Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appears to be considering an idea Democrats have floated for several days of holding back the articles of impeachment to exercise leverage over the Senate and the president.
She declined formally to transmit the articles to the Senate on Wednesday evening after the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump.
Unfortunately for them, the Senate can act, regardless — and would vote to acquit.
That’s because the Constitution is absolutely clear about the Senate’s authority. Article I, Section 3 says: “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”
The Chief Justice presides over a trial involving the president, but the Senate makes the rules. And the Senate is controlled by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who regards what the House has done with contempt.
You’re in Cocaine Mitch’s court, now.
Politico outlined Democrats’ new idea, citing constitutional lawyer Laurence Tribe (but, interestingly, not the Constitution itself). Pelosi hopes to pressure McConnell into holding a “fair trial” — this, after she and her party broke every relevant House rule and precedent, and several Amendments in the Bill of Rights, all in the name of their “sole Power of Impeachment.”
They forget that a “fair trial” applies to the accused, not the accuser, and has since 1215.
Set aside, for the moment, that holding onto the articles of impeachment would contradict everything Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the Democrats have said for weeks about the “urgency” of impeachment. They needed to stop him before he could “cheat in the next election,” we were told — that’s why the House could not wait for the courts to rule on the White House’s resistance to stop congressional subpoenas.
If Pelosi refuses to submit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, McConnell can convene the Senate anyway, summon the Chief Justice, and swear in the Senators as jurors. Democrats can boycott, but they can’t stop the trial.
McConnell can then propose to dismiss the charges or even hold a vote to acquit the president.
Pelosi can hide the articles of impeachment in Adam Schiff’s basement forever, and it won’t make a bit of difference.
Also: How do Democrats impeach and withhold when they've been telling everybody Trump must be removed right now because he poses an immediate threat to our elections? Would Dems go straight from pre-emptive impeachment to deferred impeachment?
— Byron York (@ByronYork) December 18, 2019