Q&A of the Day – Has President Trump actually been impeached?
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
Today’s entry: If the House is responsible for impeachment but doesn’t turn over the articles, how can Democrats say Trump’s been impeached?
Bottom Line: This is an excellent question that’ll help illustrate a few important points about the Constitution and the current impeachment process against President Trump. To answer your question... Democrats can certainly claim that he’s impeached, a majority in the House voted in favor of two articles of impeachment but you raise an instructive point with your question. Has he actually been impeached? The Constitution clearly lays out the impeachment process. The House and Senate are co-equal bodies of Congress. The House has a responsibility to investigate, introduce and vote on any impeachment articles. The Senate is to hold a trial to determine the outcome of those articles. To either acquit or convict. As we’ve discussed, no president has ever been convicted and removed from office. But does Nancy Pelosi’s current refusal to turn over the articles mean they haven’t completed the House impeachment process? Would that mean that he hasn’t been impeached? You can certainly make the case. Here’s an analogy using the criminal law process as an example.
Step 1: In criminal law you have an investigation of alleged illegal acts carried out by law enforcement. This is analogous to the various House committees interviewing witnesses and gathering information for potential impeachment proceedings.
Step 2: Once law enforcement has gathered evidence determined to be sufficient to identify a suspect they’d like to charge with a crime or crimes, it’s presented to a judge or magistrate to obtain an arrest warrant. This is analogous to the House committees voting to introduce articles of impeachment.
Step 3: Once a judge or magistrate decides the evidence is sufficient to authorize an arrest warrant, it’s presented to law enforcement to carry out an arrest. This would be analogous to the House voting to impeach.
Now let’s pause at this point. It’s where we are in this process. If the issued warrant is never acted on by law enforcement what happens to the suspect? Nothing right? They weren’t arrested, let alone set for trial to determine guilt or innocence. And without an arrest and indictment occurring – there can never be a trial. In this example the distinction of being “arrested or indicted” would be the term analogous to being impeached. That hasn’t happened yet and won’t until and unless Nancy Pelosi turns over those articles.
I’d say you can absolutely make the case that President Trump hasn’t yet been impeached. It’s at least as constitutionally sound as those who’d suggest he has been.