The History of High Crimes and Misdemeanors
Ed. note: Longtime friend of the blog Cynthia Kouril moderated a CLE on impeachment. She wrote up this statement after the panel. She has given us permission to post her statement from that here.
For all of you out there wondering what “High Crimes & Misdemeanors” means and whether or not there has to be an ‘underlying crime’ let me help you out here.
Last week I moderated a CLE on Impeachment and you are welcome to the fruits of my labors on that topic.
A basic rule of legal interpretation is that you cannot define a legal term using information not yet in existence at the time the term was used. At the time the Constitution was debated and adopted, there was no federal criminal code, much less the US Code we have today. So, you cannot use anything in the current Code to define “High Crime & Misdemeanor”.
You have to use that term, and it is a legal ‘term of art’ as the phrase was understood when it was inserted into the Constitution. It is interesting to note that this phrase is ONLY used in connection with impeachment. Crimes in the criminal code are low crimes.
The term is first recorded in the impeachment of of the King’s Chancellor, Michael de la Pole, in 1386. One of the “High Crimes & Misdemeanors” de la Pole was charged with, was the failure to expend moneys appropriated by Parliament as the appropriation directed him to do, just like Trump withholding funds appropriated by Congress which was required to be given to Ukraine by a date in September. Contrary to the GOP’s claims, not all the Ukraine aide was committed in time and Congress had to do a second appropriation to restore the unspent money.
Not every impeachment in the next 400 years used this phrase, but in each instance where it was used, it was 1) only in the context of impeachment, and 2) referred to offenses that implicated either misuse of their office (including using their office for self enrichment) or failure to obey Parliament (basically a failure to observe separation of powers).
At the time the Constitution was being written and edited there was a famous impeachment trial going on involving the Viceroy of India. A Viceroy (“vice king”, ‘roi’ being french for king) is the representative of the crown in a way far more important than a governor. A British governor was subject to instruction from London, the Viceroy was imbued with the monarch’s own Majesty and ruled an entire country (such as Ireland or India) rather than an individual colony.
So, the impeachment of Warren Hastings ran from 1786 to 1795, while the Constitution was being debated and was the “trial of the century” of its day. Everybody talked about it. He was charged with “gross maladministration, corruption in office, and cruelty towards the people of India”.
At the time of Nixon’s impeachment Peter Rodino commissioned a staff report on the history of impeachment including the meaning of this phrase. The report which runs some 60 pages with footnotes and endnotes, is fascinating to read. It’s conclusion with respect to this term of art: “[t]wo points emerge from the 400 years of English parliamentary experience with the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors”. First, the particular allegations of misconduct alleged damages to the state in such forms as misapplication of funds, abuse of official power, neglect of duty, encroachment on Parliament’s prerogatives, corruption, and betrayal of trust. Second the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” was confined to parliamentary impeachments; it had no roots in ordinary criminal law, and the particular allegations of misconduct under that heading were not necessarily limited to common law or statutory derelictions or crimes.”
I hope you find the above helpful.
Update: I updated the intro to make it clear that Kouril moderated, did not put together, the CLE, and this contribution was written afterwards.
In reality HC&M are whatever the Majority Leader in the Senate decide they are or are not.
Uh, no they are actually the province of the House to define and charge in any specific case. The Senate just votes on whether there is a conviction or not, and, if so, what the penalty is.
Scott, that was a cynical comment made by Gerald Ford. It is not the state of the law.
Blast form the past. (And it doesn’t even get into the question of divorce, or worse, the dreaded “free love.”)
Apr 16, 1970 … Repr Ford, in attack on US Sup Ct Justice Douglas, accuses him of having … debate tonight by suggesting that Justice William O. Douglas might have … Mr. Celler, to whose commit tee any impeachment resolution would be …
Would Vice Individual-1 cast a tie-breaking vote?
[Sockpuppetry, including unauthorized use of a real person’s identity, isn’t permitted. You were asked in October to use a different username for this reason. /~Rayne]
No. That is explicitly ruled out, just as the VP does not preside over the trial (unlike all other possible impeachments): because s/he is the person who has most to gain from a conviction.
Also, you are most certainly not “Fmr. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor,” so please find a screen name that is not totally disingenuous.
Thanks for posting this! In case anyone is curious like me, here is a link to the Rodino report mentioned by the author:
Jason thanks for that link, as always Marcy’s blog I think should be read by every high-school in America & beyond. This is a source of information that the majority will not see on other articles especially MSM. Marcy, thanks again for your shared knowledge & your very credible source network. I would like to thank that commenters as well, they add another layer of depth that’s hard to find elsewhere.
TY for linking.
Thank you Marcy for this blog and the exceptional comments of the community you have hosted.
Ordinarily, that should perhaps read: ‘The Senate votes on guilt or lack thereof,’ but that’s not a factor this time.
Warren Hastings, not “Hasting”.
Warren Hastings was governor-general of the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal, usually shortened to governor-general of Bengal. The title was changed to governor-general of India in 1838 and then governor-general and viceroy in 1858 after the Mutiny/First War of Independence when Parliament transferred control of India from the East India Company to the Crown.
William Dalrymple, in his “The Anarchy”, a treatment of the East India Company, describes Warren Hastings thusly: “Plain-living, scholarly, diligent, and austerely workaholic, he was a noted Indophile who in his youth fought hard against the looting of Bengal by his colleagues. However his feud with Philip Francis led to him being accused of corruption and he was impeached by Parliament. After a long and very public trial he was finally acquitted in 1795.”
That is consistent with what happened in the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Johnson’s attempt to substitute Lorenzo Thomas for Edwin Stanton created the threat that Johnson would also dismiss Grant. Congress was not ready to give up on reconstruction at that point in 1868, and wanted to see how the freedmen would vote. Thus impeachment, based on Johnson’s defiance of Congressional will was the basis for impeachment, although violation of the tenure in office act was the technical basis for violation.
Reluctance to replace Johnson with Senator Wade tempered the enthusiasm for impeachment.
Eventually Schofield agreed to serve as Sec’y of War, and he was conservative enough to satisfy Johnson. Johnson agreed to not fire Grant, and Grant agreed to the R nominee.
William Sherman, John Sherman, and William Seward were satisfied that the deal would hold for 10 months. Therefore the spectacle of Civil War, followed by an assassination, followed by impeachment and conviction was avoided, by a close vote on conviction.
Johnson’s attempt to re-establish the balance of power that existed before the war, minus only the worst aspects of slavery, was unacceptable in 1868. By 1874, the Dems had reassembled their alliance it the Rs were fighting for survival.
So high crimes and misdemeanors mainly involves defiance of Congress.
High crimes and misdemeanors involve a president grossly abusing the legislature’s expectations. That would include how well he respected constitutional norms and the independent powers of the legislature and judiciary, his enforcement of laws enacted by the legislature, and his abuse of own powers. It would include serious policy differences. In Johnson’s case, that included how to reintegrate former confederate states into the Union.
Thanks for the post. To chime in – I’m just a joe on the street but my reading of the Constitution is (a) the “law” applies to all citizens and is implicit in the document, and (b) impeachment is simply the process of removing a president for acts committed that are not covered by common “law” – things like a breech of public trust, accepting bribes and other acts an ordinary citizen is not in the position to commit since they are not a head of state, and for which ordinary “law” has not clearly codified. The body assigned to define that behavior is Congress according to the impeachment provisions of the Constitution.
I’m contunually baffled that people use the impeachment clause as an argument that the “law” doesn’t apply to the president while he is in office.
I agree with you, MattyG, though my opinion is of no qualified value. The OLC opinion that a sitting President can’t be indicted for ordinary criminal conduct seems a non-sense. My understanding is that that opinion relies on the argument that an indictment would be too great a burden on the President for him to carry out his duties. I am perplexed as to why the Vice-President couldn’t fulfill the required duties while a President defended a legally well-founded indictment, if the President found it too burdonsome.
You are absolutely right. There is nothing in the Constitution (or any law) giving the President any immunity from criminal prosecution. All there is is a (Watergate era) Justice Department OPINION that has never been tested in court. Therefore the only thing preventing criminal prosecution of the President is Justice Department Policy.
Seems to me that opinion could be justifyably tested in Congress as well. The lack of any preliminary challenge to the blanket statement in the executive summary of the Mueller Report still puzzles and upsets me.
England in the period of the Hastings impeachment and trial (1788-95) was experiencing sustained and intense domestic political turmoil, involving feuding parties and a controversial king, who suffered from recurring bouts of mental illness.
There was frequent war with France, the French Revolution, war with and the loss of the American colonies, the rebuilding of the empire afterwards – based on expansion in India – and controversy over the role of private companies, such as the East India Company, in establishing and profiting from that empire.
In an era where taking personal profit from government office was the norm. Hastings was restrained and a relative moderate compared to other Governors General and Viceroys. His contemporary and a predecessor in Indian, Robert Clive, made a vast fortune through war, pillage and destruction of the local population.
A number of years earlier, Elihu Yale, the founder of what became Yale University, made his fortune in India. Thus, Yale University is a direct product of British colonial rule in India. Many people don’t pay attention to that fact.
Many of what are now Ivy League schools were products of imperialism and the slave trade: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Brown, the precursor to Princeton, William & Mary. They benefited from its profits and, in turn, prepared managers for the Caribbean and North American end of the Atlantic trade, which was built around slavery.
Craig Steven Wilder. 2013. Ebony & Ivy.
earl of h, surely you’re not accusing the one true god of imperialism 😉.
…and all this time I thought it was about reciting backpacking poetry while rowing in the nasty fog.
you know: hike rhymes and misty mean oars.
You were not necessarily wrong about that.
Low-level beanery, if you ask me.
LOL. punaise, I’m really grateful that you grace our comment threads.
tee-hee.. thx for tolerating the silliness!
a little levity for bleak and ponderous matters.
Why didn’t I think of that?
(Kudos to punaise! And speaking of beanery…)
Hats off to the kings of spin,
Roy Cohn and Vladimir Putin.
Whatever it took to get a win,
they went to hell to earn the sin.
The market was hot for their brand,
So they boxed, then they canned
ingredients that could be banned
as flammable if or when it’s fanned.
Like farts that preceded a dump,
it passed on to the felonious Trump,
who can’t prevent the impulse to jump
up to a base rally for his next stump.
They love to snort the noxious gas,
and simply can’t let the moment pass.
They thrive on everything that is crass,
imagining that it elevates their class.
In their frenzy they love his jokes,
and are tickled by the way it stokes
all the Republican gals and blokes,
and all their respective Congress folks.
This mind freak genocide isn’t a fad,
It’s just the same hook as breaking bad.
In our hearts, most of us know it’s sad,
Senators, please don’t drive us mad.
Maybe if the gas actually lights off their eyes will clear, restoring a lofty vision for the nation.
There’s always hope for unintended consequences. :-)
LOL, thanks Cathy, I needed that. BTW, I was just thinking of you after seeing this article about airflow:
Savannah monitor lizards have a unique airflow pattern that is a hybrid of bird and mammal flow patterns
TY @SL! [contented sigh]
The phys.org article describes how birds and the Savannah monitor lizards breathe using a path more like our circulatory system – no reverse flows – than our lungs, which reverse flow with every breath. The cool thing about the Savannah monitor lizard is that its lungs achieve that circulation with “no flaps or valves that determine airflow, like the heart pumps blood. Pure aerodynamics guide the complicated physics.”
Gives a pretty nifty summary of computational fluid dynamics under the section “Supercomputers tell a complicated story.”
Echoing the conclusions in @orionATL’s find* concerning how elegantly birds exploit external fluid dynamics (https://m.phys.org/news/2015-06-small-vortex-wing-elegance-birds.html) our researcher here concludes,
“We have this amazing wealth of really cool fluid dynamics out there in the animal world that we want to know more about. Maybe we can apply that knowledge to engineering or for human health[.]”
Fun Fact: When Post Doc Robert Cieri isn’t cadging time on supercomputers to model lizard breath, he’s bringing a wide range of animal breath to a new crop of evolutionary biologists (with the help of Bunny Yoga writer/illustrator Bryan Russo):
We All Breathe (https://formsmostwonderful.com/files/animated%20breathing%20poster.gif)
[we now return you to contemplation of Constitutional context]
Btw I’m on board with the HC&M analysis, just wish the oars would lighten up.
[and apologies for the cite, @orion, I should have gapped the * from the http]
This is where most folks — including a significant number of members of Congress — get confused. They understand “high crimes” to mean really big crimes like murder and not little things like jaywalking. The “high crimes” language shows the contrast between crimes attached to misuse of a “high” office and ordinary crimes in the criminal code (“low”) that apply more broadly
Yes, thanks Cindy, Peterr and Marcy. I also think that Prof. Noah Feldman made a noble effort to get that point across during the hearings. But Turley confused the issue. Consequently, it did not make the impact it should have on Congress or the public. So, I appreciate seeing it here.
No disrespect to Cynthia. Thanks for the much needed history.
Turley confused a lot of things. I blame the dog. But he did also say: “The use of military aid for a quid pro quo to investigate one’s political opponent, if proven, can be an impeachable offense.”
So even the GOP’s expert witness agrees on that point.
I wonder if the people in Congress who claim to be lawyers and still don’t seem to get why impeachment is necessary should have to take a class like Cynthia’s – or lose their bar privileges. (Especially the ones who keep saying it’s a coup or that it’s not legal. Dear sweet Ghu, that’s stupid.)
You rarely see the term “low crime” but the term “common crime” and it’s buddy “common criminal” are seen often.
Thanks for that clarification, Cynthia. I often wondered about the term “common criminal.” Whenever I heard it, I couldn’t help but wonder about uncommon criminals. Now I know :-)
I think the heinousness and seriousness of criminals offenses are distributed along a normal curve. So, yeah, I’ve always thought of common criminal as the first standard deviation range. Maybe pushing a bit into the second.
Ironic that the context of his office should associate people such as the wretched Scott Pruitt (anyone remember him?), much of whose grifting was almost comically low-level, with high crimes; but I guess the same is true of Individual -1, who’d still be a common criminal if he’d stayed in Manhattan.
Has any House leader like Pelosi, Nadler or Schiff been asked by any reporter why they feel it necessary to send the articles they vote on to the Senate for sham trial? Especially in light of the recent statement by McConnell and Graham that they plan to rig the trial, and given there’s no constitutional requirement they turn this over to the Senate, why are they doing it?
They all stated their intention to uphold the oaths they took to protect and defend the Constitution. Please troll somewhere else, and make sure the Palace paid you up front, they have a habit of welching on their debts.
The big problem is going to be in the Senate, where several of the jurors have already decided the verdict, while claiming to have not read any of the evidence presented so far.
(In a normal court, this would get you tossed from the jury pool.)
As a longstanding constitutional law student and lawyer – this is a good and helpful summary.
One other principle of constitutional or statutory construction (which is often ignored) is the principle that one should not construe a portion without reference to the context of the entire document. In this case, a constitution in which the framers objected strongly to democracy, provided a “take it or leave it” document to the state ratifying conventions (a document having no “Bill of Rights”), and made it so that it would come into effect when ratified by a certain number of states, by vote within each state (i.e., approval by some 15% or so of the population that met state requirements for voting – property ownership etc).
These framers DID NOT TRUST even that 15% or so of the population who could vote, when it came to choosing the President. No, they wanted the voters to pick reputable people as Electors, who would then choose the President. Hamilton wanted each President to be in place for life.
Today we have a system that takes account of a couple of constitutional amendments that made certain changes, but still has provisions reflecting an electoral college, i.e., a system the framers came up with when they didnt want the regular voters voting for president. Correspondingly, there is no constitution provision ensuring a right to vote, only legislative and judicial precedent that has been under attack and is being weakened.
So what does this all say about impeachment? Not much, except that we should stop trying to cling to outmoded documents of the eighteenth century if we have any hope in the future. Impeachment should be read and understood along the other provisions, most of which are outdated and anti-democratic, especially the structure of the Senate. But you hear the chirping about “our democracy” all the time without reference to any of this. My point is this – if we have any democracy, its not because we are good at faithfully interpreting the original constitution. Quite to the contrary.
For those interested, books like Morton Herzog’s “The Transformation of American Law” provide a fascinating insight into how the American legal system developed and changed so profoundly – among other things, the book reviews the implications of moving from a system largely of judge-made law to a system of codification during the 1800s.
Aaaanyway, two of the worst and most damaging presidencies in the history of the world were decided by our wonderful system that now often gives the presidency to the second place finisher. This is laughable and pathetic, but not something we can blame the original framers for, because they wanted an electoral college where electors have to justify their votes – and made that part of something of an instant runoff system in which two vote getters would come into office together as Pres and VP (although that was changed in 1801).
Sounds like the Constitution helps those who help themselves. We can choose to stunt our society to comply with (actual) original intent, to keep the contract relevant by modifying it as our society evolves, to refuse to amend it as society evolves, eventually rendering it a historical curiosity, or to ignore it when convenient.
God isn’t breathing life into it; the Constitution Pixie isn’t enforcing it; it’s just us, experimenting with self-governance, one generation to the next. The burden’s on us to keep it going.
That’s very well said and this explication of the definition of high crimes is truly enlightening. Thanks to everyone here who has clarified this for me.
“often gives the presidency to the second place finisher”?
Got cites for that?
(Also, instant-runoff results aren’t very predictable – unless it’s a landslide for one nominee.)
Second place finishers (i.e. losers) like George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump – unquestionably two of the worst, most venal presidents in American history!
Maybe a usage more or less parallel to that of “high crimes and misdemeanors” in the English common law would be “high treason” (as defined in a famous statute of 1352 during the reign of Edward III), i.e. compassing and imaging the death of the monarch; or levying war on England; or giving aid and comfort to its enemies. Thus “high” meant relating to the monarchy or general order of the realm.
In contrast, “petit treason” (or “petty treason”) was the murder of a superior by a servant, or, under the prevailing patriarchy, of a husband by a wife. This kind of low or common treason, as one might say, related to the betrayal of a superior, but on a small or domestic scale as compared to on the scale of the entire realm or polity.
This example may further support Cynthia Kouril’s fine analysis.
Cathy’s post above mine is very good. Let me just sharpen the point of her comment just a bit – the original Constitution was a highly racist and undemocratic document. Slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person for apportionment purposes but could not vote. Senators were appointed not elected by popular vote. And the Electoral College process (although not called that in the Constitution) is essentially an apartheid provision – ensuring that small, minority states had an inordinate influence on the picking of the President. I think Cathy is saying that this document is not some holy document that God dropped to Earth and decreed that should never be altered. It is a flawed, anachronistic document that needs to be altered to be more compatible with modern sensibilities and reason.
Some of them felt that it should be redone every couple of generations.
(I think making it possible to change it was a good idea.)
Yes, very thankful I’m allowed to vote. Even more thankful that my daughter is; she gets such a determined look when she talks asserting her right by exercising it. [goosebumps]
A welcome elaboration on how stunted we could have remained, thank you. I wouldn’t object to exploring the “ignore it when convenient” part either.
How about a view from the bleachers concerning separation of powers?
President Trump arguably usurped Congress’ power of the purse when he withheld the apportioned aid to Ukraine, but maybe his action could be seen as testing his Executive limits rather than breaking the Constitution. However, if Congress doesn’t hold him accountable for the power grab and even actively obscures its significance in the eyes of the electorate…that seems like an instance of deliberate disregard.
If the only remedy then is for the electorate to take their gentle members of Congress to the woodshed there it is again: the burden on us. Hopefully we’re prepared to bear it.
“I think Cathy is saying that this document is not some holy document that God dropped to Earth and decreed that should never be altered. It is a flawed, anachronistic document that needs to be altered to be more compatible with modern sensibilities and reason.”
Yes, Taney’s lack of reason had much to do with incorrect and conditioned sensibilities all designed to protect a minority’s monopoly, power and money.
Great post & commentary!
Jeremy Corbyn, absorbing his party’s massive defeat, resurrects that famous model of command responsibility: The executive officer always goes down with the ship.
John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, says, “It’s on me. It’s on me. Let’s take it on the chin. I own this disaster…. If anyone’s to blame it is me. Full stop.” Sounds like he’s rehearsing to be a cheerleader in Dallas.
Mr. Corbyn, though, remains in office for the next “8-11 weeks,” to aid in the transition to a new leader. Word is Labour is looking for a woman to take the helm. When they’re back is up against the wall, the Brits sometimes finally make a good choice.
Hopefully when our back is similarly positioned we do the same, even if only sometimes. Thank you for the link @eoh.
Captain does not always go down with the ship: his duty is to be last survivor to leave, and to return as soon as (& if) possible.
Corbyn’s duty is to go down in the hope that the ship will survive.
Being too literal is sometimes a bad thing.
Yes, politically, Corbyn should own the blame for his party’s massive loss. Were hear a competent leader, he would not have allowed McDonnell to make those statements. Corbyn engineered a lot of his loss, notwithstanding a bent press and Michael Gove’s systemic lies. His delay in resigning makes recovery harder.
Imagine if Trump had been on the Titanic. Would all the lifeboats have been launched with a single passenger?
He’d have been the first one into a lifeboat, and he’d have shoved women and children overboard to get to it.
Oh come on, you know in your heart of hearts that if Trump had had control of the Titanic, the life boats would have been turned into individually gated condos long before the ice berg had cleared the horizon. ;-)
And I think maybe the comment about Corbyn’s duty may have been offered in counterpoint to that of the ship captain as last survivor, supporting “his delay in resigning makes recovery harder (@eoh).” At least it’s more fun to read it that way.
Indoobitably. Compare & contrast… History does not require Captain Corbyn’s continued presence on the bridge.
Agree: when the Captain is the one with the black spot, his duty should be to lead the Kraken away from the ship. :-)
“You are more valuable than many sparrows.”
Well let’s hope Corbyn is. Capt. Sparrow had to be outmaneuvered by the feisty and determined damsel and still left the ship in splinters. ;-)
[with all due respect to the reformed tax collector and his writings]
Sigh. In deference to my soon-to-be voter: I assert that in the gap between “Dead Man’s Chest” (2006) and “At World’s End” (2007) the Black Pearl was pulverized then reconstituted in Davy Jones’ Locker.
And in fact the epic journey undertaken by the survivors in “At World’s End” to regain the Black Pearl further underscores @eoh’s observation about how Corbyn’s delay in resigning could make Labour’s recovery much harder.
[there, happy? go revise for your exams.]
Better role-model for Corbyn might be the captain of a hot-air bloon. (Ja, I know: politicians – hot air; but bear with me…) The vessel’s sinking unless he jumps; jump, Jeremy, jump – you’ll get your name on a park bench at least.
Now would be a wunnerful time for Labour to have a woman at the helm (burner?), as Tories retreat deeper into their dark-walled man den.
Not a bad look for a traditional keeper of the hearth, and by extension of the community and country.
Side Note: I have to admit that in rummaging around references to keepers of the flame I recoiled from some videos. However, for the teachers out there this is a sweet tribute: From the illustrator of the Judy Moody books via the Fablevision YouTube channel, animated poem “Keepers of the Flame” (https://youtu.be/3l_dy8wzZuE), 3:50 minutes.
That is very sweet – a little light for dark times.
here is one analysis of what happened to the labor party last week in the u.k.:
what i find intetesting is the point that the labor party split in two – the less well-educated and probably older voters who went over to the conservative side, and the better educated who stayed with labor and its “manifesto”. the rest of the analysis i find less so.
i still cannot understand why corbyn did not, starting early on, lay the blame for british workers’ economic malaise where it belongs – with thatcher and successors’ misguided no-government assistance, no-regulation, free-market nonsense. here is a real lesson for the democratic party which has been losing less-well educated voters since reagin democrats in 1980. i attribute this in part to the demise of labor unions whose leaders sheparded the working folk into politically constructive areas of policy which helped those folk. now those often fundamentally ignorant workers are running free to be picked of by republican “values-based” propaganda involving immigrants and other nations’ trade policies.
i also cannot understand why russian involvement, and that of some amerian hyper-wealthy, were not also made a key issue.
it is important to observe, however, as corbyn’s case illustrated, that many americans voters, like their british equals, despise the behavior of their politicians as a group. i believe that accounts for a good deal of president trump’s appeal; he appears to be a “tell it like it is” kind of guy. his mendacity, his policy ignorance, and his irresolute, ring-in-the-nose, intemperate personality seem inconsequential to them.
here is another analysis from the guardian’s gary younge:
it is reasonably good until it to gets to the final paragraph in which younge divides up what remains of labor into “them” and “my side. it is axiomatic that labor, or democrats, only win when enough voters favorably disposed have outvoted tories or republicans. that usually requires very large numbers of voters of differing viewpoints. assigning labels, as opposed to talking crucial policy needs, goes nowhere.
This is Republican strategist Rick Wilson describing Trump’s relationship with his party: “The Republicans have the worst political Stockholm syndrome we’ve ever seen.” And this:
We’ll have to see if we can do something about that no political punishment for Trump’s allies. For starters, in 2020, there’s a Senate race in Kentucky that could be interesting. There are lots more like that.
Mr. Wilson’s framing of the Republican behavior is on point.
Cruz was at his absolute bottom, a place he appears to love to be, this AM on *MTP* – “can’t impeach, no crime”, *etc*. And it’s not fair to speculate, I know, but is he somehow related to Giuliani? They both seem to have a touch of Gran’pa Munster in their dis-ingenuosness, and so unfortunately in their appearance …
Thanks for sharing Earl of Huntingdon. Good article and comment about “abusive” behavior – spot on. Certainly fits Abuser in Chief.
In November actor Robert De Niro said to Stephen Colbert:
“It’s like living in an abusive household. You don’t know what’s going to happen next, what crazy thing is going to happen next, what’s going to make you say what the hell’s going on?”
EW looks like you need your own taping of a Kent County “look at the pulse” on impeachment. MTP failed.
I think you have a future on video.
Looking forward to the whole video. Looks like Dan Rather would enjoy getting it noticed.
I was wondering what kind of results you’d get by polling all the people in Congress with law degrees (especially those with courtroom experience), asking them if they’ve ever seen a pool where potential jurors were allowed to stay even after telling the media and the public that they’re going to ignore the evidence and the testimony of firsthand witnesses, and vote against conviction – before the trial even starts. And the necessary follow-up question: what should they do in that case?
Probably the same answer the lawyers at the Heritage Club gave in unison, when Billy Ray asked if there was a lawyer in the house. Head-in-sand silence.
They will also discover en masse all the reasons why neither the House nor Senate proceedings are the same as a criminal trial, and don’t require the same rules or procedure.
The Guardian continues its series of miscast headlines that seek to normalize the abnormal: “Trump Impeachment: Democrats fume as Republicans rally behind president.”
That sounds like normal politics. A party should rally behind its leader when he is attacked by the opposition party. Just routine. It’s contradicted, though, by the lead, which refers to Trump’s “impeachment,” a deeply abnormal event, like a hundred-year flood. The headline, which is the only bit many readers have time for, fails to capture why rallying behind Donald Trump might be more abnormal than Trump’s behavior.
The article itself handily lays out why that might be, despite repeating – and ending – with the gobbledygook that removing a president for having committed high crimes and misdemeanors, “is trying to undermine an election.”
I am missing my friend, the edit button.
Lawrence Tribe has a suggestion:
Not that I think it will work; McConnell and the other R “leaders” in the Senate are too far up that orange a– for that
FYI, an update from last night:
The Philadelphia InquirerVerified account @PhillyInquirer
“Jeff Van Drew’s planned switch to the GOP prompts 5 senior aides to resign, more expected”
Apparently they were staffers provided by the DCCC. He seemed to think they’d be willing to work for him after he switches parties.
All of the party-machinery dirty laundry is coming out, especially re Norcross funding NJ dems like Van Drew. The strange thing is that even Booker might end up taking media hits out of all this, if his candidacy starts to move/rise in prominence. (IIRC Will Bunch was pointing out Booker’s ties to past Norcross money some months ago, and given all going on with Van Drew, various coalitions of NJ dems are hot right now.)
[on twitter, as to Bunch re Booker/Norcross: I don’t recall any recent columns on this]
this history and interpretation is very interesting and informative. thank you.
it was interesting to learn that the key impeachment term used in our constitution (“high crimes and misdemeanors”) had a long history in english political and constitutional law, law which clearly has a kinship with english common law, before it was picked up and used by the american rebels in the 1780’s. by “kinship” i am referring very specifically to the concept of “the rule of law”.
i note with amusement that the term high crimes and misdemeanors seems, thoughtfully 😉, to be a catchall that includes both major misconduct (high crimes) and minor (misdemeanors). the history above locates the first impeachment in early British parliamentary history (1386) which was less than a hundred years after the century-long struggle to force a british king to ceed some powers to lesser mortals (though titled lads to be sure). i’m referring to what came to be called the “magna carta” in which various kings over the course of the 1200’s ceeded and re-ceeded some power to british lords, creating the first parliament-like governing structure in britain.
this leads to a second interesting revelation in ms. kouril’s recounting, that that first impeachment (was that term used then?) involved the failure of a king’s minister to properly use money’s appropriated by parliament as directed by parliament. now, 700+ years later, that issue is a critical matter in the current american impeachment of its president in a nation whose laws are a direct lineal descendent from those earlier laws.
this issue of conflict between a king and a parliament or congress, that is, a governing body whose individual members each have much less power than a king, but who acting collectively assert power equal to or superior to the king’s, seems guaranteed to occur repeatedly in never-ending conflict between prime rulers like kings or presidents and the collectives we call parliaments and congresses whenever the prime ruler is tempted to assert unilateral power. here we circle back to the foundation for curbing authoritarian rule in a democracy – the rule of law.
The GOP are not originalists, are they?
The judge has rejected Mike Flynn’s arguments about the FBI misleading him.