Ronald L. Feinman Ronald L. Feinman blog brought to you by History News Network. Wed, 18 Sep 2019 10:01:00 +0000 Wed, 18 Sep 2019 10:01:00 +0000 Zend_Feed_Writer 2 ( Introducing Ronald L. Feinman's Blog and Archiving His Past Articles


Ronald L. Feinman has contributed over 100 articles to the History News Network since 2016. His articles will now appear on this blog as individual entries. 


Ronald L. Feinman received his Ph.D. from the City University of New York Graduate School in 1975. His dissertation advisor was Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Dr. Feinman is the author of “Twilight of Progressivism: The Western Republican Senators and the New Deal” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981) and “Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama” (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, 2015, Paperback Edition 2017). In addition to this blog, Dr. Feinman has blogged at since 2008 and is a political and historical Commentator on Radio Station WWGH, 107.1 FM, Marion, Ohio. Dr. Feinman has spent nearly a half century as Professor of American History, Government and Politics and is still teaching a US Presidency class at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida every Fall and Spring term.


Here are his previous articles for the History News Network, in alphabetical order. 


12 Months of Horror—1/12/18 (


19 Presidents in a Row Promoted Social and Environmental Programs to Benefit Ordinary Americans, And then Came Donald Trump--5/20/18 (


6 Presidents Who Never Lost An Election--4/30/19 (


A Trump Win Might Wreck the Republican Party—1/17/16 (


After 13,000 Days in Retirement, It’s Time To Reassess Jimmy Carter’s Presidency--12/25/16 (


An Accident of History Gave Us Anthony Kennedy –7/1/18 (


An Account of Presidents Demonstrating Moral Courage on Major Issues Includes These 14 Leaders-2/25/18 (


Another Difference between Democrats and Republicans Is How They Pick Their Veeps – 5/29/16 (


Another Remarkable Thing About the 2020 Presidential Election is that 4 of the Potential Candidates Would Be Over 80 in Office- 9/23/18 (


A Voting History of American Jews From 1916 to Today—8/27/19 (


Barack Obama: Politics and Presidential Rankings --2/16/19 (


Between Hillary and Bernie: Who’s the Real Progressive?-- 2/6/16 (http://historynewsnetowrk/org/article/161928)


Can Trump Work Out a Deal or Two With the Democratic Leaders of Congress?-1/1/17 (


Can We Count on the GOP to End the Trump Presidency?-8/6/17 (


Could Donald Trump Carry the Electoral College and Become President?-5/1/16 (;/162647)


Could Gary Johnson’s Candidacy Cause a Constitutional Crisis in November?-7/31/16 (http://historynewsnetwork/article/163503)


Democrats Are About to Set a Historical Record as the First Political Party to Win Six Out of Seven Popular Vote Victories for the White House-9/11/16 (


Do Donald Trump And Barry Goldwater Have Much in Common?- 8/7/16 (


Does the GOP Have a Moral Obligation to Nominate Trump just Because He’s the Front Runner? -4/3/16 (


Donald Trump Has Created a Constitutional Crisis on the 42nd Anniversary of Richard Nixon’s Resignation – 8/10/16 (


Donald Trump Has to Stop Dropping Hints of Violence Against Hillary Clinton – 9/21/16 (


Donald Trump is Making Richard Nixon Look Good by Comparison -5/24/17 (


Donald Trump is No Richard Nixon – 11/18/18 (


Donald Trump is No Ronald Reagan – 8/14/16 (


Donald Trump is On His Way to Second or Third Shortest Presidency in American History -2/15/17 (


Donald Trump is Worse Than George Wallace - 9/17/17 (


Donald Trump Was the Oldest Elected President in 2016. Are We Ready to Elect the Youngest President in 2020? -9/2/18 (


Donald Trump’s Not the First President to Put Relatives on the Public Payroll, but no Family Matches His in Possible Improper Behavior -12/10/17  (


Donald Trump’s Selling the White House to Corporate America -12/9/16 (


Donald Trump’s Suggestion that He Might Not Accept the Victory of His Opponent is Ghastly -10/2/16 (


Get Ready for California to Dominate Presidential Politics in 2020 -10/28/18 (http://historynewsnetwork/org/article/170292)


Have We Entered a New Era of Political Assassination in America? -10/25/18 (


Hillary Clinton Confessed to Having Both Public and Private Positions? That’s Not Shocking and It Shouldn’t Bother You -10/9/16 (


History Will Clash with History in the 2020 Election -3/17/19 (


How Common is it for Former Presidents to Remain Active in Public Life? -11/23/16 (


How Conservatives Could Steal the Election -5/10/16 (


How Does Trump Compare with the Worse Egotists We’ve Elected to the Presidency? -6/12/16 (


How Likely is it that the Democrats Will Take Back Congress? -2/6/18 (


How Many Contested Conventions Have There Been? -4/28/16 (


If you’re a New Yorker 2016 Is Your Year -4/17/16 (


Is Donald Trump the Most Dangerous Presidential Candidate in American History? -4/24/16 (


Is Donald Trump’s War on Obama Unprecedented? -6/25/17 (


Is Trump Too Old to Be President? -6/11/17 (


It’s Possible Donald Trump Could Win a Smaller Percentage of the Popular Vote than Any Other Major Presidential Candidate -10/8/16 (


Jared Kushner”s Not the First In-Law to Take a High-Profile Spot in an Administration -- 5/28/17 (


Jeff Sessions’s Troubling Legacy—8/20/19 (


Just 43 Republicans Joining with Democrats Could End Donald Trump’s Presidency -8/20/17 (


Mike Pence is No Gerald Ford -5/13/18 (


Netanyahu Finally Has the President He Wants. History Suggests There Will Still Be Problems -5/21/17 (


No Matter Who’s Elected President November 8, They Aren’t Likely to Win a Majority of the Vote -10/23/16 (


No Way Will Either Trump or Sanders Be Elected President -2/12/16 (


Now Bloomberg’s Thinking About Running? -1/24/16 (


Obama Hasn’t Spoken Out Against Trump Yet, But Will He? -3/19/17 (


One Has to Wonder after Hurricane Maria How Trump Would Treat Hawaii and Guam -10/22/17 (


One of These 4 Western Governors Could Be the Next Democratic President -12/2/18 (


One Thing the Democrats Don’t Need to Worry About -5/15/16 (


Our Sad Record When Presidents Get Sick – 9/13/16 (http://historynewsnetwork/org/article/163842)


Religion Could Decide the Election of 2016 -9/18/16 (


Should We Be Worried About Trump’s Brain? -11/26/17 (


Six Times the Failure of a Political Nomination Changes American History- 2/3/19 (


So the Supreme Court is Above Politics? -7/15/16 (


So  You Are Considering Voting for a 3rdParty Candidate for President? -10/30/16 (


So You Think Trump’s Victory Was an Outlier Because the Election Was so Close? -2/16/17 (


The 2 Constitutional Crises We Narrowly Averted in 1948 and 1969 -10/15/16 (


The 2020 Election and Presidential Age -7/2/19 (


The 2020 Election Presents a Unique Opportunity to Elect a “New Generation of Leadership” -7/9/19 (


The Constant Threat of Mass Shootings Requires Increased Protection for Presidential Contenders -8/6/19 (


The Constitutional Crisis We’d Face If Donald Trump Actually Became President -9/4/16 (


The Election of 1940 and the Might-have-Been that Makes One Shudder -3/1/16 (


The Electoral College System Gone Mad -12/16/16 (


The End of the Trump Presidency Now Looms -4/22/18 (


The Expansion of Presidential Power Since 1973 -5/26/19 (


The GOP is Dying -6/5/16 (


The GOP is Fast Undoing the Good Deeds of Richard Nixon -4/30/17 (


The GOP President Historians Say They Like More and More -6/10/18 (


The GOP Wasn’t Always the Party of Right-wingers -12/15/18 (


The Last Serious, Qualified Third-Party Candidate for President Was…? -3/5/17 (


The Long History of Unjust and Lawless Attorneys General -7/28/19 (


The Loss of Republican Principle -5/9/19 (


The Red Scare: From the Palmer Raids to Joseph McCarthy to Donald Trump -4/2/19 (


The Republican Party’s Weird 52 Year Curse -3/4/16 (http://historynewsnetwork/org/article/162187)


The Reputations of Presidents Keep Changing -5/5/16 (


The Senate’s Incomplete Hall of Fame -9/9/18 (


The Two Vice Presidents Who Got Along Best with Their Presidents -2/7/17 (


There’s an Ominous Parallel with the Fight Over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -11/26/17 (


These 10 People Might Run for President in 2020 and None Have Government Experience -10/7/18 (


These 11 People Came Close to Being President of the United States -3/22/16(http://historynewsnetwork.org161656)


These 15 GOP Senators From the Past Could Show Mitch McConnell and His Colleague How to Do the Job -9/15/18 (


These 9 Justices Failed to Vote the Way Their Party Expected -10/14/18 (


These Two Midwestern Democrats Could Be Serious Contenders for the Presidency in 2020 -12/9/18 (


These Two Presidents Also Had Bad Starts -7/30/17 (http://historynewsnetwork/org/article/166533)


They Ran For President Before. Will They Run Again in 2020? -9/30/18 (


Three Presidents-Elect We almost Lost: Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy -11/13/16 (


Three Unexpected Deaths That Shaped Presidential History -3/10/19 (


Trump Faced Long Odds Winning the White House, but...-1/29/17 (


Trump’s Got No Mandate -12/15/16 (


Trump’s Not the First GOP President with Weak Ties to the Party -8/27/17 (


Trump’s Racking Up the Worst Record on the Environment Since Reagan -10/28/17 (


We Judge Presidents in part by Who Precedes and Follows Them -4/21/19 (


What 2020 Presidential Hopefuls Can Learn From Carter, Clinton, and Obama’s Foreign Policy -2/24/19 (


What Are the Chances that a Member of the House of Representatives Will Be Our Next President? -11/11/18 (


What do Nixon, Reagan and Trump Have in Common? -10/1/17 (


What is it About September that Makes It Disastrous Month For Presidents and Presidential Candidates? -8/27/16 (


What Studying the Presidents Teaches: Even Winners Can Lose -11/10/16 (


What We Learn When We Compare Obama’s Two Victories with This One Election from the Past -9/25/16 (


What Would Other Presidents Have Thought Of Donald Trump? -11/4/18 (


What’s With All of These People Who Attack the White House? -1/10/16 (


Who Else is Trump Like? -4/23/17 (


Who in Their Right Mind Would Wish to be Donald Trump’s Vice Presidential Running Mate? -7/3/16 (


Who Will Win? -11/4/16 (


Why 2019 Marks the Beginning of the Next Cycle of American History -6/4/19 (


Why President Donald Trump Could Be as Bad as Nixon – Or Worse -7/10/16 (


Why the Democrats Are Likely to Become the Majority Party for Decades to Come -7/24/16 (


Why the Midwest is the Key to the Future of American Politics -10/21/18 (


Why This Historian is Worried for His Country -1/12/16 (


Why We Need a Crash Course in the 25th Amendment -1/22/17 (


Why We Need to Be Worried About Mexico -1/15/17 (


Will 2020 Be “The Year of the Mayor” in Presidential Politics? -11/25/18 (


Will Beto O’Rourke Follow the Path of Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush to the Presidency? -1/20/19 (


Will the GOP Crown Paul Ryan as Its Presidential Nominee? -4/9/16 (


Yesterday Was the 100th Anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt’s Death. Here’s How His Legacy Still Shapes the United States Today -1/7/19 (


You Think History’s Predictable? Consider This -3/12/17 (






























Wed, 18 Sep 2019 10:01:00 +0000 0
The History of Impeachment and Why Democrats Need to Act Now Ronald L. Feinman is the author of “Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama” (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, 2015).  A paperback edition is now available.



Two American presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998-1999. Richard Nixon resigned in order to avoid formal impeachment. All three instances produced extreme political division and controversy.  All three occurred with a divided government—the President was from a different party than the Congressional majority.


Andrew Johnson became president after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. Lincoln, a Republican, asked the Democratic Johnson to be his running mate in 1864 due to concerns that Lincoln might face a tough reelection campaign against former General George McClellan. Lincoln hoped Johnson would help him gain the support of loyal Democrats who appreciated Johnson’s strong support of the Union.


However, Johnson did not agree with much of Lincoln’s agenda and Republicans in Congress strongly turned against him. The inability of Johnson to work with and get along with the party that had elected him Vice President was made worse by his horrible temper, refusal to compromise, and tendency to use foul language.  No one would defend his prickly personality and racist tendencies in retrospect.


Johnson was impeached and brought to trial for breaking the Tenure of Office Act of 1867, which was designed to prevent the President from dismissing cabinet officers without approval of the Senate. Johnson fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, a major critic and collaborator with Radical Republicans, who wished Johnson to be removed. The law was eventually declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Myers V US in 1926, 59 years after the enactment of the law. 


Ultimately, Johnson avoided removal from office by just one vote. Ten Republicans joined with nine Democrats and voted to keep Johnson in office. The final vote was 35-19, one vote short of the two-thirds majority needed to approve removal. Johnson had not abused power or obstructed justice, and the impeachment case was flimsy. While his personality and viewpoints were obnoxious to many, there was no real justification for his impeachment.


Richard Nixon was facing impeachment in 1974 from the opposition Democratic Party in Congress due to strong evidence of abuse of power, obstruction of justice,  contempt of Congress, refusal to cooperate with the impeachment investigation relating to the Watergate Scandal, and other illegal acts discovered in the process of the investigation by the House Judiciary Committee.  


Ultimately, the Nixon impeachment was based on bipartisan support of that committee, with seven Republicans joining the Democrats in backing three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon. The Supreme Court also stepped in via the case of US V Richard Nixon, ordering that Nixon must hand over the Watergate tapes demanded by the House Judiciary Committee.  


Additionally, bipartisan support for Richard Nixon’s removal from office was made clear by a visit of Republican leaders of Congress to the White House, including Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, and House Minority Leader John Rhodes of Arizona, informing Nixon that he had lost the support of the Republicans in the US Senate, and would be unlikely to gain more than fifteen votes of the 34 needed to survive an impeachment vote to remove him.  


With the strong case against Nixon, and the bipartisan move against him staying in office growing rapidly, Nixon realized it was time to leave the Oval Office, and avoid a further constitutional crisis.


Bill Clinton faced impeachment in 1998-1999 from the opposition Republican Party in Congress. Republicans were determined to remove him based on his perjury before a grand jury in the Jones V. Clinton 1997 Supreme Court case regarding Clinton’s extramarital sexual relationships, and the need for the President to testify before a grand jury.


Clinton was impeached on the last day of the 105th Congress in December 1998 and the trial was held by the new 106th Congress in January and February 1999. This violated the rule that an impeachment and trial must be conducted in the same Congress. The trial was part of the policy of Newt Gingrich and other Republicans to do what they could to undermine the Bill Clinton Presidency and plan for the upcoming Presidential and Congressional Election of 2000.  


Ultimately, the Senate voted to determine if Clinton would be removed from office on two counts. On the first count, lying under oath, the Senate voted 55-45, but this was less than the two-thirds majority necessary to remove the president. On the second count, obstruction of justice, the Senate voted 50-50 to remove Clinton, again short of the two-thirds majority required. Ten Republicans joined the Democrats on the first charge and five Republicans on the second count. Although some Republicans attempted to hold a vote on another impeachment article on a separate obstruction of justice charge, this failed miserably and was not considered by the Senate.  


The case against Bill Clinton was more similar to the political vendetta of the Republican Party against Andrew Johnson 130 years earlier than Richard Nixon’s offenses.  No one then or since would defend Clinton’s private behavior in the Oval Office or his lying under oath, but it was clearly an unpopular move by Republicans to impeach Clinton, and the President remained popular in public opinion polls at that time.


So, what do these past examples tell us about a potential impeachment of Donald Trump? It is extremely unlikely that Trump would be removed from office because the Senate is Republican-controlled. It is still essential, however, that Democrats push impeachment to make a political point. Just as the Republicans in 1999 pursued impeachment without consideration of how they might appear in public opinion, the Democrats should not worry about public opinion or political ramifications because Trump’s actions require accountability. If Democrats don’t take action, history will record that the Democratic Party refused to see the long term danger of Trump, and it will set a bad precedent for the future. 


As I’ve written before, the case against Donald Trump is overwhelming. Donald Trump obstructed justice to prevent a thorough investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential campaign. His son and others in the Trump campaign engaged in collusion with a foreign nation determined to undermine the candidacy of the opposition nominee, Hillary Clinton. Trump has also violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, by making profits daily on his various hotel properties and other business ventures, as recent reporting has made even more clear.   

He has abused the Pardon power by promising or hinting at pardons for those who break the law and enforce his illegal and unethical actions.  He has engaged in conduct that grossly endangers the peace and security of the United States in foreign policy.  He has advocated violence and undermined equal protection under the law. He has undermined freedom of the press, a threat against American democracy, and has pressured the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute political adversaries. 


Finally, Trump has shown contempt of Congress by refusing to cooperate with their investigation of his administration, a charge that was one of the three brought against Richard Nixon before he decided to resign ahead of a certain impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the US Senate. 


Democrats need to act before the upcoming presidential election consumes even more political energy. It is time for the Democrats to move ahead on what needs to be done:  the impeachment on high crimes and misdemeanors of the 45th President.


For more on impeachment, click on the links below: 

What To Know About the History of Impeachment

George Orwell and Why the Time to Stop Trump is Now

What Should Historians Do About the Mueller Report?

Wed, 18 Sep 2019 10:01:00 +0000 0