To the Editor:
“No president can be impeached unless he is charged with a crime.” This argument was made by the president’s attorneys at the Senate impeachment trial. Let’s think about what this would mean.
No president could be impeached for violating his oath of office, inviting foreign governments to participate in our elections, using the office of the presidency for personal gain at the expense of national security, or for a host of other acts of malfeasance that can only be imagined.
Can this be what the Founders intended?
In 1789, the American people had just freed themselves from the rule of a monarch whose conduct was not subject to review by anyone.
George III was above the law. Would the Founders have created a presidency that also was above the law — except for the commission of statutorily defined crimes?
In 1800, John Adams was president. What would have happened then if Adams had asked the British monarch to “dig up dirt” on Thomas Jefferson to help Adams get re-elected?
Today’s Republicans would answer that because such conduct did not violate a specific criminal statute, there is nothing that Congress could have done.
This crimped interpretation of the Constitution would give the green light to would-be tyrants to abuse the sacred trust of the American people — so long as they didn’t commit a crime.
It is absurd to argue that the leaders of the early republic would have adopted such a puny impeachment provision.
It is absurd to argue that conducting foreign affairs to serve one politician’s personal ambition at the expense of the nation is something that, in the words of the president’s advisor Mick Mulvaney, we all should just “get over.”
Frederick W. Krug