Did Republicans Buy the Argument That Impeachment Requires a Crime?

While some senators seemed to endorse that misbegotten claim, others explicitly rejected it.


To no one's surprise, the Republican-controlled Senate voted today against removing President Donald Trump from office based on the articles of impeachment approved by the Democrat-controlled House in December. Many Republican senators have said that Trump's conduct vis-à-vis Ukraine, even if "inappropriate," did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. But some have gone further by seeming to endorse the dangerous, ahistorical argument, advanced by Trump's lawyers, that impeachment requires a criminal violation—or at least "criminal-like behavior," as Alan Dershowitz put it while defending the president. Other Republican senators, meanwhile, have explicitly rejected that claim, which would preclude impeachment of presidents who violate the public trust without violating the law. Here is a rundown of relevant public statements by Republican senators.

Roy Blunt (R–Mo.)

"Alan Dershowitz said it was not [impeachable], and I don't disagree with that," Blunt told The Washington Post on January 28.

Mike Braun (R–Ind.)

"Let's say it's true, OK?" Braun said in a January 28 interview with the Post, referring to the allegations against Trump. "Dershowitz last night explained that if you're looking at it from a constitutional point of view, that that is not something that is impeachable."

Bill Cassidy (R–La.)

"The Constitution speaks of 'treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,'" Cassidy said on the Senate floor yesterday. "Because high crime and misdemeanors are not specifically defined, it is reasonable to assume that the Framers meant for impeachment to occur only if a crime approached levels as severe as treason and bribery."

Susan Collins (R–Maine)

"I do not believe that the conviction of a president requires a criminal act," Collins said on the Senate floor yesterday.

John Cornyn (R–Texas)

"The Constitution says treason, bribery, high crimes, and misdemeanors," Cornyn said on January 17. "But the House, in its wisdom, decided not even to charge the president with a crime."

Ted Cruz (R–Texas)

"I think it is clear the House managers failed to meet their burden," Cruz told reporters on January 28. "They failed to demonstrate an impeachable offense. They didn't even so much as allege that the president committed a crime. The Constitution requires 'high crimes and misdemeanors.'"

Josh Hawley (R–Mo.)

"Democrats impeach[ed] the President without alleging a single crime," Hawley complained on Twitter in December.

Ron Johnson (R–Wis.)

"When you talk about treason and bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors," Johnson told reporters on January 22, "it really implies there has to be some kind of crime based on current law."

John Kennedy (R–La.)

"I think this case is going to come down to the president's intent—his motive," Kennedy said in November on Face the Nation. "Did he have a culpable state of mind?" He conceded that a quid pro quo of military aid for a Ukrainian investigation aimed at discrediting one of Trump's leading political rivals, if proven, "probably" would be impeachable.

Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.)

"I do not subscribe to the legal theory that impeachment requires a violation of a criminal statute," McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said on the Senate floor yesterday.

Rob Portman (R–Ohio)

"There may be circumstances where a crime isn't necessary for a president to be impeached," Portman said in a New York Times op-ed piece published today.

Mitt Romney (Utah)

Romney, the only Republican senator who voted to convict Trump (on the first article of impeachment, alleging abuse of power), clearly rejected Dershowitz's theory. "The historic meaning of the words 'high crimes and misdemeanors,' the writings of the founders, and my own reasoned judgment convince me that a president can indeed commit acts against the public trust that are so egregious that while they're not statutory crimes, they would demand removal from office," he said before his vote. "To maintain that the lack of a codified and comprehensive list of all the outrageous acts that a president might conceivably commit renders Congress powerless to remove such a president defies reason."

Marco Rubio (R–Fla.)

"I reject the argument that 'Abuse of Power' can never constitute grounds for removal unless a crime or a crime-like action is alleged," Rubio wrote in a January 31 Medium post.

Pat Toomey (R–Pa.)

"As you watch these proceedings in the House," Toomey said during a December 6 speech in New York, "there's one question that keeps coming up in my mind. And that is, 'Where is the crime?'" In a press release yesterday, however, Toomey implied that a crime might not be required for impeachment: "While there's debate about the precise meaning of 'other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,' it's clear that impeachable conduct must be comparable to the serious offenses of treason and bribery."

Roger Wicker (R–Miss.)

"I basically am in agreement with the very scholarly approach that Mr. Dershowitz took that there's no article there that's grounds for impeachment and removal," Wicker told CNN on January 28.

Some of these statements are ambiguous. It's not clear, for example, whether Blunt, Braun, and Wicker accepted all of Dershowitz's arguments, or exactly what point Cornyn and Hawley thought they were making by emphasizing that the articles of impeachment did not allege specific crimes. But Cruz and Johnson clearly are promoting the idea that a president can be impeached only if he violates a criminal law. That position may prove inconvenient the next time a Democrat occupies the White House.

[This post has been updated with a quote from Romney's pre-vote speech.]

NEXT: Senate Votes To Acquit Trump on All Charges

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Does acquittal require giving a shit?

    1. No, not particularly.

    2. It amuses me that reason has a penchant to discover the honesty or beliefs of republicans in this manner… yet will never question the morality of the left on impeachment.

  2. JesseAZ (R-Hell):

    Donald Trump (Blessed Be His Name) can do NO wrong! Because I said so!!!

    1. (10,053 witnesses testifying to seeing Him supposedly committing murder in the broad light of day, on national TV, on 5th Avenue? OBVIOUSLY totally biased “testimony”, because… LOOK OVER THERE!!! Hunter Biden taking more pay then he deserves!!!)

      1. Well yeah, that’s what happens when the person he murders shows up alive and well to testify in front of the senate that nothing happened.

        Sorry Trump released the transcript so all the water cooler gossip didn’t get a chance to be treated as anything but bitter gossip.

      2. If that happened not only would you have the crime that Dershowitz claims is necessary for impeachment, but Trump would also be arrested and charged in criminal court the moment he leaves office (even if he gets acquitted by the Senate)

        1. Dick Cheney was never charged with assault with a deadly weapon, just saying.

          1. Probably because all parties agreed it was an accident, and that it was mainly the fault of the other guy. Whether that’s true or not I don’t know, but it’s hard to build a criminal case when the guy who got shot was saying “My bad”.

            1. My “bag”. The saying is “my bag”, no matter how many ignorant kids didn’t understand and assumed that they heard “my bad”.
              It comes from the card game Spades, where you must predict how many books you will win. You only get points for the ones you predicted, and any extra are penalized. The extra are called “sandbags”, and when a player is responsible for taking an extra book, he says to his partner “my bag”, admitting responsibility for the extra book.
              My BAG

                1. Also, 21 years in the Navy, seen innumerable Spades games. Never once have I ever heard that.

                  1. Gee, a bunch of kids didn’t know the lingo? I’m shocked. Get locked up, and play spades inside. I guaranfuckingtee you will hear “my bag” several times a game, probably more than once a hand.

                    1. I..
                      don’t think that means anything about the etymology but OK man.

                  2. Ok, let me retry. I can only offer antidotical evidence, but man, I saw it happen. I was a big Spades player, and pretty good, too, and most of my opponents were of a, let us say, nonconformist, bent.
                    I mean, I literally played cards with ex felons who used “my bag”, and then heard their kid say “my bad” years later.

            2. Plus, its a baller move to be able to shoot someone in the face and then they apologize to *you*.

              Even the DoJ has to respect that.

              1. On a drive type hunt everyone has assigned shooting lanes, it is your responsibility to not fire outside your lane, and not be where you do not belong. In this episode the participants all stated it was the later, not the former.

      3. You still have shit in your teeth Old Mex.

        Try calling white people maggots some more and it might come looses.



      5. 10k, none… those are similar numbers sqrsly. Keep up with the tutors. Pass 4th grade. You can do it buddy.

    2. So super mad.
      Wait until Trump imitates Pelosi and tears up the articles of impeachment. Sqrlsy will poop itself with rage.

      1. Well then he’ll have a snack.

        1. Lol. It’s funny because it’s true.

          1. R Mac lies like the bleeding, decayed asshole that he is! More news at 11:00!

            Liar! Liars are like sand fleas around here… Just covering the place!
            SQRLSY One
            September.15.2019 at 4:21 pm
            Right along with my urges to eat shit and then barf. Fortunately, I strangle these thoughts in their crib. Too bad that no one thought of doing that with Tulpa… But that would be “pre-crime” punishment, which I generally do NOT subscribe to!

            End original quote.

            An attempt at humor. I don’t REALLY have urges to eat poop. And having an URGE to eat poop is NOT the same thing as eating poop, except in the eyes of total liars!
            Ever have an urge to kill some asshole? Then you are a MURDERER, according to your type of lying!

            1. When Tulpa writes on Reason’s walls,
              he wraps his shit in tiny balls,
              When Sqrlsy reads those words of wit,
              it eats those tiny balls of shit.

              1. Mom’s Lament = Mom of Trump = Fuck-Buddy of Trump!
                So what goes for Trump, Goes for Trump’s Mom, too!

                Trumpty Dumpty, He’s quite off-the-wall,
                Trumpty Dumpty won’t stay in His toilet stall
                He just goes ahead and takes His shits,
                Totally regardless of whereever He sits
                Whenever He simply, no way, can sleep,
                He Twits us His thoughts, they’re all SOOO deep!
                He simply must, He MUST, Twit us His bird,
                No matter the words, however absurd!
                He sits and snorts His coke with a spoon,
                Then He brazenly shoots us His moon!
                They say He’ll be impeached by June,
                Man, oh man, June cannot come too soon!
                So He sits and jiggles His balls,
                Then He Twitters upon the walls
                “Some come here to sit and think,
                Some come here to shit and stink
                But I come here to scratch my balls,
                And read the writings on the walls
                Here I sit, My cheeks a-flexin’
                Giving birth to another Texan!
                Here I sit, on the pooper,
                Giving birth to another state trooper!
                He who writes these lines of wit,
                Wraps His Trump in little balls,
                He who reads these lines of wit,
                Eats those loser’s balls of shit!”

                1. Ahahahah I broke you HAHAHAHAAHHAAHAH I love owning you old Mex

                  1. Hey now. I get some credit.

                    1. Fair enough,take as much as you like lololol

            2. “Right along with my urges to eat shit”

              Ahahaha you call him a liar then admit it ahahhahhahahaja you’re so fucking stupid Hihn ahahhahahahah

            3. ” I don’t REALLY have urges to eat poop.”

              Ahahahahah sure ahahahahahahah it couldn’t possibly be gettingocked for it that is making you lie now ahahahha no you were lying then ahahahahaha

              “And having an URGE to eat poop is NOT the same thing as eating poop”

              Ahahahah so you DO want to eat it Ahahahahaha I love watching you dig a bigger hole shit eater ahhaahahahahahah








                  1. If you examine the link carefully, I was discussing a hypothetical region of the brain, immediately adjacent to “where Tulpa lives in my brain”, as I was accused of. We ALL are somewhat occupied by fending off evil parasites in our lives. ***IF*** I have such a nasty part of the brain (fending off Tulpa and other parasites), it is (poetically speaking) right next door to my eating-shit center of my brains, whose thoughts of eating shit, I “strangle in the crib”, just like Tulpa would have been strangled in the crib, if the people there at the time, had known what Tulpa-poop was coming their way. That, in slightly more detail, is what I wrote of.

                    Yes, I have centers of my brain that regularly think about warning people about evil, parasites, diseases, and trolls. If that makes you proud (you evil narcissistic troll), then there’s not much I can do about it, beside warning you. Which I have done, for YOUR good, a boatload of times! Smug asshole! Grow up, worthless one!







            4. The funny thing is he called me a liar then linked to some comments. So I, as a sane person assumed he was linking to some comment of mine that he could claim contradicted what I was saying.

              But instead, it was a quote of himself admitting he eats shit!

              Time to take a prn and go to bed.

              1. Learn to read, moron!

                WHY do you think that the intergalactic SmooogMooninan-Smegmoidian Space-Alien Strawmen are taking over your brains? Do you have ANY evidence of this?




                2. “ WHY do you think that the intergalactic SmooogMooninan-Smegmoidian Space-Alien Strawmen are taking over your brains?”

                  For your own good, please give me the number to your case manager so I can call them and tell them you’re off your meds again and put you back in the hospital until you’re stable.

                  1. Come on man, he’s a “stable genius” ahahaahhahaahhahahaha

                    1. I’m not hallucinating stuff that’s not there, when I read… YOU are! I bet my reading comprehension skills can swim circles around yours!

                      So keep right on slurping down those “smart pills” from underneath the rabbit hutch, and you MIGHT be able to catch up towards me at least a WEEE tad, grasshopper!

                    2. You literally said you wantto eat shit. You’re just super butthurt that you said it and it got out and now you’re known for it Hihn.

                3. Take your meds

            5. Omg, sqrsly really is Michael Hihn! Wow! I see it now- the same outrage at being “attacked”, the same overuse of capitalization…
              I always thought he was just another annoying troll, but wow, this post is very similar to how Hihn would write.

              1. I’ve been saying it for months. Plenty of people gave me shit for it.

                Then I gave it to SQRLSY to eat ahahahahahahahha

                1. He’s lost his mind worse than normal. It actually makes feel sorta bad. He’s probably sitting in soiled pants.

                  1. He’s saving them for breakfast.

                2. Once I saw it, I see it in every post of his. I’m a sucker for socks- they fool me longer than they fool most.
                  But yeah, now that it’s been pointed out, it’s obvious as hell.

    3. So much space in that empty head of yours. I dont even have to comment now for you to say something idiotic in response. I literally own you.

      1. And JesseAZ, Son of Lies, is the Son of His Father, the Father of Lies! The Evil One literally owns you!

        1. You still have shit in your teeth Hihn

        2. Libertarians for identity theft…
          Libertarians for lying…
          Libertarians for Multiple Personality Sickness…

          How are any of these working for you? Which one works best of all?

          1. Ahahah and now the Hihnsock is crying about screen names ahahahahahhaahhaha

            You have shit in your teeth Old Mex ahahahahahahah

          2. “How are any of these working for you?

            Based on howuch you’re crying shit eater?


            ” Which one works best of all?”

            Pointing out that you admitted you want to eat shit. By far. You get enraged and cry enormously ahahahahahaha

          3. OK, then, I see the errors of my ways… Unlike SOME assholes around here, I can admit error!

            I see now that all my best guesses are slightly off!

            What REALLY works the VERY best for you is…

            “Libertarians for being totally useless, parasitic trolls and assholes”.

            1. Could you please brush your teeth, your breath smells like shit.

              “OK, then, I see the errors of my ways”

              Oh great, the Netherlands has services for you.

        3. You realize everyone here except Jeff thinks you’re pathetic right?

          1. Jeff thinks it too, he just likes to play self immolating contrarian.

            1. “Son of Lies, is the Son of His Father, the Father of Lies! The Evil One literally owns you!”

              I mean, weird religiosity is a primary sign of Schizoid disorders, as is eating his own shit.

              It all tracks. He’s posting from the internet room at a group home somewhere.

  3. How epicly naive to parse the explanation given for a foregone conclusion.

  4. Did Republicans Buy the Argument That Impeachment Requires a Crime?

    What the fuck, Sullum…

    1. He can’t help himself. He bought in hook line and sinker. His whole world just crashed around him and he has to make sense of it somehow.

    2. The he proceeds to list 16 statements, only 2 of which actually indicate they think impeachment requires a crime

    3. We should probably appoint a special prosecutor to look into this question.

  5. Meanwhile, Joe Biden is sinking faster than shit stuffed with a lead weight.

    Good day.

    1. Joe Biden is done as a serious candidate. Everyone knew POTUS Trump would be acquitted. That was not in doubt. I don’t think very many knew that Biden would be a casualty as well. Ms. Biondi tore Biden and his son apart, piece by piece, in her presentation.

      Pat Philbin was spectacular.


      2. Philbin was so much better. He actually made rational and legal arguments. Schiff resorted to morality and visions of selling Alaska to Russia.

    2. So, not sinking? I don’t get it. Unless you’re a vegan, shit floats (animal fats) and would just come off the lead weight and rise to the surface.

      1. Point taken. Biden is a floating turd.

  6. The Democrat House Impeachment Articles were a joke and that is why they are rejected.

  7. I think you are over thinking this one Jacob. The Clinton impeachment taught us that the only thing that matter is if the Senate majority deems it’s worthy of removal. Guilty or not. Crime or not.

    1. Conveniently in this case, no crime did occur. But in the same manner that ImPEaChMenT iS POlitICaL when Democrats decide to hold a kangaroo court and bring non-charges for non-crimes, Republicans are also free to acquit the president of the non-charges for the non-crimes. Sullum is just pissed off that “impeachment is political” doesn’t mean “we can remove the president for any reason we feel like even if we don’t have a majority”. And he can fuck himself up his decrepit polyp-riddled boomer asshole with a corncob.

      1. He’s not a Boomer. Just barely.

  8. Lets just ignore the possibility that a Senator may think there are non-criminal acts that warrant impeachment, but the acts that Trump was accused of still didn’t rise to that level

    1. Nah that couldn’t possibly be it. The only possible reason there could be for not removing Bad Orange Man from office on specious charges brought by a partisan kangaroo court in which no defense was permitted is stupidity or duplicity. I’M NOT PROJECTING YOU’RE PROJECTING!

  9. No one cares. You lost. Go home.


      Absolutely based. Sullum should kill himself.

  10. Of course, in the previous impeachment, the Senate concluded that the President committing a crime did not warrant removal from office.

    1. Something democrats pretend not to remember.

  11. What a groveling bunch of weenies.


  12. For three months all I heard was that impeachment was a political issue and the standards are whatever the majority says they are. Then it goes to the Senate and suddenly it is how there are all these traditions and standards and how dare the Republicans declare that you need a crime to remove the President.

    The whole thing is just a joke.

    1. Not true, jokes are sometimes funny.

      1. It’s not funny? I’ve been cracking up for weeks.

        wait… Are we talking about impeachment or Reason’s credibility?

        1. All three! (Biden’s chances of being president the third)

        2. Reason’s credibility? That’s become a joke. Time was when Reason was libertarian, now it’s a bunch of socialist Trump-haters posting shit under a “Free Minds and Free Markets” banner. Has Reason endorsed Bernie yet?

    2. An amorphous word salad of empty platitudes and disingenuous equivocation from start to finish. Both a trial, and not a trial. In accordance with precedent, and yet unprecedented. Clear, yet unclear. Proven, yet unproven.

      Kafka is kicking himself in his grave for not having had the foresight to write something so absurd.

    3. Jury nullification. Real libertarians support it.

    4. Honestly, I was convinced by the “Impeachment doesn’t require a crime” narrative until I heard Dershowitz’ argument. That, and I saw a video on youtube of an attorney named Robert Barnes who also made very convincing arguments that it should definitely be a crime. I think Dershowitz nailed it-if not a crime, at a minimum it needs to be so serious that people should be shocked it’s not a crime.

      Even if you take the most cynical look at Trump’s actions, it’s still no worse than, say, the DNC spoonfeeding debate questions to Hillary to help her appearance against Bernie.

      1. “…-if not a crime, at a minimum it needs to be so serious that people should be shocked it’s not a crime.”

        And see Bubba, if it is a crime, it should be serious enough to cause doubt about the POTUS ability to be POTUS.
        Lying about a BJ really doesn’t rise to that level.
        In this case, we have a politician charged with being a politician and not assisting those who want to remove him from office. Neither gets close to either condition.

        1. See this–

          “And see Bubba, if it is a crime, it should be serious enough to cause doubt about the POTUS ability to be POTUS.
          Lying about a BJ really doesn’t rise to that level.”

          This is how they win.

          Clinton WAS NOT impeached for ‘lying about a BJ’

          Clinton was impeached for perjury and for obstructing justice by suborning perjury, concealment of evidence(not via executive privilege), bribery(to get people to not perjure themselves) and the list goes on, actual crimes.

          But the best part that gets completely left out is that all this came to light while he was on trial for the sexual harassment of Paula Jones

          The left tried to make it about consensual sex between the most powerful man in the world and one of his employees. But it wasn’t.

          It was blowback from when the most powerful man in the world WASN’T as powerful and another employee told him ‘no’. And he didn’t accept that.

  13. please keep crying, it’s what I come here for these days…

    1. totally this.

  14. Did Republicans Buy the Argument That Impeachment Requires a Crime?

    No. They seemed to have read the call transcript, and ignored months of blatant propaganda.

    (And oh by the way, any bets on how much ‘infrastructure’ get built in Utah next term?)

    1. UT is fucked, that is for sure. They can thank Romney the Ingrate for that.

      1. It the bigots (conservatives) who are fucked, and have been for a half-century, because the bigots don’t win in America. Clingers have been losing the culture war throughout our lifetimes and I expect it to get even worse for Trump fans because better Americans are losing their sympathy for the half-educated bigots, superstitious slack-jaws, and other depleted human residue in our deplorable rural regions.

        1. Clingers have run Chicago for over a century.

        2. Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland
          February.5.2020 at 7:06 pm
          “It the bigots (conservatives) who are fucked, and have been for a half-century,…”

          1989 was not a good year for lefty scumbag thugs like you, asshole bigot, so you’re lying once again.
          Oh, and the crying towels are off to the left. Far off to the left.

        3. It the bigots (conservatives) who are fucked, and have been for a half-century, because the bigots don’t win in America.

          Does that mean he thinks Trump isn’t a bigot?

          Clingers have been losing the culture war throughout our lifetimes and I expect it to get even worse for Trump fans

          What culture war?

          Abortion, pornography, banning rock and roll, gay marriage. . .

          When was the last time a culture war issue was important–was it when Prop 8 was passed banning gay marriage in California? That was ten years ago! That was when Barack Obama was campaigning on the slogan that, “Marriage is between a man and a woman”.

          Has there been a big deal culture war issue since then?

          The Democratic controlled governments of New Jersey and New York refuse to legalize marijuana–there’s your culture war issue, and the progressives are on the side of the Baptists.

          1. Right but you’re lying trash

          2. “and the progressives are on the side of the Baptists.”

            They are both religions.

        4. How bout all those bigots in Iowa choosing a gay guy over biden?

  15. Y’know, I think there’s something seriously wrong with a ‘legal’ theory that basically states that someone can be punished when they haven’t done anything wrong except do things that their political opponents don’t like.

    And the idea that libertarians–even Reason’s pretend libertarians–would endorse that concept is just mind-boggling.

    Johnson was trying to undo the Civil War.

    Clinton committed perjury, suborning of perjury, obstruction, and bribery. And he paid for that. With a large cash settlement and disbarment. But he was acquitted by the Senate.

    These people did something wrong. They were both acquitted.

    Trump tried to investigate corruption and election interference.
    His ‘crime’ was that such an investigation might help him win re-election.

    1. Y’know, I think there’s something seriously wrong with a ‘legal’ theory that basically states that someone can be punished when they haven’t done anything wrong except do things that their political opponents don’t like.

      Its not a legal system in the first place. And 90% of politics is punishing people for doing things you don’t like – gotta send those lessons.

    2. “Y’know, I think there’s something seriously wrong with a ‘legal’ theory that basically states that someone can be punished when they haven’t done anything wrong except do things that their political opponents don’t like.”

      We get to punish the jurors in this trial, and they were too afraid to go through with it–which means the system worked!

      I remain convinced that the real power in this country still belongs to the people, and our job as libertarians isn’t to seize the reigns of power and inflict freedom on the unwilling using the coercive power of government. It’s to persuade the American people to want what we want–and the politicians we already have will fall in line once we accomplish that–just like they did in the Trump impeachment.

      If two thirds of the Senate came from states where the American people wanted their senator to vote to remove President Trump from office, he wouldn’t be the president right now. Now, if only we could persuade our friends and family to slash Medicaid spending, demand a balanced budget amendment, and repeal the income tax. Looks to me like Mitt Romney is the last never Trumper standing, and I’m not sure it’s because the rest of the Republican establishment suddenly loves Trump now. It’s more like they’re scared shitless of what their constituents would do if they pulled an Amash.

  16. I suppose it’s too much to hope that the Senators raised the national-security issue – specifically, did delaying aid to Ukraine endanger the national security *of the United States,* as Art. I claims?

    Maybe the war-boner crowd doesn’t want to hang its hat on that defense, since it would call lots of “national security” policies into question.

  17. “But some have gone further by seeming to endorse the dangerous, ahistorical argument, advanced by Trump’s lawyers, …”

    “Dangerous”? What a goofy thing to say. No president has been impeached without a statutory crime included.

    The notion of abuse of power, alone, being sufficient to impeach works fine for lifetime tenured judges and non-elected official but falls miserably with the executive.

    If you want “dangerous” try looking at a strictly partisan impeachment that gets rushed, circumvents due process and can’t even locate a crime within its articles.

  18. “Elections have consequences”


    1. In a nation whose electorate becomes less white (how many years until whites are a minority?), less bigoted, less backwater, and less religious each day, “elections have consequences” is a welcome point for the liberal-libertarian mainstream.

      1. Is that why you’ve been getting your ass kicked for 10 years?

      2. Ahahah you lost Ahahahahahaha how’s it feel to have exoneration for dinner ahaahahahahha

  19. I’m not a fan of the president (or the last one, or the one before…).

    The senate actually got this right. It looked to me like a rather transparent ploy to smear the president during campaign season. The whole reason to want (dubious) witnesses was to extend the negative PR campaign for as long as possible and throw as much sand in the president’s face along the way. Seriously, the odds of getting the 2/3 votes was never a realistic outcome, so what’s the point?

    I agree with Bill Cassidy (R, La). The level of what Trump was alleged to have done simply didn’t rise to the level of an offense as serious as treason or bribery. The house committees floated the idea of bribery as a crime, but it was such a reach they dropped the idea rather quickly.

    Some cases brought by prosecutors in the court system are so bad that they are summarily dismissed. That’s the proper way to have handled this one.

    Impeachment should be so obvious that most members of both parties, and most of the public are clearly convinced the president must go. I’m not talking about a small majority, but a near unanimity. Much like with Nixon, who committed crime after crime and abused his office, misused government agencies, and lied to the public and investigators.

    Frankly, the whole thing made the Democrats look terrible. In their zeal, they made Trump the victor.

    1. All of this. It’s essentially a soft coup, or an “insurgency” by the Permanent State (finding the softest, most agreeable terms possible) using byzantine procedure to block a president from securing a second term.

      1. I found it ironic that the house brought forth deep state actor after deep state actor, none with firsthand knowledge of what was alleged.

        It certainly helps prop up the coup theory.

    2. “Democrats look terrible”. They did that to themselves. Their party is dividing into different platforms that can’t get along and alot of Americans don’t support. they backstab and cheat each other. Trump definitely pushed them off the cliff, all while tweeting them to insanity

  20. Sullum, your tears sustain me.

  21. Johnson was impeached for violating the Tenure of Office act which for better or for worse was an actual statute passed by congress over his veto. Nixon faced impeachment for paying off associates of his campaign who had committed a burglary, an actual crime. Clinton was impeached for perjury and witness tampering. Both are actual crimes and no one disputes that he is guilty of those crimes. Each of these cases fit the plain language of the constitution which specifies treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors all of which are violations of law. The idea that the house should have identified some purported crime is not a dangerous myth nor is it ahistorical.

    1. “The idea that the house should have identified some purported crime is not a dangerous myth nor is it ahistorical.”

      Schifty Schiff disagrees, don’t you know. His latest fear, if we discount abuse of power as a stand-alone, has it that Trump will give Alaska to the Rooskies, and Jared Kushner will be running the WH while Trump makes pars and birdies at Mar-a-lago.

      He didn’t make clear whether those horrors came before or after the fall of the republic and the end of democracy.

    1. ‘I had friends on that caucus’

      Fucking gold.

      Hey Reason, you should look into this guy…

  22. VOX writer Matthew Yglesias has escaped his straitjacket and writes that Pelosi and Schiff are the real winners.

    Link to Article

    1. “For Sale, Gold Impeachment Pens, only used once, never worked”

    2. I’d like to think that they’ll learn their lesson once President Trump is reelected, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

      As 2024 draws nearer, the chances of Pence being falsely accused of a series of sexual assaults like Trump and Kavanaugh were approaches one. Then they’ll accuse him of corruption.

      . . . as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow.

      That’s what they do. That’s who they are.

      1. You’re lying trash.

    3. Two days ago, Gallup released a poll showing that Trump’s approval ratings are higher now than at any time in his presidency. He spends a lot of space talking about Trump’s unpopularity but the polls were moving in his direction even before Iowa, the state of the union, and the vote in the Senate today.

      1. Two days ago you were still lying trash

  23. Not only does impeachment not require an actual crime, an actual crime doesn’t necessarily mandate removal from office.

    Mr. Sullum once made a persuasive and credible argument that President Obama may have violated the Constitution and the law by assassinating Osama bin Laden. My response was that even if assassinating Osama bin Laden were unconstitutional and against the law, if President Obama had both the opportunity and the ability to kill Osama bin Laden but willingly chose not to do so, that might constitute a legitimately impeachable offense–even if refraining from assassinating Osama bin Laden weren’t against the law.

    There is precedent for this in jury nullification. Even IF IF IF we assume a crime was committed, that does not necessarily mean that a jury or the Senate should convict. Indeed, overturning the results of a presidential election without a crime should require even more bipartisan and national support than convicting the president with a crime. Given that fact and the fact that it’s an election year, it’s no surprise that the Senate didn’t convict the president.

    I’m trying to think of something that would have resulted in a more populist, anti-libertarian backlash than elitists using the liberal institution of Congress to remove a populist president from office in an election year, and I can hardly think of anything. Classical liberalism dodged a bullet today.

    1. Right but you’re lying trash, which I have proven decisively. It’s why you freaked out about it. You know you were caught lying.

    2. An actual crime of a serious nature is sufficient for impeachment, but not necessary.

      What will almost always prove necessary is a widely and deeply disliked POTUS.

  24. most of the Reason staff right now…

  25. I’m sure some of them will change their minds the next time they decide to impeach a Democratic president.

    1. Impeaching Democrats is unconstitutional, and if you were a progressive elitist, you’d already know that.

      1. People would care more if I hadn’t proven you a liar.

        Oh wait, you’re going to lie and claim that stating my position was a hypothetical again aren’t you liar.

        Because you know you’re a liar.

        1. By the way, this is forever. You’ll never post again without me pointing out that you’re a liar. And you know its true.

          You could have just admitted you were wrong, but why do that when you can just keep lying.

            1. Look at your penis did you, you sad lying fuck?

  26. Ok Sulliman, let’s look at this a little closer:
    The Congress, being a equal power to the Presidency, can impeach for whatever damn reason it wants, because the Judicial branch ain’t gonna stop them. At the same time, the Constitution does explicitly spell out the words “…treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”, which kinda leads one to believe that the Founders expected impeachment to only be used for things similar to “treason (and) bribery”.
    So, while technically the House doesn’t require a crime in order to impeach, it’s probably going to be an abuse of the impeachment power if there wasn’t an actual, you know, criminal act. Now, there are scenarios where people rewrote or made inventive use of the law to make corruption technically legal: see the Teapot Dome Scandal, for instance. This is why an actual crime isn’t needed to impeach, but that doesn’t mean the power should be abused for petty partisan gain. The Democrats, for the past several years, have been acting like they have no long term memory, or any realization that the scorched earth tactics that they are employing will come back on them.

    1. Federalist #65, discussing the role of the Senate as impeachment court:

      “A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt. ”

      Hamilton anyway did not view impeachment as reserved only for people who broke the law. He viewed it as appropriate for people who violated the public trust.

      1. So, did Trump “violate the public trust”? Yes. He was entrusted with foreign policy powers in order to conduct diplomacy on behalf of the entire nation, and instead he used those powers to pursue favors for himself. That’s a violation of the public trust.

        “Oh, but he was just investigating corruption, which is clearly in the public interest.” Maybe, but the evidence points that this was not his primary motivation, to wit:
        1. He only became interested in this “corruption” after Biden entered the race;
        2. He pursued only this single instance of alleged corruption, in a country that is notoriously corrupt – where was the concern about all of the other much more real corruption, if his motivation was about fighting corruption?;
        3. There is no public evidence that he ever availed himself of the formal means to conduct a legitimate investigation;
        4. He sent his personal lawyer as his envoy, who has a fiduciary duty to represent his client’s interests ABOVE the interests of the government.

        We don’t need to read Trump’s mind in order to cast doubt on his claim that he was merely interested in corruption, the available evidence makes this inference eminently reasonable.

        And if the argument is that Trump should receive the benefit of the doubt because there is some plausibly legitimate reason for him to do what he did, despite all of the evidence that points in the other direction, then this line of reasoning would legitimize virtually all genuine instances of violation of the public trust, for in every case, if one is clever enough, one can find some fig leaf of a plausibly genuine rationalization for a corrupt act.

        And as libertarians IMO the default position ought to be suspicion towards power; we ought to be on the side of holding accountable people who hold positions of power, not trying to construct rationalizations for them.

        1. “So, did Trump “violate the public trust”? Yes.”

          I was with you right up until that point.

          You seem to imagine that you understand the public trust better than the public. It’s like claiming to know what the American people want–and ignoring market signals, as if the markets were reflective of something other than what the American people want.

          “Trump’s approval rating has risen because of higher ratings among both Republicans and independents. His 94% approval rating among Republicans is up six percentage points from early January and is three points higher than his previous best among his fellow partisans. The 42% approval rating among independents is up five points, and ties three other polls as his best among that group.”

          —-Gallup, February 4, 2020

          That poll was taken before the debacle in Iowa, before his state of the union address, and before the vote not to remove him from office. Chances are he’s doing even better now!

          Meanwhile, the people whose job it is to figure out what their constituents want them to do on these issues just voted to keep him in office. You know what the public trust is and whether it was broken, and you know that not only better than the senate knows their own constituencies but also better than those constituencies know themselves?

          That’s aiming high.

          1. Right but you’re lying trash

          2. Ken, public trust is different than public approval. A poll doesn’t prove or disprove that the president violated the public trust. I’m sure there are many things a president could do that would cause his poll numbers to rise, but would nevertheless constitute a breach of the public trust. For example, he could have shot Jeffrey Epstein on Fifth Avenue. That would have been a popular move but it would have been not just a violation of the law, but a breach of the public trust to faithfully execute the laws. So just pointing to a poll does not disprove my thesis.

            1. “public trust is different than public approval.”

              Not in a representative republic. Beyond that I reject your notion that his request was merely self serving. There was ample reason to suspect their was corruption, so it is entirely justified to ask that for scrutiny. It is even justifiable to place contingencies upon foreign aid to secure such scrutiny. That that scrutiny happens to involve other politicians, or their immediate family is not a problem, it’s actually the opposite of a problem.

          3. Meanwhile, the people whose job it is to figure out what their constituents want them to do on these issues

            You are referring to the Democrats elected in the House? Or the Republicans elected in the Senate? They were both ostensibly elected to “figure out what their constituents want them to do”. If you’re going to claim that Republican Senators are following the public will, then the same argument applies to Democratic Representatives.

            1. A stopped clock is right twice a day, and this is one of yours.

              The impeachment was indeed a political stunt done by Democrats for their base, and it was rejected by the Republicans precisely for being a political stunt done by Democrats for their base.

        2. Chemjeff, just a sad little progressive

          1. This is what you say when you have nothing of substance to argue.

  27. No one needed dershwitz since everyone knew no crimes were committed and its not a crime to talk to foreign leaders about crimes committed by americans in that country weather they are running for office or not. If you want to make it a crime then it a crime when Obama did it and Biden did it and Hillary did it and when all the house and senate democrats did it

  28. SEE? It IS a Living Constitution! Per constitutional conservatives progressives!!!

    There were zero federal crimes at the time … but there are now, so … founders’ intent be damned.

    This be Amurrica! (hand over heart, head bowed).

    1. Hi SQRLSY, your breath still smells like shit.

      1. What you smell is called “adulthood,” loser

        And I’m not sqyrlsy, so you’re also a consp[irca

        1. And I’m not Sqyrlsy, so you’re also a conspiracy psycho.

          PROVE you’re not a dumbfuck by telling is what federal crimes existed … BEFORE THE CONSTITUION WAS EVEN RATFIED!
          That means before the was a Congress to pass such laws.

          (That’s why we libertarians ridicule goobers, BOTH left and right)

          1. Dumbass. President Grant was arrested in 1807 for speeding and reckless driving of his horse and wagon. If he had killed someone, he wouldn’t have needed to be guilty of a Federal crime, yet would still be guilty of a crime, and likely would have faced impeachment.

  29. Read this 1999 Treaty with Ukraine and tell me Trump did ANYTHING wrong. His motives did not matter. He was authorized by an existing Treaty to ASK Ukraine to look into the Bidens. More coming later on that note. This Treaty was signed by both sides and it was ratified in Congress in 2000. Still in effect to this day. Read ’em and weep Liberalistas!

    1. Where is the evidence that Trump actually invoked this treaty in his supposed investigation of corruption?

        1. I know, right? He’s got half of you believing that he actually was “investigating corruption”, and the other half of you, do believe he abused his power but are totally fine with it because it “pwned the libs”. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.

          1. You deserve to be laughed at for that stupid question.

            Or do I need to ‘invoke’ the law of gravity to drop a rock on your foot?

            1. You need to invoke a brain. If you even have one.

      1. Treaties aren’t something you “invoke”. They are ratified and then exist as federal code.

        1. Trumptards be bat shit crazy … which is WHY he FAILED to present even the hint of an argument.

          Is he repeating bullshit from Limbaugh, or Alex Jones, or Breitbart, or Daily Caller, or Stormfront, or Fox? WHICH rightwing wacko?

  30. I am making a good MONEY (500$ to 700$ / hr )online on my Ipad .Do not go to office.I do not claim to be others,I yoy will call yourself after doing this JOB,It’s a REAL job.Will be very lucky to refer to this…. Read more  

  31. Maybe in the future, we will have more Reason commenters who regard with suspicion those who wield power, instead of trying to play defense for them.

  32. I am making $98/hour telecommuting. I never imagined that it was honest to goodness yet my closest companion is acquiring $20 thousand a month by working on the web, that was truly shocking for me, she prescribed me to attempt it. simply give it a shot on the accompanying site.. go to home media tech tab for more detail reinforce your heart……….>
    …. VIST THIS SITE >>==>> click

    1. You’re talking about schiff and the house using every tactic they could imagine to try to dictate their rules to the Senate I assume?

  33. “Did Republicans Buy the Argument That Impeachment Requires a Crime?”

    Well, treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors. Trump’s actions seemed to be more politics a usual. Can we then impeach the House Democrats for trying to impeach Trump for political motives?

  34. “And if the argument is that Trump should receive the benefit of the doubt because there is some plausibly legitimate reason for him to do what he did, despite all of the evidence that points in the other direction…”

    This is the basic flaw in your argument. There’s ample probative evidence to defend and justify Trump’s conduct. We know this by the singularly objective measure that no statutory crime was part of the articles.

    No actual crime alleged. Now why was that do you think? All these partisan hacks and zealots had all the time, power and money and the weight of the federal government behind them to simply allege a crime-with “all of this evidence”that you infer-and they couldn’t even do that.

    Not one crime alleged.

    Instead, we got handed the amorphous charge of abuse of power. How convenient. It’s akin to the old Soviet GPU indictment charging “actions against the State.” Please. Talk about opening a Pandora’s box.

    And the obstruction of congress charge is so risible it’s not even worth an argument.

    Setting aside whether Dershowitz’ argument ought to prevail about the abuse of power charge, the charge per se is a tacit admission by the partisans that they couldn’t prove the elements and intent of an actual crime. But you want to impeach a president on that basis.


    Finally, with respect to your libertarian default position, my suggestion would be to embrace a more enduring (default) principle: innocent until proven guilty.

    1. There doesn’t have to be an actual crime committed in order for an impeachment to be justifiable. I will take Hamilton’s opinion on the matter over Dershowitz’s.

      1. No, but there has to be an act that at least “appears criminal and would make people wonder why it isn’t”, paraphrasing dershowitz, if you want to make your case seem more legitimate and gain more support.

        The democrats never approached that threshold. Theyd have at least looked a bit more competent or believable if they threw out the obstruction of congress article like they did the bribery one leading up to the filing. Including that, which amounted to the house being pissy trump exerted legal separation of powers by not giving into their demands and challenging them to a court battle which is the proper way these issues are meant to be handled, made them look sophomoric, petty, and ignorant of the constitution.

        Then they doubled down in the actual house hearings and refused to subpoena, or withdrew subpoenas, for any witness they knew trump would challenge, yet cried foul when the senate wouldn’t do their subpoenaing for them

      2. Have you actually read Fed 65? I ask because Hamilton-while clearly indicating the political nature of the impeachment process-is discussing the servants of the executive, or officials within the executive branch, not just the president.

        The distinction of non-elected officials or servants therein versus the executive in terms of impeachment matters as to the nature of impeachment articles and charges; I.e., whether a crime exists.

        Indeed, let’s look what your boy Hamilton says on this matter a bit later in #65:

        “After having been sentenced to a prepetual ostracism from the esteem and confidence, and honors and emoluments of his country, he will still be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law.”

        Hmm… “still liable to prosecution…” And for what? Oh, he must mean for A Crime.

        Regardless, there’s been no impeachment of a president in our history absent a criminal charge. Until Schiff et al showed up.

  35. Above addressed to chemjeff. Sorry.

  36. Dude, he was fucking impeached. Republicans probably thought something like a crime is required for removal.


  37. Google pay 350$ reliably my last pay check was $45000 working 9 hours out of consistently on the web. My increasingly youthful kinfolk mate has been averaging 19k all through continuous months and he works around 24 hours reliably.=…. VIST THIS SITE >>. Read more

  38. I guess “high crimes and misdemeanors” is too tough for reason and its readers. I’m shocked, shocked. Originalists on the Second, not so much on Article II, right?

  39. check out the best bikes under 5 lakhs
    bikes under 5 lakhs in india

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.