I took a break from almost all things Internet, and have run off to a friend's wedding in the Swiss Alps. Actually we are a few miles on the Italian side of the border, and will be here another week or so. I wanted to share it, but also saw a few other things I might share if I get time.
And, as I remember, the Colonists thought the British Interpretation of how things should be handled that was an onerous burden to them ... sufficient enough to go to war against the mightiest army and navy of that time period.
Per Wikipedia, The Constitution says:
"The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."
When the Constitution was written, the terms "high crime" and "misdemeanor" were both used in senses that are quite different from the way we've come to think of them today. The original sense came from the laws that the framers had themselves been under, the British laws, which had used the term since as far back as 1386. It was originally a phrase to highlight the fact that almost any kind of "maladministration" --even things we might think of as NON-crimes-- could have a magnified effect due to the "high office" of the official, judge, president, etc. Most of the items that were considered "maladministration" would not be considered much of a problem at all if you or I practiced them. But they could become a perverting of justice or subject the populace to the ill effects in a way that only a person in high office had the ability to do.
When James Madison discussed the formulation of the "constitution" with Mason, they started out with only Bribery and Treason, but Mason argued that the definition of Treason is too narrowly tied to enemies when at war, and that this would hardly cover situations when a president "attempts to subvert the Constitution." So the British term "maladministration" was suggested and then, after discussion, changed it to the more formal British term "high crimes and misdemeanors." According to the Wikipedia article on "Maladministration" it means the following in UK law:
The definition of maladministration is wide and can include:
Incorrect action or failure to take any action
Failure to follow procedures or the law
Failure to provide information
Failure to investigate
Failure to reply
Misleading or inaccurate statements
That's such a vague definition that Madison said it would be the equivalent of just having a President who served at the pleasure of the Senate. It would "normalize" impeachment, and therefore the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" was deemed closer to the idea of "subverting the constitution." The phrase was definitely intended to narrow the reasons that the Senate might try to impeach a President, but was also a way to include things that would not nearly reach up to the definitions of bribery and treason.
In Britain the phrase meant abuse of a high office even if the abuse did NOT violate any criminal laws. So this is how legal scholars have also applied it to the US presidency, usually with a focus on any subversion of the Constitution.
The Wiki article on "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" includes the following that gives an idea of how the original framers understood it:
Benjamin Franklin asserted that the power of impeachment and removal was necessary for those times when the Executive "rendered himself obnoxious," and the Constitution should provide for the "regular punishment of the Executive when his conduct should deserve it, and for his honorable acquittal when he should be unjustly accused." James Madison said that "impeachment... was indispensable" to defend the community against "the incapacity, negligence or perfidy of the chief Magistrate." With a single executive, Madison argued, unlike a legislature whose collective nature provided security, "loss of capacity or corruption was more within the compass of probable events, and either of them might be fatal to the Republic."
The process of impeaching someone in the House of Representatives and the Senate is difficult, made so to be the balance against efforts to easily remove people from office for minor reasons that could easily be determined by the standard of "high crimes and misdemeanors". It was George Mason who offered up the term "high crimes and misdemeanors" as one of the criteria to remove public officials who abuse their office. Their original intentions can be gleaned by the phrases and words that were proposed before, such as "high misdemeanor," "maladministration," or "other crime." Edmund Randolph said impeachment should be reserved for those who "misbehave." Charles Cotesworth Pinckney said, It should be reserved "for those who behave amiss, or betray their public trust." As can be seen from all these references to "high crimes and misdemeanors," the definition or its rationale does not relate to specific offences. This gives a lot of freedom of interpretation to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The constitutional law by nature is not concerned with being specific. The courts through precedence and the legislature through lawmaking make constitutional provisions specific. In this case the legislature (the House of Representatives and the Senate) acts as a court and can create a precedent.
In Federalist No. 65, Alexander Hamilton said, "those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself."
The first impeachment conviction by the United States Senate was in 1804 of John Pickering, a judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire, for chronic intoxication. Federal judges have been impeached and removed from office for tax evasion, conspiracy to solicit a bribe, and making false statements to a grand jury.
France is in shambles right now. To this day the Yellow Vest still march, and as even stated before, which turns out to be true, protests everywhere, in and outside of France. The Americans will get quite the treat in a few weeks, this I am sure of due to the ongoing chaos we see now.