Letters: Impeachment based on innuendo

Frank Dunphy, Pittsboro
Posted 12/6/19

To the editor:

In his 1974 book “Impeachment: A Handbook,” by Charles Black, the author writes impeachment of a president is a grave step, because it overturns a national election. It should …

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Letters: Impeachment based on innuendo

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Posted

To the editor:

In his 1974 book “Impeachment: A Handbook,” by Charles Black, the author writes impeachment of a president is a grave step, because it overturns a national election. It should not be used for all types of misconduct. It must be only acted on for serious assaults on the process of government, as to make his continuance in office dangerous to the public order.

In 1865, Andrew Johnson favored quick return to civilian rule in the occupied South. The Republicans in Congress supported harsher treatment. The conflict flared when Johnson fired the Republican Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, and three days later, the U.S. Congress impeached him for violating the “Tenure of Office Act,” which required Congressional Permission before a president can fire an executive officer. At the Senate trial, Johnson was saved by one vote. His impeachment tested separation of powers between Legislative and Executive Branches.

In 1926, the Supreme Court invalidated The “Tenure of Office Act,” bolstering the President’s authority to remove executive officers without legislative consent.

In 1974, Richard Nixon resigned before he was impeached. He was charged with obstruction of justice when self-incriminating Oval Office audio tapes revealed that he played an active role in obstructing a burglary investigation at the 1972 Democratic headquarters.

In 1998, Bill Clinton was impeached for grand jury perjury and obstructing justice by concealing evidence of a salacious affair with a White House intern. A blue dress with Clinton’s DNA plus the intern’s grand jury testimony represented factual and first-hand evidence. His Democratic defenders and White House counsel argued neither charge rose to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and the Senate agreed by acquittal.

The impeachment process against President Trump (as conducted by Adam Schiff’s Intelligence Committee) should be disturbing to average Americans. It is reminiscent of Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Committees: No Due Process due to secret meetings in a secret room under the Capitol while protecting a secret accuser (Whistleblower); blocking witness testimony requested by the minority, blocking questions by the minority; blocking counsel for the accused. All three prior U.S. presidential impeachment inquiries debated factual evidence: Johnson’s firing the secretary of war; Nixon’s audio tapes; and Clinton’s blue dress. Only the Nixon presidency was prematurely terminated. The Johnson acquittal decided the president has authority to fire executive branch officers; the Clinton acquittal decided a salacious affair did not endanger performance of his constitutional duties.

Schiff’s esoteric process in the House Intelligence Committee debases evidence to hearsay and opinion by State Department witnesses about a telephone call between two presidents. Hearsay opinions simulate water cooler gossip which should be dismissed as unacceptable by decent Americans of all political stripes.

Frank Dunphy

Pittsboro

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