I've said that for more than a year. Here's something a law professor who has studied the history of the US Constitution recently wrote about the question of impeachment.
In the article dated September 26, 2019 Clark D Cunningham, professor and law & ethics chair at Georgia State University wrote,
As Congress moves toward a possible formal impeachment of President Donald Trump, they should consider words spoken at the Constitutional Convention, when the Founders explained that impeachment was intended to have many important purposes, not just removing a president from office.
A critical debate took place on July 20, 1787, which resulted in adding the impeachment clause to the U.S. Constitution. Benjamin Franklin, the oldest and probably wisest delegate at the Convention, said that when the president falls under suspicion, a “regular and peaceable inquiry” is needed.
In my work as a law professor studying original texts about the U.S. Constitution, I’ve found statements made at the Constitutional Convention explaining that the Founders viewed impeachment as a regular practice with three purposes:
- To remind both the country and the president that he is not above the law
- To deter abuses of power
- To provide a fair and reliable method to resolve suspicions about misconduct.
The Convention delegates repeatedly agreed with the assertion by George Mason of Virginia, that “no point is of more importance … than the right of impeachment” because no one is “above justice.”Cunningham expanded on those point as he continued the column. But to the point of whether Trump and his supporters' obvious incitement of violence (i.e. a second civil war), the professor cites Benjamin Franklin:
Good for the president and the country
Benjamin Franklin told his fellow delegates the story of a recent dispute that had greatly troubled the Dutch Republic.
One of the Dutch leaders, William V, the Prince of Orange, was suspected to have secretly sabotaged a critical alliance with France. The Dutch had no impeachment process and thus no way to conduct “a regular examination” of these allegations. These suspicions mounted, giving rise to “to the most violent animosities & contentions.”
The moral to Franklin’s story? If Prince William had “been impeachable, a regular & peaceable inquiry would have taken place.” The prince would, “if guilty, have been duly punished — if innocent, restored to the confidence of the public.”
Franklin concluded that impeachment was a process that could be “favorable” to the president, saying it is the best way to provide for “the regular punishment of the Executive when his misconduct should deserve it and for his honorable acquittal when he should be unjustly accused.”
All of this makes me wonder. Actually having Hillary Clinton inaugurated in January 2017 would have made the subsequent events turn out much differently than they have. But the political polarization would almost certainly have continued to rise nevertheless.
Not wanting to suffer ongoing failures of imagination, I now call your attention to one of the master storytellers of our age, Stephen King. He has called his alternative history novel, 11.22.63 his magnum opus. If you're not familiar with the novel or the Hulu mini-series based on the novel, click the link for 11.22.63 to get a synopsis of it.
My ultimate point? While Trump may want and may try to incite civil war type violence, perhaps in the grand scheme of things his having become president, and having failed so spectacularly, will save us from all out civil war.
And he HAS failed spectacularly, evaluating the net results, in doing anything good for the United States. His only success has been to subvert the Founders' intent as articulated in the Preamble to the Constitution.
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to [ALL of] ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
On April 24 this, I posted that I believed then (and I still do) that Trump will be impeached.
This morning, I re-read the post and re-viewed the video clip of Lawrence O'Donnell pointing out much of what many are now saying (including a handful of GOP elected officials, or former elected officials) that whether or not the House impeaches and the Senate convicts has become a point of principle.
Last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulled the trigger on the starting gun (starting guns don't fire actual bullets) for an official impeachment investigation. Ending speculation on whether the Senate will pull another Merrick Garland, today, Mitch McConnell stated that in the event the House does approve Articles of Impeachment, he will have no choice but to convene the requisite trial.