This transcript is taken from the Stand in the Gap Today program aired on September 26, 2019.
Sam Rohrer: Well, the decision by Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday of this week to commit the United States House of Representatives to a process known as impeachment, it really is historic. I’m going to share a fact here with you. Do you realize that for more than 200 years since the Constitution was adopted that Congress has seriously considered impeachment only 18 times, with 13 of those 18 involving federal judges? And the requirements of the Constitution including these words, high crimes and misdemeanors, and we’re going to talk about what these things mean a bit later, in this case, when Congress has pursued it 18 times only in 200 years, of 13 of these times with judges, that charges against these judges included these things, and here’s the list. Being habitually drunk, showing favoritism on the bench, using judicial power unlawfully, using the office for financial gain, unlawfully punishing people for contempt of court, submitting false expense accounts, getting special deals from parties before appearing before the court, bullying people in open court, filling out false income tax returns, making false statements while under oath, and disclosing confidential information.
Now isn’t that interesting? Only three of those 18 involved a sitting president. Andrew Johnson was one, Bill Clinton was another, and then I left out Richard Nixon. So what actions of President Trump rise to the level of such a Congressional action, really historic? Exactly what does the constitution prescribe for impeachment? Why is the provision for impeachment there and do the circumstances at hand now in 2019 justify this action? Well, the theme for today’s program is this, the 2019 impeachment decision, is it abuse or accountability? And with that introduction, let me welcome you to the program today. I’m Sam Rohrer and I’m going to be joined today by our special guest who is recurring with us every other Thursday, David New, Constitutional attorney, author and speaker, and very appropriate, David, that you are on with us today now, particularly as we approach this issue, which is at this moment across all of the headlines, and it’s going to be consuming headlines for a long time, I do believe.
Let me ask you this question, David. You’re watching this. I know you’ve done some work on it already and I just want to kind of want to unfold this in a conversation with you today as we walk through a little bit of your initial thoughts. Next segment, I want to talk about why the provision was put into place in the Constitution by our founders. I then want to cover in the third segment what precisely are the steps, and then we want to take and compare it against some history. And then in the final segment, we want to come back and talk about the biblical underpinnings that really drove our founders to say that such a provision actually needed to be in the Constitution, and that may really surprise people that this really, end of the day, has a biblical component to it. But here’s where I want to go with you, David, on this.
At this point, when the Democrats of all types were really threatening the president, before I think he actually was even sworn in when he won in 2016 but wasn’t yet fully seated, there was already talk about impeachment at that point in time. And then now they’re actually going ahead with it. Does the fact that they have been threatening it over a range of issues for so long, that’s clearly some kind of a tactic, does that harm what they are now doing in any degree at all? Or does it really not make any difference at all?
David New: Big time. And I’ll tell you the other thing that is in the mixing bowl for this impeachment by the House is that the Russian thing with the special prosecutor and President Trump was supposed to have been blackmailed by Putin and allegedly there was pictures of him in a compromising position. Then we were told that he was a traitor and that he was a Russian agent, or then we found out from psychiatrists that the president is insane. I mean, they were doing all kinds of things, but this Russian collusion was supposed to be the death nail for the president. All of that evaporated once the Mueller report came out. And so these people that are going forward with this inquiry of impeachment are in that environment where they have already lost. They’ve already lost big time and they’re getting set up to do it again.
Sam Rohrer: Well, that’s interesting, David, you take that perspective because, in this case, and we’re going to get into it more relative to how the process actually works, but in a case where there have been such threats for so long and all of these repeated attempts to attack, a lot of things we know already have been lies, they’ve been manufactured. It’s all of that. If a matter was being brought before a judge in a court circumstance where you had all of the facts laid out, a normal judge would rule this thing probably out of order because of the incessant ongoing attempts under so many different areas to try and attack. But again, does that make any difference in this kind of a case, actually, when you come right down to it, the judges really become the House members sitting on the floor when they come to a time of voting?
David New: Oh, most judges, many judges, would have a high level of a skepticism about what the House is doing now if they were to evaluate them judicially, because of the context. I mean, these people have never accepted the election results of 2016. They threatened him with impeachment before he even took office. It was just absolutely ridiculous and now they’re coming up with this nonsense about the phone call. Now, without question, the phone call puts the president in a bad light. That was an exercise of bad judgment on his part, without question. Does it rise to an abuse of power? Does it rise to criminal activity? I think it’s even absurd to discuss it.
Sam Rohrer: All right, well we’re going to hold that and talk about that a little bit more when we get into why, ladies and gentlemen, the impeachment process was actually put in the Constitution. As many would say, at the end of the day, the impeachment process is a political process. It’s not really a criminal process. So I’m going to hold that, David. I want to ask you that question of whether or not you actually agree with it because you talked about that just briefly. When we come back here in just a moment, ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to continue. Our focus today on the entire program is going to be on what I’m calling it, this 2019 impeachment decision by Nancy Pelosi. Is it abuse or is it accountability? But we really can’t come to those conclusions quite yet until we talk about why the provision’s in the Constitution and what it’s there for, and we’ll unpack that as we go into the next segment.
Well, welcome back to Stand in the Gap. Our theme today, the 2019 impeachment decision, abuse or accountability?
My special guest is David New who is with us every other week on this program where we talk about constitutional issues because it seems that at least every other week there is some major challenge to the Constitution that provides a perfect opportunity to help explain what’s going on and why perhaps it is happening and what is that threat if in fact we don’t understand what is happening relative to the Constitution. Well, Nancy Pelosi’s decision on Tuesday of this week to say that the House was going to move forward with an impeachment process of the president has consumed the news. It will consume the news. Everybody is talking about all kinds of it. There’s just lots of garbage and junk out there and falsities that are being headlined. And I think you can expect that, but we’d like to just to kind of take it to the core and give some basic understanding that will help, I believe, here.
And when I say the word impeachment, I mean, in some respects you almost call it the I word. It’s a bad word. It’s scary in a lot of respects because it’s very serious. It’s rarely used, only 18 times that Congress has done it in over the 200 years since the Constitution has been around. So it’s very rare and it’s often rare because it is difficult to do, whether it’s on a state level or a federal level. I served in the Pennsylvania House for 18 years. Only one time in my 18 years was an impeachment process used within the legislature in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It hardly ever happens. And that goes for most all states because it just consumes all of the activity, the normal occupation and the duties of government, federal or state, gets hijacked for a while at least. It has the potential of damaging the process of government.
And if it’s politicized, which it may well be at this point, what’s happening in Washington, then it can actually weaken the relationship and the trust of the citizens, which is frankly for the brave purpose that it was there. It was to strengthen the commitment and the trust of the citizens. So, as we look at this, what did the founders want? They debated it. They carefully inserted into the U.S. Constitution this tool called impeachment. I’m going to say that they put it in there to help maintain checks and balances and to ensure a separation of power. We’re going to talk about that now a little bit as one of the whys, but David, let me go to you. You’ve studied the Constitution. You deal with that as an attorney. From a most fundamental perspective, in your opinion, how does the impeachment provision actually help to ensure the very carefully crafted concept we have in our constitutional Republic called checks and balances?
David New: In our system of government, we elect our leaders and we expect the election process to be the fundamental process by which our leaders are selected. Impeachment was not intended to be a campaign strategy.
Sam Rohrer: Hmm. That’s a key word you’re saying there. That’s key word. Okay, go ahead. I [inaudible 00:11:24] what you’re talking about here.
David New: Yes. It was never intended to be a campaign strategy. Now, I will say this, these Democrats in the House are using this, I’m sad to say, as a 2020 campaign strategy and it can really hurt them bad. And the only reason why I think it’s going forward now is that Pelosi is looking at the tea leaves. She’s looking at these democratic candidates and she sees there’s trouble. She knows there’s trouble. If she had a very strong Democrat candidate, somebody ready to pick up the ball and run with it and knock out President Trump, she wouldn’t do it, she wouldn’t interfere. She would leave it to the election process. But she sees her candidates are weak. When I look at these guys, when I look at these guys and I see them all up there, all 10 or 12 of them on the campaign stage, getting ready to debate, I’m thinking of those patients and the movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. These people look really bad. She knows that.
Sam Rohrer: Well, David, let me come back in and follow up on what you’re saying, because I think you make a really good point what you’re saying. But on the other hand, by doing what she has done and if the process officially starts, we’re going to talk about there have to be some articles of impeachment written and I don’t think they’re there. We’ll hold that for the next segment’s discussion. But when it actually officially begins it will grind through the process. It puts into motion some gears that crank away and will go forward, but it will consume time and I said just the other day in a program, I think one of the things though that it will happen and maybe it is because there is no strong candidate and I don’t dispute what you’re saying at all there, but on the other hand, by so doing, it’s going to make every one of those Democrat candidates, they’re all going to have to get on board and make this an issue and come out in public support of the impeachment process lest they lose the support of the really radical left within the party. Don’t you agree?
David New: What she is doing when she is setting this up, she is interfering with the ability of her candidates to fine tune their message to come up with a reason why you should vote Democrat in 2020.
Sam Rohrer: Well, that’s part of the problem.
David New: If this thing goes on and on month after month, these Democrats will have to change their story relative to what’s going on in Washington instead of what is going on in the campaign trail. She has really hurt herself big time.
Sam Rohrer: All right. Now let’s go back to this because I want to stay on the why part of it, checks and balances. What you are describing, what I think most thinking people would look and say, “This is an abuse of the process.” We’re already talking about it. When it’s threatened as a tool before the president was even seated as a president you know that it is an ongoing strategy and it’s not related to a particular offense because he hadn’t committed anything yet, he wasn’t even an office. So that being the case, we’ve got a real problem there and we’re talking about here the abuse of it. But let’s go on the proper side of it. When the founders put it in, under a proper usage of impeachment, how was that intended to keep the accountability side? What was the positive side of the impeachment provision if it’s properly used?
David New: The word impeach simply means to bring charges. Think of the word impeach to mean indictment. When a person is accused of a crime, they are indicted for the crime and then they have to go into court and they experience a trial before a judge and a jury. What the word impeachment here means is, the House will come up with the charges, the accusations, the reason for an indictment. And then it goes to the Senate, and the Senate conducts the trial. If it’s the President of the United States that’s being impeached, then the Chief Justice of the Supreme court is the judge in the Senate and then they conduct the trial. So the word impeachment means to accuse or to bring charges. That’s all it is. It’s an old middle-aged word for something that’s very simple to understand.
Sam Rohrer: But, David, the effect of it properly done is that someone in the executive branch who is in the enforcement side who may get carried away and abuse their power …
David New: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sam Rohrer: … and look more like a tyrant than a servant of the people or a judge, a Supreme court justice, who may be elected and there for life and do things, which is why 13 of the 18 cases so far were brought against judges. They’re not up for election. It was there to put some kind of a fear into the hearts of those who had a position that they would be easily tempted to exploit perhaps. And so it was a fear factor because they could be removed from office before a next election, or in the case of a judge, they’re not even going to face an election. So is that, in your perspective before the law, is that the strongest message or fear factor of an impeachment that leads to accountability, or is there something else?
David New: The main purpose of the impeachment is to remove somebody who is not obeying the law. The key provision in the United States Constitution for impeachment is Article Two, Section Four, which basically says the President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment. That’s the House, and conviction, that’s the Senate, of treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. Now that’s it. There’s no real guidelines exactly how the House and the Senate go about doing it. The Constitution doesn’t have that. All it says, there’s only two other areas where the Constitution talks about it and that’s in Article One. Article One says only the House can do impeachments. Article One says only the Senate can conduct the trials and if it’s the President, it’s the Chief Justice. Article One says you cannot use the impeachment process to convict somebody of a crime. You can only use the impeachment process for the sole purpose of removing them from office. After that, then you can charge them with crimes.
Sam Rohrer: Alrighty. David, I want to come back and talk a little bit about that in the next segment with you with process. I read when I was in the House that one person said, “The impeachment process is a healthy one. It ought to be used often.” That’s what one of our founders said. “But used properly, because it puts manners on and provides accountability for those in positions that otherwise may be tempted to abuse it.”
Sam Rohrer Well, welcome back to Stand in the Gap where our special guest today is David New, Constitutional Attorney, a regular guest on Stand in the Gap today. And we’re focusing our conversation on this matter of impeachment, which is now before us in the news. Everybody’s kind of talking about it. Most of what you’re hearing is a bunch of hype in politically correct headlines and so forth. We’re trying to focus here, like we generally do, is go to the heart of the issue, talk about the substance and the foundation underneath of that and that’s why we’re calling this today the 2019 impeachment decision.
That was the Tuesday decision by Nancy Pelosi, but focusing on the idea here of whether or not this is abuse or in fact is accountability, which was the original intent for the founders to putting the impeachment process in to the Constitution in the first place, David, we talked a little bit about the why of the founders by putting in the impeachment provision clause, and really it was to help make sure that we did not develop a tyrant as they were used to coming out of England, a tyrant that would be a president who would become a tyrant or would want to be or judges in the judicial branch, not elected, but began to abuse their positions and you had no way to get them out. And so the impeachment process was there for the legislative branch. Ultimately, according to the founders, the most powerful branch of the three is the legislative branch because you can’t enforce the law until you make a law and you can’t interpret a law judicially unless you make a law.
So it starts with the legislature and they have a high duty in that body to oversee and to make sure that things are running properly. And that’s why that provision was put there. Now let’s go into the what, David. Nancy Pelosi, you’ve said to me you thought that she did some things that were out of order from what the process calls for. What were you talking about, and what should be the initial order at the beginning of such a process that she put into motion on Tuesday?
David New: It’s not so much that what she did was wrong or out of order. There is no specific order laid out in the Constitution how to conduct an impeachment proceeding. But, in prior impeachments before they begin, the Speaker has a full House vote on impeachment. Democrats, Republicans, everybody gets to vote on whether they want to proceed with an impeachment hearing. And that did not happen here, and there’s a good reason why it didn’t happen here. She knows, she knows there are a lot of Democrats who are not interested in this thing going forward. And what she’s afraid of is that if the vote doesn’t come in overwhelmingly by Democrats, that would be an embarrassment, because the Democrats who are against some patient but would see that vote as their last best chance to head off this impeachment chance.
The second thing that she did that is a real big mistake is she did not create or didn’t design to have a special impeachment committee. She left it to the committees that already existed. Two losers, Adam Schiff and Gerald Nadler, those guys have already lost. And honestly, this guy Adam Schiff, I try to say nice things about people when they’re my opponents. The only thing nice I can say about this man is that he is a male homo sapien. That’s it. I can’t stand him. Now, he’s the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Gerald Nadler is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. She is leaving it up to these people to conduct the impeachment strategically. That’s a big, big mistake. You don’t want to divide your committees. You want to have one select committee that’s efficient and that is effective. And she’s not doing that.
Sam Rohrer: Okay, David, you said a couple of things. I want to clarify it. He said that she did these things wrong. No formal vote of the house to begin it and no special impeachment committee formed to move it forward. But you also said that there is no formal steps.
David New: There’s no formal procedure. She can do what she did. Nothing illegal about it.
Sam Rohrer: Okay.
David New: Very bad move. She knows she doesn’t have that much support.
Sam Rohrer: Okay. I think that’s a nice thing.
David New: I think one of the reasons why she’s doing it now is she is afraid that if Trump gets reelected, the extreme radical left and her party, the AOC people, will blame her because she did not start an impeachment process.
Sam Rohrer: Okay. I think you’re probably right. I think I would share that with you. But let’s go to here because there is a requirement called articles of impeachment. Now, where is that, because she hasn’t referenced that? Talk about that and where that fits into this process.
David New: Well, once the committees come up with whatever they’re going to charge him, they have to agree upon articles of impeachment. I mean, the Constitution doesn’t say that, but that’s what normally happens. They call articles, but if you were in a criminal trial and a courthouse, they would be calling them counts. Count one, count two. Count one, perjury. Count two, a theft. Count three, rape. So they would be calling them counts if it was in a courthouse. In the House, they call them articles. So she’s going to have to come back at some point. Maybe she doesn’t have to, maybe she can just approve it herself. I don’t know. It’s not specified, but she’s going to have to come up with a list of charges against this president.
Sam Rohrer: Well, David, that becomes a real issue here because, at this point, until the charges, whatever allegations they are, are actually specifically written. You really can’t make a vote that is in any way related to justice and you could never expect the Senate, if it ever, ever got through that House, that they had ever act upon it because it wouldn’t be clear what in the world the problem was. Now, at this point, the comments seem to be that they’re saying, “Well, maybe we just ought to focus just on this one thing, this involvement with the President in the phone call with the Ukrainian President. Maybe we’ll just put everything else aside. We’re going to hone right in on this.” It seems to me that they are a group looking for something to stick. They don’t even have anything. I’m not so sure they can put anything down on paper that would actually be appropriate. But you’re saying that they actually still could proceed theoretically with the process even though there would not be a specifically written charge.
David New: Well, they can call it an abuse of power and of course that’s really bad. Here’s the whole thing. Ladies and gentlemen, when you Google, go to your computer and Google, timeline for the Watergate hearings. Look at that timeline. The Senate Watergate Committee began its process in May of 1973. The House did not start their impeachment committee work until a year later. By the time the House began their impeachment committee, John Dean had already testified against President Nixon that 35 times the President wanted to do a cover up. Vice President Agnew had already been resigned and forced out of office. The Saturday Night Massacre of the President Nixon finally firing Archibald Cox, that had happened in October of 1973. All of these things already happened before the House even started the impeachment process.
Sam Rohrer: And that is interesting, David, because what you’re laying out there sounds a bit more like a methodical, step-by-step going through the process, doing what a process ought to do.
David New: It was a judicial process. It was not a political process. Most of what she is doing is not really a judicial process.
Sam Rohrer: Yep.
David New: She really is conducting a political attack and she’s using impeachment for it and if the public gets a whiff of that, they can pay heavily in 2020.
Sam Rohrer: Well, ladies and gentlemen, be aware of this because as you’re looking at headlines as I am right now, the headlines are saying, Democrats want to speed up the process. They want to accelerate what’s in motion. Why? Because it’s more, as David is talking about, far more political than judicial. Truth is not so much desired as an opportunity, I’m afraid at this point, to bring accusation and that is not the purpose for an impeachment process.
Sam Rohrer Well, as we move into this final segment, we often try to take the theme of the day, this obviously impeachment today. We’ve talked about it’s been started this week with Nancy Pelosi put some action into place. We’ve given plenty of comment about what’s actually happening and, very clearly at this point, a lot of the basic steps are being violated, overstepped. The charges are not really written. They’re all over the board, and at the end of the day though there is this process called impeachment.
It is in the Constitution. It was put there by our founders for a very specific reason, which we’ve talked about already. It’s really to prevent anyone in the executive branch, could be more than the president, but those in the judicial branch, particularly Supreme Court justices and the other judges who are appointed for life, who would be tempted to abuse their office. It’s for the legislature, the body most closely related to the people by the basis of our Constitutional Republic and how we’re elected. Every two years they’re elected. It’s the body most responsive or should be most responsive to the citizens to effectuate the will of the people and to help maintain the separation of powers of the legislative, executive, and the judicial branch.
So, at the end of the day, that’s the practical legal process of what is supposed to take place. But in the end of the day, underneath all of that, why was it that the founders were afraid that a judge could abuse their position? Why were they afraid that someone in the judicial branch left to themselves, could decide that they wanted to become the new king or the new dictator? Why is that? I want to go there because that’s the root underneath of all of that. And I am going to submit that right now is that that mentality was distinctively a Judeo-Christian worldview that says God created, as in the Declaration of Independence, that our rights come from God, which is what the President said before the United Nations on Tuesday and on Monday, and that those in office are to be servants of the people.
Now that concept is distinctively Judeo-Christian. But William Penn here in Pennsylvania, the one who was referred to by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, as the father of the founders, he wrote a frame of government and he in that became a really foundational document for most of the colonies and ultimately was factored right into what’s in the Constitution. But I can’t read it all. But effectively he said, “The great and wise God made the world, all of his creatures in it. He made man his deputy to rule it, gave him a charge and a trust, qualified him with the skill and the power and the integrity to use it justly.” But it said there was a problem. Lust prevailing against duty made a breach upon it. And the law had no power over God’s law, and he took it upon himself in his disobedient prosperity, the people that followed them, they decided effectively what he’s saying here, that they would live outside the law of God.
And ultimately he gets into it and William Penn sites verses from scripture, and he says, “At the heart of it is that man’s got a bad heart and men are sinful and left to themselves they will move towards evil, and evil always ends up in tyrannical rule.” So I’m wrapping a lot of things together, but David, let me go to you and just ask you this, because you can go a lot of places. Is it possible that our representative Republic that recognizes that rights come from God and we have our Constitution that’s linked to the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes that God is the judge of the universe, is it possible for our Constitutional Republic to survive if we have people in office who don’t recognize God or higher law or truth or the 10 Commandments, that really is our basis for action, which used to hang in our Supreme Court? Actually does still have the Supreme Court, but also in our classrooms. Put that together because this goes to the heart of accountability and why impeachment was there in the beginning.
David New: There is no question of that, without God, you do not have democracy. The framers of the constitution believed that the power pact for democracy was Christianity. It was religious right people, today they would be called, who wrote the Constitution and voted for it and ratified it. Of course, there was the Enlightenment. Franklin was the Enlightenment, Madison was part of the Enlightenment. The problem is that’s 2 or 3 or 5 or 10 or 20 or 30 people out of two and a half million. They were not the Enlightenment. They were Christian. Here’s the thing, England, Europe is full of monarchies. They rule because God has made them King and therefore everybody is called a subject. We are a subject. When you go to England and you become a member of English society, you are a subject. In the United States, We do not do that. We are not subjects. We are citizens. Why? Because Jesus Christ taught servant leadership.
Look at John 13, look at him washing the feet of the disciples. Jesus Christ taught servant leadership. That means those that are in leadership are those servants, not the people. We are citizens. And that’s the difference between us and Europe, in a nutshell.
Sam Rohrer: And David, that’s a great distinction and let’s end on this note. When we go to the New Testament, we are told in Romans 13 about the purpose of those in government to enact justice, praise those who do well biblically, morally, punish those who do evil according to God’s dictate and determination of morality. And then we’re told that the obligation of the people, regardless of whether they are a subject under a king or whether they have citizen in our nation are to pray for those who are in authority because they are accountable for our souls. You want to build that out a little bit?
David New: There is no question that part of the purpose of leadership, servant leadership, is to be a moral leader, to be a good leader, a person who respects the right of people to worship God in freedom. And when government doesn’t do that, you’re in trouble. That’s one of the reasons why we’re losing freedom in the United States, because secularists do not understand the relationship between religion and government. They think there is no relationship. They are absolutely crazy. Nobody that wrote the Constitution, with the exception of Thomas Payne and somebody like that would have said that. Not even the Enlightenment people would have seen a divorce decree between religion and government in the sense that they do it today. I believe in the separation of church and state, but they did not believe in the separation of God and the American government.
Sam Rohrer: There you go, David. And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve come to the close of the program today, understand, impeachment process there for good reasons. Why the founders knew the deprived nature of the hearts of all mankind, and that when given a position of power in government, of any flavor, without being constrained, as they said by the 10 commandments, and a fear of God and an accountability to God, they would absolutely abuse their positions and they would become tyrants. So when you see the impeachment process unfolding now, when it seems to make no sense, it’s because it’s being enforced by people who have not a fear of God, do not understand their accountability to him, and with that, you will not have a good end from this process. We need to pray for all of those who are there, which is exactly what we are to do.