News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Feb. 12, 2021: Everybody wants to claim Alexander Hamilton for their own!
This most definitely includes the second Impeachment of Donald Trump. If there was any reference to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and many others, if there was any at all it was brief and easily forgotten …
That is not so when it came to Alexander Hamilton. He was quoted again and again by both sides on the first day. It is just one more powerful example of why Alexander Hamilton is the Founder for our 21st century.
Hamilton’s role in this Impeachment trial is limited but all important. Does the U.S. Constitution provide for FORMER Presidents to be Impeached?
Why Alexander Hamilton? Everyone should know; many do not. It is Alexander Hamilton’s unique role in the Founding of the United States and its all-important Constitution. First of all, Hamilton along with James Madison, played the pivotal role in the very existence of the U.S. Constitution.
It was these two who came up with the plan to replace the disastrous, ineffective Articles of Confederation, under which our young nation operated after the successful American Revolution. Had the Articles of Confederation not been replaced, it was inevitable the United States of America would have disintegrated. It was the actions of Hamilton and Madison that led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the NEW U.S. Constitution.
As for this Impeachment trial, the document that both sides most quoted and referenced on Monday was The Federalist Papers, to this day and forever more, the ultimate document to explain the intent and the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. In fact, The Federalist Papers are more than anything else, why the Constitution gained popular support and was ratified and became law.
There are three authors of The Federalist Papers – Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. But it is Hamilton who wrote the majority of these essays, who most influenced The Federalist Papers, and who is most often quoted from The Federalist Papers as he was on Monday by both sides.
I am not going to use this episode to detail the arguments both sides made, except that both sides often used the same passages from these 85 essays. The vote on the issue in the Senate was in favor of the Constitution allowing for the Impeachment of a former President in a close vote.
That close vote is not in any way a reflection on Alexander Hamilton or which side Hamilton would have agreed to support. There is no factual way of knowing of course, but I certainly have a logical view to offer.
I think Alexander Hamilton would be opposed to the Impeachment of former Presidents as private citizens because the U.S. Constitution is clear on the issue. It states: Congress can Impeach and convict Presidents of the United States. There is absolutely nothing ambiguous here. Read it for yourself.
Article II, Section 4: The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
If the Founders, including Alexander Hamilton, wanted to provide for the Impeachment of FORMER Presidents, they would have made it clear. Here is what that article would have been and said but is does not ….
Article II, Section 4: The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and “Article II, Section 4: The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States may also be Impeached after they have left Office, and are private citizens.”
The problem is the Constitution does NOT state FORMER Officials are subject to Impeachment. END OF STORY. Supporting this view very pointedly is that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who is required to preside over Impeachments of a President, REFUSED to participate in any way.
I believe Hamilton would have judged this Impeachment for what it is – a political exercise by the Party in power at the moment. What Alexander Hamilton most feared was illegitimate use of government power.
Hamilton was a brilliant thinker and widely agreed to be the most brilliant of all the Founders. I believe that Hamilton would have been strongly opposed to Donald Trump as President, but that Hamilton would have been more opposed to using the Constitution illegally to try him as a President when he was no longer President, because the Constitution has no provision for doing do so.
This brings us right back to The Federalist Papers.
It is beyond any reasonable doubt that The Federalist Papers would have included, and Hamilton would have written, a discussion about the Impeachment of FORMER Presidents if it was allowed by the Constitution.
Here is what my understanding of Alexander Hamilton tells me …
1) Hamilton would have favored a Resolution of Censure against Trump. The Constitution does not mention Censure it is simply a form of Congressional resolution, a statement of fact and opinion, which Congress inherently has a right to make use of as it does in many ways. NO President or former President has ever been Censured by both Chambers of Congress. It would be a unique stinging rebuke of Trump and his actions on and before January 6, 2021.
2) Hamilton would have been most concerned by the complete FAILURE of the government and Congress to heed numerous warnings about January 6, 2021, and failed to do anything to protect the Capitol.
That is an egregious failure and a CRIME that is largely being ignore by Congress.
(This series dedicated in honor of the late Liu Xiaobo & Jamal Khashoggi)