Democrats in the House of Representatives have the power to reach a verdict on impeachment without having to go through Republicans in the Senate.
At least that’s what legal scholar and professor Laurence Tribe said on Monday in an interview with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi.
Tribe said that in the Watergate era – when Richard Nixon ultimately had to resign the presidency in disgrace – the House of Representatives didn’t just send charges to the U.S. Senate. They reached a verdict.
In the case of Donald Trump, the professor says House Democrats can follow the same roadmap.
“You don’t need to be afraid of the big bad Mitch McConnell,” Tribe said. “The House of Representatives at the last minute can decide either to present articles of impeachment or to wrap it up itself, issue a condemnation of the president for having committed high crimes and misdemeanors with specific factual findings and then make him carry that scarlet ‘I’ for impeachability into the 2020 election.”
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) June 11, 2019
[The American people] would talk about fact witnesses like Don McGahn and Annie McDonald and Hope hicks. The only way to get those people, the only way to be sure to get them, is to have a formal impeachment inquiry because that supercharges the power of the House of Representatives to get testimony. Now, that inquiry can be conducted as a kind of trial. That’s what happened in the Nixon case. Nixon was invited to appear in the House of Representatives. He chose not to but he sent his lawyer, James St. Clair. The House actually reached a verdict, not just a charge to send over to the Senate, but a verdict that Nixon had committed high crimes and misdemeanors. That can be done. It was done in other cases. And if it’s done, then at the end of that when the dramatic testimony has been presented live on television, not just through opinion evidence but through the actual witnesses to the crimes the president committed, then the public opinion might have moved enough to even break things loose in the Senate. But if it doesn’t, you don’t need to be afraid of the big bad Mitch McConnell. The House of Representatives at the last minute can decide either to present articles of impeachment or to wrap it up itself, issue a condemnation of the president for having committed high crimes and misdemeanors with specific factual findings and then make him carry that scarlet “I” for impeachability into the 2020 election.
Dems shouldn’t make their impeachment decision on GOP terms
There are valid arguments both in favor of impeachment and against it. Democratic lawmakers and voters have spent the past few months making the case on both sides of that coin.
While party leadership, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is right to exercise caution and make sure they are bringing the American public along with them throughout this process, they shouldn’t let Senate Republicans dictate what moves they’re making.
Ultimately, as Laurence Tribe noted multiple times over the past week, if House Democrats continue to investigate and ultimately believe they should formally launch an impeachment inquiry, they can reach a verdict without having to go through the Republican-controlled Senate.
It remains an open question whether Democrats think they have the political footing to pull the trigger on impeachment. But what they shouldn’t do is make that decision on GOP terms.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.