The House of Representatives is given the responsibility for impeachment in the Constitution while the responsibility for conducting the trial is given to the Senate (both in Article I). The framers did not, however, provide guidance on how and when to do this, relying on the representatives’ informed assessment, nonpartisan forbearance and understanding of the Constitution to determine who has committed the offenses of “… Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” (Article II, Section 4).

Focusing narrowly on President Trump’s call with the president of the Ukraine on July 25, 2019, and the events that led up to it, the president is alleged to have committed extortion, bribery, soliciting campaign aid from a foreign government, and abuse of power, a constitutional violation. The president’s supporter’s state that the alleged crimes, even if proven, do not rise to the level of impeachment; or that it is inappropriate to overturn the results of a lawfully elected president.

But are not those alleged crimes appropriate for the impeachment process? And is the abuse of power for personal political advantage certainly the type of high crime the framers feared? Even in the midst of the overheated rhetoric and highly partisan behaviors that are heard and seen coming from Washington, I believe that the country can expect results that lead to a just outcome when a reasoned, unbiased and evidence-based approach is followed that conforms to the Constitution’s intent.

It must be done in a way that the framers would understand and accept, that is, if originalism is an appropriate framing for Supreme Court decisions, it should also be appropriate for judgments in the impeachment process. Call me naïve or unrealistic, but when the mantle of responsibility firmly rests on the shoulders of my fellow Montanan representatives, I am hopeful.

Stewart Mohr