Mindfulness is the key to freedom. Little is entirely new; becoming aware of patterns enables one to discern between the repetitive and the true opportunity of the present moment.
Impeachment is one such instance of this general truth. The great responsibility that is required to exercise this great power is the key. Every presidential impeachment has failed; only in the case of Nixon, which didn’t quite make it to impeachment, was there success in forcing a president out of office.
In England, too, from whence we took the legal concept of impeachment, the great majority of impeachments failed. In this column, it has been pointed out that the reason was almost always the same — the impeachment was political and/or personal antagonism dressed up as a matter of law. Only in the time of revolution, in the 1640s, did that succeed, in a time in which all institutions were put on the chopping block and a dictatorship took over. In times of peace, the country wants law to settle burning political antagonisms, not sheer power.
The present articles of impeachment are not over matters known to law. Settled precedent in American law is that conflicts between the executive and legislative branches are settled in court. No more does the law empower Congress to hold the president in contempt than it empowers the president to arrest senators or representatives for their refusal to reveal their consultations to DOJ subpoenas. In fact, SCOTUS had taken up the very question the House is claiming to be impeachable. Clearly, by the Supremes granting certiorari, it is officially a question at law. Clearly, there are legitimate differences over the law. It might well be impeachable to ignore a SCOTUS ruling in the case, but how could it be impeachable to hold a position on something that is not yet settled? That is an absurd standard, and history will judge it so.
The impeachment over abuse of power is even more specious. No law is referenced. Abuse of power is thus just a political judgment call at best; more likely, it is an invented crime, a thinly disguised bill of attainder, in which a frustrated legislature simply declares their enemy a criminal when there was no violation of any law on the books. The disguise is necessary since the Constitution does not allow the legislature to enact a bill of attainder.
To restate for clarity: in this article of impeachment, the House is not holding the president to account for violation of any known law. It is in this very real sense a lawless act. It would be appropriate for the Senate to reject this impeachment attempt as an unconstitutional bill of attainder.
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