Presidential Impeachment, Who Has The Authority To Impeach: It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday, a special day of the week where we get to answer questions from you, the listeners! Always answering your questions from constitutional principles! Tune in today as we answer your questions such as, what warrants the president’s impeachment and who has the authority to do so, should the government enforce the Levitical laws, is it possible to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and so much more, right here on WallBuilders Live!  

Air Date: 08/17/2017


Guests: David Barton, Rick Green


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast.  However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers.  Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times.  We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture

President Thomas Jefferson said, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves. And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture, this is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re taking on today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, all of it from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.

Today happens to be Thursday so that’s our Foundations of Freedom opportunity. We do Foundations of Freedom Thursday almost every Thursday. You can get more of them at our website at WallBuildersLive.com.

It’s also a chance for you to send in questions. So send those in to [email protected]. Maybe a question on the Founders, the Constitution, the Declaration, something to do with America’s exceptionalism and our founding values, any of those questions, send them in and we will try to get to them on a Thursday.

We’re here with David Barton, he’s America’s premier historian and the Founder of WallBuilders. My name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator and a national speaker and author.

Again, the website’s are WallBuildersLive.com for the radio program and then WallBuilders.com is our main website with all kinds of great resources there as well. So, David, we’ve got a lot of great questions today. You ready to dive right in?
David:

You bet. Let’s do it.

Repealing The Affordable Care Act

Rick:

Alright, our first one comes from Joe and says, “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act and then exempted themselves from its consequences.” 

Wow, that’s not a first, but yeah. 

“Was this Act unconstitutional? Could Donald Trump put them back on Obamacare? I think that would be really great thing moving forward on repeal.”

David, that’s one of the major complaints against Congress is always passing laws that they make us live under but not themselves. And that’s what they did with Obamacare.

David:

Yeah, this is a shock that Congress would pass a law to exempt itself. I can’t think of probably more than four or five thousand times they’ve done that.

Rick:

I laugh to keep from crying because it is awful.

David:

It is, by the way, the difference between a Public Servant and a Public Official. We use to actually call them Public Servants, they were there to serve. But as a Public Official, it’s, “Do as I say, don’t do as I do.”

There is way too much elitism and this whole health care act was elitism, “We want to tell you what to do with your health care, we don’t want the free market to give you options, we don’t want you to have choices, we’re going to take those choices away.”

So when you get into elitism, it’s not at all different. Communism has all the people living in poverty but not the heads of the party, man. They’re in great shape and a dictator.

Like in North Korea, there may be two and a half million that have starved in the last five years or so, but not him, he’s got everything he needs. And that’s just the elitism that goes on. That’s a reflection of every single government. If you do not choose people of character and people of service to be there then you’re going to have this problem. This is not a new problem.

That doesn’t answer the question, but it’s not new or unusual that Congress will do this. When Republicans took the House again 18 years ago or whatever, they put in a rule that they’re going to make sure they did not exempt themselves from things. They’ve done pretty well with that. But still stuff like this pops up.

The way the Senate does, etc. This is a whole different ball game. At the time that this was passed you had the Democrats back in charge again. You had Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, they pushed this through and lo and behold they exempt themselves. The Republicans said, “We’re not doing that.” And by and large, they’ve kept their word on that.

To go back to this, the Constitution actually in many, many, many ways allows Congress to be treated differently from the people. For example, Rick, you and I can be arrested for a lot of things that Congressman can’t be arrested for if they’re in the performance of their duty. The Constitution just provides extra levels of, not necessarily scrutiny, but privilege in some ways for Congressman because of the importance of what they are to do.

Rick:

Some of that is to not detain them or keep them from going to Congress and representing their particular area.

David:

And not be held accountable in speeches that they give and things they say on the floor. That kind of stuff. And that’s not a problem if we have service minded people. That is a problem if you have people who want to be served rather than otherwise.

And the same thing with the present, the Constitution makes the standards for Congress very different from the president. So there are two different branches there, hands down.

Congress makes the law, President Trump can’t change the law, he can’t change a provision of that law, that is done statutorily by Congress. He does not make the laws, he enforces the laws.

So what Congress gave in that law he is bound to enforce unless it is ruled unconstitutional. The fact that it treats congressmen differently from everyone else does not make it unconstitutional because the Constitution does set a precedent that you can in some ways treat congressmen different from others.

Now, it’s not a smart thing to do, but it’s something that can legally and constitutionally be done. The best Trump can do with this is to take the bully pulpit and shine national attention on this.

When you start causing an embarrassment to congressmen and to the body of Congress itself it will try to cover his tail just get out the embarrassment. And if you had the president calling out these guys for what they’re doing, “Look at their health care plan but look what they’ve given everyone else. Look at the choices they have but look at the choices they will not allow the people to have.”

You start doing that kind of thing then you’re going to see some change in that. But there’s been all sorts of attempts to change this law and the Supreme Court has upheld it a couple of times now. It’s just as Ronald Reagan said, “The closest thing to eternal life is a new government program.” And that’s what we’ve got here despite the seven years of pledge, “If we get control we’ll repeal this thing.” It just is a hard thing to do.

Rick:

Now, like you said, it’s down to just a bully pulpit. He could harp on it, maybe put the pressure that the people keep putting pressure on it, but you know like you said earlier, when the Republicans took over that was one of the promises they made about just making sure that laws would apply to them, that they wouldn’t exempt themselves because the people got fed up and tired of that.

So if the bully pulpit is used and if the American people stand up and speak enough, then we can get there. But man, you’re right, it is a tough thing to do to keep this thing that’s already so entrenched and intertwined in our economy and health care, to get rid of it is a very difficult thing.

David:

I will say, in a previous administration, I don’t have any doubt that President Obama would have reinterpreted it and done something that made it different because he didn’t observe separation of powers. So far, this president has been pretty good in separation of powers.

On his executive orders, he doesn’t go further than what he’s supposed to go as president. President Obama’s executive orders, they made policy, they made law. He saw himself as a lawmaker. President Trump has said, “Well, our side of the federal government, the executive branch, we’re going to investigate this to see what can be done. But he doesn’t reach out and order a new policy.” Policies come from Congress unless they’re specifically related only to the executive branch.

So in this case, constitutionally, Trump can’t change the law. But he can do a bully pulpit on it. And if there are areas like we have with Secretary Tom Price, if there are things he can do statutorily they can be done, but there’s nothing that allows anybody other than Congress to put Congress back under the terms of Obamacare.

Rick:

Quick break, we’ll be right back with more of your questions. If you’ve got one you’d like to send in, e-mail that to [email protected], We’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.

Outro:

Thomas Jefferson said, “The Constitution of most of our states and of the United States asserts that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed. That they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.”

Moment From American History

This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history.

The Reverend James Caldwell was a famous minister during the American War for Independence. His sermons taught liberty and God’s opposition to tyranny.

The British hated him and tried to kill him. So for his own protection, he would actually take loaded pistols with him into the pulpit and lay them beside his Bible as he preached. In the 1780 Battle of Springfield, the Americans ran out of wadding for their guns which was like having no ammunition.

Pastor Caldwell ran inside a nearby church and returned with an armload of Watt Hymnals, the pages of which would provide the much-needed wadding. He took this great Bible based hymnal, raised in the air, and shouted to the troops,”Now put to watts into them, boys!”  This pastor’s ingenuity saved the day for the Americans.

For more information or Pastor James Caldwell and other Colonial Patriots go to WallBuilders.com

What Warrants A President’s Impeachment

Intro:

Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our Country and the freedom of our civil Constitution are worth defending against hazards. And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”

Rick:

Welcome back, thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday today. Our next question for David comes from Steve and it’s about Impeachment. “I read in the USA Today that 42 percent of people polled want to impeach President Trump.”

David, I think that might just be his those that disapprove. I don’t think that many want to impeach him. But the question says that. “Since when does impeachment become a popularity contest? What warrants the president’s impeachment and who has the authority to impeach?” That last part, great questions. What does warrant a presidential impeachment?  Who has the authority to impeach?

David:

The Constitution talks very extensively about impeachment. We have six clauses in the Constitution there is no other subject in the Constitution that has six clauses covering that topic.

Impeachment is something that is very much a focus of the Founding Fathers when they wrote the Constitution. Because of that, you have dozens, last time I counted, well over 100 different impeachment proceedings across our history.

So you not only have the word in the Constitution you have the precedent of history to show what is an impeachable offense. Constitutionally speaking, it’s for high crimes and misdemeanors and that’s not what we think it is today. 

When President Clinton was impeached back in the 90’s law professors essentially redefined that crime to say, “Well, a high crime and misdemeanor is something that is a criminal felony. It’s not a civil felony like lying to a grand jury like Bill Clinton did. You have to rape your daughter or murder your wife or something of the sort. It has to be a criminal felony.” And that’s just not the case.

At the time of the Founding Fathers, a misdemeanor was not a level of crime as it is today. We have felonies, we have misdemeanors, and you have a level a, b, c, and d misdemeanors, etc. At that time a misdemeanor was defined as bad behavior.

It was for high crimes and bad behavior. Now, within that framework, high crimes didn’t mean that it had to be an elite thing like murder. It meant any kind of crime committed at a high level, by a high-level official. So that could be a federal judge, it could be a precedent, it could be a cabinet member, it could be anybody except a senator or rep. 

Back in 1797, you had an impeachment attempt against a U.S. senator who, William Blount who had actually been one of the signers of the Constitution. But he apparently was working with Aaron Burr to set up a foreign nation down in Mexico area and they said, “No, we’re not doing that, we’re impeaching you.”

At that time they went into it and said, “No, you really can’t impeach a sitting senator or rep. It’s gotta be somebody like a president, or a judge, or some other appointed official.” Because he was available to be out at the next election and the state legislature at that time chose senators so the state legislature could get rid of them.

So what they did at the time of the impeachment was say “Ok, if it’s bad behavior by a top official or someone in high government, someplace high, then that’s what you can impeach.”

What are you impeached for? I think it was well summarized by a former President who at the time was the leader of the House. He said, “Impeachment is whatever a majority of the House says that it is.” And if you look at the constitutional process an impeachable offense is whatever 51 percent of the House says someone should be impeached for.

Now, it takes much higher than that, it takes two-thirds of the Senate to convict, the Senate such as a jury.

But you look at impeachable offenses, you had, for example, early federal judge Founding Fathers impeach them, get them off the court because he got drunk in private life. “Well, that’s not a crime.” Yeah, but it was bad behavior, it was misbehavior, it was high crime and misdemeanor. It was bad behavior by a high official. Therefore, you need to go.

You have the same thing, another judge was impeached for cursing in the courtroom. It’s not a crime but it’s bad behavior by a high official. So it can be anything like that. As you get into the presidential impeachment era you have Andrew Johnson.

He was, of course, Abraham Lincoln’s vice president who became president when Lincoln was assassinated. And the hard reconstructionist guys that really wanted the South reconstructed, Andrew Johnson was not one of those. he was himself essentially a Democrat from seceded state. So he didn’t want to push for hard reconstruction. So he dismissed one of the cabinet members.

Well, he actually came within a vote of losing the presidency for dismissing a cabinet member. The House impeached him for that and the Senate almost convicted him for that. That’s certainly not what we would call a high crime and misdemeanor. But in their estimation, that was bad behavior by top public official.

So, anything that Donald Trump does that 51 percent of the House thinks is bad for him to have done, yeah, they can do an impeachment for him. Can you get two-thirds of the Senate to go along with that? No, you can’t. You can’t even get 60 senators right now to vote to be able to bring most bills up much less get 51 to even vote for repealing Obamacare.

The chance that you’re going to get all of the Republicans plus 15 Democrats or all the Democrats plus 17 or 18 Republicans is not going to happen. But that’s what an impeachable offense would be under both Constitution and history.

Rick:

And I was wrong, David, as you were answering I looked up the poll from USA Today and our questioner is the exactly right. Forty-two percent said that they wanted Trump to be impeached. It was actually split down the middle 42 on the question of impeachment, and man, that really surprises me. I would think that had to be something a lot worse than anything that he’s done. But I guess even the Comey deal was what some people felt like would be impeachable.

And like you said, Johnson questioned over firing a cabinet member. So like you said, it’s what Congress decides. They’re the ones that have to actually do it. Getting two-thirds of the Senate to actually uphold that with a conviction is very unlikely. 

Got to take a quick break. We’ll be right back with another question from our audience stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.

Outro:

Thomas Jefferson said, “ In questions of power then let no more be heard of confidence in the man that bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

Pastors Only Briefing Trip

Tim:

Hi, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders and I want to encourage all the pastors out there with a unique opportunity that we’re presenting it WallBuilders. We’re doing a special tour just for pastors that you can come and learn more about the spiritual heritage of our nation. Not just seeing the sights but understanding the significance of what they are and what they represent.

We get to go to the Capitol at night.  And we get to see the spiritual heritage of our Founding Fathers, of who we are as a nation, where we came from. We bring in congressman that will tell you about current legislation, about our religious liberties and freedom, and what’s going on in Washington, D.C.

If you’re a pastor or if you want to recommend your pastor for this trip, you can go to our website at www.WallBuilders.com. And there’s a link that’s for scheduling.  If you click on that link there’s a section for pastor’s briefing. There’s more information about the dates, when it’s going, and how it’s going to happen. If you want to know more about our nation, our religious liberties, our freedom, our spiritual heritage, this is a trip you want to be a part of.

Intro:

Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”

Should The Government Enforce The Levitical Laws

Rick:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live Foundations of Freedom Thursday today, taking your questions. Next one’s from Trevor. If you got one send it into [email protected] Trevor asks, “Good day, team.” I wonder if he’s British, good day.

David:

He might be Aussie.

Rick:

Might be an Aussie. Good day, I am terrible at Aussie accents. “I have someone that I work with that that wants our constitutional country to be ruled by a Christian government that follows the Levitical laws to the tee. My first impression was that as much as I would like our nation to be closer to what God has called us to be I didn’t see that forcing others to conform to the whole Biblical law through our government would be beneficial.”

He continues, “I believe this would make it a theocratic or authoritative government. Could the guys on the show provide a Biblical and historical response to this? None of my concerns that I pointed out to him seemed to make a difference. Have a feeling he’s open to adjusting his view as he’s still quite young. Just very passionate about life in a Godly life which is positive. Thanks for your time, regards Trevor.”

David, great question, of course, some people accuse us of being theocratic just for wanting Godly values at all to be reflected in government. But this question is specific to, should government enforce the Levitical laws to a t.

David:

This is something we covered very extensively in the Founders Bible. The Founders Bible. You’ll find that the Bible establishes four different types of law. The Levitical law, part of them fall under what we call the Ceremonial laws.

From a theological perspective, Ceremonial laws, from the Christian standpoint, don’t apply today. That’s what makes you righteous. So that would not even be relevant to have Levitical laws in a Christian system. In some ways that is oxymoronic.

Now, the Levitical laws that reflect the Moral law which is another of the four types of laws that is still applicable.

Levitical laws against arson, or rape, or anything else. Great, but the thing about theocracy is that you cannot have a theocracy as long as you have, number one elections, and number two a constitutional republic.

So the only way that we would become a theocracy is if we got rid of the Constitution and if we got rid of elections and somebody just got appointed to be whoever made the appointment. In the case of the Old Testament, it was God who chose Samuel, or who chose Eli, or someone else to be the leader. That’s how theocracy works.

So we can’t be a theocracy as long as we have elections, as long as we have a constitutional republic, and we operate under that constitution. But as to the propriety of whether Biblical law is good, you can’t force anyone- from a New Testament standpoint, you do not force people into making religious choices. Is just voluntary. You didn’t even do that in the old Testament for that matter. Back to Adam and Eve, God could have made Adam and Eve have the right decision, he didn’t, he gave them a choice.

The same thing all the way through Israel, he could have made the people follow him. He didn’t, he gave them a choice. They often chose wrong and went after some other god or some other philosophy.

God always gives choice and when it comes to coercion, that’s not precedented in the scripture when it comes to choosing your beliefs and choosing your religious behavior. When it comes to the part of the civil law that we call the Moral law, which is embodied in things like the Ten Commandments, you bet. When you have things like murder, and theft, and arson, and burglary, and robbery, and all those things that we call Common law crimes, they are all scripturally based. They all come from the Scriptures.

It’s always a wise thing to use Biblical principles, which is a different thing from Biblical law. Biblical law is very explicit and a lot of the Levitical law includes the third type of law which is called Judicial law.

Judicial laws are what establishes the penalty for violation of the Moral law. For example, when the Bible says, “don’t commit adultery” in the Ten Commandments,  notice that the Ten Commandments do not give any kind of a penalty if you do commit adultery.

At the time Levitical law, it was stoning. By the time you got to Jesus, Jesus still was a huge supporter of the Moral law, he said that adultery is wrong and told the woman caught in adultery, “Don’t sin anymore. This is bad.” But he didn’t have her stoned. Well, that’s Judicial law.

Judicial law can change across time. In the case of Texas, with me being a cowboy and having horses back, in the Old West a hundred years ago you stole a horse you’d get hung. Today you steal a horse and you may pay a fine or do jail time but you’re not going to get hung. It’s still wrong to steal a horse, whatever the generation is, but the judicial laws change across time.

So that’s where we are now. When the Pilgrims and Puritans came to America in Great Britain there were 223 capital punishment crimes, 223 crimes that would get you killed. When they established the new code in America there were only 15 death penalty crimes in America when the Pilgrims and Puritans came and brought the law here. They brought Biblical law but they used different judicial penalties than what Great Britain and much of Europe had.

So the answer to that is that it’s always smart to use Biblical principles anywhere and everywhere you can. God has told us that his principles are for our best interest, for our benefit. If we do things his way we all benefit from that. But you can’t force people to do that, which is part of what Levitical code would do, enforcement of laws. That’s just not an option for us.

I’m a huge fan of using Biblical principles. That’s what the Founding Fathers did. They incorporated those principles throughout the Constitution, Declaration. Again, we have that in the Founders Bible very extensive sections on this. I don’t think that’s a wise thing to try to go to a Levitical law and force people to follow it.

The Founders Bible

Rick:

I got a comment on the Founders Bible real quick because since you came out with that I’ve talked about how much I loved it but I just kind of scanned through it. In other words, I’ve looked up certain articles or sometimes I read a particular part of it.

A few weeks ago, I don’t know why, but I said, “I’m just going to read straight through this.” Like I would normally do, reading through the Bible once a year. And bro, I’m telling you, you guys did amazing job on this thing.

I love how the articles are tied to that particular part of the Bible that I’m reading. Or there will be a story in Genesis or Exodus that I’ve been reading and then boom, you’ve got an article on the Founding Fathers where they talked about that part of the Bible or they apply- I just think you guys did a masterful job.

I haven’t complimented you on that since I started actually reading it straight through and experiencing the whole thing instead of just looking at a particular article. So, great job man.

David:

Thanks, bro. I appreciate that. That really is the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. They could take those principles and apply them to all aspects of life, hence we have the free market system based on five Bible verses. Hence we have a republican form of government, one of several human forms of government based on three particular Bible verses.

You just go through and so many characteristics that we have right now in our country that we still enjoy and appreciate today unbeknownst to most Americans today. They come from Biblical principles that the Founding Fathers used.

So that’s what The Founders Bible actually points out. It goes back to this question again. If you do it from a voluntary basis, you get all the right results with all the right attitudes that go with it.

So, Biblical principles, you bet. Huge fan of Biblical principles but never a fan of coercion when it comes to religious conscience, or religious belief, or religious performance.

Rick:

Only problem I have with The Founders Bible is it’s like a lot of those Bibles you have in the library. It’s big.

David:

It’s big bro.

Rick:

It’s heavy. You’ve got to get the app, so I did download the app on my phone. I’ve been just now starting to play around with that and try it so that’s pretty cool too. But yeah, it reminds me of going through the library with you and seeing these huge- you know pocket Bible, that ain’t no pocket Bible, you’ve got to have a big pocket to put that sucker in a pocket.

David:

That’s right it takes a really big pocket but it is loaded with good information as well as the Scriptures themselves and between the two of them, that’s two good things to have.

Rick:

No doubt, and the illustrations. I don’t know who the artist was that y’all got to do the illustrations but the full-color stuff just outstanding. Anyway, really encourage folks to study.

Make it a family study and you’ll learn not only great scripture and Biblical application to life but you’ll learn some great history on America and our Founding Fathers and where they got the great ideas that they put into place.

Thanks for listening folks, it has been Foundations of Freedom Thursday today. You can get more just like today at our Web site at WallBuildersLive.com

Greatest Political Privilege

Outro:

Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”