The Trump Impeachment Saga (Part 2)

By Engr. Edgar Mana-ay

In my first article on Pres. Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representative, I have concluded that the Impeachment Process, a serious and vital tool for a check and balance in any democratic governance like the Philippines and the US, was demeaned and bastardized by the Democrats purely for perceived political gains of their party.

It is an irony that Hillary Clinton, whom the Democrats want to benefit from the Trump impeachment process because they feel she is still their strongest candidate, was a co-author of the “Constitutional Grounds For Impeachment” made public on Feb. 22, 1974 by Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Peter Rodino (D-N.J.).

Hillary who was then single, hadn’t yet passed her first bar exam, was part of the team that researched and wrote the credible processes on how the impeachment should be conducted for then-President Richard Nixon. Hillary Clinton occupies a unique place among contemporary Americans because she was involved in both the impeachment that prompted the resignation of Pres. Richard Nixon in 1974 and the Monica Lewinsky-inspired impeachment (but not conviction) of her husband, then-President Bill Clinton in 1998.

Last July 9, 2018, (16 months before Trump was impeached by the Pelosi-led House) in an interview for the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, Hillary was asked to discuss her experience in helping produce one of the key documents in the Watergate impeachment. As a 26-year-old staff of the House Judiciary Committee, Clinton worked “16 and 18 hour days” in preparing the key documents of the 1974 impeachment process. The report provided a comprehensive history of impeachment up to that point, first, as it was understood from English history by the authors of the U.S. Constitution, and second as the process had been practiced since 1787 in the impeachment of 10 federal judges, a U.S. senator, a secretary of war and President Andrew Jackson.

Not anticipating a Democrat hasty and reckless move on Trump impeachment, Hillary has pointed out to her interviewer the four ways by which an impeachment should be properly processed based on the Regulatory Document and as applied in the Nixon and Bill Clinton case. Of course, it came out now that the stretched-face Pelosi impeachment miserably fall short of the standards set in the 1974 Clinton authored document. These are:

  1. There should be NO PRECONCEIVED VERDICT. This is most important in not prejudging the guilt or innocence of the president. Hillary told the Nixon Library interviewer that “during that time (the Nixon case) we did not know how this is going to end up and I don’t know anybody who did,” who was on the 1974 impeachment team. But in Pelosi’s case, she hastily disclosed her guilty verdict on President Trump the day she announced the official impeachment inquiry. Her basis was only a media report about a whistle-blower complaint and also admitted she hadn’t read the transcript of Trump’s July 25 call to Ukraine President Zelensky. Despite this, Pelosi declared: “Trump is in breach of his constitutional responsibility by asking a foreign government to help him in his political campaign, at the expense of our national security, as well as undermining the integrity of our election.”
  2. There are NO PARTISAN PURPOSES. Under threat of party discipline, Democrats were ordered to toe the line and be intensely partisan and therefore a threat to the credibility of the impeachment effort. Hillary during her time had advised all concerned to “restrain yourself from grandstanding and holding news conferences and playing to your base. This goes beyond whose side you’re on or who’s on your side. And try to be faithful purveyors of the history and the solemnity of the process.” Hillary also emphasized that proceedings should be based on evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors and not on political alignment. She further added that a rigorously enforced bipartisan approach was unfortunately lost in succeeding years.
  3. There should be NO TAMPERING OF EVIDENCE. During the 1974 Nixon impeachment, Hillary said there was sufficient evidence, not necessarily to the level of being beyond a reasonable doubt, but certainly, enough to be persuasive, clear and convincing. On Trump’s case, House Speaker, the overstretched face Pelosi, praised House Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) after Schiff read on national TV his made-up version of Trump’s call transcript. A few hours later, Schiff conceded that his version was, in fact, a “fable.” Republican members of the committee also accused Schiff of withholding evidence while allowing carefully slanted leaks from testimony given behind closed doors.
  4. There should be NO DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS. Hillary added that in the Nixon impeachment, “we were trying to impose an understanding of the law and history, combined with a process that would be viewed as fair, providing due process to the president if articles of impeachment were decided.” But in the Trump impeachment, Rep. Adam Schiff conducted secret meetings from selected witnesses while barring witnesses sought by Republicans and the Democrats have so far refused to release transcripts from the dispositions of former and current State Department employees.

Impeachment is one of the most serious and huge powers in the Constitution. It was meant always by the founders to be reserved for truly unusual circumstances. The founding fathers even debated not putting the impeachment process because they were concerned that this is what would happen. In the impeachment inquiries against Nixon and Clinton, American leaders “understood the great importance of convincing the American public that their decision to use this tool was just and legitimate”.

President Nixon had to go even before the impeachment process formally started at the House because he knew the American public were fully convinced.  Not this time, because survey shows more than half of Americans are NOT convince that Trump has committed a high crime.

The Democrats up to this writing have NOT forwarded to the Senate their approved articles of impeachment (On January 15, the US House of Representatives approved the sending of the articles of impeachment to the Senate by a vote of 228 for “yes” and 193 for “no”). If indeed they have sufficient proof, why the delay, unlike in the Pres. Estrada case where Speaker Villar, upon receiving the vote result, immediately forwarded it to the Senate, then banging the gavel for adjournment of the House to prevent further discussion and delay.