Law professor Jonathan Turley took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her refusal to submit the articles of impeachment and list of House managers to the Senate. He finds it highly ironic that, after rushing through the impeachment inquiry and vote because Trump poses such a threat to our constitution, she’s decided to sit on the impeachment articles. Turley said this “unprecedented gaming of the system is not only facially inappropriate. It shatters the fragile rationale for the rush to impeach.”
Clearly, Pelosi has been listening to the advice of Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe. In a new op-ed, Tribe said Pelosi’s strategy, which is actually his strategy, is “not only constitutional but also commendable.”
Turley agrees that the constitution does not set a time limit for the House to submit the articles of impeachment or a list of managers, however, he emphasizes:
There are, in fact, two equal houses of Congress. Faced with a House manipulating the system, the Senate can change its rules and simply give the House a date for trial then declare a default or summary acquittal if House managers do not come. It is the list of House trial managers that is necessary for Senate proceedings to commence. Waiting for the roster of managers is a courtesy shown by the Senate to the House in preparing its team of managers for the trial. We have never experienced this type of bicameral discourtesy where the House uses articles of impeachment to barter over the details of the trial. Just as the Senate cannot dictate the handling of impeachment investigations, the House cannot dictate the trial rules.
Tribe wrote that it was “utter nonsense to accuse Pelosi of constitutional betrayal” for holding back the articles and the list of managers. No one is saying that Pelosi has violated the constitution. She is, however, playing games and her actions are unprecedented. Turley explains:
Under its rules, the Senate shows comity to the House in waiting until the roster of managers is sent, just as the House shows comity to the Senate in submitting an impeachment without conditions.
The two articles were passed by the House to submit a president for trial, not to empower Pelosi to unilaterally use impeachment as a means to coerce an equal chamber.
What is most remarkable about the stance that Pelosi has taken is how it has already damaged the position of the House, and could even create lasting damage for the House as an institution. Not only did the House refuse to subpoena critical witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton, but they also inexplicably withdrew the subpoena of a key aide to Bolton shortly before a federal court was prepared to rule on it.
The result is an inferential impeachment case without the testimony of witnesses with possible direct knowledge of quid pro quo over Ukrainian aid. Democratic leaders insisted there was no time to spend even a couple of months building a better case since there was a Trumpian “crime spree” in progress. By wasting months and not getting more testimony, Pelosi left it up to the Senate to create a record unwisely and quickly abandoned by the House. It is a highly ironic position, given the historical opposition to any witnesses by Democratic senators, including now Minority Leader Charles Schumer, during the 1999 impeachment of President Clinton. Only three depositions were allowed, with no live testimony, back then.
Tribe, who testified with me during the Clinton impeachment hearings, now calls such a trial without witnesses a sham. The strategy of Pelosi is unlikely to succeed with the Senate, but it has succeeded in making a mockery of the rushed rationale.
Tribe writes that since McConnell has said he will coordinate the Senate trial with the White House, he cannot be considered an impartial jurist.
I have to ask, is it even possible to find an impartial Senator? The odds of finding any politician who is truly impartial is practically nil. How many Congressmen or women were impartial during the impeachment inquiry? Not even the two who voted against impeachment were impartial. They had an opinion.
This is not a jury trial in a federal court. The Senators cannot be expected to be impartial. I bet, at the very least, 95 of them know how they will vote. Perhaps they all do.
Turley reminds us that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), “who has declared the statement by McConnell an “astonishing admission of partisanship,” had actually campaigned on a pledge to not impeach or convict Clinton and also dismissed objections to his suggestions that he should act like an impartial juror. Tribe also does not mention a long line of Democratic senators who declared Trump guilty before even the start of a trial.”
Tribe knows this is all a sham and so does Pelosi’s base. But they don’t care as long as it hurts President Trump. And the rest of us watch incredulously as this woman whose hatred for the President runs so deep and whose hunger for power is so insatiable that she would be willing to risk her legacy by perpetrating a fraudulent impeachment against a President who she knows has not committed an impeachable offense.
In her haste, Pelosi has made misstep after misstep. Although she’s known to be a shrewd politician, she’s acted extremely foolishly throughout the impeachment process. I often had the impression that she was winging it. That may be because it really hadn’t been her plan to begin with.
Turley concludes by saying “Pelosi would have better served the House by taking the time to build a proper case for removing Trump. Instead, however, she went for a short investigation to fulfill a pledge to impeach by Christmas, and then complained that the Senate might not call witnesses that the House failed to compel to testify. That is the problem of playing chicken by yourself. Your opponent can watch you drive over a cliff of your own choosing.”