Would the Founding Fathers Impeach Trump? with Robert Reich
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Would the Founding Fathers Impeach Trump? with Robert Reich


Trump has asked a foreign power to dig up dirt on a major political rival. This is an impeachable offense. Come back in time with me. In late May 1787, when 55 delegates gathered in Philadelphia to begin debate over a new Constitution, everyone knew the first person to be president would be the man who presided over that gathering: George Washington. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “The first man
put at the helm will be a good one,” but “Nobody knows what sort may come afterwards.” Initially, some of the delegates didn’t
want to include impeachment in the Constitution, arguing that if a president was bad he’d
be voted out at the next election. But what if the president was so bad that the country
couldn’t wait until the next election? Which is what Bejamin Franklin half joked that anyone
who wished to be president should support an impeachment clause because the alternative
was assassination. So they agreed that Congress should have the power to impeach a president — but on what grounds? The initial impeachment clause borrowed
from established concepts in English law and state constitutions, allowing impeachment
for, what was called, “maladministration” — basically incompetence. James Madison and others argued this was too
vague a standard. They changed it to “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” But what did this mean? One of the biggest fears of the founding fathers
was that the new nation might fall under the sway of foreign powers. That’s what had
happened in Europe over the years, where one nation or another had fallen prey to bribes, treaties, and ill-advised royal marriages from other nations. So those who gathered in Philadelphia to write
the Constitution included a number of provisions to guard against foreign intrusion in American
democracy. One was the emoluments clause, barring international payments or gifts to
a president or other federal elected official. The framers of the Constitution worried that
without this provision, a president might be bribed by a foreign power to betray America. The delegates to the Convention were also
concerned that a foreign power might influence the outcome of an election.
They wanted to protect the new United States from what Alexander Hamilton called the “desire
in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” Or as James Madison put
it, protect the new country from a president who’d “betray his trust to foreign powers.” Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania, who initially had opposed including an impeachment clause, agreed to include it in order to avoid, what he called, “the danger of seeing the first Magistrate in foreign pay.” During the Virginia ratifying convention,
Edmund Randolph explicitly connected impeachment to foreign money, saying that a president
“may be impeached” if discovered “receiving [help] from foreign powers.”
George Washington, in his farewell address, warned of “the insidious wiles of foreign
influence.” Now, you don’t have to be a so-called “originalist,”
interpreting the Constitution according to what the founders were trying to do at the
time, in order to see how dangerous it is to allow a president to seek help in an election
from a foreign power. If a president can invite a foreign power
to influence the outcome of an election, there’s no limit to how far foreign powers might go to curry favor with a sitting president by helping to take down his rivals. That would be the end of democracy as we know it. Now, fast forward 232 years from that Constitutional
Convention in Philadelphia to Donald Trump. It’s not just the official summary of Trump’s
phone call with Ukrainian president Zelensky in which after telling Zelensky how good America
has been to Ukraine, Trump then asks for “a favor, though” and then explicitly asks
Zelensky to dig up dirt on Joe Biden one of Trump’s most likely opponents in the
2020 election. Trump’s entire presidency has been shadowed
by questions of foreign interference favoring him. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation
documented extensive contacts between Trump’s associates and Russian figures — concluding
that the Kremlin sought specifically to help Trump get elected and that Trump’s campaign
welcomed Russia’s help. Trump at one point in the 2016 election campaign
even publicly called on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, and within hours,
Russian agents sought to do just that by trying to break into her computer servers. More recently, he openly called on China’s help. “Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens.” This is an impeachable offense, according
to the framers of the Constitution. Trump Did It. Case closed. So, Courtney, did you see the musical, Hamilton?
I did. Wasn’t it fabulous? It was fabulous. Little expensive for my liking, but a great
musical. Ridiculously expensive. It ought to be publicly supported every place. Everybody
ought to see it. I agree. What do you think the Founding Fathers would
say about Trump? Let us know in the comments. If you found this video informative, please also watch our video: Impeachment: A How-To Explainer. As always, thank you for watching and please
subscribe to this channel for more videos like this one.

100 Comments

  • Scott Martin

    Anyone still supporting Trump is too stupid to deserve democracy….
    Now let's talk about how our founders sought to limit voting rights and access!

  • ღSwnsasyღ _

    The founding fathers are turning over in their graves at how this Republican party is acting and behaving. Trump would have been gone a long time ago. This is just ridiculous what is happening and how people that voted for him don't give a damn about The Constitution or this Republic over one man. It's embarrassing

  • Julie Henderson

    Absolutely agree. Please address the issue that a sitting president cannot be prosecuted for crimes while in office. Thomas Hartman program introduced a compelling scenario: Trump kills Democratic SCOTUS, replaces them with Republicans; They pass far right laws. Trump is Impeached, Pence pardons him. No crime recorded in history. This issue must be addressed.

  • Maria Room

    The founding fathers and the American people would not have elected an incompetent and immoral man as President of the United States.

  • 54tisfaction

    The problem today is that Congress, despite going for a "checks and balance"-kind of government setup, in the end made themselves the body that appoints the President and the Supreme court justices. In essence keeping ultimate control over the two other instances.
    Thus here we are today: Congress will vote for impeachment along party lines. And if this question was handled by the legal "experts" in the Supreme court instead, it would be the same. There are no independent branches anymore.

  • QTee

    Plain and simple.. his presence in office could literally be the undoing of this nation.. we should all be very concerned. It's about more than just his favoring the wealthy.. it's also his allowing foreign interests to influence our democracy because those foreign agents could infiltrate in ways that was never intended but he was too selfmotivated to see it.. THAT is real concern. Impeach his ignorant ass.

  • Sheila Hall

    Trump bribes and gets bribed but it is treasonous to be doing it with communistic countries that have really been considered our enimies. His incompidence has been evident from the start because he is so stupid he will not listen to factual evidence about foreign affairs or anything for that matter. He lives a pitiful life always feeling like everyone is out to get him because he is always out to take advantage of anyone and everyone so he thinks everyone is like him so sad really. But his I sanity makes him dangerous as a president we risk trump trying to become dictator.

  • David Stutz

    Without listening I know that his hatred of Trump and anyone remotely Conservative will provide the alleged facts to support his extreme agenda.

  • howieoct5

    Regretfully, I voted for Trump. Impeach him. Then try him court and jail him. We must send a clear message to future Presidents.

  • My Account

    Who cares what the founding fathers would have wantedyou do realize everyone of those fathers were corrupt landowners who sent out surveyors to personally give them opportunity to snatch up what the common man will never have

  • Dallas DautermanDallas

    I favor life imprisonment or execution of presidents committing treason or behavior commensurate with Trump's malfeasance.

  • michellejean11

    I agree with you the founding fathers would impeach trump and deal with him quite harshly and would include members of his administration and congress that were also involved.

  • Tyler Rue

    Trump is a disgusting, self-serving piece of shit that should never have gotten anywhere near the oval office. Anyone with half a brain could've looked into his character and past business dealings before voting and avoided this shitshow we have now. But that's the problem, isn't it? We live in country FILLED with self-serving, lazy, classless pieces of shit who identify with Trump. That's how he got elected. Well, that and the DNC decided that Hillary should be the nominee long before the Primary was ever held, thereby screwing the citizens of the United States out of FAR better options, like Bernie Sanders (for instance). There seems to be very little democracy left in this republic.

  • ufoengines

    I'm sure they could never buy that Trump is so crazy stupid as he is and end up president  and being worshiped and supported buy his just as crazy stupid  base .  Folks that could never have stayed alive in the 1700's but can survive in the  21 century  long enough to vote thanks to all the tech improvements.  Trolls / Bots Russian or otherwise go ape now .

  • Anonymous Andy

    You know, nobody knows. No one can go back and ask them, and honestly I don't think any of us, especially some dude named Robert "Riech" (Great Name) is really entitled to speak for them.

    So I'm pausing at 0:00 and I'm not going to watch this, and I'm going to ask all of you to think for yourselves and not be sucked into someone's baseless BS propaganda that is repurposing historical and figures in an attempt to gain legitimatacy. No one needs to tell you right from wrong.

  • Karen Harvey

    They would be sickened to see Traitor tRump so blatantly stomping all over the Constitution. Like anyone who cares about democracy, they would move decisively to kick him to the curb/jail.

  • Bill Michalides

    It's a good thing foreign influence corrupting our democracy is being investigated so we can get back to good old American multinational corporations corrupting it instead.

  • -Most Hated-

    I think it's also dastardly that Trump several times has pointed out an insurrection or cival war by conservatives if hes impeached. That's also an impeachable offense to make threats or impede investigations against him by the very people who's job it is to oversee his job performance. The man has done multiple things that prove he is unfit to lead the free world. He is also a self admitted fixer. He fixes things. It was part of his election campaign. Hes going to fix Washington. Do his supporters really believe "his fixing things" doesn't border or even enter criminal status? He is also the worst speaking president we've ever had.
    I used to give that to George Bush Jr. who made up words but Trump speaks like a very unintelligent person. You can tell how full of shit he is just listening to him talk. Every word is a lie.

  • little rascal

    the founding fathers….. and i dare say, most people of that time….. would never have allowed tRUMP the privilege of even running for office!!!

  • AJA BOOBOO

    These rules only apply in representative democracies
    The United States has already been proven to be not that.
    The united states is officially a plutocracy and is rapidly transitioning into a full blown fascist state.
    We have no In-System corrections now and that has been laid open for all to see.

    What we need now is massive civil disobedience, economic non-cooperation and vote in anyone who DOES NOT TAKE CORPORATE money or any money from the ultra wealthy. period

    we cant think this system will fix itself or expect it. we need to MAKE it happen so VOTE the neo-nazis out. BTW the neo-nazis are the ENTIRE GOP by the definition of their words and actions and many democrats who take money from ultra wealthy donors as well

  • Nicholas Wolf

    It depends on the real documents and how they interpret it because with a bunch of spin on both sides of the aisle its impossible to prove guilty

  • Michelle Burkholder

    The founding fathers would have the entire House, Senate, Whitehouse, Congress and Supreme court hung for high treason, with some exceptions.

  • Matthew Caldwell

    No. Because they wouldn't have allowed him to take office while violating the emoluments clause in the first place.

  • Elan Spitzberg

    They would have been appalled by his wig, when it didn't have the requisite stylish, white, powdered curls and instead looks like a pancake ate a pumpkin and got sick.

  • Joe Milbourne

    The Founding Fathers would have had a quick conference then took him out the back stood him against the wall and shot him as they did with traitors back in those days!!

  • Fay Ryuujin

    the biggest issue with America is that anyone and I mean anyone still supports trump. Holy shit how fucking stupid are these assholes?

  • Jozef Bouwhuis

    Keeping in mind that our nation's founding father's thoughts are recorded on paper, written with pen and ink and requiring consideration and thought; rather than our current "magical" technology of Television recording of these thoughtless spouting of Big-Moth's self-serving proclamations; and its other miracle of computers with internet networks — Our Founding fathers would break out one of their more painful punishments – (hot) tar & feathers for the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.   He could then be paraded down that street in shame covered in tar, for all of his sycophants to watch in dismay.  If he managed to survive this – he'd never want violate the constitution in this way again.

  • Ben M

    Another patriotic explainer from Team Patriots. You gives us hope, and I'm most grateful for it…The Founders would never have let trump become president. Sane and loyal Americans would never have supported him. Trump is the very definition of what the Founders were most anxious to prevent. I don't know if Franklin would have personally pummeled trump while Jefferson and Washington held him in place. However, I've no doubt they would have stopped him from getting elected in the first place, or if elected, have had him pay in full for his fevered sedition, deliberate destruction and treason.

  • Steve Lawrie

    Don't feel bad America, here in Australia, in England, it's much the same. Our public officials are committing crimes in public view and we're all sitting back like rabbits starring into oncoming headlights, watching it happen. But why?

  • TrueAmerican Native

    Oh, they'd already have him kicked out. Donald doesn't realize how "Nice" we are. (Those guys would've boxed him up and booted him right out the door)

  • Anthony G

    so why are both party's not doing there job as out lined by our founding fathers… why are the bill of rights no honored by police and gov workers…. why what the founding fathers fight and die for … debated over.. put to paper… voted on…. tramped today by our so called gov… I really don't understand it

  • Joseph Campo

    This nation's founders set up a system to protect us from people like our current President. He is a control freak, not a leader. He's playing the entire Republican party like a fiddle. He acts like he rescued us from a failing economy, he didn't. Obama did that. Maybe the economy has improved under his watch, but it was heading that direction before he took office. Besides, some of the worst leaders in the history of the world have ushered in good economies. That alone doesn't make him a good President. There are many more things as important as a strong economy, and he's failing at most of them.

  • mega lenz

    I would hope that the Fathers would not have even allowed
    such a heinous reprobate to get close enough to
    the Oval Office to be compelled to impeach. From
    all my readings, they seemed to have been of an elevated
    moral and intellectual capacity than us, carved from
    higher quality stone.

  • The Last_Saint

    Drumpf would not have been elected president. His money, in 1700’s dollars, would have made him royalty… we fought to rid royalty from our country….

  • Darren Nicholls

    The founders clearly expected there might one day be a bad President, although they'd never expect as bad as Trump, but never had they thought surely that an entire party was corrupt and keeping such a corrupt President in with abuse of power of the Senate. There definitely needs to be new amendments to keep such a party as the modern Republicans from ever happening again.

  • steve cannon

    Mr. Reich, I've seen you for so many years on television that I feel comfortable listening to your opinions. This one, as most are, is spot-on. I believe that the founding fathers would have been so shocked and dumbfounded by Trump that they might have resorted to the other option for removing a President and shot him themselves! He has no respect for the Constitution nor knowledge of it or the law. He honestly believes that Barr is his Attorney General who is charged with protecting the President from prosecution or investigation. He'll want Barr to protect him from impeachment if possible. He thinks it's his congress there to pass the laws that he sends to them without change and to pass only laws that he approves of. It is his supreme court. There to, again, do his bidding. We gave Trump an inch, and he thinks he is a ruler!

  • dulpurp

    We have to stop saying things like "dig up dirt on a political rival to help him in an upcoming election." And such things. We're making a big leap of reasoning.

    Look, it's people telling Trump that the Mueller investigation was illegal, that Ukraine holds one of the keys to uncovering that, that the previous (corrupt) administration in Ukraine (which was pro-obama) aided this illegal act, and that the new president there might help.

    He was also certainly told about biden's shenanigans in Ukraine, and the son's nepotistic cash-in at Burisma, and was surely told that Ukraine failed to pursue the Burisma corruption and the biden's involvement.

    So, it's not "digging up dirt". If he wanted to smear, say, Warren, he could ask a foreign power or anyone else to do so. But if you ask for help from a leader to investigate possible crimes that happened in their country, then it doesn't seem that odd.

    Look, Trump hates Obama especially since Obama teased him at that correspondants dinner a few years ago. You'll notice that Obama has been blamed for every problem, his executive orders have been undone wherever possible, and so on. I believe that even if Biden wasn't running for president, Trump would still have said the same stuff to the Ukrainian president. Because he was part of the rotten mess that was the Obama admin.

    As for withholding money, this is his only negotiating tactic. He's done it with the states, too. Directly.

    He's incompetent, narcissistic, and dishonest. So let's stop with the "dirt on a political rival" b.s. and the quid pro quo. The dude has worked the left over, and had them screaming about every single transgression from before Day 1, so that by now everyone is exhausted.

    In one year, vote him out. Show swing state voters how Trump has failed them and our country, and mount a compelling reason that your candidate is better.

    Because if the left wasn't deft enough to impeach him on emollients in the first month, wasn't able to see the tax returns, they certainly aren't going to succeed now.

  • Richard Harden

    During the founding of our nation, a foolish fop like DJT would have never been allowed into the same company as our founding fathers, hence no need for impeachment, since one cannot impeach one who has not been elected. And lest we forget, the electoral college put DJT in office. With Mitch McConnell at the helm of the Republican party, the lowest common denominators have been allowed into their midst.

  • Bull Sigh

    Why don't you talk about the presidential candidates? Let trump get impeached in the background. But stop giving him so much free airtime. If it wasn't for all these impeachment videos the only people talking about trump would be fox news

  • AvangionQ

    Would the founding fathers have impeached Trump? Yes, on day 1 for emoluments clause violations … he's got businesses that take money from foreign powers, and he hasn't either sold off those businesses or put those businesses into a blind trust … the effect is to personally profiteer from his office, while having all of his actions and foreign policy circumspect for bribery, something that would be an affront to the founding fathers.

  • Long John

    Impeached him? More likely they would have either tar and feathered him like they did to many British agents or maybe just toss him into Boston Harbor ……

  • Sonya Miniear

    I would say what the founding fathers would have thought of Trump, (but a lady doesn't swear, )but there are not enough curse words in the English language to truly express how I think they'd feel. Worse yet, what would they think of our nation as a whole, with so much immorality that 99% of his crimes , before and during his presidency , go unnoticed, worse yet, unpunished? I've never been so ashamed to be an American until that man-child, moron was elected to be the leader of the free world. What an embarrassment he is! How will the world even begin to trust us ever again? I wish he'd do us all the favor of simply resigning.

  • Ron Bohlouli

    …Intent be true…
    A healthy and robust democracy is contingent on the health of the citizenry. Not only physical health but spiritual and mental.
    Our history shows the misfortune of those who had followed a path of cultism to a horrific end. These faithful followers numbered in the hundreds perhaps thousands (of their own particular cults). Intentionally omitting the civil war because it is filed in a different category.
    Should some piedpiper come along whose tune appeals to millions of people (voters), and this individual has nominal to questionable physical spiritual and mental health and prowess, yet has such power over millions of people, as to have them vote against the best interests of the Nation, then this is an unhealthy democracy (democratic republic) of the worst kind.
    This could definitely be the end result of privatization of education. By limiting knowledge to the many, the few will always be served. A pyramid scheme on a National or global scale.

    The founding fathers had created an instrument of such foresight and genius, yet even they could not have foreseen the likes of Bush/Trump's blatant contempt for the U.S. CONSTITUTION.
    Yes, the founding fathers would impeach, indict, and convict Trump of treason.
    Though rule of law forbids hanging, I can not imagine the founding fathers objecting to lethal injection.

  • J M

    Trump has betrayed the USA. Putin owns him. Trump hasn't been able to get bank loans from US banks since the 1990's. He went to Russia to get financed and they literally own him. They never dreamed in their wildest fantasy that this bum could be elected president…giving them a partner in the white house. Now the Russians have access to the whole middle East, NATO is on the verge of collapsing, and the Ukraine which Putin has always wanted…was denied military help to defend itself. Let'd not also forget that North Korea has Trump in their pocket as Kim played Trump for the fool he is…but now Iran nuclear centrifuges are running 24/7. Yes, Trump is a traitor in every possible way…and if that is not enough….he added a trillion dollars to the debt and his criminal family enterprise is stealing money from the treasury with his hotels and golf courses.

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