Barbara Jordan on Impeachment

With the constant cries for impeachment that swirl around Donald J. Trump, it is incumbent upon us to remember the wise and reasoned words of Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, who on July 25, 1974 gave an eloquent and dispassionate speech concerning the impeachment hearings against then-president Richard M. Nixon.

It behooves us all to bear in mind Jordan's words today.  Even though she reminds the nation that in 1787, when the Constitution was completed, African-Americans like herself were "left out," she also explains that "through the process of amendment, interpretation and court decision," she was finally and irrevocably included in "we, the people."

Thus, she firmly asserts that her "faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total."  She refuses to "be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution" as it concerns "those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men."

In the strongest of terms, Jordan asserts that "the jurisdiction comes from the abuse or violation of some public trust."  In fact, "it is a misreading of the Constitution, for any member here to assert that for a member to vote for an article of impeachment means that that member must be convinced that the President should be removed from office."

The Constitution doesn't say that.  The powers relating to impeachment are an essential check in the hands of this body, the legislature, against and upon the encroachment of the Executive.  In establishing the division between the two branches of the legislature, the House and the Senate, assigning to the one the right to accuse and to the other the right to judge, the framers of this Constitution were very astute.  They did not make the accusers and the judges the same person.

We know the nature of impeachment.  It is chiefly designed for the President and his high ministers to somehow be called into account.  It is designed to 'bridle' the Executive if he engages in excesses. 

It is designed as a method of national inquest into the conduct of public men.  The framers confined in the Congress the power, if need be, to remove the President in order to strike a delicate balance between a President swollen with power and grown tyrannical and preservation of the independence of the Executive. 

The nature of impeachment is a narrowly channeled exception to the separation of powers maxim; [thus,] the federal convention of 1787 ... limited impeachment to high crimes and misdemeanors and discounted and opposed the term, 'maladministration.  It is to be used only for great misdemeanors[.]'

Furthermore, "[t]he drawing of political lines goes to the motivation behind impeachment; but impeachment must proceed within the confines of the constitutional term, 'high crime and misdemeanors.'"

In light of the hue and cry coming from present-day Democrats who would upturn the Constitution, Jordan would retort that "[c]ommon sense would be revolted if we engaged upon this process for petty reasons."

It is now patently clear that Russian collusion has not occurred with President Trump.  In his meticulously documented book The Russia Hoax: the Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump, Gregg Jarrett has set forth the breathtaking abuse by the FBI and Department of Justice to subvert the American system of justice and undermine the democratic process.

There is no plausible evidence that Trump or his campaign collaborated with Russia to win the presidency.  Moreover, the FBI had no legal basis to initiate the investigation in the first place.

To the dismay of millions of Americans, the law-enforcers have become the lawbreakers.

I venture to say that it would break Barbara Jordan's heart that such abuse of the law has taken place.  It is clear that there are no impeachment criteria, since the president "has not been connected in any suspicious manner with any person," nor are there grounds to believe that Trump would shelter anyone to cover up a crime.

Notwithstanding the constant din of the media talking heads, Trump has not behaved amiss or betrayed the public trust.  Unlike the previous occupant of the White House, Trump has not committed any crimes that violate the liberties of the American people. 

Trump has most decidedly "not subverted the Constitution; he has not counseled his aides to commit perjury, willfully disregarded the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, or attempted to compromise a federal judge."

And yet, as Justice Louis D. Brandeis has stated, "the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal."  Consequently, the Democratic Party with its absolute fanaticism, coupled with the majority of the mass media and the various groups like the incendiary Antifa, continues to push the "most notorious hoax in modern American history."

These people's passion is not proof of President Trump subverting the Constitution, however loudly and angrily they may shriek.

It is way overdue for the assault against President Trump to end.  There is not a "whiff of credible evidence to legally justify this ongoing probe."  In fact, as Rush Limbaugh underscores:  

[I]t cannot be overstated what the real objective here to start was.  And that was clearing Hillary Clinton of all of the crimes ... she had committed.  This is doubly a whammy because it wasn't just framing Donald Trump.  He had not committed any crimes[.] ... They had to make it look like he had, in the process exonerating Hillary [of] crimes she had committed.

Barbara Jordan's speech drew a contrast between political motivations and high crimes and misdemeanors.  It cannot be emphasized enough that any notion of impeachment must proceed within the confines of the latter concept.

Of Jordan, it was said that "[t]here was simply something about her that made [one] proud to be a part of the country that produced her."  We would be wise to pay attention to her acumen and perspicacity.

Eileen can be reached at

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