In January 1642, King Charles I was harassed by abuses in the English Parliament, who would not accept for his high-handed rule. He accused five members of the House of Commons of treason and then marched in Parliament with armed guards, seeking to abolish them. Not only that, the Commons refused to surrender to the offending MPs; It passed a resolution authorizing armed resistance to any royal officer in an attempt to arrest a member.
At least Charles dared to go to Parliament personally.
Public outrage against Charles’s actions was so great that he was driven out of London by angry citizens. Later that same year, the English Civil War began, and the next time Charles saw London, he was a prisoner who had to face the gallows.
At least Charles dared to go to Parliament personally.
After being sent by President Donald Trump to incite a seditious mob and sent to Congress last week, he went back to the White House. As the rioters threatened members of Congress who refused to help in the presidential election, the president watched the spectacle on television.
On Wednesday, many of the same members of Congress voted to give Trump a historic (somewhat) bipartisan vote, alleging he incited the rebellion. Now the writ of impeachment goes to the Senate for a trial, in which the convict is removed from office and possible disqualification from future federal office. Opponents of impeachment have suggested that Trump’s actions, due to deterioration, are not bad enough to rise to the level of impeachment or that Congress should wait next week and resolve the problem with the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden Should give. Both arguments are dangerously misleading, and both understand the important role of impeachment in protecting our constitutional order.
For the American founders, the story of Charles I was a paradigm case of why the president had to be removable from office through impeachment. At the Constitutional Convention, Ben Franklin noted that “history presents only one example that is formally done by the first magistrate for public justice. Each body cried.” [against] This is unconstitutional. “Charles had not violated any law, so his trial and execution – though warranted by principles of political justice – were open to criticism, even irregularly. Critically, Franklin thought,” In the Constitution for regular punishment To provide. Executive when they should be misconducted. “
For the American founders, the story of Charles I was a paradigm case of why the president had to be removable from office through impeachment.
The complaints against Charles were, at their core, about an executive attempting to exclude his claim-making institutions to incite his office and share in constitutional rule. Therefore, even after the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and the resignation of President Richard Nixon, they were grievances, as he had almost impeached and pleaded guilty in 1974. Trump’s entire presidency has been an exercise to specifically sideline other institutions. The Congress, where it has been denied participation in its bulk inspection, has made a radical departure from the previous administration.
But killing an armed mob in an angry frenzy and then telling them to go to the Capitol is a number of giant steps. And on Wednesday, the House of Representatives recognized this fact, making Trump the first US federal officeholder to get impeachment twice. The Senate should do the same by blaming Trump, removing him from office immediately and disqualifying him from holding federal office in the future.
Many Republicans have argued, in the words of California’s House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, that Trump getting so close to Biden’s inauguration “will only divide our country more.” Some commentators have argued that Trump’s speech does not rise to the level of criminal liability and that First Amendment forbids his impeachment or that “snap impeachment” is constitutionally unfair.
These arguments completely misunderstand the role of impeachment in our constitutional order. The purpose of presidential impeachment was not an extension of criminal law. Instead, in Franklin’s words, there was an intention to remove a chairman from the post, who Charles himself called “unpleasant.” And of course some such incidents are so obvious that they render lengthy proceedings unnecessary – sometimes “snap” decisions are just easy calls. Like Charles’s actions, the division here is done by the executive itself, not by those willing to protect the constitutional system.
Yes, Trump has less than a week left on his presidency. But a president can do a lot of mischief in an hour, let alone a week. Perhaps more important, if the Senate votes to convict, it may disqualify him from “any office of honor, trust or benefit under the United States”. Congress can simultaneously block the possibility of a 2024 withdrawal and also talk about its eligibility for public “honor” or “trust”. It is well worth doing, even if it is only once Biden has taken over.
Ultimately, Congress should remove and disqualify Trump from office, not just because he is disqualified, and not simply because his continuation in office represents a threat to the Republic. It should do so because it has tried to use force to overthrow the constitutional system, and the Congress must stand up, not only for itself, but for the entire system of our government. Trump lowered the bar in many different ways during his presidency. Senate legislation can begin to reduce that damage by repealing the last act of sedition of the presidency.