FBB Special Report: The Expensive Price of Cheap Political Points

By Winston Smith


Clinton’s egregious act of self-indulgence was outdone by an impeachment based not on constitutionally required high crimes and misdemeanors but on a vindictive determination to bring down a president who had offended self-righteous moralists eager to put a different political agenda in place.

-Robert Dallek


On Thursday, August 17, 2017 Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn) announced via Twitter that he plans on introducing articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. While Rep. Cohen cited potential obstruction of justice and violations of the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause as the reasons for impeachment, this was not the impetus for the introduction of these articles of impeachment. Instead, Rep. Cohen, in a statement released by his office, said;

I have expressed great concerns about President Trump’s ability to lead our country in the Resolution of No Confidence (H.Res. 456) that I introduced in July with 29 of my colleagues; however, after the President’s comments on Saturday, August 12 and again on Tuesday, August 15 in response to the horrific events in Charlottesville, I believe the President should be impeached and removed from office. Instead of unequivocally condemning hateful actions by neo-Nazis, white nationalists and Klansmen following a national tragedy, the President said ‘there were very fine people on both sides.’ There are no good Nazis. There are no good Klansmen.

Rather than filing articles of impeachment over treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors, Rep. Cohen stated that he filed these articles due to statements made by the President of the United States.

The statements that President Trump made following the events at Charlottesville are disgusting, patently un-American, and fly in the face of what we stand for as Americans. They continue to stoke racial tensions within the United States and legitimize those who stand for bigotry, violence, and hatred. These statements truly solidify President Trump as an individual who has no idea what it is to be a true American. However, these statements are not treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. While it may be appropriate to bring about articles of impeachment following the investigation of Robert Muller, we all know that the filing of these articles of impeachment is not a result of that investigation. Rep. Cohen filed these articles because he, justifiably, vehemently disagrees with President Trump on the matter of violent white supremacists.

Rep. Cohen’s own statement reveals this to be true; “…however, after the President’s comments on Saturday, August 12 and again on Tuesday, August 15 in response to the horrific events in Charlottesville, I believe the President should be impeached and removed from office.” This is a misuse of impeachment and allows President Trump and any other president who may be faced with articles of impeachment to minimize the seriousness of the allegations. To file articles of impeachment because you disagree with what the President says cheapens impeachment, no matter how vile and repugnant the statement that the President made.

This is not the first time the Democratic members of the House have introduced articles of impeachment as a way to make a political point against President Trump. Just a month ago Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Cal) also introduced a similar bill and Rep. Al Green (D-Tx) has repeatedly called for impeachment from the house floor.

They are referring to the process of removing the duly elected executive of the United States from office, this is no small decision. Unfortunately, legitimizing individuals who support historic enemies of the United States, racism, genocide, violence, bigotry, and fear is not treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. In using these articles as a way to very strongly disagree with what a President says cheapens impeachment and lowers it to another political tool used to score cheap points with voters.

In addition, misusing the articles of impeachment in this way creates an easy deflection for any President. It takes no creative imagination to envision President Trump and his supporters deflecting impeachment if Muller’s investigation reveals illicit activities as another cheap political stunt. While they most likely would have done this whether or not Rep. Cohen had done what he did, this now adds factual basis to an otherwise basis claim. Rather than negatively affecting President Trump, Rep. Cohen handed him and any future president a political tool on a silver platter.

Let’s be clear, President Trump’s statements on Charlottesville are reprehensible. However, these statements are not the basis for a successful impeachment. We can only hope that Rep. Cohen’s blunder will not forever taint the articles of impeachment. If so, there seems to be little recourse to remove a President who may be guilty of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The articles of impeachment must remain a tool that is used for when Presidents commit crimes, not for when we disagree with them.

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