To be President in the United States the Constitution clarifies that a person must be a natural-born citizen at least thirty-five years of age and a resident of the United States for fourteen years. But right before he steps into office and enters its execution, he takes and swears the following oath or affirmation. “I do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” (Article II, Section 1) So, what does that mean to you? Well that you can trust this man to be in charge of the country you live and raise your family in. Now tell me what happens when this man doesn’t live up to this oath and lies? Well that’s when the Constitution gives the Congress the power and right of impeachment on a president, vice president, and “all the civil Officers of the United States” (Article II, Section 4.) Now three of these men we have trusted two of them in different time but one of them in my time, our time, the Generation X time. His name President Bill Clinton who was impeached by Congress.
Impeachment, technically is a charge similar to a criminal prosecution brought against an official in the White House or gov’t. This power of bringing charges of impeachment against an official is given to the House of Representatives. The power of allowing the trying of all impeachment is granted to the Senate, and “no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.” (Article I, Section 3) Impeachment brought by the House upon an official and conviction brought by the Senate can only remove an official from office; another following criminal trial is required to give any other form of punishment that fits the crime.
The Constitution clearly states that impeachment and conviction can only be for the following criminal acts “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” So, then these words mean that Congress can’t and isn’t able to impeach presidents, federal judges, or any other officials simply because Congress doesn’t agree with their decisions or policies. Truly this statement implies that only serious criminal conviction and not political conflicts can result in impeachment. However politics was the reason of the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1867. Johnson was a southern Democrat who was and stayed loyal to the Union. Abraham Lincoln choose him as the vice president in 1864 gesturing national unity. The Republican House impeached Johnson on a party-line vote, but shortly after a month-long trial in the Senate, the “guilty” vote fell one short of the two-thirds needed for him to be removed. Also President Richard Nixon in 1974 resigned after recommended impeachment by the House Judiciary Committee but before a vote by the full House. Nixon was the only President to ever resign the Presidential Office. He did this in order to escape full impeachment by the House of Representatives and a full guilty conviction trial by the Senate.
Politics was also a factor in the impeachment investigation brought by the House against President Clinton in 1998. Bill Clinton is the nation’s third President in history (after Andrew Johnson in 1867 and Richard Nixon in 1973) to be prosecuted of an impeachment investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives. The voting allowing an investigation against Clinton was 1998 by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr who gave evidence and proof of impeachable offenses which include perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and also the so called “abuse of power,” presidential power that is.
The Starr Report states in graphic details of Clinton’s sexual affair with the young White House intern Monica Lewinsky. This then acted as an impeachable offense. Clinton also lied about his affair by giving a false testimony in a swearing statement in the Paula Jones case; his conversation with his good friend Vernon Jordan about hooking up Lewinsky with a job; his attempt to prevent Starr’s investigation; and his false testimony in front of Starr’s grand jury.
So then having a sexual affair and lying about it met the Constitution’s standards that allow impeachment, which are ”Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Perjury-which he knew he was doing by falsely claiming his testimony in what was a sworn legal proceeding- is a criminal act. But the question was if the Constitution saw a more serious misconduct? Well according to Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist 65, impeachment is to be handled with “the abuse or violation of some public trust.” So, is Clinton’s case “inappropriate behavior” a private affair or a violation of the public trust?
Well I do think so but what decisions or answers does the nation’s people have for these questions? Despite the constant discussions and disputes in Congress about the “search for truth,” “impartial investigation,” and “unbiased constitutional judgement,” the impeachment procedure, whatever the effects of the offensive accusation of a president, is political, and not judicial. The House’s voting of impeaching Clinton,(228 to 106 on Article I Perjury),was much along partisan lines, with all except that five Republicans voted “yes” and other five voted “no.” In the year of 1863 the Republican House voted to impeach Democrat Andrew Johnson for opposing the rules and authorization of Congress and clearly violating the Tenure of office act. This acted as a new federal law, because he went against the Republicans’ plan for Reconstruction after the Civil War. Johnson escaped conviction and the removal penalty from office in the Senate due to one vote. Then in 1974, the House which was mostly controlled by Democrats, along with the assistance of many Republicans were about to vote articles of impeachment towards Republican Richard Nixon –for the offenses of obstructing the justice, abusing his authority of Constitution, and failing to listen and follow the Committee’s subpoenas- that’s when Nixon resigned.
So finally it is us whom decided at the end on what happened to Clinton. The President that defined American government for many people; the president that was suppose to be “compassionate”- to show interest in the situations facing separate citizens; and who was trusted by all was a failure. Makes you ask yourself one thing who really are these people?