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  • bobblayter

Impeachment, facts, and bias

Unless you are living in another world, Americans are aware there is an impeachment inquiry going on in the House of Representatives. The potential charge is whether President Trump committed acts that the Constitution says rise to the level of being removed from office.

Before I get into the details, I will make a prediction of the outcome. The House will eventual vote to impeach and the Senate will not convict, therefore leaving Mr. Trump as President.

Sadly most of this will not be based on facts, but on bias. Since Trump is a Republican and the House is controlled by Democrats, the party in power will see the facts in a manner that believes the President is guilty. In the Republican controlled Senate, those members will come to a different conclusion and will exonerate Mr. Trump.

So let’s go back for a minute and examine what we understand the facts to be. The Mueller report investigated two issues: potential collusion with the Russians in the 2018 presidential election and obstruction of justice. The report seemed to vindicate Trump on the collusion issue but strongly suggested obstruction of justice. The other issue that produced the impeachment inquiry is a phone call the President had with the president of the Ukraine on whether Trump held up giving approved military aid in exchange for investigating Joe Biden and his son.

Since I have the luxury of being retired I have been able to follow a lot of these hearings live. What appears clear to me is that the President did in fact hold up the aid. That fact is becoming undeniable. But here is where it gets really interesting. Does that issue qualify as an impeachable event? What that means is any president can do inappropriate acts and yet those acts don’t rise to the level of an impeachable event.

Like any issue I felt I needed to investigate what the Constitution actually says qualifies for impeachment. The Constitution limits grounds of impeachment to "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors". The precise meaning of the phrase "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" is not defined in the Constitution itself.

Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 65, described impeachable offenses as arising from "the misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust." Such offenses were "political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.” According to this reasoning, impeachable conduct could include behavior that violates an official's duty to the country, even if such conduct is not necessarily a prosecutable offense. Indeed, in the past both houses of Congress have given the phrase "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" a broad reading, finding that impeachable offenses need not be limited to criminal conduct.

Good luck on then deciding what constitutes guilt. In the impeachment of President Clinton back in 1998, the House of Representatives with a majority of Republicans voted to impeach, almost all along party lines. The Senate likewise, voting almost along party lines, did not convict because of the majority of Democrats.

So if we know the foregone conclusion in the potential impeachment of President Trump, what’s the point? Hopefully the point is that clear revelations will come across as to what the president actually did. So if he is not convicted, then voters can have a better understanding of what he did and did not do and then decide if this is someone I want to reelect.

Years ago while working in employee relations for a utility company, I had to investigate a complaint from an employee about management treatment. This employee had a horrible reputation, and I thought his complaint would turn out to be invalid. Since I was hired to be an objective investigator, I discovered his complaint was legitimate. It didn’t change my belief about his reputation, but none of that mattered to determine what the truth was.

The last thing I want to say to all of us is to please, please, prayerfully be objective. I see posts from my friends on Face Book who base their understanding of the facts more on if they like or not like the President. The Bible is full of exhortations that when we judge we do it correctly and not with any potential biases.

Even though I wish somebody other than Donald Trump were president, I don’t know if I would vote to convict him of an impeachable offense. Why do I say that? I say that because I truly want to be fair and objective, because that is what my faith teaches me.

So my pastoral counsel is pray that the truth comes out in such a way that it is undeniable about whether the President has committed egregious acts. This way objectivity will be obvious and we can be united on what the outcome should be.

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