Quantcast
Connect with us

The impeachment resolution: Politics, the Constitution and everything in between

Published

on

The impeachment resolution: Politics, the Constitution and everything in between

The Capitol on the morning after Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the House of Representatives will vote on a resolution to affirm the impeachment investigation.
AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Jennifer Selin, University of Missouri-Columbia

For something with such important consequences, the Constitution is surprisingly vague when it comes to impeachment.

ADVERTISEMENT

Most of the language in the Constitution lays out what happens once Congress decides to impeach. But there is no particular process that the House must follow in the lead-up to an impeachment vote.

The House of Representatives votes Thursday on a resolution that lays out a process for the inquiry into the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

But is the resolution constitutionally necessary? What exactly does it do?

Ample history

How Congress approaches impeachment is largely a political decision determined by House leadership.

The House has initiated impeachment proceedings more than 60 times since the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. Many impeachment targets have been federal judges. Each proceeding has been different.

ADVERTISEMENT

Under modern practice, the House typically introduces a resolution calling for a committee investigation into impeachment.

For example, in the cases of Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, the House introduced a resolution authorizing an impeachment inquiry. In each of those cases, the resolution came after congressional committees were already considering the issue.

The same is true today. The House formally began its investigation into the impeachment of Trump on Sept. 12, when the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to investigate “the alleged obstruction of justice, corruption, and other abuses of power by President Trump, his associates, and members of his Administration.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Currently, six different committees have active investigations related to the impeachment of Trump.

Constitutionally, the Judiciary Committee’s Sept. 12 vote is enough to start the impeachment process. As D.C. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell wrote in an Oct. 25 opinion related to a House request for grand jury materials, “in cases of presidential impeachment, a House resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry.” Nor does the House need to introduce a resolution detailing procedure.

ADVERTISEMENT

The resolution puts House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff at the head of the impeachment investigation.
AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Then why do it?

If the resolution is not constitutionally required, then why did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats introduce it?

The resolution accomplishes three things.

First, precisely because there are few constitutional requirements in the lead-up to impeachment, the resolution imposes order on the process. With so many committees and legislators involved in the investigation of Trump, questions inevitably arise over who is in charge.

ADVERTISEMENT

The resolution clarifies this by prioritizing the investigation of the House Intelligence Committee. The Intelligence Committee will continue its investigation and then issue a report prepared in consultation with the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform.

This report will be made publicly available and will advise the House Judiciary Committee in its impeachment proceedings.

Second, the resolution has a political purpose.

Earlier this month, House Republicans crashed a closed-door hearing relating to the impeachment investigation. Republicans claimed the Democrats were obscuring important witness testimony relating to impeachment.

ADVERTISEMENT

By introducing formalized rules, Pelosi and House Democrats can combat Republican complaints about lack of access and transparency. The resolution explicitly allows House Republicans to submit their own requests for testimony and documents.

President Donald Trump is the focus of the House impeachment investigation.
AP/Evan Vucci

Finally, the resolution places additional pressure on the Trump administration to comply with congressional subpoenas. President Trump, his legal team and his staff have claimed that the lack of a formal vote on impeachment makes any inquiry illegitimate.

While the legality of that argument is questionable, the alleged lack of legitimacy bolsters executive branch officials’ refusal to produce witnesses and testimony.

The resolution, if passed, would undercut these claims. A House floor vote serves to increase legitimacy by creating a record of the number of legislators who support moving forward with the impeachment inquiry. In addition, it may increase Democrats’ access to information. The Supreme Court has compared the House’s power to acquire information in an official impeachment investigation to that of a court of law.

ADVERTISEMENT

Put simply, the resolution fills a gap that the Constitution left open and highlights the importance of playing procedural politics.

[ Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter. ]The Conversation

Jennifer Selin, Kinder Institute Assistant Professor of Constitutional Democracy, University of Missouri-Columbia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

‘I’m very upset’: Furious Texas rancher says Trump is ‘secretly’ trying to steal land to build ‘the wall’

Published

on

Ranchers in Laredo, Texas, are furious as they're learning President Donald Trump is stealing their land away to build the "wall," he says, has already been built.

During a campaign stop in Louisiana Thursday, Trump said that his wall is "going up faster than anyone thought possible." But when probed about it, Trump's own top border official confirmed none of the wall has been built, in fact, all that has been built replaced existing structures.

Only four miles of the area where the Trump "wall" is going is owned by the federal government already. So, the White House is now calling land-owners on the Texas border to beg them to cooperate with their landgrab.

Continue Reading

CNN

Mike Pence distances himself from his own top adviser after she refuses to lie for Trump

Published

on

Vice President Mike Pence's top adviser, Jennifer Williams, seems to be enduring retaliation from her employers after cooperating with subpoenas from the House impeachment inquiry this week. Williams spoke to the committee behind closed doors, and her testimony has was released Saturday.

President Donald Trump attacked her as a "Never Trumper" on Twitter Sunday, despite her work for the Trump adminsitration.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Internet blown away by Trump’s multi-tweet attack frenzy lashing out at Dems and GOP alike: ‘You are absolutely terrified’

Published

on

After spending the past two days mostly tweeting out videos that are complimentary to him, Donald Trump unleashed a flood of Twitter bile at Democrats, Republicans, a New York Times columnist and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace late Sunday afternoon.

After attacking Wallace, the president also went after an aide to Vice President Mike Pence -- calling her a "Never Trumper" -- then again demanded to know who the whistleblower, whose report initiated the current impeachment hearings, is.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image