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Good Government

Article III

Contempt of Congress and obstruction of congressional investigaton is the crucial charge in the impeachment litany. It ask the simple but central question: Does Congress matter?

All congressional Republicans who have not defended Congress by exercising “the constitutional rights of the place” should be defeated.

George Will (formerly Republican, still conservative) wrote that in today’s Washington Post. I agree, but there’s more to say than that.

The purpose of an impeachment (not just an inquiry, but an actual impeachment) is to find the defendant guilty, remove him from office, end the abusive behaviors, begin to repair the damage his presidency has inflicted, and restore the dignity of the office of president.

The first of these is to find him guilty and that is what we must focus on. Once the investigation is concluded, if the House issues an impeachment, the Senate must be persuaded that he is guilty. Given the notoriously partisan nature of the Republican majority in the Senate, this is often characterized as a “hopeless” effort.

But it needn’t be. The most significant charge against the president, in my view, is his abuse of the norms by which the Congress, the President, and the Courts cooperate to govern.

Specifically, the defendant has made it very clear that Congress can go f**k itself … uh, sorry, I meant, that Congress cannot exert any of its powers over what government can, should, or must do.

He had been dismissive and contemptuous of any member of Congress who disagrees with him – regardless of party or purpose. He has not just ignored congressional orders – he has “ordered” others to likewise ignore lawful congressional orders to provide either testimony or documents. (I put “ordered” in quotes because, in fact, some of the “others” are not subject to his orders – but he issues these orders nonetheless.)

In the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon in 1974, this was Article III. It was passed by the House Judiciary Committee. Two Democrats and all but two Republicans voted against it in committee.

This charge – contempt of Congress and obstruction of congressional investigation – is a crucial charge in the impeachment litany. I would say it is THE crucial charge. Why? Because to vote on this charge, every member of the House and every member of the Senate will be asked: “Are you irrelevant? Should you be ignored?

If the answer is “NO, I am a member of Congress and my opinion matters“, then you must vote to impeach on this charge.

If you do not vote to impeach on the charge of obstructing Congress and failing to comply with lawful congressional orders, then you, a member of Congress, are admitting: “YES, I’m irrelevant. There’s no reason for me to be here.

Pose that question to every member of Congress – yes, I actually mean, to the Republicans. Ask them if they matter.

Does Congress matter? The president says “No”.

Who in Congress agrees with the president? And why are they there?

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