We should remember that impeachment is not exclusive to the president. Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution reads, “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.”
Since the nation’s founding, there have been 19 impeachments of civil officers. Of these, 15 were federal judges (13 district court judges, one appellate court judge and one Supreme Court associate justice.)
Of the others, two were presidents, one was a cabinet secretary, and one was a U.S. senator.
Of these, 11 were acquitted by the Senate, and eight were convicted.
The president, then, is only one of literally hundreds, if not thousands, of civil officers subject to impeachment. Their inclusion is because the founders were concerned about corruption, abuse of power and interference from foreign governments — no “rights of kings.”
Of course, there have been many civil officers charged with crimes but not impeached. Since 1797, there have been 80 members of Congress indicted and convicted.
The Department of Justice has opined that a sitting president can’t be indicted.
However, on Oct. 7, Judge Victor Marrero of the Federal District Court in Manhattan wrote, “This court finds aspects of such a doctrine repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.”
We’ll see how that finding holds up when it gets to the Supreme Court and whether this president or any president is, by virtue of their office, above the law.
Herb Van Fleet, Tulsa
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