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.

Ten Republicans voted for the second impeachment of Donald Trump. At least three of them were evangelical Christians

Adam Kinzinger (IL) attends Village Christian Church of Channahon, Illinois, a non-denominational evangelical congregation that appears to have some connection to the Church of Christ tradition.

Liz Cheney (WY) identifies as a United Methodist.

John Katko (NY) is a Catholic.

Fred Upton (MI) identifies as a Protestant.

Jamie Herrera Beutler (WA) is an evangelical Christian who attends City Harvest Church in Vancouver, WA. (She is pictured above).

Dan Newhouse (WA) is an elder at Sunnyside Presbyterian Church, a member of the Presbyterian Church-USA. This church has some links to evangelicalism. The pastor, Mike Souza, is a graduate of Denver Baptist Bible College, Colorado Christian University, and George Fox University.

Peter Meijer (MI) does not seem to make religion a central component of his political identity.

Anthony Gonzalez (OH) is a Catholic.

Tom Rice (SC) is a member of Trinity Episcopal Church. It is is an evangelical Anglican congregation. Interestingly enough, Rice also objected to the certification of the Electoral College vote.

David Valadao (CA) is a Catholic.

Historians call for the second impeachment of Donald Trump

Here is the statement from the Historians and Legal Scholars for Impeachment.

As American historians and constitutional scholars, we support the impeachment and removal of President Donald J. Trump. Throughout his presidency, Trump has defied the Constitution and broken laws, norms, practices, and precedents, for which he must be held accountable now and after he leaves office. No future president should be tempted by the example of his defiance going unpunished.

One of Trump’s earlier abuses of power did result in his impeachment on December 18, 2019, for attempting to coerce a foreign power to interfere in the U.S. presidential election of 2020. But since November 2020, Trump has refused to accept the results of a free and fair election, something no president before him has ever done. Instead of engaging in the peaceful transfer of power, he encouraged an insurrection by a mob of his supporters on January 6, 2021, urging them to march on the U.S. Capitol, to “fight,” in his word, and halt the constitutionally prescribed process of counting the Electoral Votes that would confirm former Vice President Joseph R. Biden as President-Elect.

By fomenting violence against the Congress and seeking to subvert constitutional democracy, which resulted in the killing of a Capitol police officer and the deaths of several rioters, Trump has violated his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. He is a clear and present danger to American democracy and the national security of the United States. He has disqualified himself from continuing to serve out even his few remaining days as president, as well as from ever again holding, according to the Constitution, “any Office of honor, Trust or profit under the United States.” We urge members of the House of Representatives to conduct a speedy impeachment and the Senate to hold a prompt trial as the Constitution stipulates.

Signers include: Eric Alterman, Fred Anderson, Rick Atkinson, Sarah Barringer Gordon, Mia Bay, Thomas Bender, Mary Beth Norton, David Blight, Claire Potter, Patricia Bonomi, Eileen Boris, Taylor Branch, John Brooke, Richard D. Brown, Kathleen Brown, Jon Butler, David Chappell, Ron Chernow, Joseph Crespono, Robert Dallek, Andrew Delbanco, Gregory Downs, Mary Dudziak, Jeffrey Engel, Michael Dyson, Nicole Eustace, Ann Fabian, Daniel Feller, Michael Flamm, Francois Furstenberg, Neal Gabler, Gary Gerstle, Jonathan Gienapp, Todd Gitlin, Lawrence Glickman, Adam Goodheart, Eliga Gould, Edward Gray, Steven Hahn, Karen Halttunen, Andrew Hartman, Nicole Hemmer, Eric Hinderaker, Martha Hodes, David Hollinger, Benjamin Irvin, Meg Jacobs, Karl Jacoby, Jacqueline Jones, Joseph Peniel, Jane Kamensky, David Kennedy, Kevin Kruse, Christine Heyrman, Dahlia Lithwick, Staughton Lynd, Louis Masur, Kevin Mattson, John McWhorter, Steven Mintz, Timothy Naftali, Mae Ngai, Rick Perlstein, Jack Rakove, Eric Rauchway, Daniel Rodgers, Renee Romano, Doug Rossinow, Jonathan Sarna, Virginia Scharff, Stacy Schiff, Kevin Schultz, Robert Self, Rick Shenkman, Manisha Sinha, Jason Sokol, Thomas Sugrue, Jeremi Suri, Sam Tanenhaus, Gil Troy, Ted Widmer, Sean Wilentz, Alan Wolfe, Conrad Wright, Rosemarie Zagarri, Jonathan Zimmerman, and Michael Zuckerman.

Yes, I also signed it.

Mike Pence quotes Ecclesiastes; says it is time for the nation to heal

Last night the House of Representatives asked Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. He refused to do it.

Here is the letter he sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:

The next to last paragraph caught my attention. Pence quotes part of Ecclesiastes 3. He writes, “The Bible says that ‘for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to heal…and a time to build up.'”

Here is the entire passage:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace

There are a lot of ways one could manipulate this passage. For example, one could say that it is time to “uproot” this president and “tear down” his administration so we can “build up” democracy. Or perhaps this verse is telling us that it is a time to “weep” and “mourn” for what Trump put the nation through during the last four years. For Pence and the GOP, maybe the last four years was a “time to speak” instead of a “time to be silent.” And so on. This is why I hate it when politicians try to use Bible verses to justify their specific political decisions.

Pence goes on: “In the midst of the global pandemic, economic hardship for millions of Americans, and the tragic events of January 6, now is the time for us to come together, now is the time to heal.”

But is it really?

Pence’s call for healing rings hollow. It comes from a man who stood faithfully behind Trump for four years. The Trump administration, including Pence, had a lot to do with the spread of the global pandemic, the economic hardship Americans are now facing, and the events of January 6.

Yes, we need to heal, but first we must remove Trump from office and crush his ability to get back into the political arena, a place where he can continue his divisive and disruptive ways. If Pence is serious about healing, he would do his part to cast Trump into the dustbin of history and make sure that his attempts to propagate a “lost cause” movement are weakened.

Remember that Lincoln’s conciliatory Second Inaugural Address took place after the Confederacy was all but defeated.

The House will impeach Trump, but will the Senate convict?

If you asked me this question twenty four hours ago I would have answered, “probably not.” But now I am not so sure.

Today we learned that Mitch McConnell, the outgoing Senate majority leader, said that Donald Trump did commit an impeachable offense by inciting the January 6, 2021 insurrection. He is pleased that the House will impeach (again) the president tomorrow. But will he allow a trial to take place?

Here is The New York Times;

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking. The House is voting on Wednesday to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country.

Read the rest here. Or at CNN.

Meanwhile, John Katko of New York became the first Republican to announce that he will vote for Trump’s impeachment tomorrow. Liz Cheney is the second Republican. CNN is reporting this as I type.

Trump still thinks he did nothing wrong. Today he doubled-down.

CNN and other outlets are reporting that congressmen Paul Gosar (AZ), Andy Biggs (AZ), and Mo Brooks (AL) worked closely with Ali Alexander, one of the organizers of the event that led to the protest.

Stay tuned.

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.

Antifa! Antifa! The court evangelicals prepare for spiritual warfare against Biden and the Democrats

We are learning more and more about the mob that invaded the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. They were Trump-supporters, extreme Christian nationalists, QAnon believers, militia groups, and other assorted thugs. Mo Brooks, a Republican representative from Alabama, still believes that Antifa was behind the insurrection:

On Wednesday, Trump spoke to his followers. He said that he loved them and called them “special.” Watch:

Last night, Trump read another statement:

This is Trump conceding the election without officially conceding the election.

It is worth mentioning again that Trump cannot give a speech without lying. He did not “immediately employ the national guard.” In fact, he initially resisted the idea. There is nothing in this speech about the fact that Trump created this mob or that he is ultimately responsible for what happened. On Wednesday, he was sending his love to the insurrectionists and calling them “special.” Last night he wanted to throw them in jail.

Does anyone believe anything Trump said in this video? Does he really care about national healing and reconciliation? He released this second video because he is scared. His advisers and cabinet members are resigning. The House and Senate are calling for either the 25th Amendment or another impeachment. And what did he mean when he said “our incredible journey is only just beginning?” Maybe it has yet something to do with this:

Let’s check-in again on the court evangelicals:

Eric Metaxas had self-professed prophet Lance Wallnau on his radio program. He starts the conversation by asking Wallnau if “the prophets got it wrong.” I listened several times to Wallnau answer this question and I have no idea what he is talking about. I think he is just making it all up. Wallnau, speaking with apparent prophetic authority, says that the insurrectionists were Antifa members. Metaxas agrees. He calls the insurrection a “Marxist coup. Metaxas also floats the idea that Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington D.C., was behind the rioting. Finally, Wallnau says that he and Metaxas are part of a Christian populist movement led by Donald Trump. Trump, he says, “is not finished.” He describes this “movement” as “righteous.”

Metaxas also talked to Charlie Kirk, the co-founder of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center. Kirk admits that Biden will be the next president. He says that a “lot of people were misled” to believe that Trump was actually going to win. Metaxas admits that he was one of those people, but Kirk lets him off the hook. Then they start talking about the possibility of a God-sized miracle that will get Trump into office.

Kirk, “constitutional scholar” that he is, criticizes Mike Pence for doing his constitutional duty on Wednesday night. He said that Pence did not act with “courage or clarity” when he agreed to certify the votes of the Electoral College.

Watch:

Court evangelical journalist David Brody on “smart analysis”:

Brody plays the moral equivalency card:

David Brody is a sly one:

Pastor Darrell Scott says he spoke to Trump. MAGA forever!

David and Tim Barton of Wallbuilders believe that Antifa was behind the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Richard Land rejects the violence at the U.S. capitol, but he says nothing about his role in empowering Trump and, by extension, those who stormed Congress. Remember, it was Land who bragged about having “unprecedented access” to the White House during Trump’s presidency.

Jack Hibbs is talking with fellow court evangelical Tony Perkins about the “spiritual battle” for the U.S. capitol. Perkins says that when Trump was elected in 2016 he felt a demonic presence in Washington D.C. trying to stop the inauguration. The women’s march, according to Perkins, was part of this evil presence.

Ralph Reed praises Mike Pence:

Interesting:

Trump has two weeks. I think it’s a little late for advice:

Franklin Graham–yes Franklin Graham–wants us to stop the finger-pointing:

I wonder if Franklin will listen to Cindy T:

Should we wait until January 20?

Here are the facts. A group of pro-Trump rioters invaded the seat of the United States government yesterday in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Donald Trump, the sitting United States President, refused to condemn the rioters. He refused to accept the congressional certification of the election. He sent his “love” to the insurrections. And he called the men and women, some armed with Confederate flags and “Jesus Saves” signs, “special people.” He has encouraged this kind of violence multiple times during his administration. Donald Trump is responsible for this.

Here is the text of the 25th Amendment:

Section 1.

In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2.

Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3.

Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4.

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

The 25th Amendment should be invoked today. Any president who encourages an insurrection on an equal branch of the United States government is clearly unable to “discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

If the 25th Amendment is not invoked, Congress should impeach him immediately for “high crimes and misdemeanors” against the United States government. How is inciting an insurrection against a branch of the United States government not a high crime and misdemeanor?

Instead of Booing Him, CPAC Should Have Embraced Mitt Romney.

40a3c-romney

This is a piece I wrote on last weekend’s CPAC that was never able to place.  –JF

The name of Mitt Romney was booed relentlessly at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Fort Washington, Maryland.

This year’s CPAC was noteworthy for the relative absence of Christian Right speakers and the general downplaying of the religious wing of today’s conservative movement, but it still spoke volumes about the nature of the movement’s view of the role of religion in public life.

Donald Trump has used his bully pulpit to attack Romney for voting in favor of removing him from office during the Senate impeachment trial.  At last month’s National Prayer Breakfast, the president made a less-than-veiled attack on Romney’s Mormon faith when he said: “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.”

On Saturday, as he spoke to the CPAC faithful, Trump called Romney “a low life.”

Trump’s followers on social media and conservative cable outlets have also excoriated Romney.  Pundit Ann Coulter dubbed him a “useful idiot” for Democrats.  Donald Trump Jr. demanded Romney’s remove from the Republican Party: “He’s now officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled.”

In the immediate wake of Romney’s vote, Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, the special interest group that stages CPAC each year, tweeted that the 2012 Republican presidential nominee was “formally NOT invited” to this year’s conference.  In a Fox News interview, he added: “This year I’d actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him.

Schlapp may have been right about Romney’s safety at this year’s CPAC. Charlie Kirk, a pro-Trump activist who works on college campuses, encouraged the audience to boo every time Romney’s name was mentioned during the conference.

In a relatively successful attempt to work the crowd into a frenzy, Kirk claimed that Romney lied to the people of Utah about his conservative credentials while campaigning for his Senate seat.

These attacks on Romney at CPAC and elsewhere seem counter-intuitive when one considers that the Senator’s deeply held religious convictions informed his vote to remove Trump from office.

“I am a profoundly religious person,” Romney said as he fought back tears during his address on the floor of the Senate on February 5, 2020, the day before the removal votes, “I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.”

Whatever one thinks about Romney’s speech and its references to his Mormon faith, it is hard to argue with the fact that it was exactly the kind of faith-informed, conscience-driven style of politics that Christian conservatives have long championed.

Romney’s speech seemed to bolster, not undermine, what Kirk calls his “conservative credentials.” It was an exercise of religious liberty, one of the major political issues that led many conservatives to support Trump in 2016 and will lead them to pull a lever for the president again in November.

Why then would Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, a Christian RIght school founded by his father in 1971 to fight for conservative evangelical values and the freedom to express those values in the public square, tell Romney, in a Fox News interview, to “keep his religion in his personal life?”

Falwell and Kirk recently founded the Falkirk Center, a Liberty University think tank designed to advance Judeo-Christian values and defend “religious liberty.”  Perhaps Falwell and Kirk should hire Romney as a spokesperson for their new center.

When Romney delivered his anti-Trump speech on the Senate floor, he was bringing religious belief and conviction to what John Roberts described during the impeachment trial as the “world’s greatest deliberative body.”  Romney’s integration of faith and politics was a direct assault on secularism in government.

Romney exercised his religious-shaped conscience at a crucial moment in our nation’s political history.  When future school children study his speech, they will inevitably think about it in this light.

Those who care about religious liberty for all Americans should cheer, not boo, Romney’s invocation of faith on the floor of the Senate.  Unless, of course, Christian conservatives care only about faith-informed politics and religious freedom when it benefits Trump or their own political agenda.

Has Trump Learned Any Lessons from His Impeachment?

Trump USA Today

No. None.

Here is CNN:

On Wednesday, Trump publicly praised the Justice Department for reversing its call for a stiff jail term for Stone after his own critical late night tweet that laid bare fears of blatant interference in bedrock US justice.

“I want to thank the Justice Department for seeing this horrible thing. And I didn’t speak to them by the way, just so you understand. They saw the horribleness of a nine-year sentence for doing nothing,” the President told reporters.

He noted that the four prosecutors who quit the Stone case “hit the road,” raising the prospect that their protests failed to introduce accountability to the administration and only served to further hollow out the government and make it more pliable to the President.

Trump denied that he crossed a line. But his tweet left no doubt about what he wanted to happen. And his strategy, in this case and others, actually worked.

Just as he used US government power to smear Joe Biden in the Ukraine scandal, he succeeded in getting favorable treatment for a friend in the Stone case — though the final sentence will be up to a judge.

The Stone affair has also added to evidence that Attorney General William Barr is acting more as the President’s personal lawyer and less to ensure the neutral administration of justice.

Trump’s brazen approach was on also display Wednesday when he was asked what he learned from impeachment — after several GOP senators said they hoped he would take lessons to be restrained.

“That the Democrats are crooked, they got a lot of crooked things going. That they’re vicious, that they shouldn’t have brought impeachment,” Trump told reporters.

Read the entire piece here.

Will Future Students Read Mitt Romney’s Speech Against Trump’s Acquittal?

Eliot Cohen, Dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, thinks Romney’s speech will be read for a long time.  Here is a taste of his piece at The Atlantic, “In the Long Run, Romney Wins“:

Political speeches derive their power and durability from authenticity, from the way in which phrases and sentences seem to emanate directly from a personality and its vision. That is why Lincoln’s speeches will never lose their force: They captured the dignity, simplicity, and courage of the man who made them. Romney is no Lincoln, but he wrote the speech, and the voice is his.

Yet more is at work here than the powerful words. The speech contained all the elements of drama: the man of quiet faith, whose presidential campaign underplayed his charitable works; the handsome politician, whose political career involved both high office and the failure to achieve it; the public figure, who briefly became a hero to opponents who had shamefully vilified him seven years earlier; the successful businessman, who returned repeatedly to public affairs; the patriarch of a large and loving family, whose own niece repeatedly yielded her conscience to the man he rightly condemned. Comparing Romney with the grifter president and his venal clan yields an instructive contrast.

The Romney story plays to something very deep in the American self-conception, to myth—not in the sense of fairy tale or falsehood, but of something Americans want to believe about who they are and who, because of what they want to believe, they can become. Americans embrace the story of the lone man or woman of conscience who does the right thing, knowing that the risks are high. They remember Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat for a white passenger on a Montgomery bus in 1955, but forget the three other passengers who prudently moved. They relish the staple theme of Western stories and films—John Wayne in Stagecoach saying, “Well, there’s some things a man just can’t run away from.” They honor John Adams for defending British soldiers accused of shooting down his fellow Americans, in an era when tar and feathers could be the consequence of that act. In an altogether different vein, they laud Henry David Thoreau for choosing civil disobedience and marching to the beat of his own drum, resolved to remain indifferent to what his fellow Yankees thought of him.

Read the entire piece here.

Would the Founders Have Recognized GOP Arguments Against Trump’s Removal?

Impeachment Image

As we enter the 2020 election season I have been trying to do more writing for local and regional outlets here in Pennsylvania. This morning I have an op-ed on the impeachment trial at LNP/Lancaster On-Line (formerly Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era).  Here is a taste:

Other Republican senators, including Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pennsylvania’s own Pat Toomey, argued that Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president was “inappropriate,” but did not rise to the level of impeachment.

This last group of senators justified their acquittal votes in two ways.

First, some of them argued that the Founding Fathers would have opposed a partisan impeachment. (No House Republicans supported impeachment.)

This is not true.

In Federalist Paper No. 65, Alexander Hamilton, one of the most prolific defenders of the Constitution during the ratification debates of 1787-1788, predicted that impeachments would always be political. As a result, the Senate should always proceed with caution, prudence and wisdom.

Moreover, the framers of the Constitution would never have referred to an impeachment trial as “bipartisan,” since at the time of its writing there were no political parties in the United States.

The second way that this cohort of Republican senators justified their acquittal vote was by claiming that “the people” should decide whether Trump should be removed from office and this should be done when they cast their ballots during the November presidential election.

The Founding Fathers would not have recognized such an argument.

Read the entire piece here.

More Historians Weigh-In on the Trump Acquittal

Trump USA Today

Politico has gathered historians Michael Kimmage, Claire Potter, Mary Frances Berry, David Blight, Allan Lichtman, Brooks Simpson, and Jeremi Suri.

Here is Blight:

The impeachment and acquittal of Trump in 2020 left the country’s political culture in spiraling decline. For the portion of the country’s politically engaged population that was not securely within the Fox News universe, the Trump acquittal demonstrated the sheer cravenness of the Republican Party. Republicans continued to be seen in the 2020s as the party of white people, of a white nationalist, of a xenophobic vision of America that flew in the face of reality: an increasingly multiethnic, multiracial, multireligious nation. The Democratic Party also frayed into divisions between left and right. Democrats managed to defeat Trump in 2020, decisively in the popular vote but only narrowly in the Electoral College—vulnerable to charges even then that it was an archaic institution.

After his defeat in 2020, Trump cut a lucrative deal with Fox News and appeared on the channel three nights per week in prime time, stoking a racist, nationalist vision of the country, while the country divided and fragmented into increasingly identity-based groups.

The United States also continued to decline as a world power, losing influence in international organizations and in global economics. American institutions and corporations went into decline, and the country lost its place in the world as a model republic. Trumpism had become the watchword for American decline.

By the end of the 2020s, more voters than ever identified as independent. Attempts to establish third parties surged. In 2027, a movement for a new constitutional convention succeeded. The resulting constitutional amendments to eliminate the Electoral College and to reorganize the U.S. Senate into a more democratic institution just barely failed to pass in three quarters of state legislatures for approval.

Read the entire piece here.

Six Historians on Trump’s Acquittal

State of the Union

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Over at Time, Olivia Waxman asked Carol Anderson, Jeffrey Engel, Kevin Kruse, Barbara Perry, Manisha Sinha, and Brenda Wineapple to reflect historically on Trump’s acquittal.

Here is Sinha:

I think the person who was a real profile in courage [Wednesday] was Romney, whose speech will be remembered in history for its very careful constitutional reasoning on why he voted to convict. His vote made clear that this was not simply a partisan impeachment.

Historians are eventually going to remember this trial as a real blow, as a bad day for American democracy, when the Senate Republicans were just unable to put aside their partisan loyalty to the president, which is kind of ironic because the Republicans have called this a partisan impeachment. The only way a democracy works is when those who are opposed to each other in ideology or in policy goals agree to a set of ground rules on governance and procedures.

I wonder about the future of the Republican Party. It took the Democratic party a long time, a lot of realignments, especially during the New Deal, to recoup from being the party of slaveholders and white supremacy in the 19th century to being the party of civil rights during the civil rights movement. I wonder whether the Republican party is capable of reinventing itself. It’s certainly no longer the party of Lincoln. It’s the party of Trump.

Read the entire roundtable here.

 

The Complex Nature of Mormon Politics

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I haven’t seen this much writing about Mormons since Romney ran for president in 2012.

Over at NBC News,  historian Benjamin Park puts Mitt Romney’s impeachment trial vote to remove Donald Trump from office into some historical and religious context.  Here is a taste of his piece, “How Mitt Romney’s Impeachment Vote Was Influenced by His Mormon Faith“:

Members of the Mormon tradition once refused to fit into traditional political boundaries: Early members of the church typically threw their votes behind candidates on a case-by-case basis, predicated upon pledged support. And when political circumstances looked dire, they were not afraid of bold actions. Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of the faith, ran for president in 1844 and, once the church was settled in Utah, they formed their own political party in opposition to the national establishment. It was only in the 20th century, when the church and its members yearned for credibility and acceptance, that they embraced America’s two-party system.

But as the decades evolved, Utah’s vote transitioned as well. While the state at first featured two vibrant parties, after World War II — and especially following the culture wars of the 60s and the 70s — the “Mormon vote” became more or less synonymous with the “Republican Vote.” This was primarily due to a vocal LDS leadership who echoed anti-communist policies and anti-liberal social ideas, but it was also rooted the demographic makeup of Utah that positioned them with similar red states in the post-war era. Pew polling even revealed Mormons to be the most Republican religion in the nation.

So the fact that entrenched dissatisfaction with the current Republican establishment among the Mormon population has continued well into Trump’s administration is not surprising. A number of Trump’s most prominent Republican critics — including Romney, McMullin and Flake — are Mormon. And polling demonstrates that support for Trump continues to lag among Latter-day Saints voters compared to other Republican constituencies. It appears Mormons are less likely to simply overlook the morality issues that other white Christians broadly ignore, and less willing to make a pragmatic, silent sacrifice of principles for party unity.

Read the entire piece here.

Why Romney Did It

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Here is McKay Coppins at The Atlantic:

Mitt Romney didn’t want to go through with it.

“This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life,” he told me yesterday afternoon in his Senate office. Roughly 24 hours later, Romney would deliver a speech announcing that he was voting to convict President Donald Trump on the first article of impeachment—abuse of power. For weeks, the senator from Utah had sat silently in the impeachment trial alongside his 99 colleagues, reviewing the evidence at night and praying for guidance. The gravity of the moment weighed on him, as did the pressure from members of his own party to acquit their leader. As his conscience tugged at him, he said, the exercise took on a spiritual dimension.

Romney, a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, described to me the power of taking an oath before God: “It’s something which I take very seriously.” Throughout the trial, he said, he was guided by his father’s favorite verse of Mormon scripture: Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good. “I have gone through a process of very thorough analysis and searching, and I have prayed through this process,” he told me. “But I don’t pretend that God told me what to do.”

In the end, the evidence was inescapable. “The president did in fact pressure a foreign government to corrupt our election process,” Romney said. “And really, corrupting an election process in a democratic republic is about as abusive and egregious an act against the Constitution—and one’s oath—that I can imagine. It’s what autocrats do.”

According to Romney’s interpretation of Alexander Hamilton’s treatise on impeachment in “Federalist No. 65”—which he says he’s read “multiple, multiple times”—Trump’s attempts to enlist the Ukrainian president in interfering with the 2020 election clearly rose to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” (He told me he would not vote to convict on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress.)

Read the rest here.

Wehner: Mitt Romney is a “Profile in Courage”

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Here is a taste of Wehner’s piece at The Atlantic:

This also needs to be said: Romney’s views are not all that rare among his Republican colleagues, who know in their hearts that what Trump did was inexcusable and indefensible, the crossing of a once unthinkable moral and ethical red line. Had a Democratic president done the same, it would easily have cleared their bar for impeachment and removal from office. What is rare, however, his Romney’s courage. He acted honorably, and he acted alone.

To see so many Republicans who know better tie themselves into ethical knots to justify their fealty to Trump—and then to watch them lash out defensively when they are called on it—is a sad and pitiable thing.

Read the entire piece here.