Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Gordon Forgey
Gazette Publisher 

Historic period


November 14, 2019

The country is entering a historic period.

The House of Representatives is conducting hearings for its impeachment inquiry against the president.

The hearings started Wednesday.

Ostensively, the hearings are to determine if there is enough evidence to bring formal impeachment charges against President Trump.

If so, then the Articles of Impeachment would be sent to the senate for a trial.

Simple arithmetic suggests there are votes enough in the House to arrive at Articles of Impeachment, but not enough to convict him in the Senate. That is based on party affiliation. One can hope in matters as important as this that the members of Congress will put their responsibilities ahead of mere party loyalty.

The first president to face impeachment was Andrew Johnson in 1868. This was after the Civil War and the death of Abraham Lincoln. Johnson, our 17th president, faced 11 Articles of Impeachment. The Senate trial dragged on for weeks as the opposing sides sought more time and more opportunity to sway votes.

Eventually, he was not found guilty of any of the indictments and, although politically wounded, he finished his term.

The second president facing impeachment was Richard Nixon in 1973. He faced obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress charges. He resigned before even the House released Articles of Impeachment. His political support had virtually evaporated. As evidence against Nixon mounted, many members of Congress voiced their convictions, crossing party lines.

Bill Clinton was the third president to face impeachment. He was charged with obstruction of justice and perjury. The Articles of Impeachment from the House were considered in the Senate trial. He was not removed from office, the Senate failing to gain the two thirds vote necessary. Ironically, his popularity soared after being acquitted.

Now, the process begins against President Trump.

The House is still in initial stages, conducting impeachment inquiries. Should it determine that Articles of Impeachment be brought against the president, the Articles will be forwarded to the Senate for trial.

Just formulating Articles of Impeachment does not remove a sitting president from office. These are like indictments and must first pass the House and then a trial in the Senate.

Impeachment is nothing to be taken lightly. Potentially, it can be used as a political tool without any substance, but the process must be beyond party politics. It must be more than just disagreements with policy. Facts and evidence must play the leading role. Too much is at stake for anything less.

Americans have the right to vote for whomever they want to lead them. That is the final impeachment process. A sitting president can be voted out of office.

That trial by vote is less than a year away.

Gordon Forgey



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