“Here are the political norms that Trump violated in just the past week.” This was the headline of an article by Washington Post columnist Max Boot that ran on May 21, 2018. It was just the latest in a non-stop procession of drum beats on that theme that the Left has been sounding since Election Day 2016. The perhaps latest variation came last month when Democratic presidential contender Joe “Big F*cking Deal” Biden accused Trump of “violating every basic norm of a president.”
If Democrats are so bullish on following norms, why have Nancy Pelosi and company been so stubborn in their refusal to follow norms in their impeachment inquiry of the president? Contrary to what has been reported elsewhere, the House of Representatives has impeached 19 federal officers in the history of our nation, including 13 district court judges, 1 court of appeals judge, 1 Supreme Court Associate Justice. and 2 presidents. (Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.)
All have followed the same procedure, beginning with a floor vote on whether to launch a formal impeachment investigation. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has refused to call for such a vote, claiming — correctly — that “there is no requirement that we have a vote.” Yet, initiating a vote has become the norm in American politics, as has conducting hearings in an open session. Bill Clinton’s impeachment was even televised.
Some legal scholars have argued that further, while Pelosi is not breaking the law, she is violating the spirit of it. One of them, George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley wrote in a blog post last Wednesday:
Pelosi seems to believe that she can hold a press conference and expect courts to accept that a formal impeachment process has begun. Some judges are likely to be uncomfortable with such an immaculate impeachment.
As to why the hearings have been conducted in secrecy in the four weeks since they began, the most logical answer is that the House doesn’t have a strong enough case to take it before the American people.
Democrats are fond of citing a Gallup poll that shows that 52% of Americans favor impeaching and removing the president from office. But no one so far has conducted a poll to determine whether those Americans understand what is required legally to justify an impeachment. A president can’t be removed from office just because many Americans don’t like him as a person. That is arguably what elections are for.