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Opinion

Opinion: Unfitness, dishonesty and other reasons readers have called for impeachment since 2016

Donald Trump in the Oval Office
President Trump speaks in the Oval Office on Dec. 19.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

“Democrats have wanted to impeach President Trump since the day he was elected,” declared Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) moments before the House voted Wednesday to impeach the president. Recent letter writers have owned up to wishing for Trump’s impeachment since the early days of his presidency, and a look back through the letters archives backs up McCarthy’s charge, but with some caveats.

In fact, the first mention in a letter of impeaching the winner of the 2016 election was about Hillary Clinton, back when Trump’s defeat seemed assured. Between then and the revelation in September of the president’s “perfect call,” there were more than 60 instances of published letters expressing support for impeachment. Below is a sampling of those letters.

On Nov. 3, 2016, Charles H. Summerhill of Sun City, Ariz., warned of a “second Clinton impeachment”:

“Ignoring Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s corruption provides a completely biased look at the news. But we see little printed of Clinton’s sins, and if she wins, the continuing investigation of a sitting president just might serve to haunt all those who vote for her.

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“Perhaps a second Clinton impeachment will wake up her believers.”

Scott W. Hughes of Westlake Village mentioned impeachment before Trump’s inauguration:

“Trump is officially vilifying the free press, calling it ‘fake news’ for reporting a story that was not fawning to him. Tyrants do that, presidents don’t.

“We are in for four very long years unless Republicans in Congress finally say enough and impeach and prosecute him for nepotism and treason (and a myriad of other offenses that I’m sure he’ll commit). That is, if he doesn’t reduce the entire planet to radioactive slag in a temper tantrum.”

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The earliest burst of sustained impeachment talk started in May 2017, after Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey. This excerpt is from a May 13, 2017, letter by Santa Monica resident Richard Johnson:

“Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Trump met in the Oval Office the day after Comey’s firing. The credit for the picture [of this meeting printed in the Los Angeles Times] goes to the Russian Foreign Ministry, because the American press was banned from the meeting.

“I cannot remember a time when our democracy faced a greater threat than under this presidency. Impeachment cannot come soon enough.”

Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio, the ex-sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., prompted Burbank resident Fred Barker to call for impeachment on Aug. 30, 2017:

“Trump, in his pardon of Arpaio, has abused his power.

“He has acted in violation of his duties as president under Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution, which requires that he ‘shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’

“He has flouted the rule of law and has laid waste to the hard work of the attorneys in the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice, which prosecuted Arpaio.

“The father of our Constitution and former President James Madison described impeachment as the proper response to a president’s abuse of the pardon power.

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“It is time for our Congress to act to remove Trump from office.”

On Oct. 19, 2017, Gertrude Barden of Porter Ranch cited unfitness for office as a reason for impeachment:

“Trump has repeatedly shown that he is extremely unfit for his position, and his actions have already caused substantial harm to our country. We should not be required to wait until special counsel Robert Mueller completes his investigation, as there is already a virtual smorgasbord of good reasons for impeachment.

“Citing just one example, there is Trump’s practice of lying almost every time he speaks, such that no one can believe or trust a word that he says. How can this by any stretch of reason be acceptable?”

Fast-forward to Sept. 22, 2018, when it seemed likely that the Democrats would win control of the House. William Goldman of Palos Verdes Estates predicted what was to come:

“Even a Democratically controlled Congress is no match for executive power in the wrong hands. Trump will likely respond to congressional resistance by viciously fighting back, as he always does. He will continue to exercise executive power to suit his whims and agenda.

“Any attempt by lawmakers at reining in presidential powers will predictably meet presidential vetoes. Impeachment is unlikely to succeed, because a Senate supermajority is required to oust a president.

“That leaves us with an inevitable curse: a dangerously dysfunctional administration, filled with strife, until the next presidential election. Let’s hope voters never again make this big a mistake.”


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