When our Framers of the U.S. Constitution convened in Philadelphia from May to September 1787, they introduced an I-word process as the Constitutional remedy for those public servants who would violate the public trust.
Those Framers knew that our elected officials would be ‘fallible men’ who could be corrupted, commit governmental mischief, and undermine the authority in our republic.
James Madison explained the requirement for the I-word during the debates at the Constitutional Convention: “The offenses to which the remedy of (I-word) should be made for defending the Community against the incapacity or negligence (of the office). He might pervert his administration into a scheme to wrongfully appropriate public property. He might betray his trust to Foreign powers.”
Additionally, inserted in the U.S. Constitution in Article VI, paragraph 3, was “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and Members of the State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution…”
When mischief occurs, Article II, Section 4, notes “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on (I-word) for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Treason is defined in Article III, Section 3, Paragraph 1: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against [U.S.]”, or ‘in giving to [U.S.] Enemies, Aid and Comfort.’
Bribery was understood as the “intention to corrupt or influence public policy by accepting, by offering, or a government official accepting, something such as money or favor, his vote or support of a public policy.”
Perhaps the terms “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” are vague. They have been defined as “dishonorable conduct or a breach of the public trust.”
Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (1811-1845), colleague of Chief Justice John Marshall, said that the offenses that call for the I-word are aptly called political offenses “growing out of personal misconduct, gross neglect, or habitual disregard of the public interests.”
In “Federalist Papers” No.65 and 70, from the 85 essays written by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison to promote the ratification of the U.S. Constitution Alexander Hamilton (pseudonym-Publius) wrote “the abuse or violation of the public trust” is key to pursue the I-word.
The British, who our Framers looked to for a template, thought the I-word was a tool to correct “corruption in office that alleged damage to the state not limited to statutory crimes.”
As I write, I can’t help but see clearly now that our current president is the living, breathing reason that the Framers found it necessary to put the I-word in our living Constitution.
So how does the I-word work?
In Article I, Section 2, Paragraph 5 of our U.S. Constitution, “The House of Representatives … shall have the sole Power of I-word (by majority votes)”.
In Article I, Section 3, Paragraphs 5,6, “The Senate shall have the Power to try all (I-word[s]) … when the President is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside…convicted only by a 2/3 (Yes) vote of members present”.
From President Trump’s 10,000-plus lies since Jan. 20, 2017, to his declaration of a fake national emergency to get funds for the ‘wall’, here are some of Trump’s many I-word offenses:
• The Mueller Report – obstruction of justice and conspiracy to get foreign help in the 2016 election
• White House ignores Congressional subpoenas;
• Trump (and Mitch McConnell) refuses to defend against foreign election interference.
• Trump’s call for an investigation of a political rival(s)
• Money given to Trump by foreigners for access (emoluments)
• Aided Saudi Arabia in cover-up of murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi
• Abuse of power to punish non-supporters, including the press and businesses
Democrats owe it to the country to restore “No one is above the law” and “We are a Nation of Laws and Not Men”.
“The integrity of our elections, peaceful transfer of power, the faith in the fairness of our democracy” is crucial to this Republic.
To the valor of those soldiers who died at Normandy on June 6, 1944, and to winning back the “public trust,” let the I-word begin!
Marshall Ward is a Murray resident who is a member of the Democratic Party. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the Murray Ledger & Times.