Now that a redacted copy of the whistleblower complaint connected to the July 25 phone call President Donald Trump made to the president of Ukraine, it does indeed appear that Trump’s actions may have risen to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” required by the Constitution for impeachment.
On Thursday, CNN’s John Avlon laid out the history of impeachment, noting that if the facts as they’re known regarding Trump’s actions with Ukraine are indeed proven, he’ll be impeached.
Avlon also explained that early drafts of the Constitution suggested using impeachment for offenses such as treason or bribery, but Founding Father George Mason argued those crimes were far too specific and wouldn’t be sufficient to apply to a leader who had committed “many great and dangerous offenses.” That’s when the line “high crimes and misdemeanors” was added.
Taking a look at the two instances when impeachment actually happened — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton — and reminding us that neither was convicted, the CNN host then moved on to the case that is most instructive and applicable for the current situation: Richard Nixon.
In the case of Nixon, Avlon remarked, the second article of impeachment directly involved a presidential abuse of power, specifically Nixon using the the FBI and IRS to investigate his opponents, much the same as Trump did with Ukraine and the Bidens.
It’s too early to know how the case of the impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump will turn out. But his actions do indeed fit into a larger historical context that has been seen before and nearly destroyed three previous presidents.
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