The House Judiciary Committee’s report on the legal and constitutional basis for impeaching President Donald Trump declares that impeachment is the “last and most extraordinary resort,” but ignores the fact that Democrats have been trying to impeach the president since well before he took office.
One of the report‘s key sources, Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe, whom it cites several times, even argued for impeachment in December 2016, declaring that the president should be impeached on Inauguration Day.
As Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) pointed out during Wednesday’s hearing with legal scholars who are “experts” on impeachment, 16 of the committee’s 24 Democratic members — two-thirds of the total — had already voted to “move forward on impeachment” before “Speaker Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry ten weeks ago on September 24th, before the call between President Trump and President [Volodymyr] Zelensky on July 25th, before the [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller hearing in front of this committee on July 24th.”
The report, released Saturday, was co-authored by 20 of the committee’s Democratic staff, and ignores the testimony of the legal scholars — all billed as experts on impeachment — who testified last Wednesday.
The report also contains several radical new legal theories.
For example, it cites the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868 as a positive precedent, because — they argue — it was about impeaching the president for “illegitimate motives,” which they propose to do with Trump.
Most historians and legal scholars agree that Johnson should not have been impeached; indeed, the Johnson impeachment is often held up as an example of what not to do.
Radical Republicans, frustrated by Johnson’s opposition to their plans for Reconstruction in the South, attempted to impeach Johnson from a very early stage, and first tried to do so based on an unproven conspiracy theory that he had conspired with the Confederacy.
Johnson’s impeachment was not a “last and most extraordinary resort.” Nor is the Trump impeachment.
The report ignores the fact that many Democrats, including presidential candidate Tom Steyer, have demanded impeachment from the beginning; others supported impeachment long before the Ukraine phone call.
The report also ignores the fact that Democrats have already held several impeachment votes, all of which failed; and it also fails to justify Democrats’ rush to impeach President Trump — as a first resort — without waiting for the courts to adjudicate questions about the testimony of key witnesses.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.