When one member of the House of Representatives tried to impeach Thomas Jefferson

I’ll bet you didn’t know that in 1809 Josiah Quincy (MA), the only Federalist in Congress, tried to impeach Thomas Jefferson. His attempt failed by a vote of 117 to 1.

Andrew Fagal, associate editor of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson at Princeton, tells us more in his recent piece at The Washington Post. Here is a taste:

On Jan. 25, 1809, Quincy rose to denounce the president as he had done numerous times in the past. This time was different, as Quincy alleged that Jefferson had failed to carry out his duties as chief executive. The president’s “high misdemeanor,” according to Quincy, was that he kept Benjamin Lincoln, the customs collector for the port of Boston, in federal office despite the man’s protestations that he was too old, and too feeble, to do his job. In 1806 Lincoln had written to Jefferson proposing to resign his office, but Jefferson asked him to stay on until he had appointed a successor. The president did so to nominate Henry Dearborn, his friend and the secretary of war, to this important position before his eventual retirement to Monticello. Jefferson wanted to reward his longtime ally with the Boston collectorship, but first, he needed to keep the long-serving Dearborn in the War Department until the foreign crisis with Great Britain over trade restrictions and the impressment of American sailors was resolved.

Quincy saw it differently, alleging that Jefferson unfairly allowed a federal official to be paid a $5,000 annual salary “for doing no services.”

Quincy’s motion received intense pushback in the floor debate that followed, as both Democratic-Republicans and Federalists objected to it. Seventeen Congressmen in total spoke against even considering the resolution, a high number for any House debate at the time. Thomas Gholson, an administration ally from Virginia labeled Quincy’s impeachment attempt as a “ridiculous proposition” while William A. Burwell, Jefferson’s former private secretary now a Virginia Congressman, referred to the ploy as something out of “Gulliver’s Travels.”

Read the entire piece here.

Get up to speed on impeachment. What happens next?

CNN’s Zachary Wolf offers a very helpful summary here. The piece explains why the Senate might hold an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office. Here is a taste:

What’s the point of holding an impeachment trial for a former President? There is precedent for impeaching former officials. Read about that — it’s called a “late impeachment” — here. While the main penalty for a guilty verdict in an impeachment trial is removal from office, senators could vote to bar Trump from holding office in the future — remember, he has not ruled out running for president in 2024. He could also lose his six-figure pension and other post-presidential perks.

Read the entire piece here.

Here is the article of impeachment against Donald Trump

There is a very good chance that Donald Trump will be the second president in United States history to be impeached by the House of Representatives. Read the article of impeachment here. And here:

Resolved, That Donald John Trump, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors and that the following article of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate:

Article of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States of America in the name of itself and of the people of the United States of America, against Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, in maintenance and support of its impeachment against him for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Article I: INCITEMENT OF INSURRECTION

The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and that the President “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and that the President “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Further, section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits any person who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States from hold[ing] any office…under the United States.” In his conduct while President of the United States–and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed–Donald John Trump engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States in that:

On January 6, 2021, pursuant to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, the House of Representatives, and the Senate met at the United States Capitol for a Joint Session of Congress to count the votes of the Electoral College. In the months preceding the Joint Session, President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials. Shortly before the Joint Session commenced; President Trump, addressed a crowd at the Ellipse in Washington D.C. There, he reiterated false claims that “we won the election, and we won it by a landslide”. He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged–and foreseeably resulted in–lawless action at the Capitol, such as: “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.

President Trump’s conduct on January 6, 2021, following his prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 Presidential election. Those prior efforts included a phone call on January 2, 2021, during which President Trump urged the secretary of state of Georgia, Brad Raffensberger, to “find” enough votes to overturn the Georgia Presidential election results and threatened Secretary Raffensberger if he failed to do so.

In all this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institution of Government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government. He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, Donald John Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. Donald John Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

Today Congress called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. The House will vote on this call tomorrow. If Pence does not invoke the 25th, the House will move toward impeachment based on this article.

What is the difference between invoking the 25th Amendment and impeachment? Watch presidential historian Jeff Engel explain here.

About 60 the 138 House members who objected to the Electoral College count were evangelical Christians

My very conservative estimate is that sixty evangelical Christians who are members of the House of Representatives objected. I think the number is probably higher, but I can’t be sure until we take a deeper dive into the bios of these representatives. Whatever the case, I hope the list below will give you all something to talk about. If you have any additional information please send it along on my Facebook page or Twitter feed. You can also shoot me an e-mail.

And don’t forget to take the survey!

It looks like thirty Catholics also objected.

Here are the religious affiliations of all 138 members of the House who objected to the Electoral College count in Pennsylvania, Arizona, or both. Click here for the Senate.

Robert Aderholt (AL), while a member of the evangelical organization “The Family,” traveled to Romania to meet with a Holocaust denier. He has also fought to display the 10 Commandments in public schools and other public buildings.

Rick Allen (GA) once read a Bible verse to the House Republican Conference calling for the death of homosexuals. He attends evangelically-oriented Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church in Augusta.

Jodey Arrington (TX), like Josh Hawley and Mike Pompeo, is an Evangelical Presbyterian.

Brian Babin (TX) appeared on the radio show of court evangelical Tony Perkins three days after the 2020 presidential election. Babin is an active member of First Baptist Church (Southern Baptist) of Woodville, TX.

Jim Baird (IN) is a United Methodist who believes America was founded on Judeo-Christian values. His church, Gobin United Methodist in Greencastle, does not look particularly evangelical in orientation.

Jim Banks (IN) has an online MBA from evangelical Grace College in Winona Lake. He identifies as an “Evangelical Christian.”

Cliff Bentz (OR) is Catholic.

Jack Bergman (MI) is Lutheran. This is not a historically evangelical denomination.

Stephanie Bice (OK) is Catholic.

Andy Biggs (AZ) is a Mormon.

Dan Bishop (NC) attends Providence United Methodist Church and sings in the choir. It is unclear if this is an evangelically-oriented United Methodist congregation. He defines himself as a “Christian conservative.”

Lauren Boebert (CO) wrote in clear evangelical language when she recently tweeted, “I’m a Christian. So they may try to drive me to my knees, but that’s where I’m the strongest.” She became a born-again Christian in 2009.

Mike Bost (IL) organized a prayer movement for Donald Trump, which was reported on by the Christian Broadcasting Network. He may have caught COVID-19 at an event sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Mo Brooks (AL) left the Mormonism of his wife and now identifies as a “non-denominational Christian.” “Non-denominational” is code for evangelical.

Ted Budd (NC) is an evangelical Christian and a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary.

Tim Burchett (TN) is an evangelical Christian and a member of the Presbyterian Church in America

Michael Burgess (TX) is a Reformed Episcopalian. This is an evangelical, or at least orthodox, denomination.

Ken Calvert (CA) does not seem to make his faith a dominant part of his political identity.

Kat Cammack (FL) started a Faith & Pro-Life Coalition. I can’t find much on her specific religious identity.

Jerry Carl (AL) is an evangelical Christian. He helped found Luke 4:18 Fellowship, a Southern Baptist Church in Mobile.

Buddy Carter (GA) attends Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah. It is hard to tell from the church website if this is evangelical-oriented congregation.

John Carter (TX) attends Central Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist Church in Round Rock, TX.

Madison Cawthorn (NC) is a devout evangelical who attends Biltmore Church in Hendersonville.

Steve Chabot (OH) is Catholic

Ben Cline (VA) is Catholic

Michael Cloud (TX) is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. Before he entered Congress he was the communications director at Faith Family Church, an evangelical megachurch in Victoria.

Andrew Clyde (GA) is a member of Prince Avenue Baptist Church, an evangelical megachurch in Bogart.

Tom Cole (OK) has a Ph.D in British history from the University of Oklahoma,. He attends a United Methodist Church. Perhaps it is Moore United Methodist Church. He has taught history at Oklahoma Baptist University, an evangelical Southern Baptist university.

Rick Crawford (AR) is a Southern Baptist and attends Nettleton Baptist Church in Jonesboro.

Warren Davidson (OH) is an evangelical Christian who has the support of court evangelical Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council. He has been a leader in the evangelical youth organization Young Life and attends Grace Baptist Church in Troy, OH.

Scott DesJarlais (TN) attends Epiphany Mission, an Episcopal Church in Sherwood. He does not seem to identify as an evangelical Christian. He also has an embarrassing past

Mario Diaz-Balart (FL) is Catholic.

Byron Donalds (FL) is an evangelical Christian who converted in the parking lot of a Tallahassee Cracker Barrel. He was a youth leader at Living Word Family Church in Naples.

Jeff Duncan (SC) is a Southern Baptist who attends First Baptist Church in Clinton. He believes in intelligent design.

Neal Dunn (FL) is Catholic.

Ron Estes (KS) is Lutheran

Pat Fallon (TX) is Catholic

Michelle Fischbach (MN) is Catholic

Scott Fitzgerald (WI) is Catholic

Chuck Fleischmann (TN) is Catholic

Virginia Foxx (NC) is a Southern Baptist who attends First Baptist Church of Blowing Rock.

Scott Franklin (FL) attends First Presbyterian in Lakeland. The church is PC-USA, but it seems pretty evangelical. Staff members have degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Asbury Theological Seminary.

Russ Fulcher (ID) is an evangelical Christian.

Matt Gaetz (FL) is a member of First Baptist Church in Fort Walton Beach. He says he was “saved in a Baptist church.

Mike Garcia (CA) calls himself a “Christian who believes in God and Jesus as our savior” but he does not seem to make his Christian faith a central part of his politics.

Bob Gibbs (OH) is a member of Nasvhille United Methodist Church. He holds conservative positions on most social issues, but it is unclear if his church is evangelical-oriented.

Carlos Gimenez (FL) is Catholic.

Louie Gohmert (TX) is a Southern Baptists Sunday School teacher and conservative evangelical.

Bob Good (VA) is an evangelical Christian who describes himself as a “biblical conservative.”

Lance Gooden (TX) is a member of the Church of Christ, a conservative Protestant denomination that is not usually associated with evangelicalism, but shares similar convictions on social issues.

Paul Gosar (AZ) is Catholic.

Garret Graves (LA) is Catholic.

Sam Graves (MO) is a Southern Baptist.

Mark Green (TN) is a Southern Baptist evangelical. He is a creationist.

Marjorie Greene (GA) is a conspiracy theorist who has a “strong Christian faith.” It is not clear if she identifies as an evangelical.

Morgan Griffith (VA) is Episcopalian.

Michael Guest (MS) is a Southern Baptist who attends Brandon Baptist Church where he teaches Sunday School and serves as a deacon.

Jim Hagedorn (MN) is a Missouri-Synod Lutheran.

Andy Harris (MD) is Catholic.

Diana Harshbarger (TN) is a Southern Baptist. She teaches Sunday School at Higher Ground Baptist Church in Kingsport.

Vicky Hartzler (MO) is a self-identified evangelical Christian.

Kevin Hern (OK) is an evangelical Christian who attends the Church at Battle Creek, a non-denominational megachurch.

Yvette Herrell (NM) attends Christ Community Church, an evangelical congregation in Alamogordo.

Jody Hice (GA) is a Southern Baptist and a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a strong Trump evangelical.

Clay Higgins (LA) holds to most Christian conservative social issues, but his religious identity is unclear apart from his self-designation as a Christian.

Richard Hudson (NC) identifies as a Christian and has been endorsed by the Family Research Council.

Darrell Issa (CA) is Eastern Orthodox.

Ronny Jackson (TX) was endorsed by court evangelical Robert Jeffress. He is a member of the Church of Christ.

Chris Jacobs (NY) is Catholic.

Mike Johnson (LA) is a Southern Baptist who attends First Baptist Church of Bossier City.

Bill Johnson (OH) sounds like an evangelical. He identifies as a Christian, a conservative, and a family man.

Jim Jordan (OH) does not seem to identify as an evangelical, but evangelicals love him.

John Joyce (PA) identifies as a Christian, but does not seem to make his faith an important part of his political identity.

Fred Keller (PA) is a member of the Reformed Church of America, a denomination that contains evangelicals but is not normally associated with evangelicalism. He attends First Reformed Church in Sunbury.

Trent Kelly (MS) is a member of Saltillo First United Methodist Church. It is unclear if this church is evangelical-oriented.

Mike Kelly (PA) is Catholic.

David Kustoff (TN) is Jewish.

Doug LaMalfa (CA) identifies as a Christian, but faith does not seem to be a central part of his political identity.

Doug Lamborn (CO) identifies as an evangelical Christian.

Jacob LaTurner (KS) is a Catholic.

Debbie Lesko (AZ) attends a Baptist church

Billy Long (MO) attends First & Calvary Presbyterian Church in Springfield. It is a member of ECO, A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.

Barry Loudermilk (GA) is a Southern Baptist who has been endorsed by Christian nationalist David Barton. He was part of an evangelical barnstorming tour leading-up to the 2020 Georgia Senate run-off.

Frank Lucas (OK) is a Southern Baptist who attends the First Baptist Church of Cheyenne.

Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO) is Catholic.

Nicole Malliotakis (NY) is Greek Orthodox

Tracey Mann (KS) identifies as a Pietist who attends First Covenant Church in Salina. The church is a member of the Evangelical Covenant denomination.

Brian Mast (FL) is an evangelical Christian who attended church at Calvary Chapel.

Kevin McCarthy (CA) is a Southern Baptist and evangelical Christian. He attends the Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield.

Lisa McClain (MI) is Catholic.

Daniel Meuser (PA) is Catholic.

Mary Miller (IL) attends Oakland Christian Church, an evangelical congregation in Oakland, IL.

Carol Miller (WV) is a Baptist. She attends the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in Huntington. This church is not association with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Alex Mooney (WV) is Catholic.

Barry Moore (AL) is a Southern Baptist who is a Sunday School teacher and deacon at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Enterprise.

Markwayne Mullin (OK) attends a congregation associated with the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Gregory Murphy (NC) identifies as a “conservative Christian.”

Troy Nehls (TX) is a graduate of Liberty University. He has encouraged Christians to carry firearms to church. He attends Faith United Methodist Church in Richmond, TX. Christianity Today has identified him as an evangelical.

Ralph Norman (SC) attends Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rock Hill. It is a member of the evangelical Presbyterian Church in America.

Devin Nunes (CA) is Catholic.

Jay Obernolte (CA) appears to be a Protestant, but he does not seem to overtly connect his faith to his political identity.

Burgess Owens (UT) is a Mormon

Steven Palazzo (MS) is Catholic.

Gary Palmer (AL) attends Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham. It is a member of the evangelical Presbyterian Church in America. He has a history with evangelical organization Focus on the Family.

Greg Pence (IN) is Catholic.

Scott Perry (PA) identifies as a Christian.

August Pfluger (TX) identifies as a “devoted Christian.”

Bill Posey (FL) is a United Methodist. He attends the Rockledge United Methodist Church. The pastor of the church trained for the ministry at evangelical Asbury Theological Seminary.

Guy Reschenthaler (PA) identifies as a Christian.

Tom Rice (SC) is a member of Trinity Episcopal Church. It is an evangelical Anglican congregation.

Mike Rogers (AL) is a Baptist. He attends the independent Saks Baptist Church in Anniston.

Hal Rogers (KY) is a Southern Baptist who attends the First Baptist Church of Somerset.

John Rose (TN) is a member of Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ, a Churches of Christ congregation.

Matt Rosendale (MT) is Catholic.

David Rouzer (NC) is a Southern Baptist

John Rutherford (FL) is Catholic.

Steve Scalise (LA) is Catholic.

David Schweikert (AZ) is Catholic.

Pete Sessions (TX) is a Methodist. He attends First United Methodist Church in Waco. The pastor of the church is a graduate of the evangelical Asbury Theological Seminary.

Jason Smith (MO) is Pentecostal. He attends Grace Community Church in Salem.

Adrian Smith (NE) is an evangelical Christian. He attends Calvary Memorial Evangelical Free Church in Gering.

Lloyd Smucker (PA) is a Lutheran. He attends Zion Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Leola.

Elise Stefanik (NY) is Catholic.

Greg Steube (FL) is a Methodist.

Chris Stewart (UT) is a Mormon

Glenn Thompson (PA) identifies as a Protestant.

Tom Tiffany (WI) does not seem to publicly identify with a religious denomination.

William Timmons (SC) attends Christ Church in Greenville, a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, a conservative branch of South Carolina episcopalianism.

Jefferson Van Drew (NJ) is a Catholic.

Beth Van Duyne (TX) is an Episcopalian

Tim Walberg (MI) is an evangelical Christian who attended Moody Bible Institute, evangelical Taylor University and Wheaton College. He is an elder at Trenton Hills United Brethren Church in Adrian.

Jackie Walorski (IN) is a Pentecostal who attends SouthGate Church (Assembly of God) in South Bend.

Randy Weber (TX) is a Southern Baptist. He attends First Baptist Church of Pearland.

Daniel Webster (FL) is a Southern Baptist who attends First Baptist Church of Central Florida in Orlando.

Roger Williams (TX) identifies as a Christian.

Joe Wilson (SC) is an Associate Reformed Presbyterian, a theologically conservative Presbyterian denomination. He attends First Presbyterian Church in Columbia.

Rob Wittman (VA) is an Episcopalian.

Ron Wright (TX) is Catholic.

Lee Zeldin (NY) is Jewish.

NOTE: I am counting churches in the Southern Baptist Convention as “evangelical.”

Let’s set the record straight on what Mike Pence can and cannot do at tomorrow’s certification of the Electoral College results

Donald Trump seems to believe that Mike Pence can overturn the votes of the Electoral College tomorrow when Congress certifies the results.

Here is Trump last night in Georgia:

And earlier today:

CNN is reporting that Trump and Pence had an unscheduled lunch today.

Is Trump right?

No.

Let’s start with the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1:

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President…

The Constitution says that the sitting Vice President does have a role in the certification process. His role is to open the results (presumably in envelopes) sent to him by the states. It is purely ceremonial.

Now let’s move on to the pertinent parts of the 12th Amendment.

The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;-The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;-The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President…

The 12th amendment requires electors to cast one electoral vote for president and one electoral vote for vice president. This was necessary after Thomas Jefferson and his VP running mate Aaron Burr both received the same number of electoral votes in the president election of 1800. Learn more about what happened here. Notice that the language related to the Vice President’s role in opening the certified votes does not change with the 12th Amendment. His job is to open envelopes. It is a role that is purely ceremonial.

The final document of note is the Electoral Count Act of 1887. This act was passed ten years after the controversial presidential election of 1876. It clarifies the role of the vice-president in the certification of the Electoral College votes. Here is the pertinent part of the act as codified in 3 U.S. Code 15:

Congress shall be in session on the sixth day of January succeeding every meeting of the electors. The Senate and House of Representatives shall meet in the Hall of the House of Representatives at the hour of 1 o’clock in the afternoon on that day, and the President of the Senate shall be their presiding officer. Two tellers shall be previously appointed on the part of the Senate and two on the part of the House of Representatives, to whom shall be handed, as they are opened by the President of the Senate, all the certificates and papers purporting to be certificates of the electoral votes, which certificates and papers shall be opened, presented, and acted upon in the alphabetical order of the States, beginning with the letter A; and said tellers, having then read the same in the presence and hearing of the two Houses, shall make a list of the votes as they shall appear from the said certificates; and the votes having been ascertained and counted according to the rules in this subchapter provided, the result of the same shall be delivered to the President of the Senate, who shall thereupon announce the state of the vote, which announcement shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons, if any, elected President and Vice President of the United States, and, together with a list of the votes, be entered on the Journals of the two Houses.

Here is Joe Biden doing his ceremonial duty on January 6, 2017:

Here is Al Gore certifying the election of George W. Bush. Very awkward, but necessary:

The rest of the Electoral Count Act explains the entire process of dealing with objections. The Vice President’s only role in dealing with objections (which several members of the House and Senate, including Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz will bring) is to “call” for written objections.

In the end, there is nothing Pence can do to change the election results at tomorrow’s certification ceremony. It may take some time because of the objections, but Congress will certify the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and Biden will be inaugurated on January 20.

ADDENDUM (8:37pm): Apparently Pence is going to do the right thing.

We are back from break. What happened?

Vacation is over. What did I miss? Here is a small taste of what has happened in American politics over the last ten days:

  • A bomb exploded in Nashville on Christmas morning. We are learning more every day about the suicide bomber. Fortunately, no one other than the bomber himself was killed. As far as I know, Trump did not comment publicly on the bombing. He played golf.
  • Trump refused to sign the Consolidated Appropriation Act. It included $900 billion for COVID-19 relief, including a $600 check for Americans making under $75,000 a year. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin negotiated the bill on the president’s behalf while Trump was busy trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Trump’s major problem with the bill was the $600 dollar COVID relief check for individual Americans. Trump wanted to give Americans $2000.
  • Trump eventually signed the Consolidated Appropriation Act on December 27. Because he signed it one week late, many Americans did not receive unemployment compensation during the final week of 2021. Why didn’t Trump sign it? It is hard to tell. But he was probably upset with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell for declaring that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. While Trump held his personal grudge, millions of Americans went without federal help during the Christmas holiday. The president played golf.
  • Meanwhile, Democrats and some Republicans supported Trump’s claim to raise the sum of the relief checks to $2000. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, Georgia GOP Senators fighting for their political lives in tomorrow’s Georgia run-off, supported the president. But McConnell did his best to make sure that the American people would only get $600
  • Just before we went on break, Trump vetoed the Defense Authorization Act. This bill, which is the standard act to fund the military, had bipartisan support. In fact, this bill has passed with bipartisan support since 1961. Trump vetoed the bill because it included provisions for renaming military bases named after Confederate leaders. He also claimed it protected social media companies. On December 28, the House of Representatives overturned Trump’s veto by a vote of veto 322-87. On January 1, 2021, the Senate overturned the veto 81-13. It was the first time in the Trump presidency that Congress overturned one of his vetoes.
  • On the same day the Senate overturned Trump’s veto on the Defense Authorization Act, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley said that he would object to the 2020 Electoral College vote when the Senate meets to certify it on Wednesday. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, upon hearing about Hawley’s stunt, called it a “dangerous ploy” and added: “Let’s be clear here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage.” The next day, GOP senators Marcia Blackburn (TN), Mike Braun (IN), Ted Cruz (TX), Steve Daines (MT) Ron Johnson (WI), John Kennedy (LA), and James Lankford (OK) said they would join Hawley. So did Senators-Elect Bill Hagerty (TN), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Roger Marshall (KS), and Tommy Tuberville (AL). Cruz’s office issued a press release. Let’s be clear. This protest will not change the election results. Both houses of Congress will certify the votes of the Electoral College and Joe Biden will be inaugurated President of the United States on January 20, 2021. It will now just take a few additional hours. Read Peter Wehner’s recent article at The Atlantic if you want to understand what is really going on here.
  • If my calculations are correct, 22,715 people died of COVID-19 since my last blog post.
  • Yesterday, January 3, 2021, The Washington Post released part of a phone call between Trump and Brad Raffensberger, Georgia’s GOP secretary of state. The President urged Raffensberger to “find” 11,780 Trump votes in Georgia. Trump threatened Raffensberger by telling him that if he did not find the votes he might face “criminal” charges. Here is a clip from their one hour conversation:

Listen to the entire phone call here.

So what have Trump’s court evangelicals had to say over the holiday break? I will cover that in my next post, which will appear later this morning. Stay tuned.

Here are the 106 members of Congress who support Trump’s Texas lawsuit

Trump has joined a Texas lawsuit, initiated by an accused criminal, trying to overturn election results in four swing states. Learn more here.

106 of 196 GOP members of Congress support the lawsuit. Here are their names:

Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama’s 6th Congressional District

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. Ralph Abraham of Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District

Rep. Rick W. Allen of Georgia’s 12th Congressional District

Rep. James R. Baird of Indiana’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District

Rep. Jack Bergman of Michigan’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona’s 5th Congressional District

Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida’s 12th Congressional District

Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District

Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois’s 12th Congressional District

Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas’s 8th Congressional District

Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama’s 5th Congressional District

Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District

Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee’s 2nd Congressional District

Rep. Michael C. Burgess of Texas’s 26th Congressional District

Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Ken Calvert of California’s 42nd Congressional District

Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter of Georgia’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Ben Cline of Virginia’s 6th Congressional District

Rep. Michael Cloud of Texas’s 27th Congressional District

Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas’s 11th Congressional District

Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas’s 2nd Congressional District

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida’s 25th Congressional District

Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District

Rep. Neal P. Dunn of Florida’s 2nd Congressional District

Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District

Rep. Ron Estes of Kansas’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. Drew Ferguson of Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District

Rep. Bill Flores of Texas’s 17th Congressional District

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District

Rep. Russ Fulcher of Idaho’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Greg Gianforte of Montana’s at-large congressional district

Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio’s 7th Congressional District

Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas’s 5th Congressional District

Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri’s 6th Congressional District

Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District

Rep. Michael Guest of Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District

Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District

Rep. Trey Hollingsworth of Indiana’s 9th Congressional District

Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District

Rep. Bill Huizenga of Michigan’s 2nd Congressional District

Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio’s 6th Congressional District

Rep. John Joyce of Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District

Rep. Fred Keller of Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District

Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District

Rep. Trent Kelly of Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Steve King of Iowa’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. David Kustoff of Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District

Rep. Darin LaHood of Illinois’s 18th Congressional District

Rep. Doug LaMalfa of California’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado’s 5th Congressional District

Rep. Robert E. Latta of Ohio’s 5th Congressional District

Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona’s 8th Congressional District

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri’s 3rd Congressional District

Rep. Kenny Marchant of Texas’s 24th Congressional District

Rep. Roger Marshall of Kansas’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Tom McClintock of California’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington’s 5th Congressional District

Rep. Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District

Rep. Carol D. Miller of West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District

Rep. John Moolenaar of Michigan’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. Alex X. Mooney of West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District

Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District

Rep. Gregory Murphy of North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District

Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District

Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District

Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District

Rep. John Rose of Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District

Rep. David Rouzer of North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District

Rep. John Rutherford of Florida’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia’s 8th Congressional District

Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District

Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District

Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri’s 8th Congressional District

Rep. Ross Spano of Florida’s 15th Congressional District

Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York’s 21st Congressional District

Rep. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District

Rep. Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District

Rep. William Timmons of South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District

Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan’s 7th Congressional District

Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida’s 6th Congressional District

Rep. Randy Weber of Texas’s 14th Congressional District

Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida’s 11th Congressional District

Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District

Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas’s 4th Congressional District

Rep. Roger Williams of Texas’s 25th Congressional District

Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District

Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia’s 1st Congressional District

Rep. Ron Wright of Texas’s 6th Congressional District

Rep. Ted S. Yoho of Florida’s 3rd Congressional District

Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York’s 1st Congressional District

Sadly, my representative, Scott Perry, is on the list. Like Perry, most of these congresspersons represent pro-Trump districts. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain by supporting this baseless lawsuit. These enabling representatives will soon become the lieutenants in Trump’s post-election lost cause campaign.

Finally, it seems pretty clear that Paxton initiated this lawsuit because he wants a pardon.

The coming war in the Democratic Party

We all saw this coming. It’s the centrists versus the progressives. Conor Lamb versus Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Get ready for the war.

Here is a taste of John F. Harris piece at Politico titled “What Planet is AOC On?

It is folly for progressives to avoid the obvious: The reason they are far from achieving their policy aims goes beyond the notion that moderate Democrats are clods who can’t play the game. There are many places in the country where progressives need better arguments to reach people who don’t currently support their goals.

The post-election memo by four progressive groups — New Deal Strategies, Justice Democrats, Sunrise Movement and Data for Progress — came closer to the mark than Ocasio-Cortez’s interview. It called for a new set of policy and rhetorical appeals that seek to merge the Black Lives Matter message with an economic message that would also appeal to less-prosperous and less-educated whites who have been attracted to Trump. There is not abundant evidence that this can be successful, but it is at least more attuned to the genuine challenge than scolding fellow Democrats for not being with it on Facebook.

Ocasio-Cortez has earned the right to lecture moderate Democrats like Conor Lamb on how to connect with a rising generation of impatient progressives. Lamb has earned the right to lecture Ocasio-Cortez on how to take a seat that used to be held by Republicans and put it in the Democratic column. But a more promising strategy likely would put listening before lecturing.

“What planet is she on?” a veteran Democratic operative scoffed to me over the AOC interview, which he took as denying the reality that movements like “defund the police,” even while at the fringes of Democratic politics, were a serious headwind in many places that the party urgently needs to win to hold power.

It was a rhetorical question. But let’s answer it seriously. She is on a political planet where she is amply rewarded for her uncommon skill at framing issues in bold terms, for her stylish spontaneity, for her comfort with political combat, for her instinct to open her sails rather than trim them.

What planet is Conor Lamb on? He’s on a political planet where Democrats can’t win unless they constantly practice the politics of reassurance, and he’s been amply rewarded for his self-discipline and skill in softening sharp edges that can be used as a knife against him.

Read the entire piece here.

Today in Trumpland

Mankato

The Democratic National Convention starts tonight. Even if we just considered what happened today, the speakers at the DNC will have a lot to work with. So what did happen in Trumpland today?

Miles Taylor, who was a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under Trump, endorsed Joe Biden. According to Taylor, Trump used the DHS “for his political benefit.” Taylor says that “years of DHS planning” for something like the coronavirus “have been largely wasted. Meanwhile, “more than 165,000 have died.” He adds: “It is more than a little ironic that Trump is campaigning for a second term as a law-and-order president. His first term has been dangerously chaotic. Four more years of this are unthinkable.”

In North Carolina, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill decided to move all undergraduate classes online after 130 students tested positive for Covid-19 in the first week of classes. Meanwhile, a Kansas teacher has created a national database of school closings, quarantines, cases and deaths.

As more people die everyday from Covid-19, Trump is getting medical advice from the My Pillow guy. Yes, you read that correctly. In the midst of a pandemic that most experts say is going to get worse in the next several months, Trump is spending his time entertaining a miracle cure promoted by a pillow salesman.

Trump continued his assault on a nearly 250-year-old institution. As Paul Krugman wrote today, the United States Postal Service (USPS) brings “Americans into better contact with one another and the world at larger….it has a universal service obligation,” “binding the nation together” and “facilitating citizen inclusion.” He calls Trump’s attempts to defund the Post Office as “the unbinding of America.”

Nancy Pelosi has asked the members of the House of Representatives to return from recess to consider a Postal Service bill that will prevent Trump from using the USPS to manipulate the November presidential election. Initial reports suggest that the bill will provide billions of dollars in funding to the Postal Service in an attempt to strengthen it in preparation for November.

Earlier today, after repeating five times that he signed an emergency declaration to help Iowa after the state got hit by a massive storm last week (and adding that he is doing well politically in Iowa), Trump again blamed Amazon for the post office losing money. It is a dubious claim.

By the way, Fox News is countering all this with reports that Barack Obama removed mailboxes during his presidency.

A Billy Graham statue will replace a statue of a North Carolina white supremacist governor in the U.S. Capitol

Aycock

Charles Aycock

A Billy Graham statue will replace a statue of Charles Aycock, a former North Carolina governor and a white supremacist. Both the state of North Carolina and the House of Representatives are supportive of the change.

Here is a taste of Yonat Shimron’s piece at Religion News Service:

Former North Carolina State Sen. Dan Soucek pushed for the new statue in 2015 while Graham was still living. Soon after Graham’s death, the process kicked into gear.

“From a Christian religious point of view, Billy Graham is an undeniable worldwide icon,” Soucek said. He cited the six decades Graham placed among the top 10 in Gallup Poll’s list of the most admired people.

For years, Graham has been one of North Carolina’s most famous luminaries. There are two state highways named to honor him. One of Charlotte’s biggest tourist attractions is the barn-shaped library documenting his life and ministry that includes his restored childhood home and gravesite.

Graham’s son, Franklin, whose Samaritan’s Purse ministry is also located in North Carolina, said he has seen a rendering of the statue, which features the elder Graham as he looked in the 1960s, preaching and holding a Bible in one hand.

Franklin Graham said the statue is not something his father would have pushed for.

“My father would be very pleased that people thought of him in this way,” he said. “But he would want people to give God the glory and not himself.”

Read the entire piece here.

John Lewis, RIP

Lewis dead

Sad news. Here is Katharine Q. Seelye of The New York Times:

Representative John Lewis, a son of sharecroppers and an apostle of nonviolence who was bloodied at Selma and across the Jim Crow South in the historic struggle for racial equality and who then carried a mantle of moral authority into Congress, died on Friday. He was 80.

His death was confirmed by a senior Democratic official.

He announced on Dec. 29 that he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and vowed to fight it with the same passion with which he had battled racial injustice. “I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life,” he said.

On the front lines of the bloody campaign to end Jim Crow laws, with blows to his body and a fractured skull to prove it, Mr. Lewis was a valiant stalwart of the civil rights movement and the last surviving speaker at the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.

More than a half-century later, after the killing in May of George Floyd, a Black man in police custody in Minneapolis, Mr. Lewis welcomed the resulting global demonstrations against systemic racism and the police killings of Black people. He saw those demonstrations, the largest protest movement in American history, as a continuation of his life’s work, though his illness had left him to watch from the sideline.

Read the rest here.

The Republican Party’s failure of conscience was on full display in the House yesterday

If you want to get a sense of the current state of the Republican Party, watch this debate  in the House Judiciary Committee over the Democrats’ Justice in Policing bill:

Read Dana Milbank’s summary of the entire debate. Here is a taste:

The Black Lives Matter movement may have gripped the nation since George Floyd died under a police officer’s knee. But the GOP hijacked the committee debate over the Democrats’ Justice in Policing bill Wednesday to revisit complaints about the treatment of former national security adviser Michael Flynn who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Before there was even a basis for this embarrassing hoax, you had Jim Comey telling the FBI to go and entrap General Flynn,”complained Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

The director of the FBI,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), told “the agents, ‘No, no, no don’t drop the case, we’re going after Michael Flynn.’”

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) wanted “the FBI held accountable for the gross misconduct that it engaged in with investigating the Trump campaign.”

And this:

Democrats tried to steer the debate from that straw man to the topic at hand. “Can anyone on the Republican side say unequivocally, black lives matter?” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) asked.

“Unequivocally, all lives matter,” Gaetz replied. Gaetz, who later called Swalwell’s “theatrics” not “super productive,” added: “It would be as if I were willing to yield to any Democrat willing to say that blue lives matter.”

So what was “super productive”?

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) spoke of “unborn children that are born alive from a botched abortion.”

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) wanted it to be known that “antifa is without a doubt a domestic terrorist group.”

Gaetz described protesters’ “autonomous zone” in Seattle as “racially segregated,” with “all kinds of violent acts,” a “lack of sleep, screaming, gunshot, terror,” and a demand issued for “everyone who is white to give someone who is black $10.”

Read the entire piece here.

Lamar Alexander’s Statement is Full of Historical Problems

lamar-alexander

If Lamar Alexander wants to oppose witnesses in the Donald Trump impeachment trial he has that right.  But spare us the “history” lesson.

Alexander statement says:

I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense.

So it sounds like Alan Dershowitz’s “absurd” and “baffling” argument convinced the senior Senator from Tennessee.  In embracing the Dershowitz argument, Alexander has chosen to reject the consensus of legal scholars and American historians.

Alexander continues:

“There is no need for more evidence to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine. There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence.’ There is no need to consider further the frivolous second article of impeachment that would remove the president for asserting his constitutional prerogative to protect confidential conversations with his close advisers.

“It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law. But the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate.

So what is the difference between an “impeachable” offense and an “inappropriate” offense?  Again, Alexander has been swayed by Dershowitz’s argument.  Alexander believes that the president is guilty, but he does not believe that Trump committed an impeachable offense.  (Dershowitz doesn’t think Trump is guilty of anything). This is also clear from the next part of Alexander’s statement:

“The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did. I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday.  

“The Senate has spent nine long days considering this ‘mountain’ of evidence, the arguments of the House managers and the president’s lawyers, their answers to senators’ questions and the House record. Even if the House charges were true, they do not meet the Constitution’s ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ standard for an impeachable offense.

Alexander goes on:

“The framers believed that there should never, ever be a partisan impeachment. That is why the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate for conviction. Yet not one House Republican voted for these articles. If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment were to succeed, it would rip the country apart, pouring gasoline on the fire of cultural divisions that already exist. It would create the weapon of perpetual impeachment to be used against future presidents whenever the House of Representatives is of a different political party.

“Our founding documents provide for duly elected presidents who serve with ‘the consent of the governed,’ not at the pleasure of the United States Congress. Let the people decide.”

On the issue of “partisan” impeachments and the founders, here is historian Joanne Freeman:

Moreover, as historian Kevin Kruse has been reminding us, there were no political parties when the founders wrote the Constitution:

Alexander also suggests that the “founding documents” teach that “the people” should decide whether to move a president.  Here he is connecting “impeachment” with the vote and will of “the people.” But the Constitution makes no such connection.

First, as James Madison made clear in Federalist 39, “The President of the United States is impeachable at any time during his continuance in office.” In other words, the president can be impeached during an election year.

Second, the framers were skeptical about trusting the people to make decisions about important matters such as impeachment.  The framers did not trust the “ballot”on impeachment.  Read the Constitution as it was written in 1787.  Senators were not directly elected by the people.  They were appointed by state legislatures. This is precisely why the framers believed that the Senate was best suited to serve as judges in an impeachment trial. The “people” in the House of Representatives brought charges in the president (impeachment), but the Senate, those so called “gods on Mount Olympus,” would decide whether or not the people were right (removal). As Madison wrote in Federalist 10, the passions of the people needed to be filtered through “a medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.”  In fact, the framers of the Constitution had such a mistrust of the people that they did not allow them to vote directly for the president.  It is worth noting that they did not even record the popular vote in presidential elections until 1824.

In the end, Lamar Alexander can oppose impeachment trial witnesses for all kinds of reasons, but please don’t appeal to the founders.

Alexander’s sketchy use of the founding-era is particularly troubling considering that he has always been a strong advocate for more history and civics in public schools.

“They come for the power for power they stay”

Song of the Day (HT: Dan Cohen):

It’s built to impress you and it works like that
All that white marble and the guards at the door
The metal detector, the following eyes
Geometric patterns covering the floor
The symbols of power, eagles and flags
Attendants, assistants moving like sharks
Through crowds of citizens, patriotic souls
Visiting the capitol and National Parks
And you think to yourself
This is where it happens
They run the whole damned thing from here
Money to burn
Filling up their pockets
Where no one can see
And no one can hear
I wonder what they say, say to each other
How do they think, what do they feel
When they come out of those rooms
And put on their faces
Is anything they say to the cameras real?
They come for the power for power they stay
And they’ll do anything to keep it that way
They’ll ignore the constitution
And hide behind the scenes
Anything to stay a part of the machine
And you think to yourself
This is where it happens
They run the whole damned thing from here
Money to burn
Filling up their pockets
Where no one can see
And no one can hear
And the votes are just pieces of paper
And they sneer at the people who voted
And they laugh as the votes were not counted
And the will of the people was noted
And completely ignored
And you think to yourself
This is where it happens
They run the whole damned thing from here
Money to burn
Filling up their pockets
Where no one can see
And no one can hear

On John Roberts and Pettifogging

Pettifogging

Watch Chief Justice John Roberts here.  (For some reason You Tube will not let me access its embedding codes today).

Pettifogging: “worrying too much about details that are minor or not important.”  It was often used a derogatory statement about lawyers.

Charles Swayne was a U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Florida.  He was appointed by Benjamin Harrison in 1889 and confirmed by the Senate in 1890.  The House of Representatives impeached him on December 13, 1904 for “filing false travel vouchers, improper use of private railroad cars, unlawfully imprisoning two attorneys for contempt outside of his district. (Sounds like pettifogging to me! 🙂 ) Swayne admitted to the charges and called his lapses “inadvertent.” The Senate found him “not guilty” on February 27, 1905.

You can read the excerpt from the trial, including the use of the word “pettifogging,” here (p.188).

You can also read an edited excerpt of the proceedings from Hinds’ Precedents of the House of Representatives.

A few thoughts:

First, we can always use more civil discourse.  Of all the House Managers, Nadler is the most obnoxious.  Cipollone and Sekulow seems to be performing for Donald Trump.

Second, John Roberts came to the Trump impeachment trial prepared.  He anticipated this kind incivility and was ready with the “pettifogging” quote from the 1905 Swayne trial.  Nice work.  We will see what he has up his sleeve today.

Third, is Roberts right when he says that the Senate is the “world’s greatest deliberative body” because “its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse?” This is how the framers may have envisioned the Senate, but American history suggests that Roberts may be too optimistic about this legislative body.  Here is Yale historian Joanne Freeman in Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to the Civil War:

…the Senate was generally calmer than the House.  Smaller in size, with its acoustics in working order and its members a little older, more established, more experienced, and sometimes higher on the social scale, it was a true forum for debate….Debate in the Senate was thus more of a dialogue–long winded, agenda-driven, and something of a performance, but a dialogue just the same. That doesn’t mean the Senate was a haven of safety.  It wasn’t  There were plenty of threats and insults on the floor. Henry Clay (W-KY) was a master.  His attack in 1832 on the elderly Samuel Smith (J-MD), a Revolutionary War veteran and forty-year veteran of the Senate, was so severe that senators physically drew back, worried that things might get ugly.  Clay called Smith a tottering old man with flip-flopping politics; Smith denied it and countered that he could “take a view” of Clay’s politics that would prove him inconsistent; and Clay jeered “Take it, sir, take it–I dare you!”  Smith defended himself, but when he later sought the advice of John Quincy Adams (clearly Fight Consultant Extraordinaire), Smith was do deeply wounded that he was on the verge of tears.

What Did the Founding Fathers Say About Impeachment?

House Managers

House managers in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump filed their brief to the Senate today.  The brief describes Trump’s behavior with Ukraine “the Framers’ worst nightmare.”

So what did the Framers of the United States Constitution say about impeachment?

Here is a nice summary from the United States Constitution Center:

One of the most hotly debated clauses in the Constitution deals with the removal of federal government officials through the impeachment process. But what did the Founders who crafted that language think about the process and its overall intention?

The need for the ultimate check, and in particular the removal of the President, in a system of checks and balances was brought up early at the 1787 convention in Philadelphia. Constitutional heavyweights such as James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson and Gouverneur Morris debated the Impeachment Clause at the convention, and Alexander Hamilton argued for it in The Federalist after the convention.

Today, impeachment remains as a rarely used process to potentially remove the “President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States” if Congress finds them guilty of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

In all, 19 federal officials have been brought up on impeachment charges by the House of Representatives since 1789, with eight people convicted after a Senate trial. Two Presidents – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton – faced Senate trials but were not found guilty by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.

The threat of impeachment remains a power check, at least in theory, against the abuse of power, and it is sometimes discussed in times of political controversy, as well as in cases where there is a clear issue with personal conduct in office. Of the eight persons impeached and convicted in Congress, all were judges who faced charges including perjury, tax evasion, bribery, and in one case, supporting the Confederacy.

At the 1787 convention, delegate Edmund Randolph quickly brought up the subject as part of his Virginia Plan. William Patterson’s rival New Jersey Plan had its own impeachment clause. National Constitution Center scholar-in-residence Michael Gerhardt explained the differences in his book, “The Federal Impeachment Process: A Constitutional and Historical Analysis.”

Read the rest here.

Was Donald Trump Impeached?

Cassidy-ImpeachmentGOPMemo

Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School is one of the legal scholars who testified before the House Judiciary Committee.  He was one of the three (of four) lawyers who concluded that Trump’s phone call to Ukraine and his obstruction of Congress were impeachable offenses.

In his most recent column at Bloomsberg News, Feldman argues that the House has not yet impeached Donald Trump.

Here is a taste:

If the House does not communicate its impeachment to the Senate, it hasn’t actually impeached the president. If the articles are not transmitted, Trump could legitimately say that he wasn’t truly impeached at all.

That’s because “impeachment” under the Constitution means the House sending its approved articles of to the Senate, with House managers standing up in the Senate and saying the president is impeached.

As for the headlines we saw after the House vote saying, “TRUMP IMPEACHED,” those are a media shorthand, not a technically correct legal statement. So far, the House has voted to impeach (future tense) Trump. He isn’t impeached (past tense) until the articles go to the Senate and the House members deliver the message.

Once the articles are sent, the Senate has a constitutional duty to hold a trial on the impeachment charges presented. Failure for the Senate to hold a trial after impeachment would deviate from the Constitution’s clear expectation.

For the House to vote “to impeach” without ever sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial would also deviate from the constitutional protocol. It would mean that the president had not genuinely been impeached under the Constitution; and it would also deny the president the chance to defend himself in the Senate that the Constitution provides.

Read the entire piece here.

The Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton Articles of Impeachment

Impeachment

With two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump set to be released tomorrow (Tuesday), I thought I would offer some historical context by providing the articles of impeachment for Clinton, Nixon, and Johnson.  (Only Clinton and Johnson were impeached.  Nixon resigned before the Senate trial).

Clinton Articles of Impeachment:

RESOLVED, That William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors . . .

Article One: In his conduct while President of the United States . . . in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of the President . . . has . . . undermined the integrity of his office . . . betrayed his trust as President . . . and acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law by:

  • willfully corrupting and manipulating the judicial process of the United States for his personal gain and exoneration
  • willfully committing perjury by providing false and misleading testimony to the grand jury in relation to his relationship with an employee
  • willfully committing perjury by providing false and misleading testimony to the grand jury in relation to prior perjurious testimony in a civil rights action brought against him
  • allowing his attorney to make false and misleading statements in the same civil rights action
  • attempting to influence witness testimony and slow the discovery of evidence in that civil rights action

Article Three: . . . has [in the Paula Jones Case] prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice by:

  • encouraging a witness to give a perjurious affidavit
  • encouraging a witness to give false testimony if called to the stand
  • allowing and/or encouraging the concealment of subpoenaed evidence
  • attempting to sway a witness testimony by providing a job for that witness
  • allowing his attorney to make misleading testimony
  • giving false or misleading information to influence the testimony of a potential witness in a Federal civil rights action
  • giving false or misleading information to influence the testimony of a witness in a grand jury investigation

 

Nixon Articles of Impeachment:

RESOLVED, That Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. . . .

Article One: [for] making false or misleading statement to delay, cover up, or conceal evidence relating to the Watergate break-ins by:

  • making false and misleading statements to the government and the people
  • withholding information
  • allowing/encouraging witnesses to give false or misleading statements
  • attempting to interfere with FBI and other investigations into the break-ins
  • allowing secret payments to influence witnesses
  • attempting to misuse the CIA
  • leaking information about the investigation to help the accused
  • insinuating that people who refuse to testify against him or who give false testimony will receive favors

Article Two: . . . [for having] engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens . . . and impairing the due and proper administration of justice . . . by:

  • using confidential tax return information to initiate tax audits in a discriminatory manner
  • misusing the FBI, Secret Service, and other government employees by allowing their information to be used for purposes other than national security or the enforcement of laws
  • allowing a secret investigative unit within his office
  • using campaign contributions and the CIA in an attempt to sway the fair trial process
  • has failed in faithfully executing the law
  • knowingly misusing the executive power by interfering with agencies within the executive branch

Article Three: . . . has willfully disobeyed the subpoenas of and failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and information for the House Judiciary Committee . . . assuming to himself the functions and judgments given to the House of Representatives by the Constitution.

Andrew Johnson Articles of Impeachment

Read all 11 articles here.

Trump’s Lawyer Writes to Jerry Nadler

Pelosi

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announcing that the House will move forward with the impeachment of Donald Trump

Yesterday Donald Trump’s White House lawyer Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Jerry Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee.  Here it is:

Dear Chairman Nadler:

As you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness. Nevertheless, the Speaker of the House yesterday ordered House Democrats to proceed with articles of impeachment before your Committee has heard a single shred of evidence.

House Democrats have wasted enough of America’s time with this charade. You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings. Adopting articles of impeachment would be a reckless abuse of power by House Democrats, and would constitute the most unjust, highly partisan, and unconstitutional attempt at impeachment in our Nation’s history. Whatever course you choose, as the President has recently stated: “if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business.”

Several thoughts:

1.  House Democrats have heard plenty of evidence.  The suggestion that there is not a “single shred of evidence” is disingenuous.  It actually sounds like Trump wrote that sentence.  Moreover, this impeachment is not “baseless.”  Even Jonathan Turley, the GOP-chosen lawyer who testified earlier this week, agreed that there were things uncovered by the hearings that needed to be explored more fully.  But how can the House go any further when Trump won’t let people like Bolton, Pompeo, Giuliani, and others testify?  This is obstruction of justice.  Last time I checked, obstruction of justice was a crime.

2. While Cippolino is technically right when he says that “House Democrats” are impeaching Trump, it is actually the House of Representatives as a body that will impeach the president. The Constitution says that the House of Representatives have “the sole power of impeachment.”  It does not say that “House Democrats” or “House Republicans” have the power of impeachment.  There will be a vote and the results of that vote will represent the will of the House of Representatives on impeachment.   Plain and simple.

Many pro-Trumpers are saying that the impeachment process is undermining or delegitimizing the 2016 election.  There are many, many problems with such a suggestion.  For example, if you want to talk about undermining elections, one could say that such a belief undermines the midterm elections of 2018.  Let’s face it, in November 2018 the people spoke.  Now the member of the House of Representatives who were elected by the people are doing what they think is best for the republic.

3.  Cippolino complains that this impeachment is the most partisan impeachment in U.S. history.  However we rank the level of partisanship in this impeachment, it is important to remember that partisanship characterized the Johnson and Clinton impeachment as well as the attempt to impeach Nixon. Hamilton even commented on the partisan nature of impeachment in Federalist 65.  I encourage you to read it.

4. Cippolino says that the impeachment of Trump is “unconstitutional.”  This is impossible.  All impeachments are constitutional. The House always has the constitutional right to impeach the president.  It is part of their job description.

5. Let’s face it,  Donald Trump will be the third U.S. president to be impeached.  He will join Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton in the history books.  He will be named in future classroom lectures and multiple choice tests.  There will be no asterisk next to his name.  Whether or not he is removed from office or not, this will be his legacy.