“Why was Bill Clinton impeached?” I ask my U.S. government class.
Alejandro Cervantes, a senior, raises his hand excitedly and waves. “I know why — it’s because he sent those cruise missiles into that pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan! To distract the public in the early part of the Monica Lewinsky scandal!”
It was all I could do not to laugh.
His answer was logical and intelligent, but such thinking could only come from the mouths of babes or from foreigners ignorant about impeachment of American presidents. We don’t impeach our presidents for their real crimes. We impeach them over trivial matters.
We should impeach U.S. presidents for their deceptions and their brutality towards other countries. Some examples include:
- John F. Kennedy pushed the world to the brink of a nuclear holocaust to stop the Soviet Union from placing nuclear missiles in Cuba. He didn’t tell the American people that the U.S. had first placed nuclear missiles near the Soviet border in Turkey as well as in Italy, and that the Soviets’ missiles in Cuba were simply a reasonable attempt to balance the scales.
- Lyndon Johnson repeatedly lied, including about the Gulf of Tonkin incident, to conduct the Vietnam War.
- Richard Nixon carpet bombed Southeast Asia, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. He also conspired to overthrow the democratically-elected government in Chile and install a dictatorship that murdered 30,000 people.
- George W. Bush lied to launch the invasion of Iraq, and on the topics of torture and kidnapping (extraordinary rendition).
None of these presidents ever faced impeachment for their crimes. The nearest attempt came in 1974, when the House Judiciary Committee drew up an article of impeachment against Nixon for having usurped the powers of Congress by concealing the U.S. bombing of Cambodia. The charge didn’t center on what this illegal bombing did to the Cambodian people, but that Nixon concealed it from Congress. The proposed article was defeated in committee by a 26-12 vote.
One might think that American presidents would at least face impeachment over victimizing the American people. In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed that George W. Bush and later Barack Obama presided over mass spying on Americans. Republicans fought Obama throughout his eight years in office, controlled the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017, and often rail against big government and Big Brother. Yet, they never moved to impeach Obama for this massive violation of our Fourth Amendment rights.
House Democrats are trying to compensate for the underwhelming gravity of Trump’s actions on Ukraine by artificially inflating the threat Russia poses to Europe. The day after the House impeachment vote, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff justified impeachment efforts by highlighting Russia’s attempts to “remake the map of Europe,” claiming that with Ukraine, “Their defense is our defense.”
In fact, it is the U.S. and its Western European allies who have “remade” the map of Europe. When the Soviet Union let practically its entire empire go — without a shot being fired — it did so partly because of a deluge of American and Western European promises that NATO would not, in the words of then-U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, “move one inch eastward.” The long list of such assurances is detailed in declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents released in 2017.
Today, five former Warsaw Pact countries, three former Soviet Republics, and several formerly neutral countries are members of NATO. Two more former Soviet Republics — Georgia and Ukraine — have been officially recognized by NATO as “aspirant countries.” This American duplicity has been criticized by former CIA Director Robert Gates, diplomat-historian George F. Kennan, and numerous others.
Schiff’s embellishments aside, if considered in light of the Clinton impeachment, it’s hard to argue Trump’s acts don’t rise to the level of impeachment. Republicans protest that the House is attempting to overturn the 2016 election result, ignoring that Trump didn’t really win the election anyway, losing the popular vote by 2.8 million votes.
Republicans are correct that Democrats have been gunning for Trump from the beginning and have long sought any pretext to get rid of him. He’s the only president in our era who never got a honeymoon period. But Trump did do what he was accused of doing and impeaching him is not unreasonable.
Glenn Sacks teaches Social Studies in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.