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Back to the Future: Impeachment Style

Rich Zeoli Column

The Rich Zeoli Show
May 24, 2019 - 11:35 am

When did the United States Congress get oversight over a president’s behavior before he became president? What kind of dark, totalitarian system would that be? Imagine if the president didn’t do what Congress wanted. He vetoed too many of their bills. He called them scoundrels. He ran vigorous campaigns against the incumbents. So they impeach. Not for anything he did as president. They impeach him for stuff he did when he was a private citizen. In what world does that make sense?

The witch hunt against President Donald J. Trump has now extended into crimes and misdemeanors he may or may not have committed before he was elected. Notice I didn’t use the word “high”, a word specifically cited in the impeachment clause of the Constitution.

Judge Amit P. Mehta recently ruled that the president’s accounting firm must hand over his financial forms over to Congress. Judge Mehta said “It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a president for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct — past or present — even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”


How far in the past do we go? Is there a statute of limitations for such a look-back period? And since the Congress, according to Judge Mehta, now has impeachment power over ordinary criminal behavior, not just the high crimes variety, what other crimes or misdemeanors committed as a private citizen would render a sitting president eligible for impeachment?

What if as a private citizen he cheated on his taxes? Or cheated on a test? Or cheated on his spouse? What if he sang shirtless with communists in the Soviet Union like Bernie Sanders? What if he had a DUI and ran from the cops like Beto O’Rourke? What if she misrepresented (lied) her heritage to get preferential treatment in academia like Elizabeth Warren? What if he plagiarized a speech like Joe Biden? Or plagiarized several speeches like Joe Biden? What if he did drugs like Barack Obama?

The remedy for a president who abuses his power as president is impeachment. It is about what he does as president that counts. So, if a president commits treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors, he’s subject to the Congressional oversight granted by the Constitution. Not the fantasy private citizen oversight granted by Judge Mehta.

The remedy for questionable, illegal, or unethical acts committed before becoming president is left to the people. A verdict they can render on Election Day.