Is the impeachment of the next president an inevitability?
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Bizarre and increasingly troubling as this political year has been, the worst may lie ahead: 2016 could come to be known as America's inevitable impeachment election.

Based on their prior and present conduct, there is a high likelihood that either a President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE or a President Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Trump, Biden tangle over Wall Street ties, fundraising The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage MORE could end up being impeached and possibly convicted and removed from office. The country is rushing headlong toward an almost certain constitutional crisis next year.

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Trump's shockingly erratic behavior has convinced many otherwise sober and restrained observers to conclude that he is temperamentally, and perhaps mentally, unsuited to lead the United States.

At the geostrategic level, the fears expressed by seasoned national security hands from both Republican and Democratic administrations include the possibility of his recklessly blundering the United States into a major war, encouraging nuclear proliferation in Asia, or making dangerously subversive deals with dictators like Vladimir Putin of Russia, Bashir Assad of Syria, or China's Xi Jinping.

In terms of personal behavior, Trump's spontaneous remarks sometimes seem to encourage violence against political opponents raising questions of psychological instability. If such comments were made by a sitting president, Congress might feel compelled to institute impeachment proceedings.

Trump also faces a host of ongoing personal legal proceedings including tax audits and allegations of fraudulent business conduct, any of which could theoretically invite Congressional investigation.

Hillary Clinton has her own growing set of issues that could foreshadow another presidential term disrupted by impeachment proceedings.

Among her potential high crimes and misdemeanors are multiple security violations involving classified information, wrongful possession and intentional destruction of government documents, receiving financial rewards in exchange for dispensing government favors, and making false statements to federal investigators and, under oath, to Congress.

The fact that all of Clinton’s alleged conduct has occurred before she would have assumed the presidency does not necessarily preclude a carry-over effect. Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon’s vice president, was forced to resign for accepting a bribe in office in exchange for illegal official favors he had earlier rendered as governor of Maryland.

Given the potential legal and constitutional consequences attendant to either Trump or Clinton occupying the Oval Office, America deserves better than a hold-your-nose, lesser-of-two-evils election choice.

Yet, Democrats, following Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden defends his health plan from Trump attacks Progressives blast Biden plan to form panel on Supreme Court reform Sanders: Progressives will work to 'rally the American people' if Biden wins MORE’ uninterested see-no-evil lead, are content to remain loyal to Clinton despite the constant stream of damaging, and perhaps incriminating, emails. They rationalize that she is at least better than Trump, whose glaring deficiencies are enhancing her electability daily.

They appear to have forgotten that Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage Trump expected to bring Hunter Biden's former business partner to debate Davis: On eve of tonight's debate — we've seen this moment in history before MORE managed to eke out a plurality reelection in 1996 in the face of national forebodings regarding his ethical and legal problems. Sadly for him and the nation, that ended with his impeachment for lying under oath about activities that occurred both during and prior to his presidency.

Many Republicans, by contrast, have decided to avoid either an electoral disaster costing the White House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court--or a national crisis should Trump win. They have chosen to part company with the Republican National Committee, particularly given its handling of dissent at the GOP convention.

Some conservatives, particularly in the national security area, have simply abandoned the top of the Republican ticket and declared their support for Clinton, while pledging to help elect Republicans for other federal and state offices.

Others are resolved to continue the struggle for a better alternative within rather than outside the party. They have initiated procedures under the party's rules to call an emergency RNC meeting, reverse the Trump nomination, and find an acceptable substitute. Free the Delegates has taken the lead in that effort while the complementary Delegates Unbound group urges the RNC to cut off all financial support to the Trump campaign.

The odds of either effort succeeding are low but for the anti-Trump dissenters, desperate times require desperate measures and conscience demands action.

Democrats have ignored the opportunity to replace the increasingly damaged Clinton with a qualified and vetted candidate readily at hand, such as Vice President Joseph Biden or Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerrySeinfeld's Jason Alexander compares Trump dance video to iconic Elaine dance This time, for Democrats, Catholics matter President's job approval is surest sign Trump will lose reelection MORE.

History will judge which party has taken the more responsible course during this unpredictable, unprecedented, and increasingly parlous presidential election.

Joseph Bosco served in the office of the Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush. He signed the original letter from former national security officials opposing Trump's candidacy in March. He has declined an invitation to join the Clinton campaign's national security team. 


 

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.