Grounds for Impeachment

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David Swanson points out an irony on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration: possibly real grounds for impeachment on Day 1 are being given a backseat to the groundless hysteria about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s alleged interference with the presidential election.

Swanson writes:

“To many Democrats for whom killing a million people in Iraq just didn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense, and who considered Obama’s bombing of eight nations and the creation of the drone murder program to be praiseworthy, Trump will be impeachable on Day 1.

“Indeed Trump should be impeached on Day 1, but the same Democrats who found the one nominee who could lose to Trump will find the one argument for impeachment that can explode in their own faces.”

He means, quoting progressive Robert Kuttner, Trump’s “dalliance with Vladimir Putin,” which Kuttner says is “skirting treason.” Apparently Trump’s anticipated abstention from punishing Russia would constitute treason. However, Swanson notes:

“Failure to sufficiently punish a foreign government, even for an actual proven offense, has never been a high crime and misdemeanor. The United States is in fact bound by the Hague Convention of 1899, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and the United Nations Charter to take any such dispute to arbitration and to settle it by pacific means. But that would require producing some evidence rather than mere allegations. Lawless ‘punishment’ is much easier.”

Indeed it is. Watching members of Congress talk about Putin’s alleged interference with American democracy, one can’t help but suspect that they don’t actually believe what they say. Anti-Putinism is just a convenient and effortless way to strike out at Trump for winning the election and to hamper him once he’s in office. Of course the potential costs are high, considering that Russia is also a nuclear power.

Swanson thinks there will be grounds for impeachment: “we have a man planning to be president later this month whose business dealings clearly violate the U.S. Constitution in terms of not only foreign but also domestic corruption. That’s a perfectly overwhelming case for impeachment and removal from office….” (The Constitution has both foreign and domestic emoluments clauses.)

But the Democrats would rather talk about Trump’s purported complacence about Putin. Too bad, Swanson writes, they won’t focus on real offenses.

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Sheldon Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute, senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at He is the former senior editor at the Cato Institute and Institute for Humane Studies, former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education, and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation. His latest book is America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited.