History is on Trump’s side
By Al S. Mendoza
DONALD Trump was impeached last December 18.
He becomes only the third President of the United States to suffer that fate.
The first was Andrew Johnson getting axed 151 years ago in 1868, followed by Bill Clinton in 1998.
But impeachment does not kick the President out of office.
He remains America’s Chief Executive.
So, what is impeachment again?
Impeachment simply means a President is being accused of conduct unbecoming a public official.
Congress—the Lower House—will vote on whether or not to impeach a President.
Trump was impeached for “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress.”
He allegedly abused his presidential powers when he disallowed a military aid to Ukraine.
And then he allegedly obstructed a Congress procedure when he barred his White House staff from appearing in a Congressional inquiry into the Ukraine issue.
Trump was found guilty as charged by 230 congressmen voting to impeach him as against 197 who saw him innocent.
With Trump getting impeached, he will next stand trial should the Senate say so.
Only the Senate can convict a President but never Congress.
In short, Congress can impeach a President and the Senate can remove a President.
To kick out a President, a 2/3 vote of the Senate is needed.
That is why Trump is unlikely to be kicked out as his fellow Republicans outnumber the Democrats in the Senate.
Not so in Congress, where Democrats outnumber the Republicans.
As always, voting goes along party lines.
You are a Democrat, you vote as a Democrat and not as a person.
Rarely does a party member cross party lines.
At the moment, there are 53 Republicans in the 100-seat Senate, giving Trump an outright advantage if and when a trial is held.
Johnson, a rabid white supremacist, was impeached in 1868 for undermining the cause of racial equality.
But the Senate absolved him, with Johnson escaping conviction by a mere one vote.
Historians to this day insist Johnson had scored a “bribed victory.”
Bribery is as old as prostitution, indeed.
For Clinton, he was impeached in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice following the expose of lurid details regarding his sexual relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
But in the Senate, Clinton eluded conviction by an overwhelming vote of 50 senators from a total of 67 voting senators.
It is hardest to kick out a President—whether in America or the Philippines—as the Senate must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Chief Executive has committed “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Even if the President has misbehaved so badly that he has sullied the sanctity of his office—as in Clinton admitting to committing an “inappropriate sex act” aka oral sex with Lewinsky—that is not enough ground to remove him.
In defending his decision to reject Johnson’s removal from office, defecting Republican Sen. James Grimes said in 1868: “I cannot agree to destroy the harmonious working of the Constitution for the sake of getting rid of an Unacceptable President.”
Indeed, paramount is the purity of the Constitution, whose spirit is what ultimately counts in the end.
Trump may have committed some “unacceptable” behavior.
But were Johnson and Clinton not guilty of human imperfections as well?
Grimes’s argument still rings true to this day.
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