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Guest Commentary on Impeachment in the Cheney Free Press Gets Me Riled Up

Posted on the 25 October 2019 by Rvbadalam @Nimasema

Guest Commentary on Impeachment in the Cheney Free Press Gets Me Riled Up

It was a "perfect call"

A recent opinion piece by Frank Watson in the Cheney Free Press got my ire up enough to compel me to respond. Watson and I have several things in common: we're both retired Air Force officers, we've both taught, we like to write, and we're both older than dirt. When it comes to our political views, the similarities end there.

Watson is firmly ensconced on the far right of the political spectrum. I lean liberal. Watson's recent offerings in the Cheney Free Press included pieces titled:

  • "Socialism is a one-way trip to disaster"
  • "Minimum wage creates more disincentives than reward"
  • "Once useful to workers, unions have run their course"
  • "When all else fails, it's time to impeach the president"
You get Frank's drift, or should I say, yaw, since he's a pilot. All these offerings by Frank are biased and full of logic flaws. But the opinion piece that really got me riled up was the last one, on impeachment.

Frank followed up a May 2018 commentary charging that the Mueller Investigation was a waste of money, with an October 2019 piece claiming that the impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump has no Constitutional basis — “there’s no impeachable offense.” Even if there is, he writes that if the House does go so far as to impeach Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate will surely not vote to impeach him. Because the Senate won’t impeach (according to Watson), it’s all a political stunt. I know what you're going to say, 'What about the fifty or sixty times the Republican-controlled House voted to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, aka, “Obamacare” while Obama was still President? Wasn't that political theater?' Yeah it was, but Republicans are hypocrisy-challenged.

In what Watson must think is his most telling argument against impeachment he writes that if Democrats attempt an impeachment of Trump, Republicans may come back with an impeachment of Dianne Feinstein or even Nancy Pelosi. Never mind the fact that members of Congress are not impeachable. This childish “goes around comes around warning” is a pathetic argument against Congress fulfilling its constitutional and legitimate oversight obligation.

Let’s be clear, the fact that Donald Trump is a compulsive liar is not sufficient grounds on which to impeach him. The fact that he abused his office as President to extort a foreign power — the Ukraine — to manufacture dirt on a political opponent most certainly is.
As John McCallum, the Managing Editor of the Cheney Free Press writes in his article in the same edition of the paper, “Impeachment is not a criminal proceeding, but rather one dealing with violation of the public trust. We trust our leaders to … not abuse the power of their office to benefit themselves.”

Furthermore, the Trump Administration’s strategy of obstructing Congress’s constitutional oversight responsibility, on top of President Trump’s clear obstruction of the Mueller Investigation, is a violation of 2 U.S. Code § 192, “Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers.” It also flies in the face of the Constitution, and goes against established precedent. Not that Trump has ever concerned himself with either.

A 1982 executive branch memorandum, which remains in force, explicitly states that it is executive branch policy “to comply with congressional requests for information to the fullest extent consistent with the constitutional and statutory obligations of the Executive Branch.” This memorandum is known as the Reagan Memorandum.

The Trump Administration's efforts to obstruct Congressional oversight has been termed "unprecedented," by a former House General Counsel. Trump has made his feelings about the House's impeachment inquiry very plain, calling it a "kangaroo court." He vows to prohibit testimony by government officials and to withhold documents subpoenaed by Congress. This in itself is impeachable.

In its 1974 Judiciary report a House of Representatives Committee identified three types of general impeachable conduct: (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. Trump's attempt to extort the newly elected President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, a political opponent, and telling him that U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Rudy Giuliani (Trump's personal attorney) would be contacting him about the matter, qualifies in all three areas.

Another example of misusing the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain is Trump's continuing violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. He demonstrated his disdain for the Constitution when he directed that his own Doral Golf Resort be used as the site for the 2020 G-7 Summit. A bipartisan backlash ultimately dissuaded him from this, after which he called the Emoluments Clause, "phony." 

And then there's what we learned from the Mueller Report.
All told, an embarrassment of riches.
But Watson thinks it's all a political trick designed to help Democrats win the 2020 Election. There's actually a pretty good argument that the impeachment inquiry could hurt Democrats leading up to 2020. Some Democratic Congressional Members in swing states still feel that way. But as it turns out, Democrats have more respect for the rule of law, and the Constitution, than do Republicans. And certainly more than Frank Watson.

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