The former First Lady and Democratic Party presidential candidate was hired by the House Judiciary Committee to research impeachment amid the probe against President Richard Nixon. As part of the impeachment inquiry team, Mrs Clinton researched impeachment processes, its uses around the world, historical precedent and standards to help build a case against the embattled President.
Richard Nixon would have likely been impeached in 1974 after the Watergate scandal – the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters and the Nixon administration’s attempts to cover up its involvement – had he not resigned.
A key observation made in the report, undertaken by Mrs Clinton and her colleagues, has had a big impact on President Trump’s case 45 years later.
The memo states that a President does not have to commit a criminal offence to be impeached, citing ‘abuse of power’ as an example of transgression which is not illegal but nevertheless an offence.
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As well as obstruction of Congress, President Trump has also been impeached for abuse of power.
The original 1974 memo says: “The phrase ‘high crimes and misdemeanours’ may connote ‘criminality’ to some.
A requirement of criminality would require resort to familiar criminal laws and concepts to serve as standards in the impeachment process.
“This would pose problems concerning the applicability of standards of proof and the like pertaining to the trial of crimes.”
The document adds: “Impeachment and criminal law serve fundamentally different purposes.
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“The purpose of impeachment is not personal punishment, its function is primarily to maintain constitutional government.
“The criminal law sets a general standard of conduct that all must follow. It does not address itself to the abuses of Presidential power.”
In the 2019 version of the memo, it states: “It is occasionally suggested that Presidents can be impeached only if they have committed crimes.
“That position was rejected in President Nixon’s case, and then rejected again in President Clinton’s, and should be rejected once more.
“Offenses against the Constitution are different in kind than offenses against the criminal code. Some crimes, like jaywalking, are not impeachable. Some impeachable offenses, like abuse of power, are not crimes.
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“Some misconduct may offend both the Constitution and the criminal law. Impeachment and criminality must therefore be assessed separately – even though the commission of crimes may strengthen a case for removal.”
At the time, the 1974 report helped bring down President Nixon who, despite his efforts to fend off investigations, was eventually forced to release damning evidence that would lead to his resignation.
And now the updated document is a central part of Democrat efforts to oust President Trump.
Yesterday, Mr Trump became the third President to be impeached, charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The first charge against the White House came after Mr Trump allegedly asked Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelensky to launch investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter regarding their work at a Ukrainian gas company.
Mr Biden is currently the leading Democrat candidate in the party’s primaries. Also competing to take on President Trump in 2020 is Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and 12 other candidates.
The second charge relates to accusations that President Trump failed to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, withholding evidence and preventing aides from giving evidence.