On Thursday, the House of Representatives adjourned before voting to send the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate for a trial. This made House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stall-tactic official — Democrats are refusing to forward the impeachment to the Senate until they receive assurances the trial will be fair in their eyes. Yet this arguably violates the Constitution.
“Hoyer announces no more votes until January 7. Big cheer goes up in House chamber. This means the House won’t approve a resolution on impeachment [managers] & to send impeachment [package] to Senate until at least January, 2020,” Fox News reporter Chad Pergram tweeted.
Hoyer announces no more votes until January 7. Big cheer goes up in House chamber. This means the House won't approve a resolution on impeachment mgrs & to send impeachment pkg to Senate until at least January, 2020
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) December 19, 2019
This move made it official that the Democrats would stall the articles until after Christmas. Pelosi had suggested Democrats might delay sending impeachment on to the Senate for a trial because they did not trust the Senate to hold a “fair trial.” In reality, this seems like a gambit to deny President Donald Trump the vindication of being acquitted by the Senate.
Yet former Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz argued that this move is unconstitutional.
“It is difficult to imagine anything more unconstitutional, more violative of the intention of the Framers, more of a denial of basic due process and civil liberties, more unfair to the president and more likely to increase the current divisiveness among the American people,” he wrote. “Denying President Trump and the American people a trial in the Senate would constitute a variation on the title of my new book, ‘Guilt by Accusation.'”
“President Trump would stand accused of two articles of impeachment without having an opportunity to be acquitted by the institution selected by the Framers to try all cases of impeachment. It would be as if a prosecutor deliberately decided to indict a criminal defendant but not to put him on trial,” Dershowitz argued.
The Constitution explicitly states that “the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments…[but] no person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.”
The House of Representatives has already voted to impeach President Donald Trump. This is a ripe impeachment. According to the terms of the Constitution, the Senate has the power to try all impeachments. It seems Democrats should forward the impeachment to the Senate if they want it to be taken seriously.
”This is all unprecedented. Every single step of this sham. There is no compass here when the Dems have charted so far off course of the clear map of the Constitution,” constitutional lawyer and Trump campaign senior counsel Jenna Ellis told PJ Media.
In blistering remarks on Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noted that the Founders intended impeachment to be a criminal process, and they worked hard to prevent it from becoming a purely partisan endeavor. McConnell argued that Democrats had effectively impeached Trump over a policy dispute, a claim of “maladministration,” something the Founders rejected and feared.
“There were important reasons why every previous House of Representatives in American history restrained itself from crossing this Rubicon,” he said. In impeaching Trump, Democrats “opened the pandora’s box of subjective political impeachments. That 230-year tradition died last night.”
Trump mocked the idea that Pelosi would not forward the articles to the Senate.
“Pelosi feels her phony impeachment HOAX is so pathetic she is afraid to present it to the Senate, which can set a date and put this whole SCAM into default if they refuse to show up!” he tweeted.
Pelosi feels her phony impeachment HOAX is so pathetic she is afraid to present it to the Senate, which can set a date and put this whole SCAM into default if they refuse to show up! The Do Nothings are so bad for our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2019
Indeed, this is a very bad look for the Democrats who warned that they must rush to impeach Trump before the election. It seems the rush ended as soon as they got their vote. Now, they want to avoid the possibility that Trump might be acquitted in a Senate trial. By doing so, they are denying him due process and violating both historical precedent and the Constitution.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.