coerce a foreign government for personal / family financial profit. But he did.”

          No, he did not. Withholding of foreign aid (or the threat of withholding) was because the then chief Ukrainian prosecutor was NOT investigating Burisma, the gas company. Let’s keep the facts straight. President “Drain-the-Swamp” threatened to withhold foreign aid in order to prove somehow that Joe Biden did this because there was and remains no evidence that he did so. So Trump is not corrupt for getting caught doing what he was trying to get evidence that he thought he could use to accuse his expected political opponent of doing?

          • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 12/04/2019 - 12:46 pm.

            Sir, there is unedited video available of Uncle Joe bragging about him strong-arming Ukraine into squashing that investigation. Google “Biden I told Ukraine and (SOB) they did it”.

            It’s all over the web. Take your pick of sites to view it.

            • Submitted by Elisabeth Bunnell Noell on 12/05/2019 - 08:10 am.

              You can state this af nauseum (and the alt-right have), however, the comment was NOT due to any investigation into his son. The investigation into the company was OVER did NOT include any concern about Hunter Biden.

            • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 12/05/2019 - 11:42 am.

              Withholding foreign aid (or any federal aid) as a “stick and carrot” to encourage policy change is a well established and well understood policy device used by the US government both domestically (as to States) and internationally (as to foreign governments). The idea is to bring about policy change, e.g. respecting human rights. Biden’s role in the withholding of foreign aid was in the context of “carrot and stick” diplomacy not to influence a US election or extort an in kind campaign contribution. If you review the record you will find that this episode involved the failure of Ukrainian prosecutors to deal with corruption, particularly corruption in Burisma,the gas company. Why would Joe Biden be trying to “coerce” Ukraine and its prosecutors to prosecute his son, assuming he knew about it or was afraid Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma was corrupt? No, Trump and his GOP enablers are whining because they were caught in the act of trying to get evidence of what they have no problem calling corrupt if a Democrat were caught doing it. Trump is hoist on his own petard in this instance even if his lackeys in the Senate are too cowardly to honor their own oaths of office and remove him.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 12/02/2019 - 04:25 pm.

      “if we acknowledge Trump’s re-election is a foregone conclusion”

      I would think being 12 points down on favorable/unfavorable and 50% off all folks thinking he should be impeached and removed would leave some room for doubt with Trump term 2.

      Whistle past the graveyard – Wiktionary › wiki › whistle_past_the_graveyard

      (idiomatic, US) To attempt to stay cheerful in a dire situation; to proceed with a task, ignoring an upcoming hazard, hoping for a good outcome.

      (idiomatic, US) To enter a situation with little or no understanding of the possible consequences.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/02/2019 - 07:11 pm.

        Unfortunately, the popular vote does not determine the election of the President.
        I’ve seen analyses that Trump could lose by as much as 5% and still carry the Electoral College.

        • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 12/03/2019 - 10:05 am.


        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/03/2019 - 03:48 pm.

          Interestingly enough, that point does not seem to bother Trump supporters. They are fine with a President whose views and behavior are unacceptable to most Americans. I might even go so far as to say that they are pleased by that unpopularity, as it is an opportunity for “revenge” for . . . something, I’m not clear what.

    • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 12/02/2019 - 05:01 pm.

      You may argue that he should not be convicted, but you can’t argue it’s gone off the rails. A bit of a review:
      – Trump held up aid that was authorized by Congress
      – He, through his minions, held up that aid until Ukraine promised a public investigation of his political rival and investigating bogus election interference by Ukraine
      – Trump had been told by our security services that there was no basis for investigating either Biden
      – Trump pressured Ukraine to publicly investigate election interference by Ukraine though that had also been determined to be bogus
      – Both of these are official acts that have value to Trump as they help his election prospects
      – Trump’s telephone call where he stated no quid pro quo was after he was made aware of the whistleblower complaint.

      So now we get to the definition of bribery: giving or accepting of anything of value to or by a public official, if the thing is given “with intent to influence” an official act.

      Now I suppose you could argue that he didn’t receive a bribe, only solicited one. This is the behavior of a banana republic. I can’t understand why that does not warrant action. If you allow this, what comes next?

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 12/03/2019 - 09:27 am.

      To recap: the conservative movement abused the Constitution’s impeachment power in 1998, so those clauses should now be scrapped permanently. Once a mistake has been made there’s no going back. Sounds reasonable! Where is your love of the constitution and its Framers, my good sir?

      As for impeachment “becoming the favored tactic for the party out of power”, I’d note that the Dems did not impeach the Bush/Cheney regime in 2007 despite clear evidence of serial felonious behavior, and despite the “agitation” of many on the left. And of course even the Repubs did not dare to impeach Obama, despite oceans of (phony) rightwing claims of his abuse of office. So the nation’s history post the (concededly abusive) impeachment of Clinton by your Repubs does not support your hypothesis.

      Finally, as for the idea that the far left is fantastically dreaming “to remove Trump beyond the ballot box”, Eric has plainly stated that conviction and removal is impossible given the dereliction of duty which may be expected by Mitch McConnell and his Repub senate majority. Trump’s impeachment is occurring for the benefit of posterity, to attempt to place some check on his serial abuse of office and criminality, and for the critical need not to allow the Trump regime to set these precedents without opposition or dissent. It will also force Repubs to place themselves on historical record when presented with irrefutable evidence of executive abuse of power and office.

      And according to recent polls, apparently 50% of the public falls under your definition of “far left”, as that is the percentage of citizens who already favor Trump’s removal from office based on the evidence to date. We are getting close to a majority nation of far lefties, it would seem!

  4. Submitted by joe smith on 12/02/2019 - 01:34 pm.

    If “I feel” or “I Presumed” is an impeachable offense then President Trump would be guilty. If it is actual evidence, President Trump is not guilty. Every day the Schiff show went on less people watched and less minds were changed.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/02/2019 - 02:54 pm.

      Reread the article.
      Impeachment is not about criminal guilt or innocence.

      • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 12/03/2019 - 10:25 am.

        That’s true sir, but if we’ve come to the point where presumptions are sufficient, it’s gonna get very messy from here on, imo.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 12/03/2019 - 04:04 pm.

        Paul, this is about reversing 63 Million votes, not a jaywalking ticket. Proving some wrongdoing would be a start. The fact the Democrats have no evidence but a lot of presumptions makes this whole process a sham.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/04/2019 - 10:28 am.

          This is not “reversing votes.” It’s holding an elected official accountable.

        • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 12/04/2019 - 10:43 am.

          You’ll have to be clearer. HOW does it reverse the votes? Do we go back and redact the results of the election?

          I’ll answer.

          It doesn’t do ANYTHING AT ALL to the election of 2016. It is a process outlined in the Constitution. The election happened. The impeachment will also happen. Both things can happen.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/04/2019 - 02:46 pm.

      Curious: what do you mean by “actual evidence” meaning, I heard person A say X to person B. When I say under oath “I heard person A say X to person B” that is not actual evidence. against person A?
      Suggests that; I saw person A shoot person B, is not admissible as evidence?

    • Submitted by Elisabeth Bunnell Noell on 12/05/2019 - 08:16 am.

      How is the testimony of Sondland, who Trump told specifically to manage the bribery, NOT direct?!!!

      • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 12/05/2019 - 07:02 pm.

        Not sure what channel you were watching ma’am, but none of the MSM feeds showed Sondland say that.

        Were you listening with the sound down, and lip synching?

  5. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 12/02/2019 - 01:36 pm.

    This impeachment isn’t driven by Constitutional concerns. As an increasing number of people are beginning to recognize, the progress of Imperial America is unchanged no matter who is in the White House, since Reagan at least, and this status quo is reinforced by an unelected eternal war complex (Military, Intelligence, Law Enforcement, security/war contractors), with the unquestioning support of Congress and corporate media.

    Trump questioning that eternal war stance in 2016 and since is too much a deviation from the status quo. Despite that Trump’s actual policies have done nothing to change that status quo, his erratic behavior and questioning of regime change tendencies toward Russia, has caused that Imperial elite to attempt the anti-constitutional regime change of a duly elected, sitting American President.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/03/2019 - 09:31 am.

      How can impeachment be “anti-constitutional” when it is explicitly authorized by the Constitution?

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 12/03/2019 - 10:01 am.

        “Anti-constitution” is your phrasing, not mine. I simply implied it isn’t the Constitution Dems are focused on.

        A rogue Congress could attempt to impeach a President for excessive public flatulance, “behavior unbefitting the Presidency”. That would not be covered by “high crimes and misdemeanors”, but such an impeachment attempt would still be technically legal, as an actual crime is not neccessary to attempt impeachment.

        Congress has a broad option to impeach. The question is, is it advisable and truly deserved? My guess is, the “Resistance” is going to find out, getting in bed with the CIA and their Mockingbirds in corporate media is more a coup than an impeachment, and once all the facts are on the table, this is going to look to non-partisans more like a mostly covert attempt at regime change, less like legitimate impeachment. Non-partisans being key to winning 2020.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/03/2019 - 10:28 am.

          No, sir, you are the one who used the phrase “anti-constitutional regime change of a duly elected, sitting American President.”

          “Constitutional concerns” include whether an official has engaged in misconduct in the performance of the role of his office. It is highly unlikely that a majority of the House of Representatives would vote to impeach, or that the Senate would vote to convict, for digestive reasons that stopped being clever after the third-grade.

          • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 12/03/2019 - 03:57 pm.

            Seems to me Mr. Duncan is referring to the Democrat’s use of impeachment to deny a sitting President a re-election he will surely win in a fair election.

            That’s not a scenario specifically detailed in the Constitution (probably because the founders could never imagine it would happen), but it’s still in-Constitutional as hell.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/04/2019 - 09:59 am.

              That is ridiculous. Impeachment is a constitutional way of denying office to an official who has committed wrongdoings. That is the whole point of the exercise.

              Please tell me where the Founders said it shouldn’t be used if the President is running for re-election and his acolytes are convinced he will win.

              • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 12/04/2019 - 01:00 pm.

                If that’s the story you have all agreed to, in my opinion, you rank and file troops need to tell your leaders to stop being recorded making desperate pleas to their weakening cohorts not to falter in following through, lest Trump be re-elected.

                People are beginning to talk.

                • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/07/2019 - 09:41 am.

                  So all the folks that look at the impeachment process got together and agreed on a story? Perhaps you can enlighten folks like me on where and when that meeting took place, evidently I missed it!

          • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 12/04/2019 - 08:45 am.

            While the impeachment process may be technically “constitutional”, there was plenty about the Intelligence community, media and establishment Dems getting us here that was not. That info will hopefully become more clear in the Senate proceedings.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/04/2019 - 12:13 pm.

              Do you have some idea of what that might be, or is it just speculation?

              • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 12/05/2019 - 09:49 am.

                In a nutshell: the DNC/Clinton Campaign hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump, Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele to compile the Steele Dossier, the Steele dossier full of uncorroborated/BS info was used by the FBI to get the FISA court to allow the Obama Admin to spy on the Trump campaign, the DNC/Podesta hack was inspected by Crowdstrike owned by a Ukraine Oligarch, Crowdstrike declared it hacked by Russia, and before that could be corroborated Trump was declared owned by Putin by the DNC/Clinton/corporate media who later said all 17! Intelligence Dept’s said it was Russia even though only the CIA/FBI/NSA had, though they had only looked at the info Crowdstrike gave them. A few Trump associates have gone to jail, said to have dealt with Russia, but none have gone to trial for that, but only for being greedy idiots. For three years the Media/Deep State/DNC has called Trump owned by Putin, but the 2 year Muller investigation couldn’t prove it, so now we are treated to the Deep State/Media using Ukraine to get us to put Russia/Putin in a regime change box and Trump with them.

                The playbook of regime change perpetrated all across the world, including Ukraine, has come home to roost.

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/05/2019 - 10:13 am.

                  Excellent job rehashing the Trump-fan’s talking points. There really isn’t much of substance there.

                  I would bring up the fact that the DOJ’s Inspector General found no improper spying on the Trump campaign, but I already know what the response to that will be.

                  • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 12/05/2019 - 11:05 am.

                    Everything I stated is a fact coroborated.

                    You said the DOJ Inspector General (Horowitz) said there was no improper spying, but the Horowitz report will not be released until the 9th, and all your sources of that supposedly leaked information come from media with a vested interest in keeping ahead of that information. Even in these articles however, they admit much of what I said above happened. They just minimize it to treat it like it doesn’t matter.

                    There are plenty of people on the left writing about this as well. Calling it a Trump talking point is not accurate.

                  • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 12/06/2019 - 09:14 am.


                    Pretty clear in this nonpartisan assessment of the DOJ Russian Collusion Investigation, there is much Americans are about to learn of FBI and Intelligence malfeasance, and by extension, corporate media and DNC complicity.

                • Submitted by Kevin Schumacher on 12/05/2019 - 12:58 pm.

                  Fusion GPS was first hired by a conservative organization to dig up information friendlt to Repubs. It just didn’t work out well for them

            • Submitted by Roy Everson on 12/04/2019 - 12:17 pm.

              The “coup” reference is rather silly considering the character who would benefit is the vice president, Pence. Is he the real brains behind this
              anti-constitutional conspiracy? You might have a real scoop there.

              • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 12/05/2019 - 09:59 am.

                Pence is a known quantity who will not upset the foreign policy or economic applecart, in which case he is far more acceptable to Washington Dems than Trump. At the same time, he looks like SS and talks like a theocrat, so he could not win a nationwide election in 2020.

  6. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 12/02/2019 - 02:27 pm.

    I greatly appreciate the effort to establish what the Constitution says and what the meaning of the constitution was – when it was written.

    This is a much better approach than saying the Constitution means what it never meant or the Constitution means whatever you want it to mean.

  7. Submitted by Chas Dalseide on 12/02/2019 - 02:59 pm.

    I am sure that the founders were well-versed in the history of the British Republic and before that, the Roman Republic. In the 1600’s, Oliver Cromwell brought down King Charles and had him executed. A very prejudiced impeachment. Of course religion was a big factor. The new republic didn’t last long, but some lessons may have been learned.

    I’m not versed in how the Romans changed unpopular rulers, except by assassination.

    In the middle ages, the kings ruled by divine right. However, there are cases where one would be overthrown because the people believed that he had lost the favor of God, and that perhaps a new King would get it back, and thus end their suffering. This may have been because of a drought, or a disease epidemic. Not that he had committed a crime, but that somehow he had lost the blessing of God.
    In the whole scheme of the class systems, the King was the referee over the local oligarchs. The Pope was the referee over the various Kings. From the peons’ point of view, peace and steadiness was hoped for, since any rash action would be paid for by the peons’ military deaths.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/03/2019 - 10:44 am.

      The Founders were likely aware of the revival of impeachment (as an alternative to beheading) in the early 17th Century. The great jurist Sir Edward Coke found ancient precedent to use impeachment as a way of removing the King’s ministers for official misconduct that may or may not have constituted a criminal act.

  8. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 12/02/2019 - 07:19 pm.

    Does anyone ever count the Democrat Senate votes, or is that just a foregone conclusion?

  9. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/02/2019 - 08:24 pm.

    Personal opinion:
    1. Muller brought valid evidence of foreign interference and gave congress the ball to carry.
    2. A (well supported) whistle blower complaint brought additional evidence and gave that ball to congress.
    3. The WH oversight folks have laid bare numerous emoluments as well as additional personal self-serving reports and gave the ball to congress. Congress is doing what congress should do and it isn’t about politics. And I find total agreement with BP: It is doubtful if our republican senators will have the same fortitude as our founders. “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
    Sad state of affairs, but I really don’t think they got it!

  10. Submitted by richard owens on 12/03/2019 - 09:26 am.

    Newsweek today has a piece by Robert Reich that uncovers an important feature of impeachment:

    “…Article II, section 2 of the Constitution gives a president the power to pardon anyone who has been convicted of offenses against the United States, with one exception: “In Cases of Impeachment.”

    “If Trump is impeached by the House, he can never be pardoned for these crimes. He cannot pardon himself (it’s dubious that a president has this self-pardoning power in any event), and he cannot be pardoned by a future president.”

    “Even if a subsequent president wanted to pardon Trump in the interest of, say, domestic tranquility, she could not.”

    Pence will not be able to pardon him as Gerald Ford was able to pardon Nixon. The raft of pardons Trump will likely issue for his indicted and incarcerated friends will not be available to him after the House votes to impeach.

    Cool eh? Finally the Constitution gives up some measure of justice!

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 12/03/2019 - 02:32 pm.

      “The raft of pardons Trump will likely issue for his indicted and incarcerated friends will not be available to him after the House votes to impeach.”

      I do not believe this is true as much as I would hope so.

      • Submitted by Chas Dalseide on 12/03/2019 - 04:39 pm.

        He must have meant “the Senate”, not “the House”.

        • Submitted by richard owens on 12/04/2019 - 07:41 am.

          More from the Newsweek article…

          “Even if a subsequent president wanted to pardon Trump in the interest of, say, domestic tranquility, she could not.

          Gerald Ford wrote in his pardon of Nixon that if Nixon were indicted and subject to a criminal trial, “the tranquility to which this nation has been restored by the events of recent weeks could be irreparably lost.”

          Had the House impeached Nixon, Ford’s hands would have been tied.

          Trump isn’t going to be as lucky. The House will probably impeach him before Christmas.

          After that, he will be quite literally unpardonable.
          [end quote]

    • Submitted by Elisabeth Bunnell Noell on 12/05/2019 - 08:22 am.

      I had read that piece as well. For our country’s sake, he must be held accountable or I fear the consequences.

    • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 12/05/2019 - 07:08 pm.

      ““If Trump is impeached by the House, he can never be pardoned for these crimes. He cannot pardon himself (it’s dubious that a president has this self-pardoning power in any event), and he cannot be pardoned by a future president.”

      Lol. The House doesn’t impeach, the Senate does. Just goes to show, when it comes to informing ourselves, it doesn’t pay to rely on cut rate sources.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/06/2019 - 01:45 pm.

        The House impeaches by approving articles of impeachment. The Senate votes on whether to convict and remove or otherwise sanction the official who was impeached.


  11. Submitted by Bob Petersen on 12/03/2019 - 09:45 am.

    It’s clear that this article is nothing but yet another vain attempt to try ‘legitimize’ charges that the Dems want to bring against the President. The rationale is completely lacking because impeachment is a political process, not a criminal process.
    The Founders left it vague because what could be construed as actions against the country could be limitless. The definition of ‘high crimes’ is left to be decided by Congress, not us. Through everything, House Dems feel that the current President has crossed that line, despite that Pelosi has long said it has to be bi-partisan in belief, which it is not.
    Mr. Black continues his poor record of trying to legitimize something because he has such disdain for the current President.
    As always, there are so many comments of what has been ‘proven.’ Mueller found nothing. The recent hearings only showed ‘witnesses’ who only felt concern and bad feelings but know nothing first hand and have said under oath there was no quid pro quo. Congress has the transcript of the call but still want to go forward in the next phase with law scholars. What are they going to prove? Nothing.
    But maybe Mr. Black needs more credit. After all, his often written beliefs around the President needs validation. Why focus on what is obvious. That there are many Dems who wanted impeachment since the night of the 2016 election. There are many within Washington that have done things to derail the current administration and we continue to find out more and more. That many Dems in Congress have always said they have definitive proof of the malfeasance of the President for a long time, but nothing has ever been presented. Add to it the chicanery of the Kavanaugh confirmation and the American people are sick and tired of all the circus the Dems are having. They have done nothing for the people except investigate.
    What Mr. Black needs to write about is the end game as this is all about politics. But maybe we get all of this because there is no substance in what the Dems have. We have a great economy and everyone is benefiting. Minority opportunity is at an all time high.
    Maybe it’s just fear because all of this garbage is so tiring to everyone. The Republicans were beyond stupid with Bill Clinton. They felt the same way because they had proof he lied. They felt they had him because he crossed the line and, what Mr. Black is trying to show, they felt they were validated in impeachment on technical grounds. The Republicans even had many Dems that felt the same way. But it sure did backfire – quickly and harshly.
    But the Dems are proving that stupidity knows no bounds and are taking something even less and want to die on that hill over it. And it will cost them.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/03/2019 - 11:44 am.

      “The definition of ‘high crimes’ is left to be decided by Congress, not us.”

      Yes, and that has been what is happening.

      “Through everything, House Dems feel that the current President has crossed that line, despite that Pelosi has long said it has to be bi-partisan in belief, which it is not.”

      Of course it is not. Leaving aside the issue of whether vague hortatory comments by the Speaker are in any way binding, there is also the fact that Congressional Republicans are always acting out of blind loyalty to President Trump. His crack about shooting someone in Fifth Avenue is not inaccurate. There is no way that the current crop of Republicans would vote to impeach Trump for any reason. Waiting for bi-partisan support would be the definition of pointless.

      “Mueller found nothing.”

      He did not find collusion, but beyond that simplistic and easily remembered talking point, he also made a strong suggestion that there was rampant obstruction of justice. That’s a harder point to dismiss in a short soud-bite.

      “The recent hearings only showed ‘witnesses’ who only felt concern and bad feelings but know nothing first hand and have said under oath there was no quid pro quo.”

      Well, no, but if you’re still saying that I’m not going to go into it again.

      “But the Dems are proving that stupidity knows no bounds and are taking something even less and want to die on that hill over it.”

      So trying to enlist a foreign nation to assist in a re-election effort is “less” than lying in a civil deposition? I think you need to brush up on what constitutes an abuse of power.

  12. Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 12/03/2019 - 09:57 am.

    The House Intelligence Comittee minority issued their report yesterday. It succinctly sums up the machinations of the Democrat House caucus since the day Trump was elected, and puts the spotlight on the deplorable charade conducted by Schiff & Co.

    • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/03/2019 - 10:33 am.

      The House Intelligence Committee’s minority report is 123 pages of Republican propaganda, which succinctly sums up the machinations of what has become a slavish Republican cult over the past decade, at least, with Trump only an asterisk of convenience – a vehicle through which an intellectually and ethically bankrupt group of politicians and their voters can promote an anti-democratic, authoritarian view of Congressional Democrats who are pursuing their constitutional duty. It puts the spotlight directly on the ideological fictions presented as “fact” by a party increasingly divorced from the real world.

      For that reason alone, I expect Mitch McConnell to see to it that a well-deserved conviction of Donald Trump will not only not happen, but that such an outcome will barely be considered by the Senate. I have no idea what the resulting judgment by voters next November will be. After all, two indicted Republican Congressmen were resoundingly reelected in their heavily-Republican districts by Republican voters, despite those indictments. Both men have pled guilty, and will likely go to prison, so perhaps Republican voters are immune or oblivious to criminal conduct when it’s their own people doing it. That certainly seems to be the case among Republicans in Congress, with the possible exception of Mr. Romney.

      I think Trump is politically safe to finish what I fervently hope is his only term. Mr. McConnell, whose danger to the republic equals that of the current President, will see to it that Trump survives, Moscow prospers, and Republican aid to Russia’s interests becomes an ongoing party theme. It’s an ironic development – much like ongoing efforts at vote suppression – for the party of Lincoln.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/03/2019 - 05:37 pm.

      The “official report” was released today. Now which one do you think is more accurate and is going down in the congressional record? So, all those sworn testimonies are fake? Along with the phone records, emails etc.? And why didn’t the white house chose to send its defenders to the investigation? Afraid that what they said on live television in front of the world was going to get miss-transcribed? feel free to chose the reporting channel.

      Pretty ugly: When couple 2-3 cabinet members, the vice president, CoS and involved. And they all had ample opportunity, even a personal invite to tell their side of the story. So why did they decline? Just keep on digging that fake conspiracy hole, the deeper you dig the less credibility you have. ,

      • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 12/05/2019 - 07:11 pm.

        They both go into the Congressional record, sir.

        Which of them you find compelling is entirely decided by which side of the circus tent you watched the show from.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/06/2019 - 09:54 am.

          Some of us don’t call it a circus, we call it exactly what it is, an impeachment inquiry into high crimes and misdemeanors of the president. Some folks are doing their job, calling out high crimes and misdemeanors, while other folks are trying to find ways to cover up those high crimes and misdemeanors and overthrow the constitutional checks and balances. We all get to choose, either for the constitution or burn it up.

  13. Submitted by BK Anderson on 12/03/2019 - 11:06 am.

    Thanks for the succinct and informed rundown of the history of the Impeachment clauses. For those living in the reality-based community, this is useful and valuable.

    It is a curious feature of conservatism that they endorse textual “originalism” (and seek the intent of the Framers) in constitutional interpretation only when that approach supports their favored policy positions. When it does not, then originalism is studiously ignored. Thus it will be with the Impeachment clauses, without doubt.

    I fear, however, that like many aspects of our failed constitution, the Impeachment clauses have become a dead letter, at least in the sense of being able to actually remove an abusive executive from power. This is because the Repub party, since its capture by the conservative movement in the 1990s, has made abundantly clear that it will take an exclusively partisan approach to impeachment of the executive, an attitude which was not remotely contemplated by the Framers. But the clauses may still operate to inform, record and deter, which remain useful goals.

  14. Submitted by joe smith on 12/03/2019 - 03:55 pm.

    I see today where Schiff said this is not about Ukraine, 3 weeks ago it was totally about Ukraine. I guess when your main witness,Vindmann, doesn’t tell his direct supervisor, Morrison, because a lawyer tells him not to but does tell his brother and the whistleblower, your credibility is shot. This is actually embarrassing for the entire Democratic Party.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 12/03/2019 - 08:57 pm.

      The truth is a little different, per Vindman’s testimony:

      “He said he found the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and Zelensky “improper” and reported his concerns to the top lawyer at the NSC, John Eisenberg, “out of a sense of duty.” Vindman is an active duty military officer detailed to the NSC.”

      You imply that Vindman went directly to some off the wall personal lawyer with an unknown agenda. Kind of like Rudy Giuliani…

    • Submitted by Brian Nelson on 12/03/2019 - 09:36 pm.

      Joe, please include the rest of what Schiff said.

      Also, why did Rudy Giuliani take a long call from the OMB on 4/24/19?

      Why is there no record of the 9/9/19 phone call between Trump and Sondland? You know, the “I want nothing” phone call?

      Lastly, since Mulvaney, Pence, Perry, etc. could no doubt provide exculpatory evidence in their testimony why doesn’t the WH allow them to testify?

      Joe, I’d also love to hear your explanations for Nunes’s travels and his phone calls to the WH, Parnas, etc.

      Thank You!

  15. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 12/03/2019 - 09:11 pm.

    I went back to refresh myself a little on the issues of Benghazi.

    How quaint and sweet the old times were. The essence of HRC’s sins were; did she knowingly say the Benghazi attack was spontaneous when in actuality, she learned that they were planned and stuck with the spontaneous line anyway.

    All retroactive HRC butt covering (excepting certain right wing kooks who believe she coordinated it).

    With Ukraine we have Trump in the pro-active, instigating mode. Either way, Jim Jordan can erupt with righteous indignation at his political opposites.

    I guarantee you, Jordan would love to have Adam Scihif’s facts over his own.

    And let’s not forget HRC had the cohones to sit in front of a hostile committee for 11 hours to defend the facts as she saw them. Something the entire Trump executive branch is afraid to do.

    • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 12/04/2019 - 09:43 am.

      The Benghazi waste of time/distraction reminds me of RussiaRussiaRussiaGate: evidence not required, the accusation is everything…

      It also reminds me of Ukraine: lost in the Benghazi nonsense was American complicity in turning Libya into a militant-jihadi failed state. Lost in the Ukraine hearings: covert CIA/NGO regime change of a duly elected president by way of instigating conflict with Russia.

  16. Submitted by Joe Musich on 12/04/2019 - 09:24 pm.

    The part most reprehensible to me as hearings opened was the continual attempt at discrediting the studied academics who’s life work is to know about history and it’s application in law. There are those who only see themselves as the experts on everything. Under that premise I just granted myself a doctoral degree in anything that comes before me. I will refer it as a Phd in liberal arts since there exists an award of that kind. Notice I did not choose neo lib or neo con or just plain con. We already have a lot of the last one going around.

Leave a Reply