Does Impeachment Have Utility?

Does Impeachment Have Utility?


Leonard Zwelling

In this New York Times op-ed, David French makes a strong case that the most recent impeachment inquiry into President Biden launched by Speaker Kevin McCarthy is ridiculous. French points out that previous impeachments of sitting Presidents have commenced AFTER the evidence of guilt became public. This was true of Monica’s blue dress (Clinton had clearly lied about his affair) and of the transcript of Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy (Trump was asking for a quid pro quo—weapons for dirt on Biden). And as far as the impeachment after January 6, heck seven GOP senators voted to convict Trump. Despite this, lots of people want Trump to have another shot at the White House which is totally nuts, but no more so than re-electing Biden.

Today there is no evidence that President Biden did anything wrong. Of course, the House GOP says that’s why it needs the inquiry—to ask the questions. Okay. Very well, but I think impeachment has been blown out of proportion as a political weapon. It is evident that the House GOP just wants its shot at Biden before the 2024 election to put him on equal criminal footing with the likely Republican standard bearer, Mr. Trump who is under indictment in four jurisdictions for 91 counts of misdeeds. The 2024 election could be a choice of the lesser criminal.

In the Clinton case, frankly, who cared?

In the first Trump case, frankly, who cared?

In the second Trump case, lots of people cared and Mr. Trump may yet have to answer for his behavior between Election Day 2020 and January 6, 2021. That’s for the courts now that the court that is the Senate decided not to convict.

Let us also not forget the impeachment in Texas of Attorney General (is he still the AG?) Ken Paxton for bribery and corruption that resulted in Paxton’s exoneration despite the overwhelming vote in the House to impeach. There’s a lot of impeachment going on.

Now, impeachment ought to be reserved for the most extreme of cases. Mr. Paxton seems to have undermined the very integrity of his office according to many of the people who worked for him and who were testifying. This impeachment seemed justified even if the Senate reduced it all to a political pissing match.

Ditto was the one against Trump after January 6. That was a serious attempt to undermine the peaceful transfer of power. That is a high crime and despite that, Trump was acquitted.

Finally, I would like to make the case for when impeachment is surely warranted. One is when there is obvious evidence of a felony on the part of a sitting member of a governing administration. But the other is when the leadership of an entity is not subject to recall or re-election. These situations are very sticky. When a leader flouts his own policies and arbitrarily wields his power to the detriment of the people he putatively serves and to the organization he or she leads, impeachment may be useful.

Of course, the oversight of such people is usually in the hands of a governing board not a legislative body that can impeach and convict. In theory, this is the case at MD Anderson for I believe that the current president of Anderson has overstepped his authority by declaring several faculty members unprofessional and having them dismissed. He’s a despot with no oversight of meaning.

Too bad he can’t be impeached.

The Faculty Senate needs to work on that. Or not. The current leadership in Austin has no stomach for another failed MD Anderson presidency especially when there is so much money to be made at MD Anderson’s new franchise in Austin.

I’m not sure whether having no vision is an impeachable offense, but I am struck how clear the visions of the first four MD Anderson presidents were and how murky is the plan of the current leader. What does he want MD Anderson to be besides popular in lay publications? Good question.

Dr. Zwelling’s new novel, Conflict of Interest: Money Drives Medicine and People Die is available at:,

on amazon if you search using the title and subtitle,


directly from the publisher Dorrance at:

2 thoughts on “Does Impeachment Have Utility?”

  1. I admire your frankness about whether a leader should have an explicit vision that is being accomplished. If not, should they be “impeached.” My grandfather would say, “They need to be relieved of duty so we may move forward.”

    1. Impeachment is a way to relieve a leader of duty, but is usually limited to those leaders who commit crimes. Those who are ineffective are voted out of office or removed by a board. When a leader is neither elected nor really answering to a baord, there’s a real problem if he or she is ineffective.

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