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 TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE or a President Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSaagar Enjeti: Tuesday's Democratic debate already 'rigged' against Gabbard, Sanders Ilhan Omar raises .1 million in third quarter Bloomberg rethinking running for president: report 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 SandersSupport drops for Medicare for All but increases for public option Hillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill On The Money: Trump touts China trade deal | Wall Street, Washington see signs for caution | Trump threatens sanctions on Turkey | Sanders proposes sharp hike to corporate taxes 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 Clinton10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable A Republican Watergate veteran's perspective on a Trump impeachment Beware the 34th month of Trump's presidency 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 KerryHe who must not be named: How Hunter Biden became a conversation-stopper Rep. Joe Kennedy has history on his side in Senate bid Green groups line up behind Markey ahead of looming Kennedy fight 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. 


 

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