To Impeach or not to Impeach, That is the Question.

To Impeach or not to Impeach, That is the Question.


Many internet sites reverberate with articles encouraging Congress to move forward and act on the 35 Articles of Impeachment put forward by Dennis Kucinich. The commentary that accompanies these articles is rife with anger and invective directed toward the president, congress and congressional leaders, notably Nancy Pelosi. But it seems evident to me that many of those aboard this particular band wagon do not really understand what they are asking for.

From Dictionary .com


  1. the impeaching of a public official before an appropriate tribunal.
  2. in Congress or a state legislature) the presentation of formal charges against a public official by the lower house, trial to be before the upper house.
  3. demonstration that a witness is less worthy of belief.
  4. the state of being impeached.

American Heritage Dictionary


  1. To make an accusation against.
  2. To charge (a public official) with improper conduct in office before a proper tribunal.

As we can see from the above definitions, impeachment is merely an accusation, comparable to an indictment in a criminal case. A criminal indictment generally requires evidence sufficient to establish probable cause that a crime has been committed. The Constitution, cited below, grants the House of Representatives the power of impeachment but offers no suggestion on what underlying evidence should be required.

Once the House of Representatives votes in favor on one or more Articles of Impeachment, the individual charged, in this case the president, must stand trial before the Senate. While far more grandiose in scale, trial before the Senate would resemble many of the courtroom dramas we see on television. A prosecutor would be appointed to call witnesses and present evidence. The accused would also be represented by someone able to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, call other witnesses in rebuttal and otherwise attempt to discredit the evidence presented.

Where would the evidence necessary to make a case against president Bush come from? The evidence, if there actually is any, would have to come from documents belonging to the executive branch, corroborated by witnesses that work in the executive branch. Make no mistake, each and every document or subpoenaed witness would be challenged by the defense on grounds of executive privilege. A skillful attorney would be able to exploit this process to delay resolution until President Bush is out of office.

If the proceedings were to actually come to a conclusion before the president left office it would be up to the Senate to vote on the question of guilt or innocence. A guilty verdict requires a two thirds vote of the Senate. The Senate currently has 49 republicans, 49 democrats and two independents. The independents, one of whom is Joe Lieberman, vote with the democrats to form a razor thin majority. Even if conviction required only a simple majority, it is unlikely the democrats could prevail. Lieberman, a supporter of the war and endorser of John McCain, would likely vote with the republicans creating a tie. The President of the Senate, Dick Cheney, would have the tie-breaking vote!

Lastly, were this entire process to proceed to the desired conclusion, the only penalty that can be imposed is removal from office. Once removed, the accused could be charged under any criminal statute that might apply. I am not an attorney but I do not see actual criminal charges even existing in support of many of the Articles of Impeachment.

The impeachment process, even if begun immediately, would most likely drag on until the end of President Bush’s last day in office. If not concluded by January 20, it would become moot and represent a colossal waste of resources.

It is not my intention to defend President Bush. I agree that he is guilty of many of the charges offered up in the 35 Articles of Impeachment. I just am not sure that poor judgement and deliberate deception constitutes criminal behavior.

It is reasonable that the Democrats in Congress are backing away from the impeachment process. Placing emphasis and energy on the upcoming election is a more expedient course to the same goal and it is more likely to bring about a successful conclusion.

If you are really ticked off at the current regime, make sure you vote in November!


Excerpted from the US Constitution

Article I, Section 2

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Article 1, Section 3

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Article II, Section 4 - Disqualification

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.


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A brief description of the steps in the process of impeachment.
A Word from the Writer
There are a lot of articles out there advocating impeachment. Much of the accompanying commentary suggests that most do not understand the process.
Published Date
6/5/2008 12:00:00 AM
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