Impeaching a United States president

Eddie Bernice Johnson TT
Eddie Bernice Johnson

 

By EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON

U.S. House of Representatives

 

Until now, there have only been three instances in the history of our great nation when members of the House of Representatives have had to consider impeaching an American president.

Most recently members of the House Judiciary Committee, whose task it was to consider the articles of impeachment brought against President Trump, found themselves having to pray before voting, seeking guidance, asking God what they should do in the midst of a turbulent national crisis.

Away from the cameras and distant from the rancor of debate they bowed their heads and tuned their hearts to seek a higher guidance, to search for a greater peace that had eluded them in the precedent hours, weeks and months.

And now members in the House of Representatives have made their decision, sending the issue to the United States Senate where its members will decide whether or not the 45th president of the United States should be removed from office.

It is indeed a sad and stressful time in the history of our democracy. Had the founders of our country not believed that a discreditable chief executive would one day occupy the highest office in our land they would not have included a procedure in our constitution identifying steps to remove him or her from office.

The House has charged Trump with abuse of power and contempt of Congress. In the first instance it is alleged that the president asked the president of Ukraine to personally assist him in his bid for reelection by producing unfavorable evidence on a political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The second charge alleges that the president refused to allow aides in his administration to give sworn testimony before congressional panels, even though they received valid subpoenas.

Even in the face of a ruling by a federal district court judge stating that the president was not a “king” who acts without constraints, Trump decided to abandon prudence and insisted that his aides not appear, defying Congress.

The power to issue subpoenas is a critical function of the Congress as a component of government, equal to both the presidency and the Supreme Court. That much is taught in high school civic classes.

The authority and power of Congress are constitutionally based, and cannot be voided by the whims of any single individual, even if that person happens to be the president of the United States. Certainly President Trump should understand that.

 

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas in the United States House of Representatives. She also chairs the House committee on Science, Space and Technology.

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