US House of Representatives
With the registration of the 217th vote, the House of Representatives indicted President Donald Trump for the second time. As I stated earlier, my primary objection to this measure is the use of rash impeachment, which does away with the traditional impeachment hearing or investigation. There was no opportunity to discuss the language or the implications of the language. Indeed, the House gave the President a threshold challenge based on that process. With the addition of a possible trial after Trump resigns, the rush for judgment could turn into a parade of constitutional horrors. The use of impeachment to “remove” a president who has already resigned is ripe for contest in the Senate and even later in federal courts.
On this matter, I do not blame those who consider the President’s words to be incontestable. I condemned both his words and his failure to immediately and clearly denounce the violence. However, the language of the article is broad and raises serious concerns about this standard for future presidents. There is concern that presidents will be removed for inconsiderate rhetoric leading to supporter violence. While I do not consider the President’s words to be criminal incitement, I have considered them offensive, inconsiderate and wrong.
Because of this, I am more concerned with using a quick impeachment process. I hope that no president will ever engage in such inflammatory acts or words again. However, a majority of the house could use this as a precedent for further circumventing the traditional procedure in favor of early impeachment. This is the snap chat for conversations. It reduces impeachment to a crude, short, and partisan phrase.
Make no mistake though: this ignoble moment was earned by the president. While I have warned of the consequences of indicting a president for being disgusting or narcissistic, this was obviously more than any of those character flaws. This was breathtakingly irresponsible behavior that has now resulted in a historical and ignoble distinction.
The question, however, is how expensive it will be for the Constitution. That is why I passed a vote of no confidence in favor of condemnation by the House and both parties. I criticized this speech as it was delivered and opposed the challenge of the election from the start. However, I remain deeply concerned about the implications of the process and the language behind this impeachment. Had the Democrats allowed only one day of hearings to address such concerns, the language of the article might have been worded to gain greater support.
In my view, the Senate should refuse impeachment if impeachment of a former president is unjustified and likely to be unconstitutional. This is completely independent of the use of a quick impeachment process and the specific language used by the house.