Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees regarding his team’s investigation of Donald Trump and his associates, it is time to consider what impeachment means and how it works. For the purposes of this discussion, I have cited the various paragraphs of the Constitution and provided their text including the archaic spelling used at the time.
Article I, Section 2, paragraph 5: The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
We should think of this duty of the House as similar to that of a grand jury, meaning that the House’s job isn’t to determine guilt or innocence but rather to determine if there is enough evidence of impeachable offenses to proceed to trial.
Article I, Section 3, paragraph 6: 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.
If the House finds that there is sufficient evidence of impeachable offenses, it is the Senate which must then hold the trial and it requires at least 67 members to convict assuming that all 100 Senators are present.
Article I, Section 3, paragraph 7: Judgment in Cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
Impeaching the President is specifically limited to removal from office with no other penalties attached. The Constitution is also clear that anyone removed from office is subject to criminal trial and attendant penalties, such as imprisonment or fines as appropriate to the charges, if there is evidence of criminal acts, just like anyone else.
Article II, Section 4: The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Any federal official including judges but not members of Congress are subject to impeachment and if convicted are removed from office. Treason and bribery are just the crimes spelled out in the Constitution but it includes the vague “high crimes and misdemeanors” phrase to give future legislatures the flexibility to impeach for actions not imagined by the authors of the Constitution.
If you haven’t read the Mueller report yet, you really should. The first section regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election is enlightening though dry. While it doesn’t name Trump or others in his orbit, it is part of the evidence of the conspiracy, evidence which described later in the report suggests a conspiracy. Note the legal term is conspiracy, not collusion. So no, Mueller’s team found no evidence of collusion because they weren’t looking for it, they were looking for conspiracy and found some evidence of it. As Mueller testified last week, they also found that Trump and his lackeys withheld documents and testimony that might have provided further evidence for conspiracy.
Withholding those documents and testimony in addition to Trump’s efforts to fire James Comey are all the
evidence the House should need that Trump obstructed justice and that is an impeachable offense.
Congressman Vicente Gonzalez hasn’t yet made a public statement on his position regarding impeachment.