The Premature Impeachment of Hillary Clinton

The Republicans waited several years before they impeached President Clinton. They vowed to defeat President Obama's agenda on the day he took office. And now they have sought to impeach Hillary Clinton before she has even obtained the nomination of her party. Despite the strictures of the Constitution that Congress impeaches---makes the charges---and the Senate tries the offender, this Republican Congress decided to perform all functions of grand jury, prosecutor, judge and jury. A conviction for impeachment frequently requires forfeiture of office, but that usually happens to a person actually in the position---not one running for it.

But it is not the violation of the process or its blatant abuse that troubles me, but rather the total lack of respect displayed, even if all of the conjured motives, imagined conspiracies and alleged concealments were even close to the truth. As judges, we instruct juries that the facts come from the answers to questions not the questions themselves. But it was the tone and style of the questioning that I found so offensive.

I have been in the courts for over 60 years and that is the way prosecutors treat street criminals with 10 prior convictions, not a former First Lady, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State and now a candidate for the Presidency of the United States, who, one day, might actually be President! The committee serves as a quasi-jury, to gather facts and make recommendations as a result. How can we possibly respect a jury whose members announce their verdict before hearing the evidence, display such blatant bias, espouse theories and motives in their questioning and badger, scoff and constantly interrupt the responses of the witness? All citizens who watched this embarrassing moment in American history should be appalled by what occurred no matter what their party affiliation or their support or opposition to Hillary Clinton. There is no greater evidence of the demise of civility and the death of bipartisanship. The ghost of Senator Joe McCarthy must be smiling.