Laurence Tribe, the University Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for the House of Representatives, rather than the Senate, to hold an impeachment trial for President Donald Trump.

Tribe’s opinion piece presented a new idea for how the divided Democratic House caucus should go about pursuing the end of Trump’s career. The constitution states that the House is able to begin impeachment proceedings by indicting the president, but that only the Senate can hold an official trial to determine guilt or innocence. Tribe claims that while the House’s main impeachment function is to charge the president, “the House, unlike any grand jury, can conduct an impeachment inquiry that ends with a verdict and not just a referral to the Senate for trial — an inquiry in which the target is afforded an opportunity to participate and mount a full defense.” Therefore, the Harvard professor is advocating for conducting a trial within the House by using its powers of inquiry, with the Trump administration providing a defense as in a regular trial. While such a hearing would not be legally binding, Tribe states that it would help the Democrats achieve their goal of officially declaring the president guilty of crimes such as obstruction of justice.


The reason that the Democrats would be forced to hold a trial in the House instead of the Senate is that top GOP officials such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have already proclaimed that they will quickly kill any impeachment trial that reaches the Senate. Tribe accuses the Republican senators of political corruption, saying that they refuse to listen to critics of their president. Instead, Tribe paints the Democrats as the party of the just, immune to corruption and selfishness. He believes that a House trial conducted by the liberals will unequivocally show the world that Trump is guilty. He seems to assume that if the Democrats deliver a guilty verdict then the entire world will believe them, and that it will clearly deal a significant and undeniable blow to Trump. However, almost all Democrats already think Trump is guilty of something, and the condemnation from a significant chunk of House Democrats has done little to persuade the public and the GOP that the president is guilty enough to be removed from office.

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