Article two, section 4 of the United States Constitution provides removal of a president for conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

What should be required to impeach a president was debated by the framers of the United States Constitution (and there is not agreement among scholars today). 

Some contended it requires an indictable crime, reasoning that they were providing in Article III section 2 (3) that, “The trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury”.

Others contended it should be subject to congressional interpretation. This was rejected, and has been by most legal scholars, as having the effect of the president serving at the pleasure of Congress.

Still others, relying on the term “misdemeanor,” contended it is any malfeasance, which was somewhat belied by details of the debate the framers had.

Yet still others believed it must relate to a president’s official duties.

Alexander Hamilton observed that a trial of impeachment is for those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. He also suggested that in many cases it will enlist all animosities, partialities, influence and interest on one side or on the other, and always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.

 “We the People,” in order to preserve our form of a republic, should hope that any impeachment in the case of the present, or any future president, be the result of actions deserving it, rather than the partisan whims of a Congress.

Jack Levitt

Bozeman