THE UNITED STATES: The system is open to abuse of power

USP

It is assumed that Trump impeachment vote will take place by Christmas, following the announcement made by Congressman Al Green. But not all media outlets agree that it could be possible.

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Impeachment is a relatively lengthy process and no president has ever actually been removed from office. Second, removal from office requires a vote of two-thirds of the Senate, and Republicans — who still publicly back Trump, although some have criticized some of his recent decisions — still broadly support him.

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The Washington Post highlights that Trump’s opponents say he’s unfit for office, but that’s a judgment call, not a standard by which presidents can be impeached. Legal analysts say Trump may have obstructed justice if he asked Comey to drop his investigation of Flynn, but caution that proving intent is key in obstruction of justice cases.

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FiveThirtyEight is sceptical about the possibility to remove Trump from office as there are two opposite forces tugging strongly on the impeachment rope. So long as these sides are pulling with roughly equal force, Trump isn’t going to be removed from office.

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There is no doubt that when it comes to such high profile official as the President of the country, it given that the process is not going to be easy and it will take a long time to complete.

It is also understood that the impeachment process is political in nature, not criminal. Congress has no power to impose criminal penalties on impeached officials. But criminal courts may try and punish officials if they have committed crimes.

However, it seems that some complications are rather artificial due to lack of clarity on certain aspects.

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The reasons for the impeachment and definitions of high crimes and misdemeanours are clear. Perhaps the confusion occurs around votes and decision of the Senate.

The other reason which contributes to the confusion is that in the United States interpretation of legal definitions has more in common with linguistic contests rather than the law.

It seems to be the case if we refer to the information provided by Constitutional Rights Foundation and Findlaw.com

Article I § 2 of the United States Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power to impeach (make formal charges against) and Article I § 3 gives the Senate the sole power to try impeachments.

According to Findlaw.com, there is substantial difference of opinion over the interpretation of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours.” There are essentially four schools of thought (!!!) concerning the meaning of these words, although there are innumerable subsets within those four categories.

The law is not cardinal directions. It cannot have four schools of thoughts. Because when there are four of them, it could mean that there is no available place for thoughts left.

Although the process is political in nature, it doesn’t mean that politics shall prevail over the law. It is especially dangerous when politics overwrite national security issues.

Constitution of the United States provides that the House of Representatives “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and that “the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments …”. But the sole power does not mean that to exercise this power is the sole discretion of the House of Representatives or the Senate.

Due to the fact that members of the House of Representatives or the Senate represent people of the United States, it is their obligation to use this power when circumstances so require.

Each member’s vote shall not depend on personal will or political association. The decision whether to vote for or against shall be made strictly in line with the law.

One of the options (without going into details) to maintain checks and balances could be a procedure similar to audit.

Considering the importance of the role, if a member (the House of Representatives of the Senate) voted against the impeachment despite that overwhelming number of evidence and opinions of experts were presented, such member should explain clearly why he or she voted against. It might help to avoid the element of “office politics”.

The process of impeachment is an extraordinary event. It takes place when the President’s leadership is rapidly losing credibility and, therefore, either causes negative impact or potentially may result in a number irreversible negative consequences.

If the vote against cannot be logically explained or raises doubts, it is possible that such member could be subject to another investigation as he or she might be abetting in a crime.

Aiding is assisting, supporting, or helping another to commit a crime. Abetting is encouraging, inciting, or inducing another to commit a crime. Aiding and abetting is a term often used to describe a single act. An accessory is someone who does any of the above things in support of a principle’s commission of a crime.

The other argument is that the law shall apply to every citizen equally. And for the reference purpose, it would be interesting to look at the following example.

Two lawyers were suspended by Florida Bar for 90 days in 1987 for failing to disclose the second mortgage on a financial statement. … Really? Just second mortgage? That’s it?

Perhaps back then, in 1987, people considered credibility as a very important matter. Thirty years later, in 2017, “breaking news” sign appears more often on our TV screens than anchorperson. Today no one would notice that someone failed to disclose the second mortgage. Not in the White House anyway.

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It is possible that when two main political parties are focused on fighting with each other forgetting why are they even there and with an abnormal number of “schools of thoughts”, the entire system in the United States is open to abuse of power. When this “openness” exists, it leads to only one thing – corruption.

 

 

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