By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders
They sound like partners of a law firm… but in truth they are the firmament of law.
New York has taken center stage in the rapidly expanding impeachment inquiry of President Donald J. Trump.
Three of the key players in Congress are New Yorkers and one is our very own.
I am speaking of Manhattan Congressman Jerry Nadler who is chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Bronx Congressman Eliot Engel who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and our very own Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who just last week assumed the post of interim chair of the House Committee on Oversight following the sudden passing of Elijah Cummings.
Each of these Committees, along with the Intelligence Committee chaired by California Congressman Adam Schiff, have been integral to the investigations into the conduct and alleged illegal actions of Donald Trump.
The three representatives from New York along with Mr. Schiff, and of course Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will largely determine whether President Trump will be impeached by the House of Representatives for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It is a dramatic and historic moment. And our New York officials are pivotal.
In the past, most important committee chairs came from Southern states because they tended to have seniority, which in Congress is all-important. Members of the House and Senate elected from the South tended to remain for decades which gave them considerable power. Eliot Engel has been in Congress now for over 30 years and Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney are nearing that milestone.
I know each of those individuals very well having served in the State Assembly with both Nadler and Engel for over a decade before they were elected to Congress. Carolyn Maloney and I were political and government colleagues for many, many years.
Each are thoughtful and accomplished public officials who take their responsibilities very seriously.
If the House of Representatives does impeach President Trump, then the Senate must take up the matter in a trial to determine if he shall be removed from office. Another New Yorker, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, will then also be central to that process. In order to remove a President from office, a 2/3 majority vote is needed in the Senate.
In our nation’s history, only two Presidents have ever been impeached and tried by the Senate. Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both were acquitted and remained in office until the end of their term of office. Richard Nixon resigned his Presidency in 1974 when it became apparent that he would be impeached and probably convicted by the Senate.
The end result this go around is more likely to be the scenario of Johnson and Clinton. Donald Trump is surely not going to leave the presidency of his own volition. And no matter what the House might charge him with in articles of impeachment, he seems to have sufficient support in the Republican-controlled Senate to ride out any storm. Such is the state of American politics today.
As the drama in Washington D.C. unfolds in the ensuing weeks, the trio of Nadler, Engel and Maloney will make history. I am confident that with this weighty matter in their capable hands, they will also make us proud.