Impeachment exists to convey an important message to the country

Abraham Franchetti, Staff Writer

At this stage, it is hard to determine how President Trump’s impeachment will finally end, but history can provide a few clues.

In the history of the United States of America, two presidents, one senator, one cabinet secretary, and 15 judges have been impeached. Of them, only eight were removed from office, and all were judges. This fact might spoil the dreams of many hoping for Trump’s removal. Andrew Johnson was Abraham Lincoln’s Vice President, and became president after Lincoln’s assassination. He refused to support the Radical Republican’s hardline stance on the former Confederacy and suspended Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War and a Radical Republican, for violating the Tenure of Office Act. When the Senate acquitted Johnson, Stanton remained in the cabinet and Johnson remained in office until he lost reelection in 1868. This first presidential impeachment set a precedent; Congress could impeach a president without removing them from office as a check on executive power.

“Removal from office should only be used as a last resort, since reversing an election is very extreme,” said sophomore Jacob Ritholtz.

The second and only other time a President was impeached was Bill Clinton. This highly politicized affair revolved around accusations of improper sexual relations and misconduct against the president. These actions aren’t directly unconstitutional, but his efforts to conceal his relationship with Monica Lewinsky were. Encouraging witnesses to lie under oath was a clear obstruction of justice.

The Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed Articles of Impeachment to the Senate. These examples demonstrate both the power and weakness of impeachment. The 2⁄3 vote requirement makes sure that a president can’t be found guilty in the Senate through a simple majority. If a President had a sense they would be removed from office, they could resign, which is exactly what Nixon did as a result of the Watergate scandal. Once it became clear that he couldn’t regain the people’s trust, Nixon became the first US President to resign. Realistically, it’s unlikely that a president will ever be removed by the Senate. Instead, it is more of a slap on the wrist. The number of times a president may have broken the law far outweighs the number of times impeachment proceedings have been filed.

A glaring example is the Iran-Contra affair in Ronald Reagan’s administration. In order to funnel money to the Contra rebels in communist Nicaragua, Reagan allegedly sold Israeli weapons to Iran, reimbursed the Israelis, took the money, and hired smugglers to fly drugs, guns, and Contras in and out of the US. When this came to light it created a national scandal and numerous hearings. However, the House declined to pursue impeachment against Reagan given his high popularity.

“It is a stain on the nation’s history that some Presidents haven’t been held fully accountable by Congress,” said sophomore Onome Igbede.

American history has proven that while impeachment serves as a strong deterrent, it is unlikely that it will ever be fully executed. Instead, impeachment, including the mere threat of it, has helped opposition parties slow down their target and draw attention to illegal or immoral activity.

“It is important to stop corruption, but it is also important to prevent super divisive situations,” said sophomore Edward Maglione.

This is most likely the real goal of the Democratic party right now.