One thing that’s clear is that no one, perhaps not even the Dems involved, fully understands how this whole impeachment process is supposed to work. Many years ago, I would have turned on Walter Conkrite who would have told me. Now there’s no one so I guess we’ll just have to dig this out on our own.
Let’s start with House Resolution 660 that was passed October 31, 2019. This is the summary from Congress.gov:
This resolution directs the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committees on Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, the Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, and Ways and Means to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House to impeach President Trump.
The resolution authorizes (1) the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to conduct investigative proceedings, and (2) the chair of any committee having custody of materials relating to the inquiry to transfer the materials to the Committee on the Judiciary.
The House authorizes the Committee on the Judiciary to conduct proceedings relating to the impeachment inquiry. The committee shall report to the House such resolutions, articles of impeachment, or other recommendations as it deems proper.
Paragraph one is evidently complete and the House Intelligence Committee is going to have a report just after Thanksgiving. As some have pointed out, the House Judiciary Committee has already scheduled hearings without there having been any material transferred to them. Yeah, you’re right, but these are Democrats so it’s more to do with intent than real process!
Paragraph two is scheduled to begin on December 4 according to the letter to the President today.
Some people have noted that they thought the Judiciary Committee needed authorization to conduct an impeachment hearing. This is true but HR 660 clearly gives them the power to do so.
Let’s have a look at the letter.
Under House Resolution 660, the House of Representatives has approved certain privileges for you in the House Judiciary Committee while the Committee considers whether to recommend articles of impeachment to the full House. For your reference, a copy of the resolution and related procedures are attached to this letter. These procedures, and the privileges afforded to you therein, are consistent with those used by the Committee in the Nixon and Clinton impeachments.
The Committee has noticed its first hearing under these procedures, titled “The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment.” The hearing is scheduled for December 4, 2019 at 10:00 am. I write to ask if — pursuant to H. Res. 660 and the relating Judiciary Committee Impeachment Inquiry procedures — you and your counsel plan to attend the hearing or make a request to question the witness panel.
The Committee intends this hearing to serve as an opportunity to discuss the historical and constitutional basis of impeachment, as well as the Framers’ intent and understanding of terms like ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ We expect to discuss the constitutional framework through which the House may analyze the evidence gathered in the present inquiry. We will also discuss whether your alleged actions warrant the House’s exercising its authority to adopt articles of impeachment.
If you would like to participate in the hearing, please provide the Committee with notice as soon as possible, but no later than by 6:00 pm on December 1, 2019. By that time, I ask that you also indicate who will act as your counsel for these proceedings.
I remain committed to ensuring a fair and informative process. To that end, I remind you that participation by the President or his counsel has been described by the Committee in past inquiries as “not a right but a privilege or a courtesy which is being extended to the President’s counsel.” I am hopeful that you and your counsel will opt to participate in the Committee’s hearing, consistent with the rules of decorum and with the solemn nature of the work before us.
A few things of note:
- Consistent with Nixon and Clinton — BULLSHIT! But at this point, what does it matter? This entire process bares only the remotest similarity to Nixon and Clinton.
- Since President Trump and his attorney can only “make a request to question the witness panel,” I suspect he’ll simply ignore the letter in its entirety. We’ll see.
Let’s move on to the part of HR 660 that sets out the basic guidelines given the Judiciary Committee:
SEC. 4. IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY PROCEDURES IN THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY.
(a) The House authorizes the Committee on the Judiciary to conduct proceedings relating to the impeachment inquiry referenced in the first section of this resolution pursuant to the procedures submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the chair of the Committee on Rules, including such procedures as to allow for the participation of the President and his counsel.
(b) The Committee on the Judiciary is authorized to promulgate additional procedures as it deems necessary for the fair and efficient conduct of committee hearings held pursuant to this resolution, provided that the additional procedures are not inconsistent with the procedures referenced in subsection (a), the Rules of the Committee, and the Rules of the House.
(c) (1) The ranking minority member of the Committee on the Judiciary is authorized, with the concurrence of the chair of the Committee on the Judiciary, to require, as deemed necessary to the investigation—
(A) by subpoena or otherwise—
(i) the attendance and testimony of any person (including at a taking of a deposition); and
(ii) the production of books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents; and
(B) by interrogatory, the furnishing of information.
(2) In the case that the chair declines to concur in a proposed action of the ranking minority member pursuant to paragraph (1), the ranking minority member shall have the right to refer to the committee for decision the question whether such authority shall be so exercised and the chair shall convene the committee promptly to render that decision, subject to the notice procedures for a committee meeting under clause 2(g)(3)(A) and (B) of rule XI.
(3) Subpoenas and interrogatories so authorized may be signed by the ranking minority member, and may be served by any person designated by the ranking minority member.
(d) The Committee on the Judiciary shall report to the House of Representatives such resolutions, articles of impeachment, or other recommendations as it deems proper.
Things to note:
- Section (a): Done and done. It’s BULLSHIT but done.
- Section (b): Here is where we hope the Republicans on the Committee, such as Matt Gaetz, have done their homework as to whether they will be able to “promulgate” any additional procedures. It probably won’t do any good other than to highlight the lack of due process here.
- Section (c): This is where we read that the minority can request anything they want and the majority can say “no” in two different ways. In Clinton, the Clinton defense brought forward 15 witnesses. I’m pretty sure that the Democrats won’t be nearly so accommodating with President Trump.
Unless Matt Gaetz and his colleagues have something up their sleeves, this should be all over perhaps by Christmas. This, in fact, may be the right way to go since the outcome is preordained. Rather than fighting against a rigged game, it might even be best for the Republicans not to even show up. The Democrats can take whatever Articles of Impeachment that are no doubt “kept in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnalls’ porch,” (a little Boomer HumorTM) and send them for vote on December 5.
As now seems completely likely, President Trump would be impeached and we can get on with a trial on our turf.
I do want to come back to why this is BULLSHIT. In Clinton, the Republicans had the Starr Report. Since Mueller failed, the Democrats had to create their own “Starr Report” in the House Intelligence Committee (based on creating their own scenario that was started with a sham whistle blower.) Now the “inquiry” continues in the Judicial Committee. History will not treat this well.