Impeachment is broken. Impeach Trump, anyway.
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Impeachment is broken. Impeach Trump, anyway.

October 14, 2019

In 1788, three founding fathers made the case
for the US constitution in a series of essays called “The Federalist Papers”. And if you want
to understand why impeachment is broken today, it’s worth starting there. With what they thought it would look like if it worked. In Federalist 65, Alexander
Hamilton makes the case for the way the Framers designed the impeachment power. The House brings impeachment, but it’s the Senate that decides whether to convict and remove. Not the Supreme Court, or some other independent tribunal. A bunch of politicians.
Why? Why give them that power? Here’s the argument Hamilton makes: Impeachment, he says, poses a special problem.
It’s meant for offenses that are “POLITICAL” — he writes “political” in all caps, for emphasis — “as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.” Stop for a moment on what Hamilton means there. Impeachment isn’t just for crimes. Perfectly legal acts can injure a society. James Madison said a president
could be impeached for “the wanton removal of meritorious officers” — that is to say,
the President can be impeached for firing good people for no reason. Not a crime, but it is impeachable. You can see this
in the first impeachment in American history. It was a Federal Judge, John Pickering, in
1803. Pickering was an alcoholic and a bully, and historians think he was probably suffering from early-stage dementia. Among the charges brought against him were “loose morals and intemperate habits.”
Is that really… a crime? No, it’s not a crime. But he was impeached, convicted by the Senate, and removed from office, anyway. It was an injury to the society he was serving The way he acted on the bench to the House and the Senate was not acceptable. In some ways, it would be easier if impeachment were just for crimes. And that was considered. Crimes have definitions.
At least in theory they have definitions. Political offenses are harder to define and the problem
with political offenses, as Hamilton said, is They get politicized. One man’s political offense is another man’s bold act to defend his party and country. That’s the problem, Hamilton said. Political offenses “agitate the
passions of the whole community” they “divide it into parties.” Once that happens,
the danger is that impeachment will be decided “more by the comparative strength
of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.” And if that happened,
it would lose credibility. Everything about impeachment rests on the independence and authority and legitimacy of the body charged with the role. You needed
a body in touch with the people, but above the petty considerations of parties, and factions,
and fad. You needed a body the public could trust. trust. Hamilton admitted there was no perfect
answer. But the Senate, with its six-year terms and staggered elections, the Senate
came closest. Hamilton argued that no “other body would be likely to feel CONFIDENCE ENOUGH
IN ITS OWN SITUATION, to preserve, unawed and uninfluenced, the necessary impartiality between
an INDIVIDUAL accused, and the REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PEOPLE.” He was wrong. “This week the president has admitted to
asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically …” President Donald Trump faces possible impeachment
after repeatedly asking the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. He did all this a week after Trump froze military aid to Ukraine. When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky brought up the aid, Trump responded in a call record
his own White House released: “I would like you to do us a favor though” and then he turned the conversation back to investigating Joe Biden. All of this, again, confirmed in a call record released by
Trump’s own White House. “This is about abuse of power by an overreaching
executive. Something the founding fathers feared.” Using the power of the Presidency to pressure
a foreign government to investigate your domestic political rivals.  I would say that’s somewhat worse
than the wanton of removal of meritorious officers. But even if that goes to full impeachment,
the President will be tried in the Senate. And he would not be tried in the Senate
as Hamilton imagined it: the impartial Senate Hamilton hoped we’d have. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already said,
“If this is the ‘launching point’ for House Democrats’ impeachment process, they’ve
already overplayed their hand.” “From my point of view, to impeach any president
over a phone call like this would be insane.” Alexander Hamilton wrote in defense of a political system he thought would resist organized political parties. The
modern Senate, like the House, is controlled by political parties. And it is a political party
Donald Trump leads. We’ve gone from having impeachment as a political remedy for political offenses
to a partisan remedy for political offenses. So let’s be honest. It is very, very unlikely,
no matter what Trump has done, that he will be removed from office by the Senate. He is
being tried not before the unawed, uninfluenced body Hamilton imagined, but by his co-partisans,
whose fortunes are tied together with his. They will protect him at all costs because
protecting him is protecting them. So rather than just looking at what impeachment
can’t do, I want to look at what it can do. Because even a broken impeachment process isn’t
useless. Impeachment can act as a sanction to Trump. It can unearth information voters will need when deciding whether to reelect the President, and it
will provide a warning to foreign countries that would seek influence over our politics. I’m Liliana Mason. I’m a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. Lilliana Mason studies partisan polarization and how it’s warping the American political system. The most of what I do is actually looking at the ways that the public understands and
interprets what’s happening. And in an interview she made this great point to me: Voters are so overwhelmed with
information all the time that it’s hard to sort of have a focusing event for them where
they get to really pay attention to what’s happening and learn some new things. And that’s
one thing that these hearings would do. We have to think of it as more than just removal. Impeachment is a form of public disgrace.
To be one of only four Presidents in American history, even if you are not convicted
by the Senate, is to know an asterisk will be forever attached to your presidency. It
will make just about every single person now in the country seriously consider whether or
not you did something wrong. That’s not as strong a punishment as removal
from office, but it might lead to removal from office. In impeachment, yes, it is the House’s role is to bring the case and it is the Senate’s role to judge the accused. In an era of of partisanship like we have now,
it’s very very difficult for it to work properly. The problem facing the country right now is that
Senate leadership would almost certainly not convict the accused,
no matter what the accused did. But the Senate is not the only possible
judge of President Donald Trump. Public opinion is ultimately, I think, the jury that Democrats in the House are playing to. Look, in the previous two modern impeachments, you could see the effects on public opinion. Well, for Nixon, as the public learned more about what had happened, approval of both the impeachment
process and removal increased. For Clinton, his approval went up. As citizens
learned more about the details of Clinton’s crime, I think the approval went up because they sort of found
that there wasn’t a whole lot that he had done. It was gross, but it didn’t, maybe, seem like the
Constitution required that he be removed. But both of those impeachments
began in the president’s second term. They weren’t going to face the voters again. The difference, this time, is the impeachment process
began before Trump has won reelection. And, make no mistake, Trump’s offense
here was all about the 2020 election. It is about what is proper for the President to do
when running for reelection. It is about whether he can use his office, the most powerful office we gift upon someone, that we entrust him with, to enlist foreign governments
as allies in shaping American elections This one- THIS one, was about us.
What we would see, what we would know. What we would be made to believe.
So maybe we, the voters, are actually the right jury here. Trump wanted to run for reelection atop a
booming economy: “Make America great again!” Now he is going to run as a candidate arguing that
when he said, “I need you to do me a favor, though” of the Ukrainian President, it didn’t quite
rise to the level of quid pro quo. I’m not a political consultant, but,
“I’m not quite a crook” isn’t a great bumper sticker. In his farewell address, President George
Washington spoke against “the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party.”
In particular, he warned that partisan infighting, it “opens the door to foreign influence and
corruption.” In 2016, Russia reached deep into the US presidential election to help elect
Donald Trump and their investment paid off in spades. Trump has defended and praised Putin,
he’s undermined NATO, he’s made American politics more fractious and polarized and chaotic than ever. But it paid off for Trump.
He’s President, and the Mueller report, it carried no direct consequence for him.
That’s the context in which he asked Ukraine to help him in 2020. After all, it worked
the first time. Partisanship, opening the country to this kind of foreign influence, and then
protecting the foreigners who influenced it after they do, that is exactly what Washington and Hamilton
feared the system they designed couldn’t handle. The question for a foreign country, facing an opportunity or potentially a presidential request to intervene in America’s election, is what they may gain and what they may lose. For Ukraine, the possible gains were clear:
military aid they desperately needed and anything else that might flow
from nurturing Trump’s goodwill. But the spotlight of impeachment
makes the costs clearer, too. A foreign country asked to intervene in an
American election may see its activities exposed, much to the fury of the other political party.
Much to the fury even of the public. Ukraine may have wanted Trump’s goodwill, but it doesn’t want the Democrats’ ill will. It doesn’t want the distraction or infamy
of this investigation. Impeachment, in this case, acts
as a message to other countries too: You don’t want to be part of our circus. Even so,
we do live now in the world Washington feared. Republicans are falling in line behind Trump,
they are placing their loyalty to him, to each other, above any sense of public accountability. And in doing, they have opened American politics to foreign influence To foreign corruption. Partisanship like this, it
creates eras in which corruption of all kinds flourishes. Because so long as that corruption is to the benefit
of the party in power, that American politics has no true answer for official wrongdoing in periods of unified party government, it’s chilling. It’s not that the impeachment process itself isn’t working because I do think it has some benefits even without conviction. I think the frightening thing about it is that it’s impossible for it to be used if
there isn’t divided government. Look, Hamilton wasn’t, in the end,
just the author of Federalist 65. He was also the author of much of Washington’s farewell address. Sadly, it’s his pessimism about what would happen to an America driven by party, rather than his optimism about the Senate, that rings true today. And yet, even a broken impeachment
process has its uses. The House can focus the public’s attention. It can send a message to the world. It can create a record for the future. Maybe that’s not sufficient. Maybe it’s not as much as impeachment was initially designed to do. But it’s something. And it’s going to have to be enough.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. We want to hear from you: What are your biggest questions about impeachment and the Trump-Ukraine scandal? Submit them here:

  2. Hamilton: predicting the failures of a system he designed two centuries ago….😲
    the rest: in the meantime they did nothing to address it 😑

  3. Sure he did something wrong, but he is building the wall, solving the problem with North Korea, solving the problem with China. Things which no other president has ever done before, so are we going to vote him out of office because of this? nah. Plus nobody in the press (conveniently) is talking about what Biden did.

  4. So if Pelosi gained, as well as Schiff from arms deals with the Ukraine, why is that not impeachable? Because they are not Trump.

  5. America, The greatest & the longest running Reality Show……..!!

    Here's my two cents, Teflon Don will get through this……!!

  6. Progressives need to get over 2016. You've run all of us off with your TDS, intersectionality, SJ & reparations. Good luck next year…

  7. You dont need any reason to impeach as long as you can get the house and Senate to vote on it. Impeachment is basically impossable. No way to get 2/3rds of the Senate to agree on anything.

  8. When you hate a president so much that instead of trying to beat him in the next election you try to accuse him of spying of political candidates and so called whistleblowers to impeach him.
    That sounds like Trump Derangement Syndrome.

  9. Hamilton was actually just okay, at best. And throwing in a beat isn't a very impressive contextual attempt at a flex

  10. You do realize that Trump was "asking a favor" to investigate the overall corruption in 2016, not to investigate biden specifically.

  11. Democrats…I know you have the searing hatred of a thousand suns for trump, but if you try or succeed in impeaching him in the house you will guarantee him second term.

  12. Questions? Sure, I have a question. Why are we even talking about impeachment when Adam Schiff falsified the contents of President Trump's phone call with the Ukraine prime minister? Why aren't people even recognizing this is over before it even started? Adam Schiff just handed Trump the single greatest boost for his re-election than anyone or anything I ever thought possible. Before anyone gets any ideas, I DO NOT support the President. He's erratic, impulsive, doesn't know what he's doing. He doesn't consciously lie, the truth is a fluid concept to him. Facts simply don't matter as much as his opinions, whatever feels right to him and he simply can't see past his own bluster. How does granting him underdog victim status help matters. It doesn't. This new impeachment effort is doomed to end badly just like Russia-gate did.

  13. If they are going to impeach Trump why don't they do it legally by having the House vote on the process as the law prescribes? If the Dems won't abide by the law, why does anyone believe Trump should?

  14. Silly pinkos. Hunter Biden didn't deserve that job and you know it. He got kicked out of the Navy for being a crackhead and now he got a cushy job making 50,000 a month from a poor country.

  15. Dems, prosecute and then find the facts later. There was no quid pro quo. Dems have been trying to remove President Trump even before he was sworn in. The house Dems are an embarrassment.

  16. Say wasnt bidens boy employed by them or something like that. They and when i say they i mean all of those who hold office in Washingtons Feces are compromised souless imbiciles with visions of the future that only include themselves and those like them. Good luck


  18. While we do need to impeach Trump because of the principle, in reality it may backfire for the Democrats politically because Republican voters see it as a partisan witch hunt and it may galvanize them to re-elect Trump

  19. If you care about subscribers in the future use your super intelligence……Stay away from religion and politics. You will have a lot more supporters. Love your site when you discuss interesting topics.

  20. "Foreign Countries should not be influencing our election."- The Country that interferes in everyother countries elections

  21. So when we vote Obama it's all good, but when we vote Trump we're deplorable and letting corruption happen? We voted Obama because he promised "Change". He promised to get corruption out. Politicians is one of the least trusted professions. So we voted an outsider to get rid of the corruption. And boy was this corruption deep… I hope Trump brought a fleet of diggers.

  22. so long as we have a free and open internet to share ideas and discuss the wrongs of the powerful, there will always be a supreme rule of the people to dispose of corrupt politicians and factions…

    December 14, 2017 – Verizon successfully lobbies politicians to revoke net neutrality…


  23. The claimed " offence " is literally about daring to investigate corruption , specifically corruption relating to the shady business dealing between the then VPs son and foreign ( Ukraine ) power players including those who confessed on tape , and were convicted in a court of law of law of interfering in the last US election.

    It's bold deception of Ezra to pretend to be concerned about foreign interference in US elections while wanting to impeach someone for daring to follow up on glaring appearance of corruption directly related to those who (on both testimony and legal conviction record ) engaged in electoral interference.

    I am no personal fan of Trump , and I've always voted to the left , but the Ukraine interference in the 2016 US elections , the missing 1.8 billion dollars Ukraine aid that passed through a company closely linked to Biden's son ( alongside other vast and extremely conflicted transactions with the totalitarian CCP regime) , the deflection to the " Russia " hoax ( even going so far as to outright pretend CCP aligned Ukraine actions were Russian ) , and now this obvious and desperate measure to villfy investigating this (on ground of the unavoidable truism that uncovering curruption by the one party always benefits the other ) , is evidence that those trying to impeach for investigating corruption are far far more scary , corrupt , and holding themselves above accountability , than we even expected Trump to be in our worst imaginings.

    And as for a channel like this …arguing utterly against constitutional democracy, and dismissing elected representatives because they are politicians ( !!!) and preferring autocratic judges to rule on polical matters , that is horrifying . Ezra, do you actually believe what you are selling , or have you knowingly sunk into by- any- means – necessary deception ?

  24. Everyone is an expert on the Constitution yet NO ONE lives by it. A crime is a crime. End of it, isn't it? Not when your rich using lawyer after lawyer. There are no gray areas in the law for wealthy criminals yet they walk away unscathed 99% of the time. Where is the Constitution then?

  25. Right now I feel like the transcript of Trump's call with Turkey, which preceded his sudden and non-strategic withdrawl from syria, should be looked at by everyone.
    Because some sort of deal was made, and as one person put it who observed the call Trump was "rolled" by Turkey.

  26. Impeachment is taking an individual’s right to vote, out of their control. If impeachment were equated to ‘firing’ for an unfounded cause, then every Congressional member would be removed by ‘impeachment’. Think about the repercussions. Now deal with Biden’s son, Kerry’s stepson and Pelosi’s son and their Ukraine connection.

  27. You spent a whole video talking about partisanship and only talked about one party. Partisanship doesn't exist in a void.

  28. This is more liberal madness (as if there wasn't enough).
    I didn't like Obama, nor did I like Bush, but it didn't rule my every waking moment. Trump is the President, get over it.
    He's going to win reelection, accept it.
    All of the liberal obstructionism just helps to push moderates to Trump.

    TDS is very real and nearly every single liberal has it.

    "Liberalism, let's find a cure!"

  29. Your facts on blocking funds is wrong..if the the leaders of Ukrain said there was no Quid Pro have no case for impeachment..none..nada..get a life..

  30. I thought we should hate Founding Fathers bc they were EVIL. But yet, we use them.
    Khem, khem DOUBLE STANDARDS.

  31. Wow. This video has so many inaccuracies like all the other liberal media. Get your info from cnn. Lost your credibility

  32. I don't think so. Two wrongs can not make a right. Let us unify creatively to see what we can do in the common interest.

  33. Andrew Jackson was impeached and tried but ultimately not convicted. The Republican Senator who switched his vote rightly believed that Congress cannot and shall not have the power to impeach a president based on the premise of said presidents likeableness. Just because you don’t like Trump and his policies doesn’t mean that you can impeach him. Imagine the standard that would be setting! The pendulum of checks in balances within our government would be swayed forever. Simply put, impeaching Trump is not the answer, nor should it have grounds to stand on.

  34. Great video, but Ezra, my man, make up your mind. Are you gonna sit back or lean forward, your indecisiveness is making me anxious😂

  35. – Impeach!
    – Why? Is there any legal or reasonable reason for an impeachment request? Has anyone found any proof of illegal doings? Has anything unconstitutional happened?
    – … Impeach him anyway!

  36. He turned the world blind, eventually we will come to see the truth. The question is, will it be too late when we finally come to see.

  37. The Left: impeach trump

    Centrists: for what?

    The Left: he asked for a favor

    Centrists: um, what?

    The Right: yeah don't mind them they aren't that bright

  38. Idk why everyone is saying this is political.
    It isn’t.
    Trump Broke the law.
    If you’re in denial, you’re embarrassed.
    It’s ok everyone makes mistakes.
    Trump was a mistake.
    Democrats didn’t want Hillary either. Trust me.
    We wanted Bernie.

  39. You talk about partisanship, but from where most of us stand the media is driving this partisanship by taking sides and failing to responsibly report. Too many opinions, not enough facts. Don’t (not you, media generally) tell us what we should think, let us make up our own minds.

  40. Once again people framing the Clinton impeachment as if it was about an affair. It wasn't. The impeachment was for obstruction of justice and perjury. Those are crimes. Clinton should have been removed and Trump should be removed for those same offences.

  41. Impeachment is not broken.

    Trump committed a crime, and the law above him, have a right to prosecute him if they have evidence.

    Thats what law enforcement is. Trump was so arrogant that he got away with crimes all his life, and always laughed at others getting caught, and arrested. He was so arrogant he went and committed a crime right in front of everyone on this ukraine thing.

    He then went and self incriminated himself, as his arrogance that he could not be prosecuted has become so big, he goes and tells everyone about it.

    He committed a crime while being president, and now those above him, have a right to prosecute him.

    Thats what you call law enforcement. When you commit a crime, and what he did was a crime, they have every right, to prosecute him for it.

  42. I mean…what is Trump supposed to do? Use a different phone to call the Ukraine president? He IS going to compete in next election and he IS the president. I dont see his favor of asking someone to expose a crook is in any way detremintal to the US. And the 350 millions will be funded anyway, as US always does to other countries for healthy bilateral relationships.

  43. I'm not here for the video. I just want to comment on the bad comma placement in the title. It's unnecessary and it annoys me. That is all. Carry on.

  44. Democratic Party who is in control of the house of Congress have pushed for impeachment multiple times and failed. This impeachment inquiry was not voted upon to make it official, which means, what they are doing is illegal. Besides, they have absolutely no evidence. Democrat politicians are pathologically lying about having evidence. Instead, what they are doing is taking contexts out of situations to put their own spin on it towards pushing false narrative’s.
    The Democrat party is a group of emotional driven losers, nothing more. Emotionally driven people make far more mistakes compared to people who are intellectually driven.

  45. Why was Clinton impeached for having an affair? Was that political or he was impeached because he lied under oath?

  46. Lefts making moderates swerve hard right since 2017.
    You know it's possible to be liberal AND honest at same time, right? You can't tell.

  47. Yap yap yap. If we're going back to 1700s, how about restricting citizenship to white people? That's what the first congress thought was important.

  48. Ahh, you made a MASSIVE mistake, Hamilton did not pick the Senate because of its 6 year election cycle, as Senators were NOT elected when Hamilton was alive. Senators were picked by state legislatures, from the birth of the nation, till 1913 when they changed the Constitution to make them directly elected by the people. Hamilton never envisioned a Senate as partisan as the current one, because they weren't elected, there for had no real loyalty to a Base of voters they needed to appease to get reelected.

  49. Hamilton and some of the other founding fathers wanted to put into the Constitution a out right ban on political parties but were over ruled by the others founding fathers, I would have to say time has proving Hamilton 100% correct and it should have been out right banned. Modern day political parties stink, and not just here in the US, look at other countries like the UK currently, the Tories are so determined to win at any cost, they are willing to walk the UK's economy off a cliff to do it.

  50. Trump bad guy yeah great video guys, your just salty because you label him all these things that don’t stick as most of them are lies or the sad thing what previous presidents do like border control but when Obama did it no one call him racist.

  51. I tire of erroneous claims being made in a video under the guise of educating the audience. The senate will not impeach this president "no matter what he does" ? Such an outrageous claim. If he would ever commit an offense truly detrimental to the US, they would. Sadly for the left he has not despite their attempts to frame his actions in a negative light.

  52. I was watching the political world when these two “kids” was watching captain kangaroo, they were schooled by liberals. What they say is very much colored by what they were taught.

  53. I can hardly believe that extorting a foreign leader to try and compromise an election is not a prosecutable crime. If it is not, it should be.
    If you are looking for ideas for future videos, I would love to see one about what laws the President is subject to and which ones he can't be prosecuted for, but we can.

  54. To quote David Frum: "[at present] Trump's margin of victory in the Senate is much smaller than people think."
    Just give it a few more months…


  56. It seems like Trump is more ENTERTAINING than any other presidential candidate, people just vote for him no matter what he does.

  57. DO NOT investigate Hunter Biden. No one knows why foreign companies have paid him many millions of dollars, and we don't NEED to know.

  58. twisting the truth and out right lies. nice job. i'm sure u have a real future in the Dem's party. of course u will all be in prison. ya, i got my pop corn
    TRUMP 2Q2Q

  59. You also have to make the argument that the Senate makeup is not what it was intended to be. The senate was never meant to be voted on by the people, but assigned by the state governments.

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