ONE MAN’S OPINION-The following is quoted from the U.S. Constitution, Art 1, Sec 2: “The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”
By impeachment, they do not mean removal from office. Impeachment is limited to gathering the evidence by testimony and documents and then voting on articles of impeachment. No one may stop the House from its fact-gathering and voting. Only the House may decide whether to send articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial. That is the significance of the word “sole.”
U.S. Constitution Art 1, Sec 3:
“The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”
Notice that word “sole.” It means the Senate controls the trial and the House may not interfere in that trial. The concept of trial is wider than merely the Law and Order scenes where people are testifying. It includes developing the rules and other procedures for conducting the trial.
Pelosi Does Not Know the Meaning of “Sole”
A sane person of average intelligence should understand that the House has the sole power to conduct the process of gathering facts by testimony and documents and the Senate has the sole power to try the President based on the House’s articles of impeachment. If Trump is convicted on the basis of the House’s Articles of Impeachment, he is removed from office.
Certain Things May Not Constitutionally Occur:
(1) The Senate may not conduct impeachment proceedings. The House has the sole control of that phase.
(2) The Senate may not tell the House to stop its impeachment hearings or what facts to gather or dictate the House’s timetable for its actions.
(3) Similarly, the House may not tell the Senate how to conduct the trial. In fact, if the Senate should allow anyone outside the Senate to interfere with the Senate’s sole power, that would be a dereliction of duty. Thus, Nancy Pelosi’s demand that the Senate develop trial procedures which she likes is outside the bounds of the Constitution.
Perhaps, the public does not realize that trials do not have to have witnesses. A trial may be held by relying on the evidence that the House has forwarded with the articles of impeachment. The articles are formally presented to the Senate and then the Senate acts as a jury based on all the evidence that has been forwarded by the House. The Senate may also call the same witnesses that testified in the House and question them again or the Senate may call new witnesses.
While the Senate Has Sole Power, its Actions Can Have Undesirable Consequences
Calling new witnesses could be a constitutional quagmire. If the Senate augments the evidence gathered in the House, there would be a reasonable objection that the Senate is interfering with the House’s sole power to gather evidence leading to the Articles of Impeachment. The Senate would be violating the U.S. Constitution by having a second bite at the impeachment apple – after the House has voted on the articles.
No one would know whether the additional evidence gathered by the Senate might have changed the House’s vote on the articles. One could end up in the absurd situation where the Senate holds a trial not based on the House’s Articles of Impeachment, but rather on a new unconstitutional version developed by the Senate. In effect, the Senate would be taking over the House’s role in impeachment and that would be clearly unconstitutional.
Similarly, the calling of the House witnesses by the Senate might elicit new evidence leading to the legal challenge discussed above. By bringing in new evidence that was not produced by the House, the argument would go, the Senate will have violated the House’s sole power.
Thus, Senators could reasonably conclude that they should stick to the witnesses and evidence produced during the House hearings which formed the basis of the articles of impeachment. The ultra-safe decision would be to call no witnesses, thus avoiding the eliciting of new evidence while the witness is on the stand. This might be construed as the Senate invading the House’s sole power to gather the evidence.
One could argue that the Constitution’s framers never envisioned that the Speaker of the House would be so cravenly stupid as to stop the fact-gathering about a quarter of the way through the hearings. The assumption is that the House will call all the witnesses and gather all the facts and all the documents. Who in their right mind stops a quarter of the way through? Would a high school football coach have his team leave the field and hit the showers after the first quarter? Wouldn’t there be a mutiny on the field? Yet, when Pelosi did this very same thing -- against the advice of the law professors -- none of the wimpy Dems in Congress did jack about it.
We now have a ludicrous situation in which the same person who called a halt to the fact-gathering when she had sole power to gather all the facts about Trump’s bad behavior, is demanding that the Senate develop trial rules that she likes! Others are demanding that the Senate violate the Constitution and enter the fact-gathering business. Is the meaning of the words “sole power” confusing Nancy Pelosi or does she simply not give a damn about the Constitution?
The absurd has moved beyond the insanely ludicrous into the world of bizzaro whackos. Pelosi still has the sole power to gather facts. She still has the power to call more witnesses and to subpoena more documents. Sen. Chuck Schumer has proclaimed to the world, “Here, look at this evidence.” The clown Rudy Giuliani has proclaimed he would testify. Yet, Pelosi is refusing to exercise her sole power while at the same time interfering with the Senate’s sole power.
The real culprits are we Dems who allow Pelosi to destroy the party and to trash the U.S. Constitution. While Trump should be constitutionally removed from office, the immediate danger to the Republic is Nancy Pelosi.
(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Rickleeabrams@Gmail.com. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily