A U.S. president has never been removed from office.
Two presidents – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton – were impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, but acquitted by the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.
It’s a serious and drastic step, reserved only for “Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” according to the Constitution.
However premature it might be, scandals within the Trump administration have some of the president's critics locally and nationally urging Congress to impeach him.
“I think it’s about time we start working on impeaching Trump,” Melissa Leitzan said. “We are seeing way too many illegalities.”
The veterinarian from West Falls joined about 125 others in Lafayette Square on Sunday afternoon, including her mother, Karen Galluch of Orchard Park, and her three children during an hour-long Impeachment March organized by the WNY Peace Center as part of a National Day of Action.
“It seems more than obvious that at the highest levels of this administration people feel they are above the law,” said Victoria Ross, the center’s executive director. “Numerous people feel they are above the law and those people should not be in charge.”
Leitzan pointed to Trump’s firing of former FBI director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into a former Trump adviser, as evidence of obstruction of justice.
“When you try to fire the people doing the investigating, there’s your obstruction of justice,” she said. “You don’t usually do something like that if you’re not guilty.”
Sara Faduski, a social worker and student in the University at Buffalo School of Law, read a statement that she said came from UB constitutional law professor Martha T. McCluskey, who was traveling out of the country.
“In the case of the Trump Administration, the questions of obstruction of justice and brazen violations of the emoluments clause deserves serious examination as grounds for impeachment,” Faduski read to the crowd. “These issues cut to the core of our democracy by threatening the very rule of law and legitimacy of all the president’s official actions.”
The crowd brought other grievances, too, mainly with the administration’s policies on issues such as the environment and immigration. Leitzan said she cares deeply about expanding health care coverage and preventing proposed cuts to Medicaid, because her middle child, Lucas, is a survivor of neuroblastoma cancer.
Her sign read, “Repeal and replace Trump,” a reference to Republicans’ promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
But a call for an impeachment inquiry was the focus as investigations into Russian meddling in the election led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the former FBI director, and congressional committees are ongoing. The president and his aides have denied any wrongdoing.
Some of the speakers, while expressing their intense dislike for the president, also acknowledged that the outcome of those investigations are still unknown.
“We don’t know what these investigations are going to cover,” Paul McQuillen, upstate coordinator of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, told the crowd. “There’s four investigations going on in Congress. There’s an independent investigation. Who knows where these are going to lead?”
The crowd marched to Niagara Square and back. Thousands marched in Los Angeles, and other cities across the country. On Court Street in downtown Buffalo, some occupants of passing cars honked in support, while others signaled their approval of Trump, including one man who shouted, “God bless the president.”
Leitzan, whose husband is a Republican who voted for Trump, said she had been willing to give the president a chance after taking office. But no more.
“I always voted in elections but I never entered protests before,” she said. “I was at the Women’s March and I’ve been to a couple protests since then and I think it’s time we get him out.”