THE HISTORY OF IMPEACHMENT

November 16, 2019 at 4:30 am

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 Print

>>> 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.

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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