By KrisAnne Hall, JD
The deceivers in Congress and the media want you to believe that the Constitution is “vague” on House procedures for bringing articles of impeachment. That is only because they want to evade the Constitution and have the authority to act arbitrarily to deny their obligations to the Constitution and due process. Understanding how the House is supposed to proceed in the filing of impeachment is really not that complicated, the deceivers just want you to think it is.
So, as briefly and plainly as possible, here is how it is supposed to work.
The easiest way to logically understand the proper procedure for the House to file Articles of Impeachment is if we work it backwards.
1. We know from those who ratified the Constitution, our most relevant source, that the Senate is the “court” that will “try” the impeachment. (Read Federalist 65 and http://bit.ly/FoundersImpeachment)
2. We know from Article 2 Section 4 of the Constitution (the Supreme Law of the Land) that impeachment is valid for the crimes of Treason, Bribery, High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
A. Article 1 Section 3 Clause 7 of the Constitution states that after impeachment the convicted can no longer hold public office can be tried in a criminal court for the same crime and held accountable under the law.
B. All four of the grounds for impeachment are actually crimes, subject to the terms of criminal prosecution. Alexander Hamilton discusses this in Federalist 65 when he explains why the Senate and not the Supreme Court is the proper body to try impeachments:
“Who would be willing to stake his life and his estate upon the verdict of a jury, acting under the auspices of Judges, who had predetermined his guilt?”
Hamilton says since the accused can be tried in a criminal court for the same crimes that brought about impeachment, it would be inappropriate for the Supreme Court to handle impeachment and also have the possibility of having the criminal case come before them as well. With that being said, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will still preside over the impeachment trial to ensure the proper rules of due process are followed by the Senate. (See Federalist 65)
3. In Federalist 65, Hamilton calls the Senate the court and speaks of the proceeding as a trial and even indicates that the same process will be followed by the lower courts when trying the accused outside of impeachment. Hamilton even explicitly states that the proper conduct for the Senate is to judge the accused by the “real demonstration of guilt or innocence,” once again using the legal vernacular appropriate of a true trial of justice.
4. Since the accused (president, vice president, or any civil officer) will be having a legitimate trial in the Senate, with all due process considerations of a court of justice, it will only be fitting to describe the role of the House as the “prosecutor” who reviews the allegations and the evidence and has the responsibility of filing the charges against the accused.
A prosecutor (I know, I was one for nearly a decade) does not file every allegation that comes along. A prosecutor does not even file a case against every person “believed” to be guilty of a crime. The belief of guilt is irrelevant in the criminal justice system. The only thing that matters in a true court of justice, is what can be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” in the framework of the statutory crime, the evidence admissible, and the rules of due process.
5. Since the Senate is the trial phase and the House is the filing stage, the House procedure for filing impeachment will logically be the same as that of a prosecutor.
A. The House members must look at the allegations. They must then look at that law and determine if the allegations fit the law. The Constitution establishes the law and that impeachment can only be brought for Treason, Bribery, High Crimes, or Misdemeanors. If the allegations do not fit into one of those four categories, then the House, just like any good prosecutor, must refuse to file impeachment. If you are confused by the current assertion that the Constitution permits the House to bring impeachment for “political” reasons, please read this article to help you understand why that reasoning is false.
B. If the allegations fit into one of the four categories of impeachable crimes, then the House members must review the evidence and determine 1) if the evidence is admissible 2) if the admissible evidence satisfies the elements of the crime, and 3) if the relevant evidence is sufficient to prove guilt. If the answer to any of these questions is “no” then the House must refuse to file impeachment. If the answer to all these questions is “yes” then the House must file impeachment and put together the case for trial in the Senate.
That is the procedure for the House of Representatives for bringing articles of impeachment according to the intent of the founders and the Constitution. Perhaps it seems very simple to me because this is the process I engaged in every day of my life for nearly a decade. I was even blessed enough to train new prosecutors in this process.
The presence of due process in America is such a precious jewel and, as not only a prosecutor, but one who trained future prosecutors, my philosophy was never “win at all costs” but to consider the lives of the people, both victims and accused, stay within the lanes of the law, and above all preserve the Rights of the people involved so that the system doesn’t become a tool for vengeance and destruction.
Our House members should hold the procedure of impeachment with the same reverence and respect. The fact that every civil officer in our Constitutional Republic can only be impeached from office through the respect of law and due process is priceless and ought to be seen as invaluable. It is truly one of the things that separates our Constitutional Republic from an arbitrary and lawless Banana Republic.
The thing I find interesting is that many of these House members are lawyers and many of the lawyers have trial court experience. For these people to claim that they are “confused” as to this procedure seems very disingenuous and self-serving. If American prosecutors handled cases the way the House Judiciary Committee is handling this impeachment, their cases would be thrown out of court, they would likely be looking at sanctions from the BAR Association, and could even face their own criminal trial for the crime of “vindictive prosecution.”
Perhaps one lesson our House members would do well to learn, the first lesson I taught all my prosecutors in training, we are “prosecutors” not “persecutors” and we must know the difference.
It should be very important to every American that our House does not engage in vindictive prosecution and is diligent to the rights of due process. What these people in high office are allowed to do to the president, or any other civil officer for that matter, will not only set a legal precedent but also a cultural one that will put the due process and fundamental rights of every American at peril.
In the words of Hannah Winthrop, one of the founders of America: “How often do we see people blind to their own interests precipitately maddening on to their own destruction!”
KrisAnne Hall is a former biochemist, Russian linguist for the US Army, and former prosecutor for the State of Florida. KrisAnne also practiced First Amendment Law for a prominent Florida non-profit Law firm. KrisAnne now travels the country teaching the foundational principles of Liberty and our Constitutional Republic. KrisAnne is the author of 6 books on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, she also has an internationally popular radio and television show and her books and classes have been featured on C-SPAN TV. KrisAnne can be found at www.KrisAnneHall.com.
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