Fact-checking White House claims that House impeachment resolution is unconstitutional
Posted October 31, 2019 9:55 p.m. EDT
CNN — Moments after the House passed a resolution establishing procedures for the next phase of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, the White House condemned the vote.
In a statement, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said that the resolution "fails to provide any due process whatsoever to the Administration," calling it "unconstitutional."
Trump echoed his administration's complaints in an interview with British radio station LBC that aired soon after the vote. Referring to the resolution he said, "They gave us absolutely no rights."
Facts First: The resolution does not violate due process nor is it unconstitutional. In fact, part of the resolution explicitly details the rights available to the President in the impeachment inquiry.
In a section authorizing the Judiciary Committee to conduct proceedings, the resolution notes these should include "such procedures as to allow for the participation of the President and his counsel."
According to a fact sheet released by the House Rules Committee, these procedures include the opportunity for the President or his counsel to present their case, attend hearings, request additional testimony, cross-examine witnesses and raise an objection to testimony given. There is a caveat that "if the President unlawfully refuses to cooperate with congressional requests," then the extent of the administration's participation is at the committee chairman's discretion.
While the Trump administration might not like the impeachment resolution on principle, the resolution is devoted to outlining the procedures, rights of all parties and consequences. Therefore, it's inaccurate to say the resolution fails to provide due process, when due process is interpreted by legal scholars as the right to fair procedures that must be predetermined before any attempts to "deprive" them of "life, liberty or property."
William Banks, a law professor at Syracuse University, told CNN that "some will see the new procedures as providing due process, and there is no harm in that view. As such 'due process' is a synonym for 'fairness.'"
"There is nothing in the Constitution or any law, nor any rules of the House, that prescribes a particular procedure for impeachment proceedings," Banks added.
The Constitution notes only the basis for impeachment and that the House "shall have the sole power of impeachment" while the Senate "shall have the sole power to try all impeachments."
"The House resolution is not in any way 'unconstitutional,'" Banks said. "The resolution provides more than is required."