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Note on Impeachment

The Democratic Party establishment lacks the integrity to impeach a president for even the most obvious impeachable offenses. That must change if we are to have any hope of restoring citizen control of our government.

Last December when Texas Democrat Al Green introduced articles of impeachment for President Donald Trump (H. Res. 646), the majority of House Democrats joined with all the Republicans in voting to table the articles without consideration. Vermont Congressman Peter Welch voted with this quisling majority, refusing even to discuss whether Trump has committed impeachable offenses.

The evidence that Trump has violated the Constitution is overwhelming on three distinct grounds. Trump’s continued profit off foreign governments through his businesses, such as the Trump Hotel in D.C., has been judged to warrant litigation under the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. Trump has clearly benefited from the ongoing Russian cyber attack and release of emails, not to mention the vast disinformation campaign in 2016. Furthermore, there is ample evidence of coordination between members of the Trump campaign and Russian agents. Most importantly, Trump continued driving of wedges into the existing cracks in our society along racial and religious grounds in order to activate the hatred of his base is not a political tactic; it is an act of war. Not only is it an attack on our electoral system, it is an attack on our core values of equal protection under the law. It is clear that the only check on Donald Trump’s malfeasance will be the United States House of Representatives.

So why do Peter Welch-style Democrats run away from their constitutional responsibility? Tabling the vote is the legislative equivalent of burying one’s head in the sand. The corporate Democrats say they don’t want to spend “political capital” defending constitutional government, but defending constitutional values – impeaching a president who violates the Constitution – is part of the job.

With Peter Welch, this political cowardice is a pattern. Remember when President Bush lied us into war in Iraq? In 2007, Peter Shumlin led the Vermont Senate to vote to impeach George W. Bush. Had the Vermont House also voted to impeach Bush, it would have forced a debate on the floor of the U.S. House where Democrats had just taken power. At that time, Peter Welch was in his first term in Washington, but he lobbied the Vermont House and helped kill Shumlin’s initiative.

My father was in the Vermont House at the time and said that Welch’s admonition was the determining force in his vote. For Welch, impeaching a president responsible for killing thousands of Americans and Iraqis was a “political distraction.”

More than 10 years later, Peter Welch’s success at suppressing that discussion stands as a contributing factor in the endless American wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere. By destabilizing the region, the unprovoked invasion of Iraq set the stage for decades of war and turmoil, leading to our current global refugee crisis.

Committee to Elect Ben Mitchell
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