The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


More on Impeachment Inquiries and "Invalid" Impeachments


Over at Lawfare I have a longish post examining House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone's letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the impeachment process. It builds a bit on a post here at the Volokh Conspiracy.

The Cipollone letter in particular is extraordinarily bold in its claims and rhetoric and extremely thin on plausible legal or constitutional argument. It only makes sense if the White House assumes impeachment is inevitable and that now they are fighting a political war in the Senate and the 2020 presidential race. The way in which the White House seems to be choosing to fight that fight may well have serious long-term repercussions that Republicans will come to regret.

Here's a taste of the Lawfare post:

The constitutional text on this issue is spare. The Constitution simply says that the House has the sole power of impeachment. Ultimately, if the House wants to impeach someone, it needs to muster a simple majority in support of articles of impeachment that can be presented to the Senate. How the House gets there is entirely up to the chamber itself to determine. There is no constitutional requirement that the House take two successful votes on impeachment, one to authorize some kind of inquiry and one to ratify whatever emerges from that inquiry. An impeachment inquiry is not "invalid" because there has been no vote to formally launch it, and any eventual impeachment would not be "invalid" because the process that led to it did not feature a floor vote authorizing a specific inquiry.

Read the whole thing here.