Newspaper column: Articles of impeachment are flimsy ploys

This past week Donald Trump became only the third president to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. Neither of the other two were convicted by the Senate — Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999 — and neither will Trump, because Republicans hold a majority of Senate seats and there is no way to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority to remove Trump from office.

Not a single House Republican voted in favor of either article of impeachment, because they were flimsy to the point of being wisps in the Democratically driven wind. Even a couple of Democrats rejected them.

Both “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” are so nebulous that they can be defined as disagreeing with someone or anyone.

“Through their depraved actions today, crazy Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats have branded themselves with an eternal mark of shame, and it really is, it’s a disgrace,” Trump correctly informed a rally in Battle Creek, Mich., shortly after the vote, according to the Washington Examiner. “They think the Washington swamp should be able to veto the results of an election. That’s what they think. There’s never been a time like this.”

What constituted “abuse of power” was Trump suggesting in a July telephone conversation with the newly elected president of the Ukraine that someone should investigate past dealings by 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. “So, if you can look into it …” Trump said, according to the transcript. This was not a request to “dig dirt” on a potential political opponent as so many in the press have described it, but rather a suggestion that an investigation might be warranted. Trump was accused of withholding military aid to coerce the investigation.

Since Trump has been investigated by countless government bureaucracies since he raised his hand to take the oath of office, might that be construed as abuse of power and an attempt to influence the next election?

As for “obstruction of Congress,” The Wall Street Journal notes that this amounts to nothing more than Trump going to court to protect the powers of his office from politically motivated snooping, something many presidents have done, including Clinton and Barack Obama. Democrats didn’t give the courts a chance to rule on what the law is.

Nevada’s Democratic representatives — Dina Titus, Steven Horsford and Susie Lee — all voted for both articles of impeachment. In a statement Titus said of Trump, “He tried to rig the 2020 elections by soliciting foreign interference, and then engaged in an unprecedented cover-up once he got caught. No president can be permitted to abuse the power of the office for personal, political gain, nor try to hide his misdeeds by demanding that his subordinates withhold key documents and refuse to testify before Congress.”

Republican Congressman Mark Amodei, who represents northern Nevada voted “nay” on both articles. Amodei noted in a statement explaining his votes, “What happened after the phone call is also essentially uncontested. Ukrainian aid was slowed for several weeks but provided by mid-September. There was a meeting between President Trump and President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy. There is no evidence that the Ukrainian Government has investigated the Bidens and therefore, no announcements regarding the same.”

As for obstructing Congress, Amodei listed a litany of refusals by the Obama administration to cooperate with requests from Congress — everything from Fast & Furious gun dealings with drug cartels to the Iran Nuclear Deal to Obamacare subsidies to Solyndra and Benghazi.

Regarding the attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, Amodei quoted the White House counsel’s explanation for refusing to answer questions from Congress, “If the President were to answer your questions, his response would suggest that Congress has the unilateral power to demand answers from the President about his official acts.” Which is what Congress just tried to do with Trump.

The congressman concluded that he didn’t believe Obama should have been impeached for obstructing Congress and neither should Trump.

This entire process has been an affront to American voters, who should remember how their current representatives abused the system for the sake of political power come the November election.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Obama above the law and the Constitution

Today in The Wall Street Journal, Michael McConnell, a former federal judge and law professor, makes virtually the same point about President Obama as John Yoo, formerly of the Bush Justice Department and now a law professor, made this past October.

WSJ illustration

McConnell says that the Obama administration decision to suspend the employer mandate in the ObamaCare law for a year is a blatant abrogation of the constitutional obligation under Article II, Section, which states that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

“This is a duty, not a discretionary power,” McConnell writes. “While the president does have substantial discretion about how to enforce a law, he has no discretion about whether to do so.”

Writing at Fox News in October, Yoo used the same constitutional citation to explain why it was wrong for the Obama to basically legislate by executive fiat a law Congress refused to pass — the DREAM Act.

“Obama has pursued a dangerous change in the powers of his office that disregards the Constitution’s careful separation of power between the branches of the federal government,” Yoo writes. “The Constitution imposes on the president two clear duties – to protect the national security and to ‘take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.’ Obama is the first chief executive since Richard Nixon to ignore a duly-enacted law simply because he disagrees with it, in clear defiance of his constitutional duty.”

McConnell concludes with this:

“As the Supreme Court said long ago (Kendall v. United States, 1838), allowing the president to refuse to enforce statutes passed by Congress ‘would be clothing the president with a power to control the legislation of congress, and paralyze the administration of justice.'”

But Obama’s law breaking extends far beyond these two incidents.

As an extension of the suspension of the employer mandate in ObamaCare, his administration also suspended the requirement that individuals seeking subsidized health insurance prove their eligibility. Not to mention all those waivers from ObamaCare requirements for hundreds of unions and companies.

As with the DREAM Act, Obama is working to enact “law” to prevent climate change by unilaterally declaring war on coal. As he said in a letter to me and a few other of his closest friends:

“I told Congress in February that if they didn’t take action to fight climate change, then I would.

“Today, I announced a plan of action to make good on that promise.

“My administration is taking steps to cut carbon pollution, prepare our nation for the unavoidable impact of climate change, and put America’s best and brightest to work to solve this issue on a global scale.”

Even though the law requires foreign aid be cut off to a country that has undergone a coup, Obama’s administration refuses to halt the flow of $1.5 billion in U.S. tax money to Egypt.

Though the No Child Left Behind law contained no provision for waivers, Obama’s administration granted waivers.

Tough the 1996 Welfare Programs Act required people on welfare to work or prepare for a job in order to continue to receive federal benefits, Obama’s administration waived the requirement.

Then there was the Obama decision to tell Attorney General Eric Holder to not defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act.

Don’t forget the regulatory contortions the administration attempted to get around the fact ObamaCare unconstitutionally interferes with the First Amendment rights of the Catholic Church.

Obama missed four deadlines for submitting a budget to Congress. He missed the deadline to report on planned defense cuts. He missed the deadline to report on Medicaid costs.

In 1868, the House impeached President Andrew Johnson for defying the Tenure of Office Act, which prohibited him from firing anyone from Lincoln’s cabinet. Johnson fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton anyway. The Senate refused to convict by a single vote.

The Constitution says:

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

How many does it take? Nonfeasance of office is surely at least a misdemeanor.