Trump Not Actually Impeached Yet, Democrats’ Top Witness Says

President Trump has not been impeached.

That’s the view of Harvard legal scholar Noah Feldman, one of the Democrats’ top witnesses to appear before a House committee in favor of impeaching the president.

“Impeachment as contemplated by the Constitution does not consist merely of the vote by the House, but of the process of sending the articles to the Senate for trial,” Feldman wrote in an op-ed. “Both parts are necessary to make an impeachment under the Constitution: The House must actually send the articles and send managers to the Senate to prosecute the impeachment. And the Senate must actually hold a trial,” he wrote, noting that if the House holds the articles, Trump could argue that he was never actually impeached.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is refusing to hand over two articles of impeachment to the Senate, saying she doesn’t think Republicans in the Senate won’t hold a fair trial.

“We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side,” Pelosi told reporters after the party-line vote in the House. “And I would hope that that will be soon. … So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us. So hopefully it will be fair. And when we see what that is, we’ll send our managers.”

Asked if she would pledge to send the articles to the Senate soon, Pelosi said: “That would have been our intention.” But she added that “we are not having that discussion. We have done what we set out to do.”

On Thursday, Pelosi refused to answer questions about the delay.


Impeachment managers must be appointed by resolutions, but Pelosi adjourned the House on Thursday without doing so. The House won’t be back in session until Jan. 7.

In his op-ed, Feldman said that “the Constitution doesn’t say how fast the articles must go to the Senate. Some modest delay is not inconsistent with the Constitution, or how both chambers usually work.”

“But an indefinite delay would pose a serious problem. Impeachment as contemplated by the Constitution does not consist merely of the vote by the House, but of the process of sending the articles to the Senate for trial. Both parts are necessary to make an impeachment under the Constitution: The House must actually send the articles and send managers to the Senate to prosecute the impeachment. And the Senate must actually hold a trial,” he wrote.

If the House does not communicate its impeachment to the Senate, it hasn’t actually impeached the president. If the articles are not transmitted, Trump could legitimately say that he wasn’t truly impeached at all.

That’s because “impeachment” under the Constitution means the House sending its approved articles of to the Senate, with House managers standing up in the Senate and saying the president is impeached.

As for the headlines we saw after the House vote saying, “TRUMP IMPEACHED,” those are a media shorthand, not a technically correct legal statement. So far, the House has voted to impeach (future tense) Trump. He isn’t impeached (past tense) until the articles go to the Senate and the House members deliver the message.

 

You Might Like