Bribery and the Constitution

By Christopher Harper

Bribery?

That’s the latest means the Democrats have tried to get rid of Donald Trump.

But there’s a Democrat congressman, Alcee Hastings, who might make a useful addition to the witness list because he’s only one of three federal officials who’s been charged with bribery under the impeachment clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Hastings, who is one of the longest-serving representatives in Congress, was elected in Florida in 1992. In fact, he almost got elected in 2006 as head of the House Intelligence Committee now holding the impeachment hearings.

But here’s what Hastings doesn’t want everyone to remember.

In 1981, Hastings was charged with accepting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence against two defendants when he was a federal judge in Florida. He also was accused of perjury in his testimony about the case. 

In 1983, Hastings was acquitted by a jury after his co-conspirator refused to testify in court. 

In 1988, the Democrat-controlled House took up the case, and Hastings was impeached for bribery and perjury a vote of 413–3. He was then convicted on October 20, 1989, by the U.S. Senate on eight articles of impeachment. 

His co-conspirator, attorney William Borders, went to jail again for refusing to testify in the impeachment proceedings but was later given a full pardon by President Bill Clinton on his last day in office.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled in Nixon v. United States that the federal courts have no jurisdiction over Senate impeachment matters, so Hastings’s conviction and removal were upheld.

Hastings’s impeachment and removal had to do with an out-and-out bribe. No similar comparison can be made with the current investigation of Trump.

Nancy Pelosi and some Obama lawyers are trying to peddle the notion that the founding fathers had some other definition of bribery, but I’ve been unable to find the distinctions in my research of sources on the Constitution.

The past precedents for bribery under the impeachment clause, particularly that of Democrat Hastings, were clear cut examples of taking money for doing something that was illegal. 

Hastings would make an excellent example of what bribery really is under the U.S. Constitution!

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