What are the issues at the heart of the impeachment farce, and, as between the President and the progressives in the House, who has the superior legal argument?
Everything wrong with progressives today is playing out in the Star Chamber that Democrats are running as an “impeachment inquiry” in the House of Representatives. The Democrats’ have dispensed with due process, precedent, and Constitutional limitation to create a juggernaut designed not to reach a just conclusion, but to ensure a vote impeaching the sitting President and bringing this nation half way to overturning the 2016 election. Today’s progressives feel themselves above the law and believe the rest of us, including very much President Donald Trump, are unworthy of its protection. Nowhere is that more apparent at the moment then in this impeachment farce.
The issues are two-fold. First, may the House exercise the power to conduct an impeachment inquiry without formal authorization voted upon by the full House? Second, is Nancy Pelosi constitutionally able to manipulate the House rules of impeachment to deny any due process or procedural protection to President Trump and to the minority members of the House? In other words, is it true that Impeachment is nothing more than a particularly one-sided Grand Jury investigation?
A bit of background first. A formal decision to investigate for impeachment is not a meaningless decision or a mere label. At a minimum, once the House formally decides upon impeachment, the House accrues powers beyond that which it normally possesses. Thus, it is a substantive legal question whether a House impeachment inquiry requires a House vote or whether the Speaker of the House can unilaterally announce the beginning of an impeachment inquiry. I know of no precedent in American or British history supporting Nancy Pelosi’s contention that she can accrue these formal powers of impeachment by simple fiat. More on that below.
The House of Representatives normally only has “legislative” authority. Thus House members are limited to investigating and holding hearings on matters that relate directly to producing legislation. As with so much in our Constitution, this is not a thing of bright line clarity. But as is almost always the case, the fact that there’s no bright line does not mean that there is no line. Perhaps the clearest example of line drawing outside of the impeachment context comes from recent House efforts to use a subpoena to force the IRS to release Trump’s tax returns. When Trump refused to honor the subpoena, his attorneys pointed out that the House, while its members may have a political interest in reviewing Trump’s tax returns, have no legitimate legislative interest.