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Forget a Senate Trial, Impeachment is its own Punishment

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By Dave Lindorff

    I’m getting sick and tired of hearing Democrats afraid of impeachment claim that it can’t be done because the Senate, where Democrats hold a precarious one-seat edge, would never vote to convict and remove, which would require 67 votes.

    Let’s get something straight:

    Impeachment is not about conviction and removal in the Senate. Impeachment is a stand-alone action of the House of Representatives, and requires a simple majority.

    Under the Constitution, there is no obligation for the Senate to even hold a trial after someone is impeached. It is an option, which is up to the will of the Senate.

    When the Founding Fathers drew up the impeachment clause, they envisioned it as its own punishment.  Trial and removal were seen as a wholly separate process, in addition to impeachment.

Under the Constitution, after investigating the high crimes and misdemeanors of a president or other federal officer in an impeachment panel composed of the members of the House Judiciary Committee, which would then approve articles of impeachment, the House would vote on whether to impeach the executive.

    If they concluded that Bush or Cheney, in this case, had abused their power, or had damaged the nation, or committed treason or bribery, they could then vote to impeach.
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    At that point the president and/or vice president would stand impeached.

    For all time, they would be known as defilers of the Constitution--or perhaps as traitors, depending upon the nature of the articles approved by a House majority.

    Their nefarious actions—the lying to Congress and American people, the violation of international laws, the violation of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments, the subversion of elections, the obstruction of justice, the criminal negligence, the war crimes, the usurping of the power of the Congress and the Courts—would all stand publicly condemned by the People’s Body.

    Whether they resigned, went on to a Senate trial, or just ran out their remaining terms of office, Bush and Cheney would leave Washington with a big red “I” emblazoned on their chests to the day they died. Nixon wore that scarlet letter even though he never even had his case go as far as a House vote. His rotting corpse still wears that bright letter of shame.

    So forget that red herring about a Senate trial being a non-starter.
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    Who cares about a Senate trial! For myself, I think that once we got those impeachment hearings going, and once the crimes of this administration started being aired on live television for all to see, and without the mediation of reporters and spin doctors, a Senate trial and conviction would be extremely likely, but whether I’m right or not really doesn’t matter.

    What we need is impeachment hearings and impeachment by the House!

    Enough excuses!

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper www.thiscantbehappening.net. He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)

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when people compare Clinton and Libby, they point ... by Rob Kall on Friday, Jul 6, 2007 at 11:41:42 AM
Because the evidence will be so outrageous, Republ... by Dave Lindorff on Friday, Jul 6, 2007 at 12:18:53 PM
I'm with you Dave.  I too believe he will... by Sleeper on Friday, Jul 6, 2007 at 12:49:56 PM
By most senators and representatives also seem to ... by Brett Paatsch on Friday, Jul 6, 2007 at 1:39:18 PM
They could impeach Bush tomorrow, without a single... by Richard Mynick on Friday, Jul 6, 2007 at 3:05:59 PM
This is how a real opposition party would be think... by Dave Lindorff on Friday, Jul 6, 2007 at 3:41:44 PM
the failure of the Dems. to Impeach:  4)... by Samuel Bryan on Saturday, Jul 7, 2007 at 2:05:37 AM
As one who has watched, and covered, the B-C Admin... by Brasch on Friday, Jul 6, 2007 at 4:50:18 PM
If the purpose of Impeachment is to express our mo... by Samuel Bryan on Saturday, Jul 7, 2007 at 2:23:05 AM
- not while the Republicans control both houses of... by RCG on Friday, Jul 6, 2007 at 8:09:18 PM
not while the tricky left wing gatekeepers do thei... by RCG on Friday, Jul 6, 2007 at 8:32:47 PM
Draft Impeachment Resolution Against President Geo... by Todd Huffman, M.D. on Friday, Jul 6, 2007 at 9:15:07 PM