Recently, if you have read a newspaper, visited a news website, or tuned in to a news station’s broadcast you have most likely heard all about the Benghazi attack. A lot of questions have been asked whether the attack at Benghazi was a political stunt gone wrong in an attempt to further President Obama’s reelection campaign during the 2012 presidential election. This article is not focused on what motivated the Benghazi incident or whether it was or was not a direct result of the Obama administration. Rather, this article will discuss what qualifies a president to be impeached.
Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution says, “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 Constitution defines treason in Article 3, Section 3, Clause 1: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Constitution does not define bribery. It is a crime that has long existed in English and American common law. However, bribery takes place when a person gives an official money or gifts to influence the official’s behavior in office.
According to Constitutional Lawyers, “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” are (1) real criminality — breaking a law; (2) abuses of power; (3) “violation of public trust” as defined by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers. In 1970, then Representative Gerald R. Ford defined impeachable offenses as “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” In the past, Congress has issued Articles of Impeachment for acts in three general categories: (1) Exceeding the constitutional bounds of the powers of office. (2) Behavior grossly incompatible with the proper function and purpose of the office. (3) Employing the power of the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain.
Although the Constitution specifically provides for impeachment, it is highly unlikely that President Obama would actually be impeached from office. In our nations 237 year history, only four times has Congress issued Articles of Impeachment against a president. Each time an impeachment process has been brought it has either ending with an acquittal or with the president (Nixon) resigning from office.