On Tuesday, December 10 — the day house democrats announced articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump — CSW’s history faculty hosted a special informational session titled, “Lunchtime InTeachment: The History Department Explains Impeachment.”
The session, open to all community members, began with a mini-lesson taught by Rachel Hirsch on the various mentions of impeachment in the U.S. Constitution — where you can find them, what they mean, and which branches of government are involved. She also talked about the process of impeachment, how it works, and why the founding fathers were so insistent that the role of president be susceptible.
Next, Louis Hutchins walked attendees through the language of what conditions constitute grounds for removal via impeachment. Section 4 of Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that “the President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from the Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Patrick Foley explained the circumstances surrounding President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment and the resulting trial in which he was spared removal by just one vote; Anjali Bhatia revisited the Watergate scandal of the 1970s and the ensuing impeachment of President Richard Nixon, who ultimately ended up resigning from office; and Ryan Jacobs described the scandal surrounding the presidency of Bill Clinton when he was caught lying to a grand jury about an extramarital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Finally, Jermaine Thibodeaux caught the group up on the still-evolving proceedings surrounding President Donald Trump. Jermaine presented the articles of impeachment against President Trump recently outlined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Abuse of Power, and Obstruction of Congress. The first, Abuse of Power, covers the President’s alleged withholding of military aid to Ukraine — voted on and approved by Congress — in exchange for investigations into his political rival Senator Joe Biden. The second, Obstruction of Justice, accuses the president of leading “the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas.”
At the end of the session, attendees had the chance to ask questions, such as:
Why is “abuse of power” being cited instead of “bribery?”
Has anyone ever been impeached and removed from office?
Why is the process so complicated and difficult to execute?
What is happening to the officials ignoring their subpoenas?
If the President goes to trial, can he bring in the whistleblower and/or the Bidens?
The History Department hopes to lead a follow-up session in 2020, as news continues to unfold.