Articles of Impeachment. Past Presidents vs Trump
September 16, 2019

 
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The long overdue impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump officially began last week. I’ve often heard people mention past “Articles of Impeachment” previous presidents were charged with that Donald Trump also appears to be guilty of, and it got me wondering “Just how many AoI’s the three presidents previously threatened with impeachment (Andrew Johnston, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton) would ALSO apply to Trump?” So I tracked down the AoI’s against all three. A few things stand out immediately: 1) LOTS of redundancy. Multiple charges often sound like 5 different ways of saying the same thing. The proverbial “padded list.” But legally, each denotes a separate crime. 2) LOTS of legalese, sometimes making it difficult for a layman like myself to discern exactly what they were being charged with (so forgive me if I interpreted anything incorrectly) and 3) Not only does Donald Trump seem to be in violation of nearly every one of the charges laid out against his predecessors, but at least several more crimes as well. So here is my rundown of the “Articles of Impeachment” levied against past presidents (Nixon resigned before he could be impeached. Johnson & Clinton were both impeached in the House but not convicted in the Senate.):

Andrew Johnson – Impeached in 1838.

Johnson was charged with eleven Articles of Impeachment:

1. Fired the “Secretary of War” appointed by Congress during recess and then (2) replaced him with someone of his own choosing (3) WHILE Congress was still in session.

The first clearly would not be considered an impeachable offense today as we have since decided all Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the president and therefore can be fired at any time. But the Second… appointed a replacement on his own without obtaining the approval of Congress, Trump is arguably guilty of in spades. The number of “Acting” Secretaries in his administration… people chosen by Trump and ONLY Trump… now serving as the heads of their departments without Congressional approval or review with no clear replacement forthcoming… currently stands at SEVEN with the firing/resignation of “National Security Advisor” John Bolton… Trump’s third in less than three years. The man who claimed to know “all the best people” sure seems to have a difficult time finding the right people. And when he does, is unwilling to subject them to Congressional approval (as required by law.)

The third AoI: Appointing a replacement Cabinet-level position while Congress was still in session (and therefore not a recess appointment) also applies if you accept that refusing to replace hand-picked deputies now serving in the top spot is no different than appointing your own cabinet members without going through Congress.

4. Threatened a potential candidate (for SoW) so they would refuse nomination by Congress.

5. Refused to enact a law passed by Congress (the appointment of their approved SoW).

6. Seized gov’t agencies to prevent them from doing their job.

7. Refused to instate SoW chosen by Congress.

8. (Rehash on #6 regarding SoW.)

9. Circumvented the “General of the Army” to issue military orders directly.

10.[A]ttempt to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach, the Congress of the United States, and the several branches thereof, to impair and destroy the regard and respect of all the good people of the United States for the Congress and the legislative power thereof.”

“Which said utterances, declarations, threats and harangues, highly censurable in any, are peculiarly indecent and unbecoming in the Chief Magistrate of the United States, by means whereof the said Andrew Johnson has brought the high office of the President of the United States into contempt, ridicule and disgrace, to the great scandal of all good citizens, whereby said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, did commit, and was then and there guilty of a high misdemeanor in office.”

11. Called the 38th Congress “illegitimate” and “not authorized by the Constitution”.

The breakdown:

Johnson fired the Secretary of War (now called the “Secretary of Defense”) and replaced him with someone that had not been approved by Congress. He then openly ridiculed members of Congress for opposing his unconstitutional power-grab.

Now let’s examine the Articles of Impeachment against Johnson. How many crimes (among those that would still be considered crimes) is Trump guilty of? Well, Article 1 (firing his Secretary of War without Congressional approval) would no longer be considered an Impeachable offense today, but Art-2 & 3… naming replacement Secretaries without going through Congress… definitely still are. And one need look no further than all of Trump’s “acting” cabinet level appointments (three as of this writing) all people installed by Trump and Trump alone without the need for Congressional approval… not to mention all of the acting directors of positions that don’t require Congressional approval… automatically bumped up into the lead role after Trump fired their boss. He seems to have found a “loophole” that allows him to appoint anyone he likes without Congressional approval.

While Congress might debate how much time must pass before an “acting” Secretary should actually be considered a “permanent” replacement, please note it took seven months for Trump to finally nominate “acting SoD” Mark T. Esper to be the new permanent Secretary of Defense after Our last SoD, General Mattis resigned in protest last December (and despite this, Secretary of State Pompeo… supposedly our chief diplomat… has been acting more like our SoD.) Appointing a replacement Cabinet-level position while Congress was in recess just to skirt the law… is basically what Trump does with every “acting” director, but in one case, right after the “resignation” of Attorney General” Jeff Sessions, rather than permit Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to take his place as the generally accepted order of succession, Trump appointed his own totally unqualified hand-picked replacement… Matt Whitakera strip-mall lawyer (under criminal investigation for running a patent promotion scam) and critic of the Mueller Investigation he saw on (where else) Fox “News”, to be his new AG. Fortunately, Congress balked at this absurd appointment (only to approve the equally partisan frequent Fox guest, Bill Barr.)

Article-5: “Refusing to enact laws passed by Congress”. In 2017, Congress voted to impose sanctions against Russia for meddling in our election, which Trump then vetoed, forcing Congress to vote again with an OVERWHELMING veto-proof majority (419 to 3) that left Trump no choice but to sign it into law. He then sat on it for at least seven months (probably longer) refusing to impose those sanctions (Russia is not a major trading partner and we were not in the middle of delicate negotiations with them at the time, nor did we need their assistance on any issue, so there really was no justification for not imposing those sanctions other than not wanting to upset his new best friend Vladimir Putin. During that time, failing to enact this law was clearly every bit as impeachable as “Article-5” against Johnson.

There is no question Trump is guilty of Article-10… ridiculing and threatening members of Congress… in spades. But whether or not this would pass as an “impeachable offense” today is unlikely. My how our standards have fallen.

This also seems to apply to Article-11 as well, as Trump has (on numerous occasions) suggested particular members of Congress are illegitimate, elected with the help of Mexican and/or Muslim immigrants voting illegally, are not American citizens, or are guilty of treason by criticizing the actions of this government under Trump. But again, probably not impeachable by today’s standards.

Summary: Of Johnson’s 11 impeachable offenses, Trump is guilty of six, three of which (2, 3 & 5) would still be regarded impeachable offenses today.
 

Richard Nixon – Resigned before he could be impeached, in 1974.

Nixon was to be charged with just three Articles of Impeachment:

1. Obstruction of Justice into the investigation of the Watergate burglars.

2. Violated the Constitutional rights of citizens and “impairing” their ability to seek justice in a court of law.

3. Failed to turn over subpoenaed documents & materials requested by Congress as part of their investigation.

The breakdown:

Article-1 We know Trump is guilty of Obstruction of Justice on a myriad of issues: from the investigation into his campaign’s possible involvement with Russian oligarchs connected to the Russian government to fund his “self-funded” campaign, to his repeated refusal to release his taxes to investigate… not only any denied (and therefore potentially compromising) business ties to Russia… but investigations into the multitude of “Emoluments Clause” violations we know he is guilty of (covered below). Trump denied he fired FBI Director James Comey over the Russia investigation (a clear Obstruction of Justice if he had), only to then admit to NBC’s Lester Holt that the “Russia” investigation was indeed behind his reasoning for firing Comey, followed by inviting two Russian ambassadors, a Russian banker (who was also the handler for Russian spy Maria Butina) Alexander Torshin and their staff into the Oval Office (WITH cameras while denying the American press) to tell them “the pressure is off” and the Russia investigation dead now that he has fired James Comey. So there is no question the firing of Comey was intentional “obstruction of justice”.

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller testified that while he could not conclude whether or not Trump himself directed, was involved with, or knew of his campaign’s activities with Russian nationals during the 2016 race (likely BECAUSE of rampant obstruction of justice), he could NOT… repeat NOT… conclude no obstruction of justice ever took place.

Article-2 “Violating the rights of citizens”. For Nixon, Art-2 was referring to his use of federal agencies like the IRS & FBI to investigate his political enemies. During the 2016 race, Trump did threaten to (ab)use the power of the presidency to investigate Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server (something members of his own cabinet and even his WH employed daughter Ivanka are guilty of in spades) and a reckless disregard for Top Secret national security documents in her possession (something Trump himself is guilty of in multiple instances). It was recently discovered that Trump has directed his AG/lackie Bill Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation in order to go after his political enemies, but it bears repeating that even NON-citizens have Constitutional rights (that’s why “enemy combatants” are held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.) And every man, woman and child held prisoner in Trump’s Concentration Camps on the Mexican border has been denied their Constitutionally protected basic human rights.

So Trump is guilty of Nixon’s Article-2 two times over.

Article-3, the failure to turnover documents requested by Congress. Trump has repeatedly refused to release his taxes as requested by Congress. But he has also refused to release his 2016 campaign’s financial records (with the investigation abruptly shutdown as soon as serious questions were raised), and Trump tried to cover-up the fact he instructed his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay off a pornstar, and enlisted the aide of a friend (National Enquirer publisher David Pecker) to pay hush money to a Playboy Playmate he had been having an affair with for months while his wife Melania was pregnant, gave birth to, and then nursing “her” son Baron. These crimes should/would be considered additional acts of “obstruction of justice”.

Summary: Of Nixon’s 3 articles of impeachment, Trump is guilty of all three, with MANY additional violations to justify each and every one of the charges.
 

Bill Clinton – Impeached in 1999.

President Clinton was charged with four Articles of Impeachment:

1. Obstruction of Justice (via perjury.) – Falsely testifying under oath that he “did not have sexual relations” with Monica Lewinski.

2. Perjury – Denying he even had any relationship with Ms. Lewinski.

3. Obstruction of Justice by:
 a) Telling a witness to falsify an affidavit.
 b) Instructed witness to lie under oath.
 c) Concealed evidence.
 d) Bribed witness with a job in exchange for false testimony.
 e) Allowed his lawyer to mischaracterize an affidavit in order to prevent questioning deemed relevant by the judge.
 f) Gave a misleading account of events relevant to a Federal civil rights action in order to corruptly influence the testimony of a witness.
 g) Lied to witnesses to influence their testimony.

4. Refused to respond to written requests for admission and willfully made perjurous, false and misleading sworn statements in response to a written request by the impeachment inquiry. (“In doing this, William Jefferson Clinton has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President, and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”)

The breakdown:

If I hadn’t already covered the AoI’s against Andrew Johnson, I’d definitely call this “a padded list”, where they seem to find five different ways of restating the same crime, looking for ways to get Congress to vote “guilty” depending on how you look at it. So with that in mind…

Article-1, “Obstruction of Justice”, we’ve certainly covered in ad nausium and concluded Trump is repeatedly guilty of, but in this specific context (lying under oath to obstruct an investigation), Trump is every bit as guilty as Bill Clinton was (only worse because Congress decided Clinton’s lying about cheating was not material to the criminal investigation he was supposedly being investigated for in the first place). Trump fired anyone investigating him (Preet Bharara… AG for the SDNY, Sally Yates… acting AG before Trump appointed his own, and James Comey) as soon as he got wind they might be investigating him.

Article-2, Perjury. Trump’s lawyers, well aware of how getting Clinton to testify under oath just so they could catch him lying about having an affair so they could charge him with perjury, refused to let Trump testify in person under oath before Special Council Robert Mueller regarding the Russia investigation where he could be cross-examined. So instead, Trump agreed to answer written questions submitted by the Special Council. Mueller testified that Trump’s answers demonstrated that he “generally” wasn’t always being truthful in his answers… Translation, he lied under oath (perjury) to obstruct a federal investigation (OoJ.)

Article-3, additional instances of Obstruction of Justice:

3a: Instructing a witness to falsify an affidavit. An affidavit is written testimony under oath. We already covered how Trump himself submitted a false affidavit under Art-2, but we know of at least one example of someone knowingly submitting false written testimony at Trump’s instruction under penalty of perjury, and that’s when he personally wrote Junior’s letter explaining why he agreed to meet with a Russian lawyer (Natallia Veselnitskaya and three others) promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Trump did so on Air Force One in the presence of his first Communications director, Hope Hicks (more on her in 3b) where he knowingly lied for his son to claim the purpose of the meeting was to discuss “lifting the U.S. ban on the adoption of Russian children.” Don Jr. then knowingly submitted that untruthful affidavit knowing full well it was not written by him and not the truth.

Trump’s lawyer (Michael Cohen) and Second Campaign manager (Paul Manafort) also submitted false affidavits, but there is no way to prove it was at Trump’s instruction.

3b: Telling a witness to lie. Most of Trump’s loyal lackies and family members were more than willing to lie on his behalf without having to be asked (Rodger Stone, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort to name a few), but Hope Hicks, raised eyebrows when she testified… if you can call it that… that she had “never been asked to lie about matters of substance or consequence by Trump or the White House regarding what she knew of his affair with pornstar Stormy Daniels. That qualifier was almost as odd as her refusal (at the recommendation of her lawyers) to simply refuse to answer ANY questions at all no matter how mundane (“Where was your office located?”). 155 times Hicks refused to testify. Telling a witness to be uncooperative to ensure they don’t reveal the truth isn’t that much different from instructing a witness to lie. This goes more to “obstruction”.

3c: Refusing to turn over evidence. This has also been covered numerous times regarding Trump refusing to turn over bank or tax records of himself or his campaign.

3d: Bribing witnesses – Every time Trump or his Team suggested there was a possibility a witness in the case against him might receive a presidential pardon if they just keep their mouth shut, that’s bribing a witness in exchange for false testimony. And arguably, the National Enquirer paying off Playmate Karen McDougal with the promise of authoring an article in “Men’s Fitness” magazine (a job that was not fulfilled until two years later when people started asking questions) was the offer of a job in exchange for false testimony (denying her relationship with Donald Trump.)

3e: Knowingly allowed his lawyer to submit a false affidavit to prevent questioning: see 3a and Don Jr’s false affidavit. Trump’s lawyers knew Trump wrote it himself, yet they submitted it as Don Jr’s own testimony anyway.

3f: Lied about events to influence a witness and elicit false testimony – Trump lies like normal people breathe. Trump makes up his own reality, declares it as fact, and hopes no one will check him on it (of course they always do and then get called “fake news” for reporting it), but whether any of his multitude of lies were meant to steer witnesses into lying for him is impossible to say. Every time Trump denied having any business interests in Russia (a well-established lie now), witnesses knew how to testify. Witnesses who then repeated this lie and then found to have perjured themselves when the proposed “Trump Tower Moscow” project was confirmed, was clearly toting the line set by Trump.

3g: Lied to witnesses so they would give false testimony. – The biggest problem with Trump lying so openly and frequently (eg: declaring on Air Force 1 that he “knew nothing about” Michael Cohen paying $130,000 in hush-money) is that it is impossible to know if he was lying specifically to influence someone’s testimony. He was certainly lying rather than admit to a crime.

Article-4, “refusing” to comply with written requests for documentation and testimony. Again, this has been covered. Every written request by Congress for the release of documentation has been refused.

Summary: Of Clinton’s 4 Articles of Impeachment, Trump is guilty of all four (including at least 4 of 6 subcharges under Art-3). Of all of the charges laid out against Bill Clinton, I find this statement at the end of his Articles of Impeachment most striking:
 

“[Bill Clinton] undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President, and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

 
Can you think of ANYONE this applies to more than Donald Trump? Besmirched the presidency, betrayed the public trust, and subverted the rule of law. Trump has SO lowered the bar of what is considered “acceptable behavior” by a president, I fear we might never recover. The childish behavior, the lies (over 12,000 at last count), the routine circumventing of the law and finding loopholes to get what he wants, the rank hypocrisy (from criticizing how much golf Obama played, to his own carelessness with classified information like he accused Hillary of), and the shame of his bigotry where he praises Nazi’s, tells black female members of Congress to “go back where they came from” and his Child Concentration Camps on the US/Mexico border, have brought a shame to this country that will take decades to make up.

But beyond all of the Articles of Impeachment against PAST presidents Trump is also guilty off, there are a number of additional crimes Trump himself is uniquely guilty of:

1. Violating the “Emoluments” clause of the Constitution: Accepting anything of value from foreign officials was the original interpretation of “emoluments”, but The Founders added “domestic” sources as well. Trump refused to give up his business empire and continues to profit handsomely from it. Jimmy Carter was forced to give up his grandfather’s peanut farm (which is a MUCH bigger deal than most people realize since peanut farming is HIGHLY regulated and only a few farmers were granted “Peanut Proxies” that allow them to sell their product in the United States) just to serve as president for just four years. So, anytime someone spends lavishly in one of Trump’s hotels, pays the exorbitant $200,000 membership fee to join Mar-a-lago in hopes of rubbing shoulders with the president, approves a business deal or clears the red tape for a business/property deal just to please him, he’s accepting a bribe and in violation of the Emoluments clause. But using the office of president to enrich himself via activities that don’t involve someone else trying to bribe him is a violation of U.S. Ethics Code 2635.702“Use of public office for private gain” statute. Whenever Trump steers government money into his pocket (be it charging his own Secret Service detail to stay in his hotel every time he visits Mar-a-lago to go golfing, announces he plans to host the next G7 Summit at one of his struggling resorts, or (as recently discovered) orders military transports to land at a struggling commercial Scottish airport closest to one of his failing resorts and pay full price for jet fuel (vs much cheaper fuel supplied at a U.S. military base for a tenth the cost) just to keep the airport serving his resort from going bankrupt, he’s violating U.S. ethics laws and guilty of an impeachable offense. No one asks why a man who claims to be so wealthy keeps nickle & diming the government over “pocket change”? Every Ethics/Emolument charge could have been avoided if he simply didn’t charge any of these people to stay at his properties. His Secret Service detail, foreign heads of state, using his own resort to host the G7… simply don’t charge them. But he does. Why? Because he’s broke. Even when he donated money to his own presidential campaign, he did so as a loan with the expectation that his own campaign would pay him back. That famous “Trump Jet” he flew around on during the 2016 campaign… an ancient 1968 Boeing 727… is all that’s left of his failed airline that he sold off in the 1990’s. Like all great con-artists, Trump knows how to create the illusion of great wealth on the cheap in order to extract money from the greedy/gullible.

Trump’s supporters lovingly swoon over how the altruistic Donald Trump donates his annual $400K presidential salary to charity… as if $400K/yr would be a big deal to someone who claimed to be worth “over $10 Billion dollars” (0.004% of his net worth.) But the truth is, Trump (and many of the billionaires in his cabinet) refuse a salary just so they too can skirt “financial reporting laws”. “Cabinet members, the president, vice president and Supreme Court justices are required by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to file annual reports disclosing their personal finances.” If they take no salary, they don’t have to release their taxes or file any such report to reveal just how they are profiting off their positions of power.

2. Campaign finance violations. Specifically, paying hush-money to pornstars to keep them quiet before the election. The sad irony is, if Trump really were worth $10-Billion like he claims, a paltry $130,000 payoff would be nothing to him. But instead, for some reason, his personal lawyer had to mortgage his own home to scrounge up the money to protect his client’s presidential aspirations… which makes it an illegal campaign contribution. “Billionaire” Trump repaid Cohen in installments of eleven checks paid throughout the year (two of those checks were for $35,000/each, meaning the remaining $60,000 was spread across NINE other checks. NINE? Either he was so broke he needed 4-6 months just to come up with the remaining $60K, or he was was deliberately trying to hide the payments by keeping them low so as not to raise any red flags. I’d love to know which is the correct answer.)

3. Treason. If indeed Trump knowingly conspired with a hostile foreign power to subvert our Democracy, that’s treason pure and simple. And since becoming president, Trump has deferred to Putin’s word over that of our own intelligence agencies regarding their meddling, refused to do anything to protect the next election from them meddling again, and has accused The Press and members of congress of being “enemies of the state”. This is the most uncomfortable charge because the punishment if convicted is Death. I think if the punishment were reduced to something like a huge financial penalty, Congress would be more willing to press a charge of “treason” against Donald Trump. The evidence is there, and if it is proved “Trump knew and participated” in Russian meddling in his campaign and our Democracy, Trump would… without question… be guilty of Treason. And if he’s never charged with Treason (even if incontrovertible proof is uncovered), it would only be because the punishment is so severe. Not because Congress decided the crime hadn’t been committed.

So there you have it. Of the 19 Articles of impeachment levied against past presidents, Trump is guilty of 13. Add to that three more impeachable offenses all his own (including quite possibly the Capital offense of “Treason”.) If I were a member of Congress on the Judiciary Committee, I’d combine the articles of Impeachment drafted against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, change the name to “Donald Trump”, make as few changes as possible just so it makes logical sense, then see how Republicans react to their own words. I have little doubt the hypocrisy would be stunning.

FLASHBACK: While Ted Cruz and other Republicans accuse Democrats of being “impeachment happy”, here is a little reminder from Rachel Maddow in 2013 (video no longer available but the story is) of the “Impeach Obama for Something, Anything movement” among the GOP almost from the day he took office. Republicans might have terrible memories, but fortunately The Internet never forgets.


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September 16, 2019 · Admin Mugsy · One Comment - Add
Posted in: Crime, Money, National Security, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Russia, Scandals, Unconstitutional

One Response

  1. Admin Mugsy - September 22, 2019

    Right after I finished this Op/Ed, Trump added to his list of impeachable offenses.
    A “whistleblower” was so alarmed by a call he overheard between Trump and the newly elected President of Ukraine, he contacted the Inspector General.
    The claim was that Trump may have demanded “quid pro quo”, holding military funding appropriated by Congress for Ukraine hostage in exchange for “something” to personally benefit him. We soon learned that that request was for them to cooperate with his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and his investigation of a business deal in Ukraine by “Hunter Biden” (son of Joe Biden) in 2016. Trump (and Giuliani) openly admitted they did this but claimed they did nothing wrong.
     

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