Ed suggested this maneuver was on the way yesterday and now it appears that Speaker Pelosi has decided on the lame explanation the Democrats will hang their hats on. In order to attempt to give Chuck Schumer some “leverage” in the impeachment trial, the Speaker may refuse to send the articles of impeachment to the upper chamber, dragging all of this nonsense out even further. (Associated Press)
Minutes after the House impeached President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw uncertainty into the process by refusing to say, repeatedly, when or whether she would send two articles to the Senate for a trial.
Her comments came as a surprise in a news conference late Wednesday that was intended to express Democrats’ somber closing message after voting to impeach Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. She started by praising her fellow Democrats for having “moral courage” and said it was “a great day for the Constitution of the United States of America.”
But then she declined to say when she would send the articles to the Republican-led Senate. Until the articles are submitted, the Senate cannot hold the trial that is nearly certain to acquit the president.
When I turned on CNN this morning, the anchors were desperately trying to explain why the Constitution doesn’t demand the Speaker send the articles of impeachment to the Senate. That’s technically true, but the Constitution doesn’t really “demand” much of anything, other than requiring the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to preside when the President is on trial.
As far as the responsibilities of the House go, Article I Section 2 simply says, “The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment.”
The Founding Fathers didn’t provide all that much more in terms of instructions for the Senate. Article I Section 3 reads, “The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.”
At no point does the Constitution even mention that there have to be “articles” delivered to the Senate. All of those details aren’t even technically laws. They are found in the rules each chamber establishes for themselves. You can read the Senate rules for impeachment here. The technicality Pelosi is relying on is the caveat in Section I about impeachment managers. It reads, “whensoever the Senate shall receive notice from the House of Representatives that managers are appointed on their part to conduct an impeachment against any person and are directed to carry articles of impeachment to the Senate, the Secretary of the Senate shall immediately inform the House of Representatives that the Senate is ready to receive the managers for the purpose of exhibiting such articles of impeachment, agreeably to such notice.”
The clear implication is that it is the duty of the House to dispatch the managers once the impeachment vote is concluded. But if they drag their feet too long for political purposes, Article I of the Constitution informs us of another important point. “Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings.” The Senate can either modify their rules or if push comes to shove, ignore them and get on with business.
But these are still all hypothetical arguments at this point. Who really benefits by delaying the process? I suppose some of the Democrats might be operating on the theory that the longer they can keep impeachment in the news, the worse it is for Trump. But as we’ve been seeing for the past couple of weeks, the public has largely grown tired of this show and impeachment is growing less and less popular by the week.
Further, there are some Senators currently running for President who probably don’t want to be tied down in Washington to take care of this trial when they’d rather be scrounging for votes in Iowa and New Hampshire. This looks more like a case of shooting themselves in the foot than anything else.
What should be obvious to all at this point is that the Democrats aren’t serious about this and haven’t been from the beginning. All the cries about how impeachment was imperative and “we must act now” go out the window when the Speaker decides to just slam the brakes on everything until they can try to rig the trial in the Senate the way they did in the House. And that’s simply not going to happen on Cocaine Mitch’s watch.
Meanwhile, Schumer will try to “drive a wedge” between Republicans, or at least that’s his current strategy. Good luck with that, Chuck. Let us know how it works out for you. The clown car is fully gassed up and ready to go.