Impeach for Peace – In advance of Trump’s inauguration, we are announcing the release of the Formal Impeachment Petition. The Formal Impeachment Petition is a method for impeaching a President, Vice President, or any other power abusing federal official using a rarely used part of the Rules of the House of Representatives (“Jefferson’s Manual”). It was used to successfully impeach a judge in 1831. This document empowers individual citizens to initiate the impeachment process. However, our organization is not currently suggesting any particular impeachable offense in regards to Donald Trump. Our previous version of this document was a PDF that people could download and send in themselves. This left us without the ability to track our progress toward impeaching any particular individual. We have released a new version of the document that can be filled out online, and will allow us to track the progress nationwide, and state-by-state, as individuals fill out the petition. Once a president, vice president, or federal judge takes office, this method is the only one available for citizens to have a direct impact on whether they are removed from office.

Why aren’t we suggesting an impeachable offense? First, we should point out that Impeach for Peace is nonpartisan, and we will make a version of this form available for each subsequent president upon inauguration.  As an organization, we are interested in two main goals: empowering individuals to pursue accountability of power abusing government officials, and protecting impeachment as a legitimate tool toward this goal. And while people have rightly pointed out that Trump will likely be in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution as of the first day of his presidency, there are other considerations.

The truth is that every president since at least Reagan has committed some impeachable offense or another (some more egregious than others). The drone attacks (bombing another country without a declaration of war) that started under George W. Bush, and accelerated under Barack Obama easily fall under this category. However, since impeachment is conducted by Congress, it is inherently a political process. Therefore, the optics of how the process is pursued is important if we are to be successful in actually impeaching someone, as opposed to thoughtlessly pursuing impeachment irrespective of the damage we might be doing to the legitimacy of our cause. There is a difference between pursuing impeachment for partisan reasons, and for more legitimate ones.  Therefore, Impeach for Peace advocates waiting until a government official commits an impeachable offense which is more broadly understood to be one for which a government official should be held accountable.

Despite the fact that some law experts have said that presidents can be impeached for behavior which occurred prior to their presidency, this is not widely understood or believed. Also, President Trump’s conflicts of interest have not yet resulted in a situation that is widely seen as being worthy of impeachment (we would be looking for, and probably will see a foreign official enriching Trump through Trump’s foreign business dealings in order to get preferential treatment while Trump is in office). Or, Trump could engage in some impeachable offense regarding his treatment of Muslim/Mexican immigrants, some military action, etc.

While many people are upset and afraid given the things Trump has said prior to taking office (his intent to pursue unconstitutional acts), we must nonetheless be patient until he actually engages in some egregious behavior. If we choose to pursue impeachment prior to then, we not only risk delegitimizing our efforts, but also teaching our fellow citizens that impeachment is a partisan tool only pursued for illegitimate reasons. We must protect the tool of impeachment for ourselves and future generations by maintaining the tool as a legitimate pursuit.

However, there is room for honest disagreement about what is and is not impeachable, and the exact appropriate time to pursue impeachment. Therefore, we are releasing this new version of the Formal Impeachment Petition now because we feel that citizens have the right to make their own decision. However, at this time, we are not suggesting any particular offenses on the online document, but allow you to fill in your own. If you’re interested in what merits an impeachable offense, read our article “What is an Impeachable Offense? Can we Impeach Trump?.”

-Impeach for Peace
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