There is a widespread misconception about the grounds for “impeachment”:
1. It isn’t necessary that the president, federal judges, etc. commit a felony before they may be impeached & removed. Alexander Hamilton points out in Federalist No. 66, 2nd para, that the president may be impeached & removed for encroachments, i.e., usurpations. Hamilton points out in Federalist No. 81 (8th para), that federal judges may be impeached & removed for usurpations.
2. Throughout the Federalist, it is stated that impeachment is for “political offenses”.
3. The House has the SOLE power of impeachment (Art. I, Sec. 2, last clause). The Senate has the SOLE power to try all impeachments and return a conviction (Art. I, Sec. 3, next to last clause). The decision to convict is not reviewable by any other body – and common sense tells us what that means! The House may impeach, and the Senate may convict, for any reason whatsoever; and their decision can not be overturned.
4. The language at Art. II, Sec. 4. about “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is far broader than one might at first glance think. Somewhere I saw a scholarly paper showing that the “high” refers to the status of the official – it does not refer to the severity of the offense.
Now! Pay close attention: “Misdemeanor” has a much broader meaning than a lesser category of criminal offenses. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary shows the primary meaning of “misdemeanor” to be: “Ill behavior; evil conduct; fault; mismanagement.” This shows – proves – that a president, vice-president, and all civil Officers of the United States may be impeached, tried, convicted, and removed from office for “mismanagement”, etc.
“Mismanagement” and “encroachments” have never before been so aptly applied to a civil authority as to Obama; except, perhaps to Nero, who also fiddled while Rome burned.”
(Webster’s 1828 Dictionary also says of “misdemeanor”: “In law, an offense of a less atrocious nature than a crime.” This shows that the founders clearly meant that impeachment of a President did require that he had committed a criminal act. Bill Dawson)