Hi, Thanks for the question. There is a lot of info out there and
people have written entire books on the subject. I narrowed it down to
some general information and some primary sources.
---Everything you really need is in this first document:
FINAL REPORT OF THE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL FOR IRAN/CONTRA MATTERS
Specifically, the reagan chapter deals with the grounds for impeachment:
"The President is the only individual granted power and responsibility
by the Constitution. In other delegations of power and authority, the
Constitution deals with entities -- the Congress, the courts, the
states. In cases of conduct involving political objectives rather than
venal objectives, the procedure of impeachment, which brings into play
the political judgment of both houses of Congress, would ordinarily be
preferred over criminal charges and a trial by jury.
Further, the President's awesome responsibility for policy decisions
necessary to our national safety was not intended to be belittled by
requiring him to deal personally with the thicket of statutes,
regulations, and orders that regulate Government activity. He
ordinarily would be entitled to rely on his staff and Cabinet to see
that his decisions are carried out in a legal manner."\
"President Reagan created the conditions which made possible the
crimes committed by others by his secret deviations from announced
national policy as to Iran and hostages and by his open determination
to keep the contras together ``body and soul'' despite a statutory ban
on contra aid.1"
"In the Iran initiative, President Reagan chose to proceed in the
utmost secrecy, disregarding the Administration's public policy
prohibiting arms sales to nations supporting terrorism. He also chose
to forgo congressional notification under the National Security Act
and the Arms Export Control Act.2 Having bypassed accountability to
Congress, the President failed either to establish an effective system
of accountability within the Administration or to monitor the series
of activities he authorized.3 Working in a climate of extreme secrecy
and operating without accountability, National Security Adviser John
M. Poindexter, Lt. Col. Oliver L. North of the National Security
Council staff and others associated with the initiative invited
criminal acts including profiteering on the Iranian arms sales, the
diversion of some of those proceeds to aid the contras, destroying
documents, and lying to Congress to cover up their criminal
Abuse of power and illegal activity should have led to the impeachment of Reagan
"In the past the government has used its power to negatively impact
our country. The Iran-contra affair is a perfect example of the
extreme power of the government that has been misused. President
Reagan and his administration sold U.S. weapons to Iran and used the
profit to help the Nicaraguan Contras, who were trying to overthrow a
legitimate government. These sales were illegal at the time. The law
stated that the sales to nations supported by terrorism was
prohibited. Reagan supported these illegal sales. The majority of the
investigating congressional committee involved blamed Reagan for
failing to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Reagan
stated that he did not know that the sales were illegal, so he was not
There are ways these power problems can be fixed. The power of the
government should be used moderately and efficiently. In this case,
Reagan should have been impeached for his illegal actions. The people
were not given a say in the Reagan issue. As Americans we can vote for
the president, but have no say in the consequences of the presidents
mistake. They use their power to reign over us, but we must first
give: consent of the governed."
---Here are some accounts on the prospect of Reagan's impeachment from the time:
The Times (London) March 30 1989, Thursday
"Fears that President Reagan would be impeached gripped the White
House in 1986 when Mr Edwin Meese, who was the Attorney-General,
discovered that profits from secret arms sales to Iran had been
diverted to the Nicaraguan Contras.
Mr Meese, testifying at the trial of retired Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver
North, the former White House aide involved in the scandal, discussed
the danger of impeachment with Mr Reagan.
His evidence revealed for the first time the extent of fear in the
White House that Mr Reagan could be toppled by the Iran-Contra fiasco.
Mr Meese was assigned by the President to dig out the facts about the
diversion of funds. The former Attorney-General said Mr North was
interviewed and admitted that proceeds from arms sales to Iran had
gone to the Contras 'in at least one instance'.
Under questioning from Mr Brendan Sullivan, Mr North's lawyer, Mr
Meese said he sensed immediately that the combination of selling arms
to Iran and aiding the Contras could create an enormous political
'Your worst nightmare had come true?' Mr Sullivan asked. 'Yes, ' Mr
Meese replied. He added that he felt it was vital that there should
not be any appearance of a cover-up. That was why, after consulting Mr
Reagan, he summoned a White House press conference and revealed the
diversion of funds.
Mr Sullivan used his wide-ranging questioning of Mr Meese to press the
defence contention that senior figures like Mr William Casey, the
former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, knew about the
diversion of funds.
Mr Meese said Mr Casey told him of the need for Mr North to work with
the Contras when Congress was about to bar military aid.
Another witness in the trial, Marine Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Earl,
told the court how he helped Mr North to shred secret files.
Mr Reagan's lawyers said yesterday that there was no basis to compel
the former President to testify in the trial of Mr North as requested
by Mr North's counsel.
'There is no basis for a finding that defendant's need for the
testimony overcomes concerns necessarily raised by enforcing the
subpoena to the former President, ' the lawyers said in court papers."
January 24, 1994, Monday
"Walsh stops short of saying that either Reagan or Bush actually broke the law.
But he spells out, in alarming detail, how both men set the stage for
systematic law-breaking - turning over policy in Iran and Nicaragua to
a band of mercenaries and shady arms dealers.
"National interest" was the excuse, and "national interest" makes it
tough to criticise a president - provided there's a visible risk to
In Cold War politics, pointing out that Reagan and Bush helped make
nonsense of the law is a miserable bit of unpatriotic chatter.
The executive knows best.
So maybe what matters most about Iran Contra, now we know the
principals will never see the inside of a jail cell, is the proof that
this "national interest" was becoming debatable by the end of the
Prosecutors, commentators could demur.
For when there was no more communist menace, breaking Nicaragua was a
Of course, things go wild in the excitement of finding everything is
up for debate and definition."
The Toronto Star
July 20, 1987
"In a voice vote yesterday, 2,400 NOW delegates approved a resolution
calling for Reagan's impeachment, accusing the president of failing to
respect the constitutional separation of powers that reserves to
Congress the authority to raise armies and declare war and of
attempting to impede the investigations of illegal activities of
supporters of the Nicaraguan Contra rebels."
Public sentiment at the time
U.S. News & World Report
July 20, 1987
"A sizable majority of those in the discussion groups now reflect a
deepening cynicism toward both their government and their President,
suspecting that Reagan either knew about the diversion or that he
deliberately crafted the broad policy guidelines, knowing full well
that in carrying out the policy his aides might skirt the law. "If
[North] is a loose cannon, it's because somebody wanted him to be,"
insisted Allen Becker, a teacher who describes himself as a liberal.
"They were setting him up as the scapegoat." Inevitably, the Watergate
analogies arose. "This looks more like Watergate all the time, and
we're going to be finding out that [Reagan] did know something," said
television repairman and "wishy-washy" Republican Gary Johnson. But
unlike Watergate, only one fifth of those in the focus groups believe
Reagan should be impeached, and no one seemed adamant about it. What
does appear is disillusionment. "I used to think [Reagan] had a little
more integrity, but now my eyes have been opened. I think the whole
government is this way . . ." said Rod Dallin, a telephone installer
who voted for Reagan in 1984."
Additional Links and Info
By Arthur L. Liman Sunday, August 16, 1998
Washington Post Magazine
Louis Fisher, Presidential War Power (Lawrence, Kansas: University
Press of Kansas, 1995).
Fred I. Greenstein, ?Ronald Reagan: The Innocent as Agent of Change?
in Presidential Difference (New York: The Free Press, 2000), 145-158.
Message thread on the issue:
Unitarian Universalist Association
Call for "Iran/Contra" Impeachment Proceedings
1987 Resolution of Immediate Witness
A. Google search terms used: