Pelosi’s permanent impeachment

Staff Columnist

MAIN STREET, By William McGurn

“By proceeding by fiat instead of a full House vote, the Speaker sets a terrible precedent. Bill Clinton was the first president to embrace the ‘permanent campaign,’ meaning a White House always in full election mode. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has now made her own dubious contribution to American history, by setting up the possibility of a Congress in permanent impeachment mode.

The mechanics of impeachment almost always promise a clash between a President of one party dominated by another. Even so, by forgoing full House vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry, Mrs116 Pelosi has amped up the partisanship. Instead of moving ahead with the full backing of the elected representatives of the American people, she has launched the Trump impeachment by personal ukase.

Even more remarkable, it has been greeted by a collective ho-hum. True, the Constitution does not require a House vote. It’s also true, however, that Mrs. Pelosi has no precedent for what she has done, and by eliminating a House vote, she has denied the House minority the opportunity to be heard before Congress begins exercising its most formidable constitutional power short of declaring war: the process of removing an elected president. It’s antidemocratic.

“If vigorous debate and formal votes are part of our democracy,’ says Rep. Doug Collins, the Georgia Republican who serves as the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. ‘When one party silences the other by gaveling down debate, denying subpoena power, and refusing to hold votes, they are hiding from accountability to their electorate, it’s more than partisan —it’s antidemocratic.’

It helps to compare what’s being done to Donald Trump to how it’s been done before. The first president to be impeached was Andrew Johnson by a 126-47 House on Feb 24 vote Feb. 24, 1868. On March2 the House voted to approve nine more articles of impeachment, and a day later added another two. Procedures weren’t precisely the same then, but the 40th Congress enjoyed something Speaker Pelosi has denied the 116th Congress: the opportunity to debate and vote before they had to declare themselves on specific articles of impeachment.

Cut to 1974, when Democrats moved against Richard Nixon. Because 106 years had passed since the House impeached a president, the committee and its staff –including a young Hillary Clinton – researched the and produced a document called ‘Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment’. On page 2, the report notes that the 410-4 House vote to open an impeachment inquiry against Nixon confirmed that the process was not partisan. It was supported by the overwhelming majority in both parties.

Not so for Mrs. Pelosi’s impeachment effort.

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