A Partisan Impeachment


James Coll writing in City Journal makes the point that the effort to impeach President Trump is most clearly parallel to the first presidential impeachment, that of Andrew Johnson, the Democrat that was Abraham Lincoln’s Vice President. He’s correct, I think.

Historians haven’t been kind to Johnson, and for good reason. His blatant racism and obstruction of reasonable Reconstruction policies place him in a tier of presidents who failed dramatically to meet the challenges of their time. But these same historians often defend Johnson when reviewing how his congressional opposition sought to remove him from the White House. Over time, Johnson’s impeachment came to be viewed, correctly, as a partisan endeavor resulting from the majority party’s power in both chambers. Legislators who stood against this partisanship protected constitutional principles over their party’s demands.

There are differences, of course. The Republicans held majorities in both houses (In fact, the Radical Republicans…

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