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First things . . . Richard Falknor on 14 Jul 2014 10:18 pm

House Judiciary Chief Bob Goodlatte “Clueless on Impeachment”?

“‘We are not working on or drawing up articles of impeachment,’ Goodlatte told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on ‘This Week’ Sunday. ‘The Constitution is very clear as to what constitutes grounds for impeachment of the President of the United States. He has not committed the kind of criminal acts that call for that.’” — Kari Rea

Today constitutional expert Andrew McCarthy took Virginia’s Sixth District Representative Bob Goodlatte to task here in author McCarthy’s PJM post “GOP’s House Judiciary Chairman Clueless on Impeachment.”

Some key McCarthy points – –

  • The Beltway fixture that Republicans have placed in charge of the House Judiciary Committee—i.e., the committee that, by its own description, functions as ‘the lawyer for the House of Representatives,’ and claims an ‘infrequent but important role in impeachment proceedings’—is ignorant when it comes to the Constitution’s impeachment standard.”
  • “In point of fact, no ‘criminal acts’ are necessary before a president may be impeached.”
  • The concept conveyed by ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ is executive maladministration, whether out of imperiousness, corruption or incompetence. In that sense, it is more redolent of military justice offenses than criminal acts that violate the penal code. Like a soldier, one who owes fiduciary responsibility is liable for acts that would not be considered criminal wrongs if committed by an ordinary civilian. Dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming, profound deceitfulness, and the failure to honor an oath, to take a few obvious examples, would qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors even if they might not be indictable offenses if committed by one in whom high public trust was not reposed.” (Highlighting Forum’s throughout)

 McCarthy objects to impeachment of this president right now as a prudential  matter, but not because impeachment requires “criminal acts” —

“Consequently, it makes sense that the House is not ‘drawing up articles of impeachment,’ as Rep. Goodlatte took pains to assure George Stephanopoulos. Impeachment is a political remedy involving the stripping of political authority, not the proof of crimes. In that most important of senses, it is a matter of public will.
At the moment, there is not widespread popular support for impeaching President Obama; thus, as I argue in Faithless Execution, it would be counterproductive for the House to file articles of impeachment. If it took such a step—before building political support by focusing the public on the full extent of executive lawlessness and why it is such a threat to our liberties and our system of government—the president would easily prevail in a Senate trial. The administration and the media would spin that outcome as an endorsement of Obama’s imperial presidency. The result: those who had set out trying to rein in presidential lawlessness would inadvertently have encouraged more of it.”

Former Federal prosecutor McCarthy puts the president’s lawlessness into the larger picture–

“The precedents for executive domination that President Obama is setting will be available for exploitation by every future president, regardless of party. Goodlatte admits the president does not execute the laws faithfully—the president’s main domestic duty—but does not see that as a ground for impeachment. Got that? He’s not saying, ‘Look, we don’t have the political support necessary to proceed with impeachment’; he is saying rampant presidential lawlessness does not constitute a legal basis for impeachment.

Last month Andrew McCarthy recommended “a practical step” here in his NRO post “Boehner Issues Memo Explaining His Feckless Plan to Sue Obama”–

“I had a column on the homepage yesterday about a practical step congressional Republicans could take to combat the rampant presidential lawlessness I’ve documented in Faithless Execution — to wit, they can start impeaching subordinate executive branch officials who have been involved in either (or both) the IRS abuse of Americans over their political beliefs or the cover-up of that constitutional affront, which has involved misleading testimony, destruction of evidence, and obstruction of justice.”

McCarthy also summed up what he saw as the GOP Establishment’s thinking–

“Boehner and Beltway Republicans are essentially saying, ‘We can’t use our power because Obama and his media friends would say mean things about us. But our lunatic conservative base is demanding action. So let us file a lawsuit so we can say we did something. Who knows . . . maybe in a year or two we’ll get lucky and get a favorable ruling against Obama that can’t be enforced without Obama’s help.'”

We agree with McCarthy when he declares that —

“Our Washington ruling class does not see itself as bound by our quaint Constitution. When a Republican eventually wins the White House, expect the same rule by decree.”

But we also believe that the House GOP leadership does not want any serious “distractions” (from a quiet ride to the November 4 elections) arising from even second-level impeachment proceedings, from serious appropriations cuts that might “shut down the government,” or even perhaps from unexpected but blockbuster Benghazi revelations.

As we noted last Friday, Judiciary panel chief Goodlatte said on June 16  (here via Tony Lee at Breitbart)–

“Goodlatte acknowledged that if there is not an ‘an overwhelming majority’ of Republicans who support various amnesty and immigration bills, then ‘we have to have some Democrats come and support us.’
‘We’ve already passed four bills out of the committee,’ he said. ‘I believe that there is bipartisan support for those and for other bills that would come along behind those bills.

This is clearly chairman Goodlatte’s preferred path — to immigration “reform”.

Consequently he will continue blaming the president for the border crisis, but not push for a confrontation with the White House to stem the invasion.

Follow Bob Goodlatte’s nimble rhetoric as the border crisis comes to a crunch in the House!

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