Alexander Hamilton’s worst nightmare
On Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., took over as ringmaster for the ongoing impeachment show. He’s billing his opening act as an inquiry into the “historical and constitutional basis of impeachment” and “the framers’ intent.” Nadler claims he’ll be looking into what the Constitution’s authors meant by “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Don’t be fooled by Nadler’s scholarly posturing. He isn’t planning a civics lesson. Democrats are hell-bent on impeaching Trump, so Nadler has to rewrite American history and massage the meaning of the Constitution’s Impeachment Clause to fit the pile of nonevidence Adam Schiff’s Intelligence Committee has produced.
Count on Nadler to come loaded with a bag of legal tricks.
Trick No. 1 is the bait and switch. Dems have already laid the bait. They swear they’re reluctant to drag the nation into impeachment, but their duty to defend the rule of law requires it. “Our job is to follow the facts” and “apply the law,” says committee member Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. “No one is above the law,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists.
Now get ready for the switch: At the hearing, Democrats and their handpicked legal experts will argue that a president can be impeached without breaking a law. Suddenly, impeachment isn’t about upholding the rule of law. The grounds are broader — wide enough to drive a truck through.
Why the switch? Because Dems don’t have the goods to show Trump’s committed a crime, even after three years of the Mueller investigation, followed by Schiff’s televised spectacle.
Expect more deceptive claims from Nadler, including these:
No. 2: The framers wanted impeachment to apply broadly.
Sorry, but the record is airtight on this one. At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, the framers considered grounds for impeachment. On Sept. 8, George Mason suggested that bribery and treason were too narrow, and proposed adding “maladministration.” But James Madison objected, explaining that “so vague a term will be equivalent to” saying the president serves at the pleasure of the Congress. The framers did not want to duplicate the British system, which made the executive dependent on Parliament. Mason’s idea was dropped, and the framers instead agreed to the more specific term, “high crimes and misdemeanors,” where “high” meant offenses committed while in high office, such as embezzling public funds.
The framers couldn’t specify federal law violations, because there were no federal laws yet. But today, it’s hard for any citizen to steer clear of the tangled web of federal laws. Still, the impeachers can’t find a law Trump’s broken.
No. 3: Impeachment is political.
That’s what the Democrats want you to accept, but the framers envisioned the Senate trial as a legal proceeding, with Senators under oath to be impartial.
Even so, Alexander Hamilton warned in Federalist 65 that impeachment could someday hinge more on “the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of guilt or innocence.” What’s happening now is Hamilton’s worst nightmare.
No. 4: Congress has a duty to impeach.
The opposite is true. The framers gave Congress discretion to do what is best for the nation. Removing corrupt federal judges comes close to an obligation; otherwise, they’d serve for life. But voters will have an opportunity to remove Trump in less than a year. Congress has more pressing duties such as passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade treaty, on which 176,000 jobs, $68 billion in GDP and the livelihoods of the nation’s dairy farmers hinge.
No. 5: Trust left-wing law professors to decide what’s impeachable.
That’s dangerous. The liberal legal intelligentsia spin impeachment to serve their politics. Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman, one of four academics Nadler is calling to testify, has been gunning for Trump since Day One, just like many House Dems. In an April 2017 interview, Feldman already urged impeachment. The grounds? Trump’s criticisms of the press.
Feldman claims, “The real purpose of impeachment at the deepest level is for Congress to express its beliefs about what the right way to be president is.”
Madison would have been appalled, and Americans today need to beware.
Betsy McCaughey is a Creators Syndicate columnist.