(Featured Image: Senate – Johnson Impeachment Trials)
Impeachment, Words Have Meanings
Contributed to TLB by: KrisAnne Hall, JD
Impeachment… modern politicians like to throw this term around as both a threat and an indication to the public of their political wisdom and prowess. Some argue that politicians are ignorant of the Constitution and the provisions within and that is why they flippantly refer to the Constitution without regard to real future action or meaning. I disagree. I am convinced, that these crafty politicians are not ignorant, but to the contrary are very skilled in the meanings and applications of our Constitution. It is not their lack of knowledge that bring about inaction, but it is that they are very aware of the ignorance of the American people to the Constitution and its proper application therefore they can use these terms with empty meaning and fruitless intent. They are highly accomplished in the arts of deception and public manipulations. The only cure to this deceit is the light of knowledge.
Impeachment is a provision within the Constitution the drafters, and those who ratified the Constitution, gave us as means to not only dismiss those from office who have violated their solemn trust, but to also ensure those impeached could never hold office again and therefore hold the opportunity to violate that trust again. Impeachment is found in several sections of the Constitution; Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5; Article 1, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7; Article 2, Section 4; Article 3, Section 1- each section adding to the other the proper meaning, purpose and application of the power of impeachment.
Article 1, section 2, clause 5 makes it clear that impeachment rests in the House of Representatives. It is a clear obligation placed upon the house to maintain not only the integrity of the government, the separation of powers, but also the confidence of the people in their government.
George Mason remarked: “No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued. Shall any man be above Justice?”
Congressional responsibility to the people of this country is great. Article 2, section 4 of the Constitution leaves no choice for the House in this matter once Congress makes a finding of guilt.
Art 2 Section 4:
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
ALL CIVIL OFFICERS is a catch all that included everyone who currently works for the federal government as an elected or appointed officer or has worked for the federal government in that past. Some may argue that once a person leaves federal employment, the option for impeachment is no longer viable. However, the precedent of impeachment tells us otherwise and a view of history can help us understand why.
William Belknap served as Secretary of War under Ulysses S Grant from October 25, 1869 – March 2, 1876. While Secretary of War, Belknap’s extravagant life style came into question. You see, Belknap only made $8k a year but was known for his extravagant lifestyle and expensive parties. Congress launched an investigation into his finances and found corruption that extended back to 1870.
According to Senate records, in 1870, “Belknap’s luxury-loving first wife assisted a wheeler-dealer named Caleb Marsh by getting her husband to select one of Marsh’s associates to operate the lucrative military trading post at Fort Sill in Indian territory. Marsh’s promise of generous kick-backs prompted Secretary Belknap to make the appointment. Over the next five years, the associate funneled thousands of dollars to Marsh, who provided Belknap regular quarterly payments totaling over $20,000.”
Some of the accusations against Belknap included, indirectly selling weapons to France and for accepting illicit kickbacks in exchange for making political appointments. Gun running, kickbacks, political deals for financial gain…isn’t that exactly what evidence strongly suggests Hillary Clinton is or was involved in?
According to Senate records, “On March 2, 1876, just minutes before the House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on articles of impeachment, Belknap raced to the White House, handed Grant his resignation, and burst into tears.”
Belknap’s resignation did not stop his impeachment. “Later that day, members voted unanimously to send the Senate five articles of impeachment.” What was Congress’ chief accusation against Belknap: “criminally disregarding his duty as Secretary of War and basely prostituting his high office to his lust for private gain.”
The character of Belknap can be seen in numerous modern politicians. Yet what does Congress do today? NOTHING, but excuses. I missed the Constitutional Amendment that changed the Congressional power exercised in 1876 into the powerless and excuse ridden Congress of today. The power of impeachment is not simply a responsibility of Congress. James Madison, Father of the Constitution and 4th President, explains that although it is Congress who impeaches, if that civil officer first falls under the authority of the President, the president has a responsibility to first remove that person from their position or else suffer, himself, the consequences of impeachment for failure to check his employees!
“It is very possible that an officer, who may not incur the displeasure of the President, may be guilty of actions that ought to forfeit his place. The power of this may reach him by the means of impeachment, he may be removed even against the will of the President…[the president will be] in a peculiar manner, responsible for their conduct, and subject him to impeachment himself, if he suffers them to perpetrate with impunity high crimes or misdemeanors against the United States, or neglects to superintend their conduct, so as to check their excuses.” (The Writings of James Madison: 1787-1790, James Madison, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904)
Madison was telling America, you must have a responsible and moral executive to lead the 2nd branch of government and this president must understand that the “buck stops” with him, or the indictment reaches into the office of the president as well. Simply put, “Silence in the face of corruption is corruption itself.”
Congressional hearings USED to actually have consequences. Congress USED to exercise real power. Congressmen USED to know their duty to the Constitution, their obligation to preserve Liberty, and their obligation to control the executive branch. Nothing about the Constitution or the power of Congress has changed since 1876, so what has changed? What has changed is the knowledge and courage of Congressmen!
Since it is clear, by those who ratified the Constitution, that the President of the United States has direct power over his agents, is directly accountable for their actions, and can be impeached, himself, for failing to govern proper Constitutional control over his agents, shouldn’t Congress also be held accountable for their failure to govern proper Constitutional control over the executive branch? Isn’t it time We The People start requiring real Constitutional proficiency, instead of simply accepting the flowery speeches and rhetoric as chief political qualification? With this knowledge in hand, while civil officers in Congress are throwing around the threat of impeachments, there is no excuse as to why James Comey, Eric Holder, Lois Learner, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and yes several Supreme Court justices ought not be impeached even today.
We do not need a new Constitution, a new amendment, or a new interpretation of the existing Constitution. We need an American people who possess a working knowledge of the Constitution and a active integrity fueled by a moral courage to require those elected, who took an oath to “protect and defend” the Construction, and are entrusted with that solemn responsibility to simply do their jobs. However, until the people expect and demand adherence to the Constitutional standard, the spoiled adolescents we call representatives will continue to do their own will, to their own benefit, to our own destruction. If this statement leaves you befuddled or frustrated, it is only because you have been denied the truth available through proper education on how to control your federal government. The truth is out there, but its not in the hands or the heads of those we need to control. There is a highly effective and may I explain, peaceful way, to control your governments. If you are interested may I humbly suggest a book titled, Sovereign Duty… available in many online bookstores. The final outcome is truly up to us.
“No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.” Samuel Adams
About the Author: KrisAnne Hall is an attorney and also a former prosecutor, fired after teaching the Constitution to TEA Party groups – she would not sacrifice liberty for a paycheck. She is a disabled veteran of the US Army, a Russian linguist, a mother, a pastor’s wife and a patriot. She now travels the country and teaches the Constitution and the history that gave us our founding documents. KrisAnne Hall does not just teach the Constitution, she lays the foundations that show how reliable and relevant our founding documents are today. She presents the “genealogy” of the Constitution – the 700 year history and five foundational documents that are the very roots of American Liberty.
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