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Elk Grove Citizen

Town Hall at AHS Discusses Impeachment

Jan 30, 2020 12:00AM ● By By Dana Guzzetti

"Don't believe everything you see on the Internet" was a sentiment shared at the town hall. Photo by Dana Guzzetti

MARTINEZ, CA (MPG) - Instead of raucous discussion, the Impeachment Town Hall was more like a sedate seminar with five police officers on duty. A mostly older audience nearly filled the Alhambra High School theater as Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (D-District 11) and Mike Thompson (D-District 5) opened the meeting.

The combined Town Hall was a practical idea because reconfigured congressional district lines divided Martinez at HWY 4, with Thompson representing the area north, and DeSaulnier, south of the line. 

After introducing two law professors who were there to clarify historical and constitutional aspects of presidential impeachments, they defended claims that they are part of a  “do nothing” congress. 

Thompson, who made a sartorial statement, wearing orange anti-gun sox, said the House of Representatives had passed 290 bi-partisan bills, with only a handful approved by the senate.

Turning to impeachment, DeSaulnier said he was ready to impeach President Donald Trump 14 days into his presidency. He said his reasons were that the Founders (of the United States) were worried about foreign interference in American elections, and “He (Trump) might do something worse,” DeSaulnier said, “I can’t tell you how proud I am of Adam Schiff.”

Thompson said he did not join the impeachment effort until the “whistleblower” reported on President Trump’s Ukrainian phone call.

University of California, Hastings Constitutional Law Professor Jodi Short talked about President Andrew Johnson's impeachment. In her opinion, the reason for impeachment “does not have to be a crime.”

Short said the impeachment process is political by nature. “There is a political consequence to the impeachment process,” she added.

UC Davis Law Professor Carlton Larson explained that the American justice system was founded on English law which contained the concept of impeachment for judges and others. However, English kings could not be impeached.

Comparing a president to a king, Larson said the founders of the United States wanted to be able to remove the president for high crimes and misdemeanors. He said the definition of misdemeanors was vague.

A House of Representatives impeachment is followed by a Senate trial, and a two-thirds vote of the Senate decides if the president is guilty of a crime and should be removed from office.

Thompson read written questions from the audience which were answered by the panel.

DeSaulnier, who earlier said, “We don’t have objective national newspapers to give both sides,” answered a question about accountability. DeSaulnier is on the Congressional Accountability Committee, and accused Republicans of suppressing votes through social media during the 2016 election. 

“Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet,” he commented. Thompson agreed, citing other inaccuracies he had observed. “We are in a transformational period in the world,” he remarked.

There were questions about how to indict the president after he leaves office, and Thompson suggested that the House of Representatives could start another Oversight hearing if the president is not removed from office.

Thompson did say President Trump was very good about the disasters that have occurred in his district.