Grounds For Impeachment Different From Reelection Factors

Congress Should Not Refuse to Act Simply Because an Election in Imminent
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WASHINGTON - Dec. 3, 2019 - PRLog -- Tomorrow Congress will hear from legal scholars explaining the grounds for impeachment, and it should move ahead on those grounds even if an election is imminent, since the grounds for impeaching a president are very different from the factors voters are likely to consider in deciding whether to re-elect him, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

The professors are likely to agree on the basic grounds, but it is hoped that none will suggest that Congress should not fulfill its constitutional duty simply because an election, which could likewise remove Trump from office, is now about a year away.

As Alexander Hamilton wrote, impeachment is reserved for  "those offenses which proceed . . . from the abuse or violation of some public trust," and thus need not violate applicable criminal statutes or constitute common law crimes; e.g., bribery, extortion, and/or obstruction of justice.

Indeed, the Congressional Research Service has identified three general types of conduct that constitute grounds for impeachment: "(1) improperly exceeding or abusing the powers of the office; (2) behavior incompatible with the function and purpose of the office; and (3) misusing the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain."

Under our system of separation of powers and checks and balances, it is Congress' duty to take appropriate action when, for example, a president exceeds the powers of his office, and/or otherwise abuses it, especially for an improper purpose or for personal gain.

This is especially true if a president's actions deliberately intrude upon or adversely affect Congress and its ability to perform its constitutional functions; including, for example, conducting investigations.

In other words, as part of the checks and balances, Congress can and should take appropriate action when its own powers are intruded upon.

But such matters are quite properly of much less concern to members of the general public who are likely and expected to vote for the candidate they believe will most probably reflect their views on a variety of issues, and take actions which favor their own interests, rather than whether he grossly abused his office and/or impermissibly intruded upon Congress.

Indeed, since history suggests that people are likely to vote for someone they believe can remedy the problems, even if he violates the law in doing so, the imminence of an election in which citizens are likely to vote for or against Trump based upon what he is likely to do for them is no substitute for a determination by Congress as to whether he should be moved from his office for abusing it, argues Prof. Banzhaf.  @profbanzhaf

Location:Washington - District of Columbia - United States
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