On Impeachability

No book can ever have been more pertinent than our guest's. Ann Coulter has written High Crimes and Misdemeanors. Ms. Coulter examines convincingly and resourcefully the phrase, "high crimes and misdemeanors," as one would expect of an... Read more
No book can ever have been more pertinent than our guest's. Ann Coulter has written High Crimes and Misdemeanors. Ms. Coulter examines convincingly and resourcefully the phrase, "high crimes and misdemeanors," as one would expect of an author that has written a book with that title. The central emphasis is on what James Madison had in mind when he considered the question of impeachment. Quoting Madison, Ms. Coulter writes, "The first aim of the Constitution was to ensure that men with the most virtue would become the nation's rulers. The Constitution's impeachment power was for keeping them virtuous whilst they continued to hold their public trust." Read less
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Ann Coulter

September 18, 1998

Character is resolved by impeachment. If anything, I think we're moving closer to sort of supremacy of the Congress just by keeping him in office, he so weakens and shames the office of the presidency. But this isn't the vote of confidence in impeachment which is why policy disputes are off the table. 

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William F. Buckley, Jr.

Well, let me intrude the following: To the extent that Madison had "most virtuous" in mind for the president, I think that that paradigma...Read more

Well, let me intrude the following: To the extent that Madison had "most virtuous" in mind for the president, I think that that paradigmatic understanding of the presidency disappeared very early in American history. The quarrels that took place between Adams and Jefferson, and very quickly between Burr and Jefferson were not quarrels that were understood by spectators as quarrels between the most virtuous and the second most virtuous man. They were simply by different political leaders. So I think it's distracting in the current conversation to say that somebody should be ousted from the White House because he isn't as virtuous as we would hope he would be. That's why I think the attraction of the argument against him has to do with his judgment and also with the extent to which he lied to the American people and obstructed justice.

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Ann Coulter

September 18, 1998

Yes, obstructing justice and lying to the American people unless it falls in the president's duty as commander in chief are clearly impeachable offenses. But l think this gets a little confusing. I am just trying to describe what a high crime and misdemeanor is. There are a lot of different categories.  And let me just mention... Read more

September 18, 1998

Yes, obstructing justice and lying to the American people unless it falls in the president's duty as commander in chief are clearly impeachable offenses. But l think this gets a little confusing. I am just trying to describe what a high crime and misdemeanor is. There are a lot of different categories.  And let me just mention that of the seven impeachments ever rendered by the United States Senate, they were not for huge, grand abuses of power. · Two were for tax evasion, one was for drunkenness and senility, you know, another one for false statements to a grand jury. 

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Ann Coulter

September 18, 1998

Impeachment is a much lower standard; simply a statement that this civil officer is not fit to hold his office. It's not personal punishment, it doesn't separate him from society, put him in jail, take away his life. All it is is removing him from office. You are not fit for the office. Impeachment logically should precede... Read more

September 18, 1998

Impeachment is a much lower standard; simply a statement that this civil officer is not fit to hold his office. It's not personal punishment, it doesn't separate him from society, put him in jail, take away his life. All it is is removing him from office. You are not fit for the office. Impeachment logically should precede any sort of criminal activity and it hasn't for the past 50 years. 

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Firing Line: On Impeachability (Host William F. Buckley / Guest Ann Coulter)

1998/09/18 - Firing Line / Hoover Institution Archives