For the first time in our history, a President has been impeached by the House of Representatives for conduct not alleged to be a crime. (The impeachment of Andrew Johnson and William J. Clinton, as well as the impending impeachment of Richard M. Nixon, all involved alleged crimes, while some of the additional articles of impeachment did not.)
On December 18, 2019, a majority in the House approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump: one for “abuse of power” and the other for “obstruction of Congress.” Neither article states a crime or even a statutory violation. Unlike established crimes or other offenses, neither article contains required elements against which proof of violation can be ascertained.
Whatever the Senate ultimately does, Trump’s impeachment is a grave moment for the union and hopefully one that does not result in substantial damage to the authority of the presidency and our civic culture.