Presidential Impeachment/Removal Plans, 2016 to 2020

There have been 20 Plans to abuse various processes, laws and theories, all put forward and promoted by members of the Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream news media alliance since President Trump’s election in November of 2016. This page has been added to the references on the Ethics Alarms home page for easy reference, and also because I view this conduct by that group to be the most irresponsible, undemocratic and dangerous attack on our national values and institutions at least since the 19th century.

The  desired effect of this barrage, apart from serving the goal of removing an elected President without the bother (and risk) of an election,  has been to make it impossible for the President to govern, and to destroy his support among the public. So far, neither of these goals have been achieved

When Plan S, which late novelist Robert Ludlum might have called “The Ukrainian Perversion” if it had been one of his novels, fails like the rest, or if President Trump is re-elected, the list will keep growing. As scholar Victor Hanson Davis has pointed out, the sheer number of these successive plans belies the claim that this is not an ongoing attempt at a soft coup.

The real theory in play is that Donald Trump daring to be President is itself impeachable conduct.

The List:

Plan A: Reverse the election by hijacking the Electoral College.

Theory: The elected President is unfit for office and the Founders would have hated him.

Plan B: Preemptive impeachment.

Theory: The elected President had already committed impeachable crimes before he even ran for office, and also while he was running for office.

Plan C : The Emoluments Clause.

Theory: An obscure constitutional provision that had never been used, never been understood to apply to businesses owned by the Chief Executive, and which should have been raised, if at all, during the campaign, now disqualified Trump from the Presidency.

Plan D: “Collusion with Russia”

Theory: The Trump campaign, with his knowledge, had a deal with Russia to sabotage Hillary Clinton in exchange for policy rewards after Trump’s election.

Plan E : ”Trump is mentally ill so this should trigger the 25th Amendment.”

Theory: The old Soviet theory that anyone who disagrees with the authority, in this case, progressives, must be crazy.

Plan F: The Maxine Waters Plan, which  is to just impeach the President because Democrats want to, because they can.

Theory: “Orange Man Bad!”

Plan G : “The President obstructed justice by firing incompetent subordinates, and that’s impeachable.”

Theory: An intentionally distorted version of “obstruction of justice.”

Plan H: “Tweeting stupid stuff is impeachable.”

Theory: “Orange Man Bad!”

Plan I:  “Let’s relentlessly harass him and insult him and obstruct his efforts to do his job so he snaps and does something really impeachable.”

Theory: Self-explanatory.

Plan J : Force Trump’s resignation based on alleged sexual misconduct that predated his candidacy.

Theory: Orange Man Bad!”

Plan K: Election law violations in pay-offs to old sex-partners.

Theory: A creative and unprecedented interpretation of election laws,

Plan L: The perjury trap: get Trump to testify under oath, then prove something he said was a lie.

Theory: It worked with Clinton!

Plan M: Guilt by association. Prove close associates or family members violated laws.

Theory: Orange Man Bad!”.

Plan N: Claim that Trump’s comments at his press conference with Putin were “treasonous.”

Theory: Presidents can be impeached for what they say in a diplomatic context.

Plan O: The Mueller Report proves the Trump is unfit for office even if it did not conclude that he committed any impeachable offenses.

Theory: Orange Man Bad!”

Plan P:  “We have to impeach him because he’s daring us to and if we don’t, we let him win!”

Theory: Orange Man is SO bad, that any reason to impeach him is good enough.

Plan Q: Impeach Trump to justify getting his taxes, and then use the presumed evidence in his taxes to impeach him.

Theory: Salem, Massachusetts Bay colony, 17th Century.

Plan R: Rep. Adam Schiff announced on July 24 that President Trump should be impeached because he is “disloyal” to the country.

Theory: “Orange Man Bad, and we’re getting desperate!”

Plan S: Trump should be impeached because his call to Ukrainian President Zelensky was really an effort to shake down the Ukraine and force it to “find dirt” on Joe Biden, thus “interfering” in the 2020 election even though Biden hasn’t been nominated (and won’t be), even though a President has every justification to seek evidence of a prior administration’s wrongdoing in foreign relations, and even though there isn’t a whiff of a threat of quid pro quo in the only transcript of the call, and though such implied Presidential pressure for favors large and trivial are standard practice.

Theory: What other Presidents have done for over two-hundred years are impeachable when Trump uses his power similarly.

Plan T (added 1/9/21): Trump should be impeached for “inciting a riot” with his speech to supporters on January 6, as Congress gathered to officially approve the states’ electoral college vote making Joe Biden the 46th President.The transcript is here.

The President did not incite a riot under current law or logic. While his speech was irresponsible, just as his refusal to capitulate to logic and political tradition by dropping his claims of fraud against Democrats and the 2020 election (while leaving pursuit of the genuine questions surrounding the fiasco to others) was irresponsible. There is certainly no evidence that he wanted his supporters to invade the Capitol, or that he was seeking a violent confrontation. His subsequent refusal to unequivocally condemn the rioters was another terrible choice, but hardly an impeachable one, especially in the context of recent, more destructive  riots that many political leaders and the news media fueled by their rationalizations and passive support.

There are no words in the speech that encourage violence. Law professor/blogger Ann Althouse listed what she considered the seven most provocative statements in the speech, noting that none mention or suggest violence:

7. We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.

6. To use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal…. We will not let them silence your voices. 

5. The Republicans have to get tougher. You’re not going to have a Republican party if you don’t get tougher. 

4. [W]e’re going to have somebody in there that should not be in there and our country will be destroyed, and we’re not going to stand for that. 

3. We will never give up. We will never concede, it doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.

2. We’re not going to let it happen. Not going to let it happen.

1. Together we are determined to defend and preserve government of the people, by the people and for the people. 

If that’s an incitement to violence, then so are hundreds, maybe thousands, of speeches, some of them famous, made by U.S. elected officials and political leaders throughout our history.

The logic of impeaching the President for his speech (and, I assume, for having the bad taste to finally react to the ultimately successful effort by a confederacy of the “resistance,” Democrats, news media, and, finally, Big Tech and the social media platforms, to take him out of office “by any means necessary”) is that his words did spark the Capitol rioting, regardless of their meaning or his intent. If this really is the standard our government wishes to establish, that a politician’s words can be made impeachable by their unintended results carried forward in their name by the radical, the lawless, the mischievous and the moronic, then all passionate political expression is effectively banned, and an ill-chosen phrase—Barack Obama’s suggestion that the death of Trayvon Martin was analogous to one of his children being killed comes to mind—will be a potential career-ender for members of both parties.

Add to this the fact that Plan T is motivated not by the best interests of the nation or to protect the public, since Donald Trump’s Presidency ends in less than two weeks, but a gesture of hate and revenge by a party that, as the previous 19 plans already have vividly illustrated. never accepted the will of the people in electing this President, and have become more angry and frustrated as they efforts to remove him failed. Now, after their success, however tainted, they still cannot resist inflicting a final indignity, a slap in the face, an ultimate demonstration of contempt by not even allowing him to complete his term.

Incredibly, this is the most unethical of the 20 plans. The Theory is simply this:

“We have the votes in the House, and maybe the emotional and visceral revulsion at the rioting will give us the votes in the Senate, so we will impeach him because we can, and because we hate the bastard.”