Well how’s this for a twist to the tale?
As the mainstream media was carrying on and on about the “historic” impeachment of Donald Trump, and how he was the first President to undergo the process during his first term, and only the third President ever to face impeachment, it turns out that they were all jumping the gun.
According to a constitutional scholar who was called by the Democrats as a witness during the House Judiciary Committee hearings on the subject, Trump has not actually been impeached.
From Noah Feldman’s recent op-ed in Bloomberg News:
If the House does not communicate its impeachment to the Senate, it hasn’t actually impeached the president. If the articles are not transmitted, Trump could legitimately say that he wasn’t truly impeached at all.
That’s because “impeachment” under the Constitution means the House sending its approved articles of to the Senate, with House managers standing up in the Senate and saying the president is impeached.
As for the headlines we saw after the House vote saying, “TRUMP IMPEACHED,” those are a media shorthand, not a technically correct legal statement. So far, the House has voted to impeach (future tense) Trump. He isn’t impeached (past tense) until the articles go to the Senate and the House members deliver the message.
If the House votes to “impeach” but doesn’t send the articles to the Senate or send impeachment managers there to carry its message, it hasn’t directly violated the text of the Constitution. But the House would be acting against the implicit logic of the Constitution’s description of impeachment. A president who has been genuinely impeached must constitutionally have the opportunity to defend himself before the Senate.
Given that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has delayed the handoff of the articles in an attempt to buy some leverage with the Senate, President Trump very well might not yet be impeached.
This is a huge blow to the Democrats’ case, and it negates much of the posturing that the delay was meant to provide for Pelosi and her progressive posse.