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"The Constitution makes clear that impeachment is not a criminal prosecution," writes Clark D. Cunningham.

Founders: Removal from office is not the only purpose of impeachment

Cunningham is the director of the National Institute for Teaching Ethics & Professionalism at Georgia State University.

As Congress moves toward a possible formal impeachment of President Donald Trump, they should consider words spoken at the Constitutional Convention, when the Founders explained that impeachment was intended to have many important purposes, not just removing a president from office.

A critical debate took place on July 20, 1787, which resulted in adding the impeachment clause to the U.S. Constitution. Benjamin Franklin, the oldest and probably wisest delegate at the Convention, said that when the president falls under suspicion, a "regular and peaceable inquiry" is needed.

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