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Mueller, Impeachment, and Brexit

Posted in From The Editor's Perspective, and World Affairs

On Friday, 22 March, 2019, Robert Mueller released his findings to the Attorney General on whether there was foreign collusion during the 2016 election. It’s been a long 20 months and are people pinning their hopes on him to save democracy? People have been indicted, some made plea deals, and others are already serving time behind bars, so there is a case to answer. It wasn’t all for nothing because some lies have been uncovered, yet more may lie secretly buried. The big question people want to know the answer to is whether #45 was behind it, or if he sanctioned any of the actions. Surely then that would lead to impeachment proceedings?

With the upper house ruled by the Republicans and the lower house by the Democrats, any impeachment proceedings should not be determined by who has a majority in the Senate. I have read with interest the comments the public have made when Nancy Pelosi declared “…he isn’t worth it,” when the question of impeachment arose, but is that her decision to make? Others were chiming in that there would be little point if the impeachment would not succeed, but how do they know what the result would be until the evidence is brought forthwith? Some said it would cost too much and that they should focus on voting #45 out in 2020, but again how can they be sure people will bother to vote? Many didn’t bother in 2016 and left #45 with a win despite not winning the popular vote. People are afraid that if impeachment were successful, then Pence would be far more dangerous. However, is that a just reason not to bring forward a valid impeachment process? Perhaps people should have considered this when they chose to vote for an independent party or not to vote out of protest?

Congress have a duty to impeach on behalf of the people. The motion should  be brought forward by the House of Representatives when there has been a crime committed by a government official. It’s an indictment, so if there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing, then the HOR have a duty to present the facts and then let the case proceed. They cannot pick and choose what evidence will lead to conviction, for that is not for them to decide. Several federal officers have been impeached in history, more notably judges for bribery, corruption and abuse of power. Some were removed and others acquitted. Only two presidents have faced impeachment proceedings, Andrew Johnson in 1868, and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both were acquitted, but it shows that Congress were not afraid to use their powers, whether it was right or wrong to them to do so.

Andrew Johnson; Vice-President turned President after Lincoln’s assassination, and the first President to be impeached

Johnson was not a popular man, and stepping into Lincoln’s shoes after the assassination was never going to be easy. With the south opposed to reconstruction (and coming from the south) Jackson narrowly avoided conviction by one vote; 35 senators voted ‘guilty’ and 19 ‘not guilty’ where a two-thirds majority was required for conviction under the Constitution. Jackson was accused of violating the Tenure of Office act (1867); the act was to restrict the powers of the president so that they could not remove federal officers who had been approved by the Senate without Senate approval. Johnson wanted to remove Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War (chosen by Lincoln) because he was a radical, while Johnson was sympathetic to the southern states who had seceded. Jackson had been trying to get Stanton to resign because he stood in the way of his plans during reconstruction and suspended him during a Senate recess. He was replaced by Ulysses Grant (who later became President), but the Senate disapproved of Jackson’s actions and reinstated Stanton. Theoretically as Stanton was a Lincoln appointee, Jackson could have replaced him, so legally it has always been a grey area as to whether Jackson had a right to remove Stanton regardless of Senate approval. However, it seems that the votes were also swayed because Jackson’s successor would have been Ohio Senator Benjamin Franklin Wade ( President pro tempore at the time), who was seen as a radical. Had the potential successor been a moderate, perhaps the votes would have not gone Jackson’s way?

Benjamin Wade who would have become the President if Johnson had been convicted.

Bill Clinton’s impeachment was more of a Republican attack during a Republican dominated Congress at the time. He was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice and was acquitted The charges revolved around sexual harassment (before he was in office) and having an affair while he was in office. The simple fact is that Clinton is not the first man to be unfaithful in office and won’t be the last, but was impeachment necessary? Was it a real crime that affected the safety of the nation? It appeared to be more of a witch hunt, and if Congress can impeach on what are small matters such as infidelity, then surely they should impeach on ones such as corruption and treason which are far more serious. Franklin D Roosevelt was unfaithful to his wife for decades and during office, so would Congress have impeached him? How would history view him today if they had?

Meanwhile, the Brexit mayhem continues while the EU is enjoying watching the UK squirm, this was expected. No one expected this divorce to go smoothly, and the choice now is a no deal better, or to ask for more time? Even with more time, the problem still exists that the EU is not willing to negotiate fairly (why should they, what’s in it for them?), while the people of the UK want guarantees. The country was already divided, and Theresa May has done little to help ease the tensions.

I have people flooding my social media feeds with ‘sign this petition for another referendum’ , but that is not the answer. You can’t keep holding referendums until you get the result you want because you protest loudly. Then people claim that those who voted to leave didn’t know what they were doing! How can they know what all those voters thought, because I for one know why I voted and knew what I was doing. When people ask what are the reasons for leaving and they state the most important reason, that the UK regains its sovereignty, they reply that the UK never lost it. Yes they did, if you have the intelligence to know what sovereignty means. It means to have full control and power over the laws and governance of a land without influence or interference from another body; in short a self-governing state. That was lost when the UK joined the EEC and laws were subject to EEC (now EU laws) precedents. What people forget is that back in the 1970s when the UK joined the EEC there followed years of uncertainty and turbulence. It was not an easy transition, and no one expected the divorce to be any easier than joining a union with different aims and goals.

People are afraid of the unknown, and change always brings about fear because people like stability. There are fears of no food and I get ridiculous emails from companies telling me how to stock up on food and products in case the UK runs out. Are people that stupid that they have to email inaccurate information to scare people into buying? It is an unstable time in the UK, but that was expected. I was not surprised that negotiations have not gone far, but I am surprised how dim and ill educated some people are that they think remain is the answer. It will not stop the divide and it’s undemocratic.

Most are focusing on what they will miss out on such as Erasmus exchange schemes; one person saying on social media that they had a chance for an exchange and it changed their life and it wasn’t fair that the UK students no longer had that chance. The fact is that a very small number of students get accepted for exchange schemes and even if you apply you are not guaranteed a place. Contrast that one ‘benefit’ that lasts a year of your life with the ability to make your own laws in a land that benefits all regardless of class or education. The fact is if you are not academic or have funding, the chances of you going on an exchange would be very slim. The argument to stay in the EU so students can go on exchanges and study abroad is a short-sighted one. One needs to look at longer term issues that affect the majority, and not the ones that benefit the few. I did actually go on an international exchange as a student, and I was one of 20 out of thousands who applied. There is no guarantee and it was not through Erasmus, so exchanges are still possible without being part of the EU. People need to stop making excuses and looking at what’s in it for them.

The world is mourning the week anniversary of the terror attack in New Zealand where an Australian had planned an attack on mosques, and showed it live on social media. Is it a gun issue, is a societal issue, or racist one? Maybe a combination of all three, in that someone thinks they have a right to attack others. The Mueller report has already historically changed things, but can it provide answers and a path to stability in the USA? I fear that some are so brainwashed that they will decide what they want regardless of the impartial truth. I watch the world as history is in the making, where an island dared instigate divorce proceedings against a stifled body, while the USA waits to hear the truth as to whether their president has lied, and New Zealand shows the world that in less than a week they can change gun laws to safeguard the nation. It is indeed a strange time to witness world events and to try and see whether the decisions made are the right ones, or will there be lessons learned from the current events?

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