By Jack Phillips
President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, said that the House doesn’t have power over the Senate trial for impeachment after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) demurred on when she would send over the House’s two articles of impeachment against Trump.
In a radio show interview, Sekulow said (starting at around the 21-minute mark) that “[Pelosi] thinks she’s going to create some kind of Constitutional crisis … by doing a parliamentary move to not have the managers appointed and not presenting those articles of impeachment to the Senate,” he said. Pelosi, however, will fail because the U.S. Constitution “doesn’t talk about managers” and “doesn’t discuss her delivery methods.”
On Wednesday evening, Trump was impeached mostly along party lines, with all Republicans voting against the two articles that alleged he abused his power and obstructed Congress and a handful of Democrats breaking ranks to vote with them.
After the House passed the two articles, the Senate “now has jurisdiction,” Sekulow asserted. “The Senate will determine the trial. If they do not show up [and] they do not present their case, I would file a motion to dismiss with a motion to acquit.”
Sekulow said that the Senate can move forward on the trial, according to the U.S. Constitution, without the House: “I don’t think there’s any question about that.”
Some commentators have attempted to conflate the House’s rules with what the Constitution actually says, he asserted.
“The exclusive jurisdiction—once impeached—for removal of a presidents rests at that point with the United States Senate,” Sekulow said, adding that “the Senate will determine its rules and will call the hearing.”
Regarding when the articles will be transferred over to the Senate, Pelosi remained noncommittal during a press conference on Thursday morning.
“We don’t know the arena we’re in,” she told reporters before adding, “I don’t care what the Republicans” in the Senate will do and accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of going “rogue” along with a “rogue president.”
“When we see what they have, we’ll know who and how many to send over,” Pelosi said.
The idea of holding the articles of impeachment was floated earlier this week Harvard Law professor Lawrence Tribe, who argued in the Washington Post that Pelosi’s caucus should “[hold] off for the time being.”
“This was a Lawrence Tribe-concocted theory,” Sekulow said, adding that Pelosi’s potential tactical maneuver was a “big mistake” but is “on purpose.”
“This is shredding the Constitution; this is ignoring the Constitution,” he told the radio show of the reported delay tactic.
According to the U.S. Constitution, in “Article I; Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7,” “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”
“When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present. Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law,” it reads.