There’s a scam being pushed on the American people. Mainstream media is echoing this scam, whether willfully or out of ignorance. Congressional Democrats seem to be going along with it even though most realize the shifting ground upon which the scam is being promoted. Even most Republicans on Capitol Hill seem to be missing the point, allowing the scam to continue by attacking its merits when the entire debacle appears to be without merit. The scam is this: There is no impeachment inquiry underway in the House of Representatives.
Some might say, “But Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi held a press conference and declared there was an impeachment inquiry.” This is true. But it carries no real weight. She could have held a press conference saying we need to “eat the babies” and her words would have been no less potent. The reason for this was clearly laid out by Representative Doug Collins, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, in an amicus brief filed in Washington DC district court.
The 31-page document reads more clearly than most, allowing for those without a law degree to understand what he’s saying. In essence, oversight powers in Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution have been conflated with impeachment powers from Article 1, Section 2. The various committees, including Judiciary, cannot conduct a formal impeachment inquiry until the full body of the House delegates impeachment powers to the committees. That would require a full floor vote, one the Speaker has been reluctant to have.
Committees have the power to formally investigate as part of their role in oversight, but they must be given the power through a floor vote to conduct a formal impeachment investigation. As Andy McCarthy noted on Fox News, this is why the Democrats haven’t used subpoena power through committees to get information from the White House, instead making requests. Once they file a subpoena, they’ll be forced to justify its validity in court where they must demonstrate the committees’ power over impeachment. Unless the House as a body assigns this power to the committees following a vote, that power does not exist.
What makes it worse for Democrats is the fact that in the normal course of oversight business under Article 1, Section 1, the committee chairs have the power to control who gets to call witnesses or even ask question in committee hearings. If they were to allow this to reach a full House vote and move through committees to impeachment via Article 1, Section 2, then the doors swing wide open for Republicans. They’ll be able to call witnesses and ask questions in hearings.
Collins was more specific in his amicus brief:
If the Committee seeks judicial interference in its proceedings, the House must take the procedural and political action required of it by holding a vote to delegate its impeachment power to the Committee. Barring such action, the Committee advances an unprecedented and untested argument.
A single House committee chairman, Member, or Speaker does not, and should not, wield the power to delegate the House’s impeachment authority without a full House vote. Without such a vote, the committee is merely conducting ordinary legislative oversight under House Rule X to determine whether an impeachment inquiry may be warranted in the future.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s September 24, 2019, announcement that multiple House committees will “process under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry” does not change the fact the whole House has not voted to delegate its impeachment authority to the Committee – or committees – for an inquiry. Her statement has no legal effect; the Speaker’s press conferences do not provide her extra-legislative authority.
The Democrats’ strategy is specifically designed to have an impeachment in the court of public opinion, not on Capitol Hill. They’re using a mock impeachment without a House vote to play pretend for voters. This is Kabuki Theatre. It’s just politics.
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