If Rep. Adam Schiff was around in 1864, he would have orchestrated the impeachment of President Abraham Lincoln.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff, D-Calif., and his confederate impeachment managers demand that President Trump be removed from office because the president did something that might advantage him politically in the upcoming election. This, they claim was an impeachable “abuse of power.”
On the floor of the Senate, Schiff exclaimed that Trump wanted “to cheat” in the November presidential election by asking Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son over potential corruption. Democrats are the only ones who are buying this thin gruel.
History tells us that American presidents often take actions that advantage themselves politically. Indeed, one can argue that nearly all presidential decisions have some ancillary political calculation. It is the inherent nature of politics.
I recently read historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s brilliant book “Team of Rivals.” In Chapter 24, she recounts how Republican President Lincoln utilized the powers of his office to ensure that Union soldiers in the field, who vigorously supported Lincoln’s reelection in 1864, were given the chance to cast their ballots for him. Most states permitted absentee ballots for troops. But the crucial state of Indiana did not.
So Lincoln wrote General William T. Sherman encouraging him to grant his men leave to return briefly to the northern state of Indiana. “Any thing you can safely do to let … soldiers, or any part of them, go home and vote at the State election, will be greatly in point,” wrote the president. Despite the risk that this might compromise his troop strength, Sherman consented.
Secretary of War Edwin Stanton saw to it that furloughs were granted. Goodwin quotes the Civil War journalist Charles Anderson Dana who wrote: “All the power and influence of the War Department … was employed to secure the re-election of Mr. Lincoln” (pages 663-4). At Lincoln’s direction, the government also provided Navy boats to gather ballots from sailors.
Did Lincoln use the power of his office for personal political gain? Of course. Was it an “abuse of power?” No.
While Lincoln was the clear beneficiary of the military votes, there were other compelling reasons that justified his actions. He felt that soldiers should not be disenfranchised because of their service. However, his larger goal was to preserve the union and end slavery.
Lincoln’s opponent in the election, Gen. George McClellan, was nominated by Democrats on a platform that promised to end the Civil War immediately and tolerate slavery in the South.
It is folly to criticize Lincoln’s motives, although Schiff surely would. Under Schiff’s contorted impeachment standard, anything that “benefits the President’s personal political interests” is an impeachable offense, regardless of whether another legitimate or lawful purpose may exist.
History is replete with examples of how presidents have rendered decisions that benefit themselves and the nation simultaneously.
In an excellent opinion column in The New York Times, Constitutional Law Professor Josh Blackman reiterated the Lincoln example and also cited the actions of President Lyndon Johnson in 1967 when he maneuvered to appoint Thurgood Marshall as the first African-American justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. This advanced civil rights enormously, while also burnishing Johnson’s political standing.
As Blackman explained: “Politicians routinely promote their understanding of the general welfare, while, in the back of their minds, considering how those actions will affect their popularity. There is nothing corrupt about acting based on such competing and overlapping concerns. Yet the impeachment trial threatens to transform this well-understood aspect of politics into an impeachable offense.”
Against this backdrop, let’s reexamine what President Trump actually said in his July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to a transcript released by the White House, Trump stated: “The other thing … there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it. … It sounds horrible to me.”
Zelensky responded that he was “knowledgeable about the situation” and vowed that a new prosecutor “will look into” it. He added that a renewed investigation of “the company” (Burisma), which paid Hunter Biden more than $1 million to sit on its board despite no real experience in energy, was important “to restore honesty.”
Schiff insists that Trump’s motive was driven purely by personal political gain against a prospective election opponent because Trump wanted Zelensky to publicly announce his promised investigation.
Yet Schiff ignores the concomitant or dual purpose supported by the record. Trump was reluctant to hand over nearly $400 million in American taxpayer funds to a country rife with corruption.
“Since taking office, President Trump has criticized Ukraine for corruption,” reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Democrats proved in 2016 that they would vote for a criminal as long as she/he is a Democrat. Hillary, beyond question, not only illegally had classified information on her private, secret, unsecured email server, but she lied about it, on video and under oath, before Congress, but Democrats still manipulated the nomination process to make sure she was the candidate, but they voted for her despite her criminal disregard for US security.
Personally, I don’t want a President that protects his family’s illicit income by extorting our allies to kill corruption investigations. No doubt, Trump feels the same way. Does not having a criminal as President benefit him? Yes it does. So does it benefit the entire nation, as well.
Likewise, Trump is accused of economic policies that benefit him. Well, DUH. His private business interests cover a wide spectrum of economic activity; anything that improves the economy not only benefits him but also benefits every citizen. But Democrats would prefer the national economy tank so Trump would see no benefit… which might also have a negative impact on a few other people as well.
Secretary of War Edwin Stanton at the time of Lincoln’s assassination was the first American dictator from 2100 hours until 0800 hs on April 15, 1865. recall that Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus on the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and placed him under house arrest. so why wasn’t Lincoln impeached?? abuse of power!