Impeach Donald Trump!
By Walter E. Block, Ph.D. - September 14, 2020

Well, at least, censure him! If the Republicans have even 1% of the respect they say they have for the U.S. Constitution, they will not be able to refrain going along with this proposal.

President Trump has weathered impeachment for that Ukraine business. As well the charge of obstructing congress has failed. Let us now take a deep breath, and try an altogether different strategy toward this eminently justified end. If at first you don’t succeed…

What is the case for still wanting to separate this man from the high office he presently holds?

It is that the Constitution stipulates that the only time this country may engage in foreign combat is when an official Declaration of War is issued. And who, pray tell, may make any such declaration? Why, Congress of course.

Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution provides: “Congress shall have power to … declare War… to grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; To raise and support Armies,.. ”

Are there any wars now ongoing, under the aegis of Mr. Trump? To ask this is to answer it: of course there are. There seven different countries in which US servicemen are now killing and being killed: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger. In addition, the military of our nation are located in scores of other countries, any one of which could turn “hot” at a moment’s notice.  Whether they do so or not is beside the point.

Merely stationing U.S. soldiers in foreign lands, apart from protecting our embassies, should constitute another type of war not sanctioned by Congress. Don’t believe me? What would we think of Canadian, or Mexican, or Brazilian, or French, or German, or Japanese or Russian or Chinese, or Swiss, or Monacan, or Norwegian soldiers strolling around in our country, armed to the teeth?  Has Congress issued a formal declaration of war in any of these seven cases? Certainly not. Has Congress formally authorized the stationing of any of the U.S. military abroad? The answer is the same.

Impeachment of Mr. Donald Trump is therefore justified. QED.

Of course, there is an excuse that can be offered in his defense: the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force to fight al-Qaeda. Ignore the fact that al-Qaeda is not located in all of these seven countries. There is such a thing as mission creep. The difficulty with the defense is that the AUMF does not constitute a declaration of war. Mr. Trump, the leader of the armed forces, is thus still acting in a manner incompatible with the US Constitution.

When did the last US military combat outside our borders take place in accordance with the constitution? We would have to go all the way back to the Declaration of War that was issued by congress almost a century ago. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a Congressional declaration of war against Nazi Germany on December 11, 1941.

Every US military engagement after that was a clear violation of our constitution.

The Korean War, fought in 1950, was one such. It was called “a police action” by Truman, who should have been impeached, on the spot, for such a violation of the Constitution. In fact, the same fate should have been visited on every president since FDR.

Does Mr. Trump get off the hook since so many of his predecessors are also guilty of this “high crime and misdemeanor?” Not a bit of it. It is not a valid defense for a criminal to aver, truthfully, that other people have committed the same crime, and got away with it.

From now on, let’s get them too: after Trump’s impeachment, if our next President Mike Pence continues in this manner, he, too, should suffer the same fate.

Impeachment I has failed. It is now time, no, it is now past time, to launch impeachment II. Will it then be politic, in the sense of garnering votes, popularity? We will not know until and unless we try. We have been through impeachment I and the public might resent any revisiting. But this is for a different reason; he is obviously guilty of violating the Constitution in this manner. Further, it is the right thing to do. It is eminently justified!  But suppose this effort, too, fails. Sometimes, deontology should triumph over pragmatism.

I know full well impeachment will not likely be launched, the chances are slim to none. And if introduced, even less likely to succeed. We are talking justice, and deserts, not practicality here.

Does this mean I favor Joe Biden over Donald Trump in November 2020? Not at all.

Just because our present president richly deserves impeachment does not at all logically imply any such conclusion.

Walter E. Block is Harold E. Wirth Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics, College of Business, Loyola University New Orleans, and senior fellow at the Mises Institute.

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