Should the House Censure President Trump Instead of Impeaching Him?
Should the House censure President Trump instead of impeaching him?
by Countable's Trump Impeachment Coverage | 11.26.19
House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump has so far failed to gain Republican support, which prompted a Democratic lawmaker over the weekend to suggest pursuing a censure resolution rather than articles of impeachment before she later clarified her comments.
Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) said the following on a Michigan radio program on Sunday:
“We are so close to an election. I will tell you, sitting here knowing how divided this country is, I don’t see the value of taking him out of office. But I do see the value of putting down a marker saying his behavior is not acceptable… I want him censured. I want it on the record that the House of Representatives did their job and they told this president and any president coming behind him that this is unacceptable behavior and, under our Constitution, we will not allow it.”
“I was an early supporter for impeachment in 2017. The House Intelligence Committee followed a very thorough process in holding hearings these past two weeks. The information they revealed confirmed that this President has abused the power of his office, therefore I continue to support impeachment.”
Even if House Democrats were to opt for a censure resolution instead of articles of impeachment, it's unclear whether congressional Republicans would be willing to support the less severe presidential rebuke.
What would censure involve?
Censure in Congress doesn’t carry a formal punishment aside from the public humiliation of being formally & publicly admonished for misconduct by lawmakers.
The only U.S. president to be expressly censured by Congress is Andrew Jackson in 1834, although Congress later expunged his censure. There have been a few other near-censures of presidents by Congress:
- 1860: The House voted to admonish, rather than censure, President James Buchanan and his Navy Secretary.
- 1864: A resolution was introduced to censure President Abraham Lincoln but it was revised to not overtly censure him before it was adopted.
- 1912: A resolution was introduced to censure President William Howard Taft but it was revised to generally condemn certain presidential actions without naming him.
Censure resolutions have been introduced against every president since Bill Clinton, though none have received votes.
What’s next in the impeachment probe?
After Congress returns from its Thanksgiving recess, the House Intelligence Committee is expected to transfer its impeachment report to the Judiciary Committee. Hearings will then be held in the Judiciary Committee with the first on December 4th, and potentially in other committees before any articles of impeachment or a censure resolution are referred to the House floor.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: The White House via Flickr / Public Domain)
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