How Trump Transformed Mat Staver’s Understanding of What Constitutes an Impeachable Offense

Back when Barack Obama was in office, Liberty Counsel and its president, Mat Staver, repeatedly called for Obama’s impeachment over various things he had done, including banning companies that receive federal contracts from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity, enacting health care reform, and even just because Obama was pushing a political agenda that Liberty Counsel didn’t like. Staver even called for Obama’s impeachment because some state governors and attorneys general were refusing to defend their state’s constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.

As Staver said in 2014, Obama could be impeached for basically anything because “high crimes and misdemeanors” didn’t have to be “actual crimes,” therefore an impeachable offense was “whatever Congress says it is at any given time.”

The Constitution refers to high crimes and misdemeanors and when you think of a misdemeanor, you think well there’s a specific criminal offense. No, the Constitution throughout its history and through the intent does not refer to these as actual crimes; a high crime and misdemeanor is not an actual misdemeanor in the terms of the criminal sense, or a felony in the terms of a criminal sense, it’s whatever Congress says it is at any given time and that has been the case for people accepting bribes or people lying, like President Bill Clinton, he lied to the American people. That was an impeachable offense.

Apparently that standard has since changed, as Staver declared on his “Faith and Freedom” radio program this morning that the impeachment of President Donald Trump is entirely unconstitutional because “high crimes and misdemeanors” must be a “violation of criminal law.”

“The partisan impeachment started by the House Democrats is dangerous and undermines the Constitution,” Staver said. “The Constitution provides for a very limited area of impeachment and it involves if a president commits treason—it didn’t happen in this case—bribery—that’s not happening here where the president is getting a bribe, it’s not even alleged—or it says ‘and high crimes and misdemeanors.'”

“What is high crimes and misdemeanors?” Staver asked. “It’s violation of criminal law. There is no allegation. So when we look at the precedents, this is outrageous … There is no crime, there’s really no violation at all, certainly not a high crime or a misdemeanor alleged in any of the two articles that the House sent over to the United States Senate.”