“[S]ome provision should be made for defending the community against the incapacity, negligence, or perfidy of the chief magistrate. He might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation [i.e., embezzlement] or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers.” — James Madison, during the debates of the Constitutional Convention (1787)
In Part 1 of “To Impeach or Not to Impeach”, we looked at the constitutional requirements for impeachment — i.e., the types of offenses, as well as the congressional procedure. We reviewed definitions and listed examples of past offenses that were considered impeachable in English and American history. And, we examined the three instances in which articles of impeachment have been drawn up and lodged against a U.S. president. The next step before assessing whether or not there is, in my layman’s opinion, a legal case for impeaching President Obama is to consider the complaints and arguments made for it in the press (as found on the web) over the past 20+ months.
In early 2013, World News Daily assembled a bipartisan panel of top legal scholars and constitutional experts — Bruce Fein, Herbert Titus, and Louis Fisher — to evaluate 12 popular arguments at the time for impeaching Obama. They were…
Operation Fast & Furious: Launched by the DoJ, this was part of a cross-agency effort to identify and eliminate arms trafficking networks. “Between 2009 and 2011, ATF agents allowed more than 2,000 firearms to ‘walk’ across the border. As many as 1,700 of those weapons have since been lost, and more than 100 have been found at bloody crime scenes on both sides of the border, including the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent [Brian Terry] in Arizona.” Insider whistle-blowing led to a House GOP investigation. There has been continued stonewalling and obstruction by A.G. Eric Holder and the Justice Dept., who refuse to relinquish relevant documents requested by the House and by Judicial Watch (via FoIA).
Obama’s U.S. citizen ‘hit list’: Obama ordered the 2010 assassination via drone strike of Anwar al-Awlaki, the infamous terrorist leader and avowed member of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and Samir Khan, a propagandist for al-Qaeda. However, Awlaki was a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico and Khan was a naturalized U.S. citizen. Awlaki’s Denver-born son, Abdulrahman (16), was killed in a similar strike two weeks earlier. The two older men certainly had plenty of evidence linking them to terrorist activities. But, as American citizens, they retained the right to due process before the law, which the federal government did not provide. (As far as I can tell, the teenage Awlaki was not involved in any terror-related activities.) Who else will President Obama put on his unconstitutional hit list?
‘Recess’ appointments – when Senate was in session: “The Constitution allows the president to nominate judges and executive branch officials, but the Senate must confirm his nominees. Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution authorizes the president to ‘fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate.’ But while the Senate was in session in January 2012, Obama made recess appointments of Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three members of the National Labor Relations Board.”
Appointment of ‘czars’ without Senate approval: Article II, Section 2, allows the president to appoint ambassadors, judges, and other officers “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” But, Obama appointed more than 30 unelected “czars” to positions in federal agencies without vetting them through Congress.
Suing Arizona for enforcing federal law: Realizing that the Obama administration was not very concerned with its duties to police our borders, in April 2010 Arizona adopted an immigration law (S.B. 1070) designed to discourage illegal aliens from entering the state. It authorized state police officers to verify a person’s immigration status with federal authorities and detain individuals suspected of being in the country illegally. “When the state senate passed the bill, President Obama’s administration immediately sued and enjoined the state from enforcing portions of the state’s legislation.”
Illegal-alien amnesty by executive order: “In June 2012, Obama issued an executive order declaring that illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16 and who are younger than 30 would not be deported. They are eligible for a two-year work permit that can be renewed indefinitely under the program called Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals…. Obama’s executive order mimics some of the provisions in the DREAM Act, which has failed to pass in Congress.” In essence, Obama engineered the “humanitarian crisis” we are now experiencing with the newest flood of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) and all of the added expenses for the American taxpayer. Plus, he is threatening to declare amnesty — again, by executive fiat — for roughly half of the 11-12 million illegal immigrants already here.
Cap & Trade: When in doubt, bypass Congress: “In April 2010, the U.S. Senate rejected the ‘cap-and-trade’ bill, which created a carbon-tax system and amplified federal power over the energy industry. Nonetheless, Obama’s EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, declared carbon dioxide a pollutant. Before Congress had voted on the matter, on Dec. 7, 2009, Jackson signed an ‘endangerment finding’ labeling CO2 and five other gases – methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6 ) – threats to human health. That step provided the EPA with the authority to regulate the gases in the absence of congressional approval, and the federal agency rolled out new rules.”
Refusal to prosecute New Black Panthers: “After Obama took office, the Department of Justice dismissed voter intimidation charges against two leaders of the New Black Panther Party, or NBPP, related to the 2008 presidential election…. [T]wo NBPP members were filmed standing in front of the entrance to a Philadelphia polling station in black uniforms, with one member wielding a billy club. According to complaints, both men standing in front of the polling station pointed at voters and shouted racial slurs, using such phrases as “white devil” and, “You’re about to be ruled by the black man, Cracker!” Attorney General Eric Holder’s office was accused by Justice Department insiders of racial favoritism in dropping the charges against the NBPP.” A former DoJ attorney testified, “I was told by voting section management that cases are not going to be brought against black defendants on [behalf] of white victims.”
Refusal to defend Defense of Marriage Act: “President Obama announced in 2011 that his administration believed the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, to be unconstitutional and instructed the Justice Department to no longer defend it in court…. After the Obama administration refused to defend the law, House leaders instructed the House general counsel to take up the case. Because the Justice Department won’t be doing it, taxpayers have already paid as much as $1.7 million for the legal work.”
Illegally conducting war against Libya: “Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. The U.S. launched combat operations in Libya on March 19, 2011. For several weeks before the U.S. combat operation in Libya, CIA operatives had been deployed to the area to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and support Libyan rebels in the overthrow of Gaddafi. The New York Times reported in March 2011 that Obama had “signed a secret finding authorizing the C.I.A. to provide arms and other support to Libyan rebels.” It has been argued that Obama’s use of offensive military force without prior consent from Congress is a violation of Section 8 “and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor”.
Benghazi-gate: On Sept. 11, 2012, a U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were brutally murdered at a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. The Obama administration immediately and repeatedly lied to the public about the circumstances, blaming it on a spontaneous riot in response to an anti-Islam video. (These claims were later proven false.) Subsequent investigations have revealed delinquency regarding previous security concerns at the consulate, hesitation by the President and a “stand down” order for CIA operatives in the area to not attempt a rescue, various efforts by the administration to keep relevant (and potentially damning) information from being revealed (via intel communications and/or the survivors), and apathy by the President over the whole matter. In short, American lives lost for no good reason and possibly the biggest cover-up (with a complicit MSM) in the history of American politics.
Gun-control executive actions: Following the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Obama used it as justification for signing 23 gun-control “executive actions.” (Contrary to MSM reporting, these “actions” are merely recommendations without the authority of “executive orders.”) “He also issued three ‘presidential memoranda,’ which carry the weight of executive orders, directing 1) federal law enforcement to trace firearms taken into federal custody during a criminal investigation, 2) the Department of Justice to coordinate federal agencies to share information for background checks and 3) the Department of Health to ‘conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it.’ Obama also called on Congress to pass a package of legislative proposals. He promised to throw his weight behind the package, demanding new laws to institute universal background checks and impose new bans on high-capacity magazines and so-called ‘assault weapons.'”
Based on these experts’ assessments of these twelve charges, WND’s “Impeachable Crimes Advisory System” rated only two of them as “High (constitutional violation)” (i.e., essentially, a 4 on a 5-point scale): 1) Refusal to defend Defense of Marriage Act, and 2) Benghazi-gate. That was a little surprising to me, as I would have thought more would rise to at least that level. Plus, only two of the remaining offenses were rated as “Severe (impeachable high crime)” (i.e., 5/5). They were…
Regarding “Obama’s U.S. citizen ‘hit list’”:
Fein argued that the killings were “tantamount to murder…. If you don’t have a trial, that’s the definition of tyranny.” Fein and Fisher agreed on the highly suspicious nature of the administration’s initially keeping its legal rationale secret. Fein continued: “There’s a huge, strong legal case here, absolutely,” he said. “I worked in the Office of Legal Counsel. I worked on impeachment of Nixon. The idea that I would write a secret memo on something that’s an impeachable offense would be insane.” Titus said, “Basically, Obama is claiming the right to be the prosecutor on the grounds that the whole world is a war zone. I think it’s an impeachable offense because he’s neither using the civilian courts nor is he bringing them before our military courts. What the president has done is simply defined the whole world as a battleground.” He went on to say that the administration’s legal reasoning (as eventually explained in an unofficial “white paper”) is “deeply flawed – based on a perverse view of the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause. Additionally, [it] completely ignores the procedural protections expressly provided in the Constitution’s Third Article that were specifically designed to prohibit the president from taking the law into his own hands, serving as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner.”
According to Fein, “President Obama just totally flouted the whole thing and basically said through his various memos, ‘I don’t need congressional authority to go to war.’ That was clearly an impeachable offense. It’s clearly gross usurpation of the war power. Both the Republicans and Democrats have acquiesced in that.” Fisher agreed: “I think it’s completely unconstitutional. It’s extremely offensive for a president to claim he can use military force against another country, like Libya, that didn’t threaten us. I find that appalling.” Titus’ rebuke was equally strong: “I think Libya is the strongest argument for impeachment. That’s the one that stands out. It’s unprecedented. It doesn’t even fit within any of the precedents that have been set since Korea.” He added that, strategically speaking, “If you’re going to talk impeachment, you have to find something that Obama has done that is so distinctly different than what other presidents have done before him that people can resonate with it. The difficulty, of course, is that people have forgotten about Libya.”
Of course, other charges were also being talked about that were not considered by this panel. And, since the WND analysis was conducted, additional scandals have erupted and more offenses added to the long list of potential charges for acts of impeachment. Briefly, here are the ones I have encountered:
- Obamacare = ‘taxation without representation’, consumer fraud
- Gitmo (various)
- Claims that Obama has tried to “change” the Constitution
- IRS scandal (i.e., targeting of conservative and Christian groups for harrassment)
- Threatening military readiness
- Continually limiting the First Amendment; spying on and harassment of journalists and the AP
- Sequestration tactics over budgetary issues (by intentionally “inflicting pain” on the American people)
- NSA illegally spying on Americans
- Perpetual debt
- Syria (i.e., cherry-picking intel to reveal and lying to American people to incite support for war)
- Release of illegal alien criminals from prison
- Rank corruption, cronyism, and impeachable offenses related to Obama’s ‘green’ funding adventures
- Bergdahl prisoner exchange (i.e., known Army deserter swapped for 5 terrorist leaders; failure to notify Congress beforehand)
- Foreign policy that weakens America and endangers Americans both domestically and abroad (e.g., emboldening enemies, tacitly supporting a Muslim Brotherhood revolution, spurning allies, rhetorically minimizing the threat of Islamic fundamentalism)
- Ignoring a statutory deadline and refusing to consider an application related to nuclear waste storage
- Implementing Common Core national standards through strings-attached waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act
- Refusing to enforce federal drug laws
- General contempt for Congress and the American people
That’s a minimum of thirty individual offenses! Some of these charges can be lumped together, though. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy has a book out in which he lays out the case, as he see it. He focuses on 7 proposed articles of impeachment,
“beginning with “The President’s Willful Refusal to Execute the Laws Faithfully and Usurpation of the Legislative Authority of Congress.” Within that article, McCarthy cites Obama’s illegal and unilateral changing of federal statutes, from several components within Obamacare to scrapping codified welfare work requirements to amending immigration laws and enacting policies Congress did not approve. He also alleges Obama failed to execute laws ranging from layoff notifications to the Clean Air Act to nuclear waste and Medicare.”
Immigration appears in two other articles — one regarding the unilateral conferring of amnesty on certain groups, and one regarding the defrauding of the American people about the Obama administration’s border enforcement record. I think this is a very good way to summarize and categorize the various offenses, citing specific examples for each major area.
Now, what about the charge of Treason, specifically? Remember, the House of Representatives has never, as yet, included charges of treason when drawing up official articles of impeachment. Is there a basis for them being included against President Obama? Some people certainly seem to think so. Here is a sample list, as put forth by economist/columnist Allan Erickson last year:
“Certainly it can be shown he has given aid and comfort to our enemies: unilateral disarmament, bungling the entire war on terror purposefully, sending $500 million recently to Hamas, fomenting rebellion and destabilization in Egypt to the benefit of radical Islam, illegally and covertly arming Jihadists in Syria, promising the Russians more flexibility in the post 2012 election period on matters pertaining to unilateral disarmament, cutting our military to the bone against the recommendation of his own advisors, giving sanctuary to our enemies, refusing to confront the terrorists among us, even inviting members of the Muslim Brotherhood to hold positions of responsibility in government.”
A couple of those, it could be argued, might be chalked up to simple incompetence and mistakes made, as everyone is apt to do — even the President. But, there are plenty of obviously intentional actions that are quite in line with the administration’s progressive agenda and a misguided belief that the President can simply be nice and use reason to get our enemies — if he even recognizes them as such — to be peaceful. (More on this in Part 3.)
That pretty much covers the breadth of the irresponsible, reprehensible, criminal, and/or unconstitutional offenses that President Obama has committed while in the Oval Office, either directly or indirectly. I admit that most of the wording assumes guilt, but there does seem to be quite a bit of evidence supporting the charges. The question is whether or not they are sufficient to justify impeachment. In the third and final part of this series of posts, I will attempt to answer — with input from various others — the three questions I asked in Part 1.