Impeachment and the "due process" canard

Due process protects regular people from an overbearing, arbitrary hand of government that attempts to deprive individuals of “life, liberty, or property” without notice and an opportunity to be heard first. The Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause (the one that binds the federal government) is not intended to protect officeholders—such as the individual who heads the entire federal criminal and military apparatus—from political investigation or a House impeachment trial. Moreover, while a criminal defendant might be sentenced to a fine or imprisonment, a conviction in the Senate means that the president only loses his job. Even targets of grand jury investigations don’t get the panoply of “rights” that Cipollone wrongly claims the president deserves under the Constitution at the House stage of the impeachment proceedings—namely, the right to call and cross-examine witnesses, to have counsel present during each stage of the process, to have access to the evidence, to get transcripts of the testimony, and “many other basic rights guaranteed to all Americans.”

That said, as Republicans have pointed out, the full House of Representatives held votes formally triggering the impeachment inquiries for presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. For both Nixon and Clinton, the impeachment process began with resolutions giving the Judiciary Committee the power to conduct an investigation into whether grounds for impeachment existed. Republicans argue that this precedent—although not binding—should be followed here.

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