WASHINGTON DESK - Impeaching William Jefferson Clinton for his admitted public crimes is required by the faith of our Founding Fathers embodied within the civic duty imposed on the House and Senate by the sober language of the United States Constitution. Congress must act to initiate the process and carry through with a public trial on the merits. That is a given. Anything less, will shatter this republic.
High crimes and misdemeanors admittedly committed against the American people flow like a river at flood stage from this official's tenure in office, at least, since 1995.
On the charge, by the Office of Independent Counsel, abuse of power, Clinton's future stands or falls with the argument and evidence, not with the overnight-polls.
There are additional allegations by the OIC that president Clinton wrongfully and without merit invoked a purported privilege and otherwise abused the power of his office and the judicial system to prevent lawful discovery of information under his control and in his custody he had a duty to provide. This is a serious charge that ought to lead to impeachment and removal from office, if proved.
However, Laurence H. Tribe, at the Harvard Law School, told reporters this week he felt "... the charge of abuse of power is both frivolous and dangerous," and not the sort of issue Congress must cite as a cause to remove a president from office.
Douglas W. Kmiec, a law professor at Notre Dame Law School, quoted Alexander Hamilton on the purpose of impeachment in The Federalist No. 65 saying "... impeachment is really a remedy for the republic; it is not intended as personal punishment for a crime ... there’s no question that William Jefferson Clinton has engaged in enormous personal misconduct and to some degree has exhibited disregard for the public interest in doing so."
John E. Nowak, at the University of Illinois College of Law, checked into the impeachment clause and concluded "... it was intended to protect political stability in this country...”
“It seems hard to believe that anything in the report...could constitute grounds for an impeachment on other than purely political grounds,” Nowak says.
And that, says A.E. Dick Howard, who has been teaching constitutional law and history for 30 years, would be a step in the
direction the Founders intended never to go.
John McGinnis, of the Cardozo School of Law, told reporters “... the question is, can you have a perjurer and someone who obstructs justice as president? It seems to me self-evident that you cannot. The whole structure of our country depends on giving honest testimony under law. That’s the glue of the rule of law. You can go back to Plato, who talks about the crucialness of oaths in a republic. It’s why perjury and obstruction of justice are such dangerous crimes.”
Perjury is a crime in this nation. Federal investigators and agency employees ask Americans about virtually everything these days. And virtually everything we say in response (sworn and un sworn, oral and written) is subject to federal criminal law. In 1996, for example, there were 47,000 criminal cases with one in every 475 involving perjury, according to the Federal Courts Administration Office. Those convicted of perjury in these cases were sentenced to 16 months behind bars. About 87% of federal perjury cases in 1996 resulted in conviction. So, if a perjury case is prosecuted against William Jefferson Clinton in federal court, there is about a 72% chance Clinton will be moving from the residence in the White House to the well known Big House.
Contrary to what is inferred by president Clinton's conduct and claims, the American system of governance of the presidency works in conjunction with individual self-interest.
Hamilton's Federalist Papers No.65 specified Congress' power and jurisdiction over the misconduct of the president or the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are chiefly injuries done to the society itself which agitate the whole community, and divide it into parties more or less friendly or unfriendly to the president.
We are cautioned that the charges will enlist public animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other. In this case, Hamilton further cautions that there will always be great danger that the decision will be regulated more by public opinion, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.
[To read the complete original text of The Federalist Papers click here.]