Maxine Waters: “Impeachment Is . . . Whatever The Congress Says It Is”

1024px-Congresswoman_Waters_official_photoRep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has become an icon for the left in her unrelenting calls for impeachment of President Donald Trump and tapping into the blind rage across the country.  That appeal to the base however took a worrisome turn this week as Waters rallied supporters around the assurance that impeachment is anything they want to say it is.  As I stated recently to the Rolling Stones, this view was made popular by Gerald Ford and has been uniformly condemned by constitutional experts.  Waters is dismissing the constitutional obligation to find “high crimes and misdemeanors” in assuring supporters that they can simply get rid of Trump on a muscle vote.  Political convenience has long been the enemy of constitutional principle, but this effort is highly dangerous for our country as a whole.  We are living in an age of rage and Waters’ approach would create an channel to direct that lethal rage into the heart of our political system.

Gerald_Ford_-_NARA_-_530680.tifIn 1970, when Gerald Ford was still a member of the House of Representatives, he  said, “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be.”  It was a reckless and inaccurate statement.  On a very superficial level it is a political decision in the sense that it’s a decision that is ultimately made by politicians. However, that does not make the basis for decision purely political.  It is akin to saying that, since a priest can grant absolution on his own authority, sin is a discretionary pastoral question.  The Framers struggled to establish a standard and process to make impeachment both difficult and substantive.  They did not want a parliamentary system where impeachment was just a variation of a vote of no confidence as I discussed recently in a column.

Waters is advocating precisely this type of dangerous approach to impeachment.  She told the Congressional Black Caucus Town Hall on Civil Rights:

“Don’t come here and tell me, ‘Maxine, you keep on doing what you do.’ But when you gonna give me some support? How many of you in your organizations have said, ‘Impeach 45’ ? . . . Impeachment is about whatever the Congress says it is. There is no law that dictates impeachment. What the Constitution says is ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ and we define that.”

 

It is precisely the same constitutional short selling that has characterized the Democratic leadership for a decade — trashing constitutional values to achieve short-term gains.  During the eight years of Obama, Democrats supported the unilateral actions taken by the president in circumventing Congress. That resulting uber presidency was then handed to Trump — only to have Democrats denounce the very unilateral powers that they endorsed previously.

Waters and her supporters would unravel the delicate balance struck by the Framers and remove any real limitations on political impeachments for future presidents.  Trump will not be our last president, but Waters would create precedent for future members to discard their obligations and simply vote their political agendas.  It is a system that few should relish and most would come to regret.

201 thoughts on “Maxine Waters: “Impeachment Is . . . Whatever The Congress Says It Is”

    • That’s racist of her. Of course, in Maxine’s circles, Carson isn’t black either. Remember the thing about “authentic blackness” that flared up briefly during the early months of Barack Obama’s fundamental transformation?

  1. Will it be sufficient to mark, with precision, the boundaries of these departments, in the constitution of the government, and to trust to these parchment barriers against the encroaching spirit of power? This is the security which appears to have been principally relied on by the compilers of most of the American constitutions. But experience assures us, that the efficacy of the provision has been greatly overrated; and that some more adequate defence is indispensably necessary for the more feeble, against the more powerful members of the government. The legislative department is every where extending the sphere of its activity, and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex. Jame Madison

    What Water’s lacks in principle exposes the weakness of our constitution in practice. Our system of government and the rights it is duty bound to secure are only as good as the people elected to its service. James Garfield said: Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature … If the next centennial does not find us a great nation…it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces. 1877

    Our sacred texts as one contributor here is fond of saying are only texts. What makes them sacred is a body politic that understands their value. Ignorance of those founding principles leads to a legislative branch that does not need anything more than majority rule to exert their will. If the people don’t check this abuse of power by removing them from office, then what really is there to stop them from infecting the executive and eventually the judicial branches?

    So what really stops the House and Senate from impeaching a President if they have the votes to do so? The principled minority? The ignorant electorate that returns the unprincipled majority to office? The Chief Justice? Is this nation ever secure in its life, liberty and property because we have a constitution, or because we somehow manage to have a majority wise enough to create the illusion of constitutional governance? Is the 4th self-evident truth in our Declaration of Independence our next step when the illusion fails?

    • “It’s been known for some time she’s emotionally unstable and unintelligent.”
      To say the least.
      To say “unstable and unintelligent” is to be very kind.

  2. It was a reckless and inaccurate statement.

    Absolutely not. He was uttering this in reference to Wm. O. Douglas. Frequent and persistent abuse of discretion is properly remedied with impeachment. Most of those who have sat on the U.S. Supreme Court since 1970 have merited removal for these reasons. Among the few who might be spared were Congress doing it’s job would be Byron White, Wm. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch. None of the remainder should have been left on that court. Nothing Trump has done merits that treatment.

    Turley frequently reveals that his real lodestar is defending the privileges of the legal profession.

  3. “Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has become an icon for the left in her unrelenting calls for impeachment of President Donald Trump”

    Waters? An Icon? You are kidding me? What sort of hallucinogens might one ingest to come out with such a statement. I understand with conservatives set kill tens of thousands Americans annually taking away health care (we republicans will decide who has enough money to live…..and who shall die) and traitor trumps Russian ties/money laundering being exposed daily, one would want to try and change the narrative. But a barely on the radar candidate Waters….. an icon?

    I can understand with Waters being correct about the Iraq war, her war resolution bill finally gaining support and especially being black (omg! someone actually shamefully typed monkey? how pathetic?) that scares wimpy conservatives and white supremacists. But an icon?

    btw – with the emoluments clause in tatters, colluding with a foreign power, etc…… there are plenty of reasons the traitor trump might be impeached. Obviously, conservatives would first cede power to foreign sources rather then charge one of their own……….but if congress ever put America first, the traitor trump should be facing impeachment hearings.

    • No one pays much attention to her to tell the truth. She is an icon of the left to Fox News and the Jonathon Turley blog. Bernie Sanders is the icon of the left. Barbara Lee of Oakland is far more popular with the left than is Waters. btw .Some here have called Obama a “monkey”. Nothing new…….

      • frankly, there are thousands who believe her, because they never learned about the Constitution in the first place. Tell them to read it, nope, can’t read. She could be dangerous unless every time she says unconstitutional things more question the truth. “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” is a tough bar to reach. Bill Clinton should never have been impeached. Except we got “W” instead of Gore. For that alone it was worth it!

  4. The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and all the other sacred texts dating from the inception of the US have been interpreted by one side or the other’s constitutional experts since their beginnings. The President was almost a king and still retains trappings of that leadership type in that the Presidency is sacred beyond the sacred texts. This gives the system a certain flexibility but also comes with excesses. Like the pirate captain said in Pirates of the Caribbean when someone brought up the pirate code in defense, “Oh those are just rough guidelines.” Perhaps it’s time for this country to revamp its sacred beginnings to adapt to something much different than what was in 1776. The Catholics have done it and continue to do it. Most every other peer nation does it on a continuing basis. Why even the Muslims are doing it. If this country is strong enough it could revisit how it started and evolve the structure of government: no private money in elections would be the perfect beginning.

    • As long as we are talking about public elections,I cannot envision a way to remove money from being the driving force of government policy. Public elections require vast amounts of advertising, background costs, travel costs, staff costs. Whoever does the most of that is likely to be elected. Those who pay money to advance a candidate, demand that the candidate serve their interests.

      Changing from public elections to government officials by lottery is the only system that would remove money. And even if we adopted government by Sortition, those in office would quickly change the rules so that their sons could take power, just as happened in ancient Athens.

      • The root cause is human nature. As long as we have a political class that can be bought, there will always be those willing to pay; whatever the currency.

      • Chris P Bacon

        Bernie Sanders received his funding a few bucks at a time from individuals. Canada, Great Britain, France all function as democracies and not oligarchies because they limit the amount anyone can donate. 90% of election costs is a circus that has nothing to do with the essence of the issues. Imagine if all you heard were the issues and the candidates’ positions on the issues, along with proposals to deal with problems. It would demand a better quality of candidate, not a flag waving simpleton who panders to the frustrations of the fringes. Scalia opened up the oligarchs pockets and increased their control. All it would take would be a more democracy minded supreme court to make the first move. There is more than enough money available from the public to fund elections. The government could easily make equal time available on radio, TV, and the internet. Americans have grown to adopt choosing representatives as a form of entertainment. It is no longer a serious job but a three ring circus. If all the other democracies can do it, are you saying that we are not number one, that we are too stupid to deserve a democracy, that we are better off governed by an oligarchy, a two party dictatorship? Defending America’s system of electing its representatives is no different from the Soviets defending their so called system of elections, or Russia’s today. We are given, by the mega wealthy, the choices. Then those choices shame this country.

        • If the Sanders funding model worked well, and it did, why not let citizens fund campaigns by their own choosing. And, for the sake of argument, Trump beat Hillary by spending a fraction of the incredible amount her campaign burned through.

          But you miss the more important point. If government funds campaigns then government in effect picks which candidates and parties get to run for office.

          Did you know that the third parties, even the two major ones, must petition for ballot access each year before they can even consider running a candidate? Democrats and Republicans don’t have to petition because they wrote electoral laws and naturally exempted themselves from the burden. Add funding to this problem and frankly I don’t see how a Green, Libertarian, or third party candidate has a chance against the same entrenched politicians you complain about.

          A better first step then could be lowering the bar for ballot access AND allowing at least the major third party candidates a seat on the debate stage. Although I find Jill Stein to be ridiculous I do think she deserved a spot on stage with Hillary and Trump. Initially I had high hopes for Johnson until he gaffe’s himself into obscurity. He too should’ve been on the debate stage.

          As with all things, it is viscerally appealing to dream up a government program and presume that the might of the state itself will make right that which is wrong. History has proven though that government programs rarely if ever turn out that way. They create unforseen problems. They work against the very goals they were designed to achieve. We need not do that with something as important as our elections.

    • So you want Congress to decide who gets taxpayer money to support election campaigns? Who then gets to decide which parties can and cannot run for office?

      As for a Constitutional re-write, who do you trust to do that?

      • andrewworkshop

        The first step to a Constitutional rewrite is not a Constitutional rewrite by a point by point reviewing based on today’s society. Before we can revisit the entire 2nd amendment and not just the second half, we have to take the arms industry’s money out of the equation. At the present time the majority of Americans are for stricter gun control but their representatives know that if they represent the wishes of the people, they won’t get re-elected or elected as millions of dollars donated by the gun industry would be used against them. That is an oligarchy, a dictatorship, treason against the original idea of these here United States.

  5. Unfortunately, Congresswoman Waters and President Ford are, in a practical if not Constitutional sense, correct. If the House impeaches and the Senate convicts, the President is gone, regardless of whether Congress acted properly or even Constitutionally. There is no appeal for removal of a President from office, although an interesting Constitutional question would arise if the Supreme Court did entertain an appeal after the Chief Justice presided over the impeachment trial. If you don’t think that would be messy enough, consider this: can the Chief Justice presiding over an impeachment trial dismiss the bill of impeachment, or any part thereof, because as a matter of law, the charges do not amount to high crimes and misdemeanors?

    • I agree. High Crime and Misdemeanors are defined by congress. The senate then deliberates and agrees or not that the “crime” in question rises to the level of High Crime and Misdemeanors. If congress declares having alcohol before noon to be a High Crime and Misdemeanors, and 2/3rds of the Senators agree, it is a High Crime and Misdemeanor. The recourse to that is elections. If you agree, vote your representatives back into office. If not, vote them out.

  6. When are they going to finally put that old, illiterate and uneducated fool, Waters, out to pasture? Such a disgrace. . .and anyone who dares to speak up and criticize her complete and total ineptitude is dealt the race card. Each and every time. We are all expected and required to bite out lips out of fear of being labeled a racist when criticizing this blathering senile and inarticulate ninny who, in a sane society, would be vacuuming at the airport and cleaning out trash cans instead of holding office.

        • If you vacuum too much on one side of Guam the island might tip over oh wait, that was Maxine’s brother from another mother Hank Johnson. Gee those Dems are sooooooo smart. Impeesh Fodie Fie…who is Fodie Fie anyway. I thought Trump was President 🙂

  7. Where’s the beef? Where’s the actual Articles of Impeachment brought by The House of Representatives?

    Turley sets loose yet another mechanical rabbit, then cries, “Unleash the hounds.”

    • Is Trump an Associate Justice of The Supreme Court? No.
      Does Trump have financial ties to The Parvin Foundation? No.
      Did Trump fail to recuse himself from an obscenity case before SCOTUS? No.
      Did Trump publish any articles in any magazines charged with obscenity? No.
      Did Trump write a book about rebellion and revolution? No.
      Has Trumped practiced serial monogamy? Yes. But so what?

      Whatever in the world does Turley’s most recent mechanical rabbit chase have to do with Gerald Ford’s attempted, but failed, impeachment of Justice William O. Douglas? Well . . .

      The hounds will love it.

      • Oh! I forgot. Is Representative Maxine Waters the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives? No. Will the House impeachment hearings against Trump begin soon, anyway? I doubt it. So where’s the connection? In the mechanical rabbit, presumably.

          • Sorry, Ken. Apparently I’m too old to get your joke. I’m afraid you’ll have to spell it out for me, please? I could use a good chuckle, today.

              • Absolutely not funny. It’s sad. Sad that an incompetent and blithering idiot, like Waters, holds elected office and any criticism of her ineptitude is met with cries of racism. You’re right. It’s not funny. It’s pathetic.

                  • Diane can’t seem to go 5 minutes without attacking and insulting another human being. Out of nowhere she brings Gerald Ford into her disgraceful dialogue. Diane sounds as if she has been hit on the head one too many times. Diane lacks boundaries, but perhaps such a lack is part of her ideology.

                  • Gerald Ford had degrees from the University of Michigan and Yale, served in the Navy, practiced law for ten years, was the floor leader of the House Republican caucus for 9 years, led one of the less damaging presidential administrations for 29 months, and was lucid enough to give an hour-long television interview when he was 91 years old. Two of the Ford-is-dumb memes originated with Lyndon Johnson, whose term in office was a disaster like no other in the post-war period, whose military service was a prank, whose pre-political career was a two year stint as a schoolteacher, and whose tertiary schooling began and ended with an associates degree from a normal school.

        • She’s is the ranking minority member on the House Committee on Financial Services. The Democratic caucus has quite retro seniority rules (the Republicans require committee chairs to rotate off after four terms, for example). If the Democratic Party of Rackets wins back the House, she presides over the drafting of banking and securities legislation. Ain’t life grand?

      • Has Maxine Waters laid upon the table a resolution to impeach Trump for financial ties that conflict with his duties as POTUS? No.
        Has Ms. Waters laid a resolution upon the table to impeach Trump for practicing serial monogamy? No.
        Are there any other charges besides those two out of the five charges that Ford brought against Douglas that even could be relevant to an impeachment hearing against Trump. No.

        Then the analogy between Gerald Ford’s views on impeachment versus Maxine Waters’ views on impeachment have nothing to do with the charges that Ford brought against Douglas versus the charges that no one, not even Ms. Waters, has yet brought against Trump.

        What does that leave? The words and only the words. Zero substance.

  8. I fear for the future of our nation. It has been “balkinized” on the alter of diversity. We forgotten that we have Majority Rule with minority rights. As an American Black man I long to see Max or any Black “Leader” NOT portray us as uneducated, victims and in need of “special” help to survive. In Ms Waters case that portrayal may be accurate.

  9. Wow took a vacation for a few hours and the fishing and sunshine etc is great here. Came back andf ound out someone forgot to lock the barn door. Oh well.

    All that white bread wanna be needs to do, if her White ID party leaders allow it, is get it onto the floor of the Representatives. No chance of that until 2018 IF then and theat chance if somewhere between slim to none. Then get it through the Senate. We’ll see how many RINOs are left ha ha thats a pun.and then IF successful see how Pence tears you a new nalga.

    Mad Max is by far the brightest bulb in a district full of power outages and hey she doesn’t even live in her district but over with the California Reublicans.

  10. If the constitution is to be saved from “Mad Max” rage it must be saved by educators like you JT. There are way to many like “Mad Max” in DC making decisions.

  11. disgusting wench POS how dare she even speak at Dick Gregory’s eulegy? Gregory was an incredible person and unlike this affirmative action person he actually leaves behind a body of works that will still appeal to all people!

    • Your BFF is Squeaky the racist and you have a problem with Maxine Waters speaking at Gregory’s service. You are a bigger loser than I realized, comrade.

      • Freedom of thought, speech, religion, assembly, press and every other conceivable natural and god-given right and freedom per the 9th amendment. Are racism and discrimination precluded in a section of the Constitution that I somehow missed? Are you criticizing Squeeks for exercising her constitutional freedoms and rights? You don’t seem to have noticed that every aspect of the welfare state is unconstitutional, from welfare, affirmative action and social services to denial of property rights by unconstitutional and unfair “Fair Housing” and discriminatory “Non-Discrimination” law. The American thesis is freedom and self-reliance not coveting, caterwauling and begging for artificial status and “free stuff.” People who don’t like freedom are free to emigrate.

        Why if I weren’t a misogynist, I would consider Squeeky’s posts engaging, intelligent and effective.

        Squeeky Fromm, you go, Girl!

  12. This woman is simply ridiculous, with her constant “attacks on President Trump, and aligning herself with the “equally STUPID Black Caucus”…..they think as they take over cities in America with BLM thugs, the Same can become true within the Trump Presidency. She is NOT doing her job, SERVING the people in
    her district, as she and her husband have been Too busy, amassing their OWN personal fortune, by their bank scheme, living in Hancock Park-NOT her district. This is becoming just TOO MUCH, as Thugs try to OUST A LEGITIMATE PRESIDENT, THAT WE THE PEOPLE VOTED INTO OFFICE.

    With ALL the “Dictator Obama’s Executive Orders, as he WENT IT ON HIS OWN….No one in Both parties said ANYTHING, but NOW, they want to “Attack President Trump, His Family and Administration DAILY.

    This Race Baiting Marx-ine Waters, is just becoming WAY TOO MUCH, and she is as Dumb as a Bag
    of Rocks. Between her and Pelosi, it’s hard to tell which is the More Stupid One…perhaps they are running
    “neck and neck.”

  13. I cannot help but wonder what “Auntie Maxine” would have said if Republicans impeached Obama over his executive orders. She would still be sputtering about the racism behind it; only in Washington could such an obvious hypocrite still have a job.

  14. Actually, she is right. If she can get the votes, she can impeach. She can charge him with jay-walking. We may not like it, but it is a fact of life.

  15. Ms. Waters is one of the most corrupt career pols in Congress and would be unelectable except for the gerrymander and a voting constituency well below average intelligence.

    My guess is she can’t spell impeachment without help, much less define it.

    • Squeeky
      The “monkey” comment was at best a serious slip of the toung; at worst a comment that reveals the real you and shows what a fool I have been to believe that good nor evil has a color. Thomas Chittim was right about the coming break up of America.
      With people like you ?? and mad max; will there will be a place for people who believe as I do ?

    • “Monkey” huh? Although I’m sure you already have plenty of pillowcases with eyeholes cut out, you should not miss the white sale down to the Piggly Wiggly this weekend. And, yes, that white sheet does make you look fat, and racist.

      this is to “but all my friends call them monkeys” squeek

      • Who made it a rule that you can’t call black people monkeys??? If she was white, I would call her a monkey, too. One definition of a monkey is “a ludicrous figure.” It applies to her, so let her wear the sobriquet. In fact, I think she should start being called, Maxine “Monkey” Waters.

        People need to stop being so sensitive and just call things what they are. Did anybody get their panties in a wad when Bush II was called a chimp on a regular basis? Yet, they did when Obama was called one. Why? racial equality means nothing if you treat blacks differently than whites. IMO.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

        • Why, there is no rule. The First Amendment allows you to reveal ad nauseum that you are a racist, intolerant, close-minded, spiteful, hateful, fearful, and timid creature which you demonstrate to be so often around here. For those who would wonder, the “timid” refers to suzie’s practice of spewing her filth on th anonymous internet. Whatever it is behind suzie’s online persona most assuredly doesn’t speak this way in mixed public. And no suzie, the klavern meeting isn’t “public.”

          This is to “I bet overseer was a good job” suzie

        • Squeeks, old “Crazy Abe” Lincoln had some thoughts on the subject before somebody changed his mind:

          “If all earthly power were given me,” said Lincoln in a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854, “I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.” “…he asked whether freed blacks should be made “politically and socially our equals?” “My own feelings will not admit of this,” he said, “and [even] if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not … We can not, then, make them equals.”

          • I believe some context is appropriate here. To begin with, that was Lincoln in 1854. Obviously his position on the issue was still be shaped. Secondly, Liberia wasn’t some random country that Africans created on their own. As America at that time wrestled with the complexity of the slavery issue* we established Liberia as a place in Africa where freed slaves could return to their home continent. The reason the capitol is named Monrovia is because to this day Liberians choose to honor President Monroe that way.

            * So much is misunderstood when it comes to slavery. We’ve become too addicted to our six minute soundbite social culture. Who realizes that black people owned slaves? That there were free black people even as far back as the 1700s? That slavery wasn’t a uniquely American institution AND that America was less involved in slavery than anywhere else in this hemisphere. (Brazil by contrast was far more involved in slavery to the extent that 60% of Brazilians today can trace their ancestry to slaves).

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