Now, Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law professor, has tossed a hand grenade into the mix with a somewhat absurd and patently unconstitutional suggestion that the House hold the trial as well as the impeachment, usurping the constitutional role of the Senate. Hot Air reports:
“’Wait,’ you say, “under the Constitution it’s the Senate that’s supposed to hold a trial for the president in a case of impeachment. The House is more like a grand jury, with the articles of impeachment analogous to an indictment.”
Right, Tribe understands that. He’s not claiming that Trump can be removed by the House acting unilaterally. What he’s saying is that, since the Republican Senate will vote to acquit him no matter what, Pelosi should treat the Senate side of the process as a farce and dispense with it, holding her own ‘trial’ in the House.
If the president’s found “guilty” — and he will be, of course — then Democrats can claim a symbolic victory. Even though it would mean nothing in terms of removing him from office.
The idea seems to be that President Trump would be forever tainted by a resolution in the House that he is a criminal. The voters will take note of this in 2020 and will cast their ballots accordingly.
Pelosi is surely too smart to fall for this idea. If she is reluctant to push for an impeachment procedure, she is certainly going to flinch away from some kind of kangaroo court, the results of which are foreordained.
If the American people are likely to revolt in the first instance, it would be torches and pitch forks in the second one.
Tribe is one of those liberal legal scholars who believes that the United States Constitution is a “living document,” which means that one can read into it what one wants to. However, one would be hard pressed to find permission for what Tribe wants to do in the following text, from Article 1, Section 3: “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.”
Pelosi’s problem is that enough members of her caucus will find this idea attractive enough that they will try to pursue it, turning the House into not just a grand jury, but judge and jury. The United States federal government would descend from gridlock into chaos, brought on by a constitutional crisis.
Pelosi may not care about causing a crisis in principle, but she does care about it in fact since it would likely mean the end of her majority and the reelection of Donald Trump by a landslide.
Many Trump supporters believe that the Russia investigation was an attempt at a coup designed to topple a duly elected president. A Democratic House “trial” would be a coup attempt that would cause the president’s supporters to revolt, one can hope with peaceful, albeit, spirited demonstrations.
Indeed, Trump would see such a gambit as an opportunity. One can imagine his beginning every monster MAGA rally with a denunciation of what would be happening in the House.
The conservative media, including Fox News and talk radio, would fan the flames. It would be a case of sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind.
Pelosi’s one job is to hold off the lynch mob of her caucus, like an old west sheriff, declaring that Trump must await the judgement of the voters.
If Nadler and company persists, then the House Democrats will be admitting that they don’t trust the voters to turn the president out of office, which would be saying a lot.