By David Swanson
Al Capone wasn’t prosecuted for tax evasion because it’s cool or smart or strategic to prosecute murderers for lesser
crimes, but because proving murder in court was going to be more difficult.
That’s not analogous to a Congressional impeachment, but the opposite of how Congress operates. Congress sits on
indisputable evidence of the greatest crimes while impeaching presidents for lesser offenses that are harder to prove.
Andrew Johnson publicly did everything he could to limit “freedom” for African Americans to a meaningless word. He was
impeached for firing the Secretary of War.
Richard Nixon had indisputably bombed Cambodia, a crime that one failed article of impeachment charged him with, not to
mention Vietnam and Laos. In fact, he had sabotaged the peace process and kept a war going for years during which
millions of people were killed. Lyndon Johnson (who had committed similar horrors) believed Nixon guilty of treason for
the sabotage. When Nixon fled Washington, he was about to be impeached for employing a group of thugs to break into a
Democratic Party office.
Bill Clinton had, like Nixon, launched a war in violation of not only laws but also of the will of Congress. Lesser
charges could have included numerous disastrous policies that haunt us still from trade to banking to media to prisons
to welfare. Congress impeached him for lying about sex.
Donald Trump came into office openly violating both emoluments clauses, threatening to wage wars to steal oil and kill
people’s families, promising to discriminate in immigration on the basis of religion, inciting violence at events,
fighting vote counting in courts, and committed to politicizing prosecutions. Republican Congress Members are upset that
RootsAction.org advocated impeachment on inauguration day. I hadn’t wanted to wait that long. Trump has publicly
threatened nuclear war on two countries, waged and escalated numerous illegal wars, and dramatically increased the drone
murder program. He’s abused the pardon power and the power to declare emergencies. He’s promoted racism and hatred. He’s
separated children from their families. He’s illegally torn up treaties and proliferated weapons technology to brutal
dictatorships. He’s intentionally exacerbated climate collapse. Congress has ignored indisputable public acts, and
impeached Trump for demanding information about a political opponent while delaying a gift of money to Ukraine to buy
Of course in their rhetoric and through the media many Democrats have claimed that Trump secretly works against the
United States on behalf of the Russian government and that Russia somehow elected him. If there were any evidence for
such things, they would constitute a serious reason to impeach Trump and remove him from office. But there actually is
evidence — unquestionable evidence — of numerous other outrages, and Congress isn’t interested.
In three presidential impeachments, Congress will achieve three somewhat intentional acquittals. Impeachment will be
made to look weak and useless. People will be reluctant to give Congress a fourth swing at it.
But look at what’s been passed up without a word. Look what we’re supposed to imagine: that Barack Obama did nothing
whatsoever that was impeachable, that George W. Bush committed no impeachable offenses, that every president going back
through 45 of them — with these few exceptions — was undeserving of accusation.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced 35 articles of impeachment against George W. Bush
, not a one of which interested Nancy Pelosi, even though polls found a majority of the U.S. public in support of an
impeachment that wasn’t even happening.
Launching the endless wars, imprisoning without trial, torturing, mass warrentless spying, secret laws, signing
statements, domestic use of the military, and dozens of other outrages just don’t measure up to bribing Ukraine for dirt
on Joe Biden (who himself publicly brags about bribing Ukraine for other purposes). Or so Congress would have us
Impeachment has not been overused. It has been underused and misused. It and we are the worse off for it.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of WorldBeyondWar.org
and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org
. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie
. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org
. He hosts Talk Nation Radio
. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson
Help support DavidSwanson.org, WarIsACrime.org, and TalkNationRadio.org by clicking here: http://davidswanson.org/donate