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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Americans Are Amazingly Ignorant of How Government Works

   A survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania found that only one in four Americans could name all three branches of government and a third of them couldn’t name even one! 
     39 percent believe that the Constitution gives the president the power to declare war and 17 percent think he has the power to raise taxes. 
     It is amazing how many people don’t understand impeachment and I’ve run into a few who thought President Trump was getting kicked out of office when he was impeached by the House of Representatives. 
     Impreachment doesn't mean automatic removal...when the House of Representatives launches an impeachment inquiry, it's analogous to prosecutors launching an investigation into a suspect in a crime. 
     Impeachment of a federal officer, including presidents, vice presidents, and federal judges, is found in Article 2, Section 4 of the US Constitution, which says "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." Nobody knows exactly what constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors. 
     Besides President Trump, three other presidents have faced impeachment proceedings, but only two have been successfully impeached, but they were not removed from office. 
     In 1868, Andrew Johnson was impeached, charged with breaching the Tenure of Office Act, but the Senate narrowly acquitted him by one vote. In 1974, Richard Nixon faced an impeachment inquiry, but he resigned before he could be impeached. In 1998, Bill Clinton was impeached, but he was acquitted by the Senate. 
     Johnson was the first president to ever face impeachment proceedings. It began when he removed his Secretary of War Edwin Stanton from office in 1867, which breached the Tenure of Office Act which said he couldn't fire any important officials without first getting the Senate's permission. 
     At first, he had suspended Stanton and replaced him, but when Congress reinstated Stanton, Johnson fired him on February 21, 1868. On February 24, 1868, the House of Representatives impeached Johnson because he'd violated the law and disgraced the US Congress. 
     Starting in in March and continuing for 11 months the Senate conducted a trail and finally voted to acquit him, 35 guilty to 19 not guilty. One more guilty vote would have met the required two-thirds that's necessary for a conviction.
     Starting early in 1994, President Bill Clinton was dealing with scandals, beginning with a financial investigation known as "Whitewater." Also in 1994, Paula Jones sued him, accusing him of sexual harassment. Clinton argued he had presidential immunity from civil cases, but in 1997, the Supreme Court rejected his argument. 
     Then in January 1998, Clinton, under oath, perjured himself when he claimed he'd never had sex with the White House intern Monica Lewinsky. In August he admitted that he lied. 
     On October 8, 1998, the House voted for impeachment proceedings to begin and on December 11, the House charged Clinton for lying to a grand jury, committing perjury by denying his affair with Lewinsky, and obstructing justice. The next day, he was charged with abusing his power. 
     The House impeached Clinton for perjury and obstructing justice, but he refused to step down and was tried by the Senate and acquitted on February 12, 1999 when the guilty votes didn't meet the two-thirds majority necessary to convict. 
     President Donald Trump is the third president to be impeached on two counts: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The House of Representatives launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump on September 24, following a whistle blower complaint claiming that he abused his political power in exchange for an investigation into a political opponent, presidential candidate and former Vice President “Creepy Joe” Biden and his son Hunter Biden. 
     The question was whether or not Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure them into conducting an investigation into the Bidens for corruption.
     On December 18, the House voted along party lines for impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi still has to send the charges to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. She also has to announce who will make the case against Trump as "impeachment managers" before a jury comprising the 100 members of the Senate. But, Pelosi is stalling and said she isn’t going to do that until she is confident about the nature of the process in the Senate and the witnesses.
     Truth is, Republicans in the Senate will almost surely vote on party lines meaning and they will use their majority and find President Trump not guilty. So, if realistically that is the case, why have the Democrats been obsessed since day 1 with impeaching the President to the point that Congress has been consumed over the issue and have accomplished very little? Simple. They simply want to see how much political (and personal) damage they can do to the President.

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