Should Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th president of the United States, be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors?
It’s not a question yet being asked or debated in the Big Media. But it is a question being addressed by some members of Congress, by an increasing number of pundits by activists on the left and the right – and for more than one or two alleged constitutional offenses.
Some of those who have broached the subject include Reps. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.; Walter Jones, R-N.C.; Trey Radel, R-Fla.; Steve Stockman; former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas; former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; Fox News’ Mike Huckabee; former assistant U.S. attorney Andrew McCarthy; left-leaning investigative reporter Dave Lindorff; talk-radio host Mark Levin; former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich; author and columnist Pat Buchanan and others.
Article II, Section 4, of the U.S. Constitution states, “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 U.S. House of Representatives has the power to commence impeachment proceedings. If the House adopts an impeachment resolution, the U.S. Senate conducts a trial and determines whether to convict or acquit. If an official is convicted, he or she is removed from the position and may be barred from holding office again. The official may also face criminal prosecution.
Only two U.S. president have been impeached by the House: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. However, both presidents were acquitted in the Senate. President Richard Nixon resigned before the full House had voted on his impeachment.
This powerful legislative check on executive and judicial wrongdoing is reserved for the most egregious offenses against the U.S. Constitution and the republic.
During the debates of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, James Madison explained the requirement for impeachment: “[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 or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers.”
In the Federalist Papers (No. 65), Alexander Hamilton wrote that a president should be impeached for “offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to society itself.”
WND assembled a bipartisan panel of top constitutional experts to evaluate 12 popular arguments for impeaching Obama.
Meet the experts
Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein
Bruce Fein is the legal scholar who is best known for having drafted articles of impeachment against former President Bill Clinton for perjury after he lied under oath about having sexual relations with an intern.
Fein also drafted articles of impeachment against former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney. In 2011, he drew up formal articles of impeachment against President Obama for his use of military action against Libya without congressional authorization.
Fein was a top Justice Department official under the Reagan administration. He graduated with honors from Harvard Law School in 1972. Fein clerked for a prestigious federal court, and has served in top positions in the Office of Legal Counsel and the Office of Legal Policy. He has served as visiting fellow for constitutional studies at the Heritage Foundation, adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and guest lecturer at the Brookings Institute.
Fein specializes in constitutional and international law and is a frequent witness before Congress. He is chairman of the American Freedom Agenda, founder of Bruce Fein & Associates Inc. and The Lichfield Group and author of “Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for our Constitution and Democracy.”
As for his political persuasion, Fein told WND, “I criticized Nixon. I criticized Clinton. I criticized Bush and Cheney. I criticize Obama. I don’t have any reluctance because I view myself as an American first.”
Constitutional scholar Herbert Titus
Herbert Titus, counsel to the law firm William J. Olson, previously taught constitutional law, common law and other subjects for 30 years at five different American Bar Association-approved law schools. From 1986 to 1993, he was the founding dean of the College of Law and Government at Regent University.
And before that, he was a trial attorney and special assistant U.S. attorney with the Department of Justice.
Titus’ degrees are from Harvard and the University of Oregon, and he’s admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, appellate courts in the 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th and other districts. His practice has taken him into courts more than a dozen different states. He has testified on constitutional issues before Congress. Titus has also testified on state and federal constitutional issues before several state legislatures.
Titus has written numerous articles, book chapters and constitutional studies and analyses. He is author of “God, Man, and Law: The Biblical Principles,” a text on American common law.
Constitutional scholar Louis Fisher
Constitutional expert Louis Fisher is scholar in Residence at the Constitution Project. Previously he worked for four decades at the Library of Congress as senior specialist in separation of powers and specialist in constitutional law. During his service with CRS, he was research director of the House Iran-Contra Committee in 1987, writing major sections of the final report.
Fisher is author of dozens of books specifically on constitutional law. He received his doctorate in political science from the New School for Social Research and has taught at Queens College, Georgetown University, American University, Catholic University, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, the College of William and Mary law school and the Catholic University law school. Fisher has been invited to testify before Congress about 50 times on constitutional issues.
Fisher’s specialties include constitutional law, war powers, budget policy, executive-legislative relations and judicial-congressional relations.
Fisher told WND he voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but he and doesn’t let partisan politics cloud his judgment when it comes to constitutional issues.
“I had plenty of criticism toward George W. Bush and Richard Nixon,” he said. “I’ve been just as harsh about Bill Clinton and Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson and the rest. I’m not partisan, but I don’t flinch from saying what the evidence is.”
Operation Fast & Furious
In June 2012, the Obama administration invoked executive privilege to stop disclosure of documentation to Congress following Operation Fast and Furious, a gun-walking scheme that resulted in the deaths of as many as 100 people, including U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
During the botched operation, the Justice Department’s subdivision of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms lost approximately 2,000 weapons, allowing many of them to flow freely across the U.S.-Mexico border and into the hands of members of Mexican drug cartels.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, but U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen chose to ignore the criminal resolution and not bring charges against Holder.
The Obama administration filed a motion on Jan. 11 to block a lawsuit by Judicial Watch demanding enforcement of a June 22, 2012, Freedom of Information Act request seeking all documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious, and “specifically all records subject to the claim of executive privilege invoked by President Obama on or about June 20, 2012.”