THE HISTORY OF IMPEACHMENT

Encore: November 15, 2019

We’ll examine the history of impeachment and the parallels to the present day proceedings unfolding on live television.

Aired on November 15, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

OBSTRUCTION, LIES, AND AN ABUSE OF POWER.

DEMOCRATS OPENED AN IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY AGAINST DONALD TRUMP, AND IF THOSE ACCUSATIONS SOUND FAMILIAR, IT'S BECAUSE THEY ARE.

FAIR NEARLY IDENTITY TO ALLEGATIONS THAT FUELLED AMERICA'S ONLY THREE PREVIOUS IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST A PREVIOUS PRESIDENT.

IMPEACHMENTS ARE RARE AND THAT IS PROBABLY THE REASON IT IS MISUNDERSTOOD.

NO PRESIDENT HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM OFFICE AS PART OF OF THE IMPEACHMENT PROCESS AND ONLY TWO HAVE BEEN FORMALLY IMPEACHED, AND NO, RICHARD NIXON WAS NOT ONE OF THEM.

WHAT IS THE HISTORICAL BASIS OF IMPEACHMENT?

JOINING ME NOW, NICOLE HAMMER, THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME.

I JUST MENTIONED NIXON BECAUSE HE IS IN THE MINDS OF AMERICANS AS ONE OF THE BIGGEST IMPEACHMENTS AND THAT IS NOT IT.

THE CASE AGAINST NIXON WAS SO AIRTIGHT BY THE END THAT HE HAD NO CHOINS IN MANY -- CHOICE IN MANY WAYS.

AND EVEN THOUGH THEY DIDN'T GO THERE THE DIFFERENT STEPS FOR REMOVAL, BECAUSE HE BUGS OUT, AND THAT STICKS IN OUR MIND BECAUSE OF THE NATIONAL TRAUMA OF A MOMENT IN WHICH THE PRESIDENT LEAVES OFFICE BECAUSE OF HIS BAD ACTS.

LET'S GO TO WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON.

HOW DO THE CIRCUMSTANCES RELATE IN TERMS OF IMPEACHMENT.

UNWITH OF THE THINGS THAT THAT THE CLINTON IMPEACHMENT TEACHES US IS IT IS A VERY POLITICAL ACT.

NIXON HAD CHARGES THAT WERE REALLY ABOUT BREACHES OF POWER AND DEMOCRACY.

WITH THE CLINTON IMPEACHMENT, HE IS IMPEACHED.

THE CONGRESS VOTES FOR ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT, IT MOVES TO A TRIAL IN THE SENATE, AND WE NEVER REALLY LOSE SIGHT OF THE FACT THAT PRESIDENT CLINTON LIED ABOUT AN AFFAIR.

IT IS SOMETHING THAT SEEMS SMALLER.

IT IS A DESTINATION.

THAT IMPEACHMENT PROCESS IS SUPPORTED BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

THEY ARE GOING IN THE SENATE, AND THAT WAS ANDREW JOHNSON THAT MAYBE SOME PEOPLE, PRESIDENTIAL NERDS AND HISTORIANS MAY REMEMBER, BUT A LOT OF PEOPLE PROBABLY DON'T.

HE FALLS IN LINE WHERE?

SO HE BECOMES PRESIDENT FOLLOWING ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

HE WAS SOMEONE THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE DIDN'T FEEL WAS FIT TO BE PRESIDENT.

HE DRANK A LOT.

HE DIDN'T HAVE MUCH DECORUM AND HE HAD A LOT OF POLITICAL ENMYS.

AND HE FINALLY CROSSES A LINE SAYING HE USED POWERS THAT THE PRESIDENT DOES NOT HAVE.

SO THEY IMPEACHMENT.

AND THEY ARE TRYING TO IMPEACHMENT AND THAT IS THE CLOSEST WE HAVE EVER GOT TON COMPLETING A FULL IMPEACHMENT AND REMOVAL.

WE SEE THAT THEY ARE BEING HELD IN THE HOUSE, THE DEBATE, THE CASES BEING MADE, WHAT HAPPENS THEN?

SO THEN YOU HAVE A ACTUAL TRIAL WHERE BOTH SIDES PRESENT THEIR CASE OF WRONG DOING BY THE PRESIDENT.

IT WAS PROCEEDED OVER IN THE CASE OF PRESIDENT CLINTON, BY THE CHIEF JUSTICE, AND IT IS DIFFERENT THAN IN NORMAL TRIALS.

YOU HAVE THE TRAPPINGS OF LAWYERS ARGUING BOTH SIDES, BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY IT IS VERY POLITICAL FIGURES THAT ARE MAKING THE DECISION IF IS NOT NECESSARILY A NEUTRAL JURY OF PEERS, BUT YOU HAVE TO HAVE A SUPER MAJORITY OF THE SENATE TO VOTE THE PRESIDENT OUT OF OFFICE.

DOES STARTING THE IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS, IS THAT DANGEROUS?

IT CAN PAY A POLITICAL PRICE AND IT DEPENDS ON HOW THE PROCESS PROCEEDS IMPEACHMENT.

YOU HAVE DEMOCRATS PROCEEDING WITH THE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS, BUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE COME ALONG WITH THEM AND THEY AGREE WITH WHAT COMES ALONG BY THEM.

DEMOCRATS JUST SWEEP THOSE 1974 ELECTIONS AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SAW THEM IT WAS A VERY DIFFERENT STORY.

YOU HAVE THE STAR REPORT, YOU HAVE THE INFORMATION THAT THE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS ARE GOING TO START AND NORMALLY THEY ARE EXPECTED TO PICK UP SEATING IN THE ELECTION AND INSTEAD DEMOCRATS PICK UP SEATS IN THE ELECTION.

THAT IS REALLY UNUSUAL.

WHY WAS THIS PROCESS PUT INTO OUR CONSTITUTION AND WHAT WAS THE THRESHOLD THAT THE FOUNDERS FELT WAS TOO FAR FOR SOMEONE AS THEY HAD TO BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE?

IT IS BASICALLY A SAFE GRAURD BUILD INTO THE CONSTITUTION.

WE'RE HAVING ELECTIONS EVERY FOUR YEARS FROM THE PRESIDENT, THAT WAS A WAY FOR PEOPLE TO WEIGH IN AND REMOVE PEOPLE THAT WERE NOT GOOD FITS, BUT WHAT IF YOU HAVE SOMEONE ELECTED INTO OFFICE, AND WHAT IF YOU FEND OUT THEY HAD BAD CHARACTER AND THEY'RE ABUSING THEIR TOWER, YOU COULD NOT MAKE THEM SIT THROUGH THE CORRUPTION.

YOU HAD TO HAVE A WAY TO REMOVE SOMEONE THAT REALLY WAS ABUSING IT AND THEY GOT TOO POWER HUNGRY AND THEY ARE CHECKING ALL OF THE CHECKS AND BALANCES.

AND THEY PUT IN PLACE SOMETHING CALLED IMPEACHMENT AND THEY DON'T LAY OUT A LIST OF PARTICULARS IN ORDER TO BE IMPEACHED, THEY SIMPLY SAY HIGH CRIMES AND DEMMISDEMEANORS.

I THINK THAT IS WHY ABUSE OF POWER IS SO CENTRAL TO THE CASES OF IMPEACHMENT THAT WE HAVE ON THE BOOKS.

THAT THAT IS THE THING THAT CROSSES THE LINE AND LEADS TO THESE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT A PRESIDENT SHOULD BE REMOVED WHICH IS A PRETTY DRAMATIC AND DISRUPTIVE ACT.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US AND GIVING US AN UNDERSTAND OING OF THE PROCEEDINGS THAT WE'RE SEEING PLAY OUT AND THE HISTORICAL NARRATIVE.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

ABSOLUTELY.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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