Instigator / Pro

Resolved: The House should vacate its impeachment of President Trump


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Contender / Con

The House, having the constitutionally mandated “sole power of impeachment,” [Article I, section 2, clause 5], is the only body of government that can take the unprecedented responsibility to vacate the impeachment of President Donald Trump. The basis for this resolve will be fully developed in arguments from the Pro side [the side I take] during rounds of the debate. Con will take the opposing view that such vacating of an impeachment is not appropriate even when demonstrated violation [as Pro will demonstrate by evidence] of House Rules occurred.

The power of impeachment: “The House of Representatives shall chose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.” - U.S. Constitution, I.2.5. This is the sum total verbiage in the Constitution relative to impeachment of a federal officer.

Impeachment: Relative to the Constitution, the authorized means for the House of Representatives of the United States to charge a federal officer [the President, Vice President, and all federal officers of the United States] with “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” [U.S. Constitution, Article II, section 4] via Articles of Impeachment submitted to the Senate for an impeachment trial.

Background: On December 18, 2019, the House officially voted [230 – 197] to impeach President Donald Trump on charges of two Articles of Impeachment: Abuse of power, and obstruction of Congress. On January 16, 2020, trial on the impeachment began in the Senate, delayed by an unprecedented hold of the Articles of Impeachment by Nancy Pelosi [D-CA], Speaker of the House. On February 35, 2020, the Senate voted [52 – 48 on Article 1, 53-47 on Article 2] to acquit President Trump of all charges.


The burden of proof shall be shared by participants.

Rounds 1, 2, 3: Argument/Rebuttal/Defense
Round 4: Final Defense and Conclusion. No new argument allowed.

Round 1
I welcome Venberg to DART and to this debate. Best of luck to you. Knowing nothing about you [please consider entering some detail in your profile; I promise I won’t bite], only your arguments will reveal anything. You should not want to remain an enigma.
I Argument: Russia, Russia, Russia
I.a There is little doubt, and absolutely solid evidence that an investigation into the alleged collusion of Donald Trump and his presidential campaign, and just about anything with the common denominator, Russia, was begun by official Obama Administration officials even before the 2016 election. 
I1.b The Mueller Report,issued to the public in 18 April 2019, released in two volumes, stated as conclusions to each volume:
I.b.1Further, the evidence was not sufficient to charge that any member of the Trump Campaign conspired with representatives of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election."- Mueller Report, "Executive Summary to Vol 1," pg. 9
I.b.2 "…this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime"  - Mueller Report, "Conclusion," Vol. 2, pg 182
I.c Yet, as reported by the New York Times, 24 July 2019, Under intense questioning, Mr. Mueller said the president had not been cleared of obstructing justice, nor had he been completely exonerated…”[1] This statement completely contradicts the above quotes from the Mueller Report. Such is the zeal held by the mainstream media for the removal of President Trump from office.
I.c.1 The media’s position on the matter has been known since 20 January 2017; the day of Trump’s inauguration. Within one hour of his swearing into office, The Washington Post published the following headline and article: “The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun– The effort to impeach President Donald J. Trump is already underway. At the moment the new commander in chief was sworn in, a campaign to build public support for his impeachment wet live at, spearheaded by two liberal advocacy groups aiming to lay the groundwork for his eventual ejection from the White House.”[2]
At the time, the actions of the President amounted to walking down a street in D.C, in a parade, hand-in-hand with his wife – just as every inaugurated President has done in recent memory. Impeachable? No.
II Argument: Scandal, scandal, who has the scandal?
II.a In addition to the Mueller Report, there seemed to be a series of alleged Trump scandals, each of which was intended to derail the presidency, from accusations by Stormy Daniels to urine tapes held by Vladimir Putin,[3] and each of which failed to have its desired effect.
III Argument: “I am announcing…” – Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House
III.a Pressers are a great way to get information out to the public quickly, easily, and effectively. Unfortunately, the House Rules, mandated by the United States Constitution [“Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.”[4].The House Rules for the 116thCongress[5], were apperoved by the convened House on 3 January 2017 and includes the protocol for conducting House investigations, including impeachment investigations. I will cite those germane rules a little further on. Let it be understood that those rules do not include conducting a presser to authorize such an investigation.
III.b On the basis of the presser, alone, Nancy Pelosi engaged six separate House committees to begin investigation, and announced their authority to issue witness subpoenas. This is in violation of House Rules of the 116thCongress, Rule XI,2,[m][3][A][ii][C], which stipulates that “Compliance with subpoena issued by a committee or subcommittee under subparagraph [1][B] may be enforced only as authorized or directed by the House.”[6] This is accomplished only by a majority vote on the House floor. A House-authorizing vote on the House floor never occurred until the House voted to impeach the President on 17 December 2019.
III.b.1 Further, the Supreme Court has at least three precedents established to require that Congress engage an investigation into any subject, and to specifically authorize committees to issue subpoenas by majority House vote. Ref. Quinn v. U.S. [1954], Watkins v. U.S. [1957],and Fuentes v. Shevin [1972]. These precedents are:
1.    Congress [both chambers] will obtain the majority vote of its chamber before launching any investigation.
2.    Congress [both chambers] will define the legislative purpose of the proposed investigation.
3.    Congress [both chambers] will reveal the scope of the investigation and the questions it proposes to have answered during investigation.

III.b.2 Moreover, House Rules, XI, 2[j][1] stipulates that,Whenever a hearing is conducted by a committee on a measure or matter, the minority members of the committee shall be entitled, upon request to the chair by a majority of them before the completion of the hearing, to call witnesses selected by the minority to testify with respect to that measure or matter during at least one day of hearing thereon.”[7] Committee Chairman Adam Schiff violated this clause on multiple occasions, both during his closed sessions, and during open session of his committee investigation into impeachment of Donald Trump.[8]

IV. I conclude that the above listed violations of House Rules and Supreme Court precedent, which is as binding as statutory law, are sufficient to impose on the House the duty to vacate their impeachment of Donald Trump. It amounts to use of a common legal process known as the fruit of the poisonous tree, which is, to wit,to prohibit the prosecution from presenting evidence into a case which was tainted by primary illegality.[9] Silverthorne v. U.S. [1920]. established the doctrine and is legal precedent today. I submit that the House erred as described in the points above, and thus its evidence obtained was tainted. As prosecutorial evidence, it is invalid. Therefore, the impeachment should be vacated. More arguments to come in round 2. I yield to my opponent.
Thank you for the welcoming. I look forward to a spited and intelligent debate. 

First, I will note that I will confine my arguments to the impeachment proceedings, and the grounds cited for impeachment. This does not include, the Report issued by Robert Mueller, which while interesting did not serve to provoke the investigations or hearings that ultimately culminated in the Impeachment proceedings in question. What it states, in regards to Russia or to Russian interference in American elections, or any claim about coordination between the Trump campaign or its staff and the Russian government, is not pertinent to a debate about the Impeachment of President Trump. While the report may have colored public perception of the President, it findings did not serve as the basis for his Impeachment. 

I will thus address in turn the several procedural points you raise in your opening. First, it is important to note that the procedure governing the authorization of Congressional investigations, and for all Congressional matters legislative or otherwise, can be found in rule XII, clause 2. (a), which states that

"The Speaker shall refer each bill, resolution, or other matter listed under a standing committee named in clause 1 of rule X in accordance with the provisions of this clause" [1]
Further on in rule XII clause 2, under (c) (3) we see as well that the Speaker can

"...refer portions of the matter reflecting different subjects and jurisdictions to one or more additional committees..." [2]
Thus, when Speaker Pelosi authorized six different committees to conduct investigations, she did so within the scope of the powers of her office, as laid out in the Rules of the House. The rule you cite as prohibiting this authorization, rule XI, in fact explicitly provides for such authorization when it notes in clause (m) (1)

“The Power to sit and act; subpoena power” that “For the purpose of carrying out any of its functions and duties under this rule and rule X (including any matters referred to it under clause 2 of rule XII), a committee or subcommittee is authorized (subject to subparagraph (3)(A))- (A) to sit and act at such times and places within the United States, whether the House is in session, has recessed, or has adjourned, and to hold such hearings as it considers necessary; and (B) to require, by subpoena or otherwise, the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of such books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers…”  [3]
(emphasis added)

The requirement you cite from rule rule XI refers to the power of the House to vote to censure or otherwise attempt to enforce subpoenas issued by committees, which are granted the power to issue these subpoenas in rule XI, as noted above. It does not refer to the power to launch investigations or to issue subpoenas. The first of these powers rests with the Speaker, and the second can be done through the majority vote of a committee, or by a committee chair if the majority votes to grant him that power.

As to the opinion of the Courts, I am unable to find any language in the Supreme Court’s opinions (even in the cases cited) that supports in it's totality the three pronged test suggested by Pro. In fact, most Court precedent relating to Congressional investigation power has related to the treatment of witnesses, not to the nature of starting Congressional investigations. The Court has routinely held that the investigative powers of Congress are broad, and that the only requirement is that they serve to aid Congress in its Constitutional duties. Investigating possible impeachable conduct is certainly one such power. As to the cases cited, Quinn v. United States was about a question that the witness refused to answer, citing Constitutional rights. It made no finding as to the power of Congress to launch investigations. [4] Watkins v United States dealt with a similar issue, holding that when a union leader refused to answer questions that he felt beyond the scope of the committee hearing he was just as no language had been presented to clarify what the scope of the committee actually was. This finding, however, went to more to the creation of committees, rather than to their function once created, holding that 

"In authorizing an investigation by a committee, it is essential that the Senate or House should spell out the committee's jurisdiction and purpose with sufficient particularity to insure that compulsory process is used only in furtherance of a legislative purpose." [5]
It is important to note that such legislative purposes include the power to investigate for wrongdoing, especially as it relates to the power to impeach. Furthermore, the Court held that even if a Committees creation created a sense of vagueness, that steps could be taken to clarify its role and scope, noting that 

"The authorizing resolution, the remarks of the chairman or members of the committee, or even the nature of the proceedings themselves, might make the "question under inquiry" sufficiently clear to avoid the "vice of vagueness"...
Watkins also firmly reinforces what centuries of legislative practice and precedent had already taught us, namely that a vote of both houses of Congress is not necessary for one to start an investigation. Watkins held, for example, that 

"In authorizing an investigation by a committee, it is essential that the Senate or House should spell out the committee's jurisdiction and purpose with sufficient particularity to insure that compulsory process is used only in furtherance of a legislative purpose." (emphasis added)
(A brief note here, as well, to establish that the language in Watkins suggesting a requirement for the authorization of the whole House by majority vote to launch investigations is referring to Committees created for the express purpose of investigating a particular issue, as was the case with the House Un-American Activities Committee, whose actions were at issue in Watkins. It does not refer to investigations directed to existing standing committees, the rules of referral to such committees having been discussed above). 

Justice Warren, writing for the majority in Watkins, goes even further in defending Congress's investigative power, citing Woodrow Wilson and noting that the 

We [the Supreme Court] are not concerned with the power of the Congress to inquire into and publicize corruption, maladministration or inefficiency in agencies of the Government. That was the only kind of activity described by Woodrow Wilson in Congressional Government when he wrote: ‘The informing function of Congress should be preferred even to its legislative function.’ Id. at 303. From the earliest times in its history, the Congress has assiduously performed an ‘informing function’ of this nature.”
Thus we can see in Watkins that the power to commence investigations does not require the approval of both chambers, which is especially important when discussing Impeachment, the power of which is reserved by Article I Section 2, which grants the House of Representatives "the sole power of impeachment". We can further see, from the majority opinion, that the Supreme Court has strongly condoned and supported broad Congressional investigative powers, and that such powers are an essential part of Congresses Constitutional duties as understood by the Court. 

Finally, Fuentes v Shevin did not deal with the investigative powers of Congress at all, but rather with statues from several states that restricted the right to a hearing before a person was deprived of property. It thus has nothing to do with the power of Congress to investigate or to call witnesses, or at the very best is only tangentially related to such powers. [6]

We should also note that their is a considerable number of decisions by the Supreme Court affirming a broad Congressional investigative power. Most notably, the Court established in McGrain v Daugherty that Congress had a right to conduct investigations into the Teapot Dome scandal, and that such investigations were well within Congress's Constitutional powers. [7] So we see, then, that case law supports the conduct of the impeachment inquiry.

Lastly, as to the claim that Chairman Adam Schiff refused to allow testimony from witnesses that were called by the minority, the facts show that an invitation was extended to the minority to call witnesses. [8] Furthermore, as was noted by Casey Burgat of the Brookings Institution, the committee itself remains the final judge of weather or not the information likely to be provided by witnesses was relevant. As such, the blocking of witnesses, when it did occur, was within the powers granted to the majority on the committee, acting to prevent testimony that they felt would be extraneous. [9] As to the specific incident cited by Pro to show that this procedure was violated, the video in question showed Chairman Schiff blocking a question that he felt was designed to reveal the identity of the whistleblower whose report started the investigation. Such a ruling is in keeping with the rules of the House Intelligence Committee, and with the House at large. [10]

In conclusion, then, we can see that the House did not in fact violate its own rules, the Constitution, or any precedent of the Supreme Court in its conduct of the impeachment investigation. Therefore, as no fruit was taken from the preverbal "poisonous tree" (even recalling that the Federal Rules of evidence do not apply in Congressional investigations), there are no grounds on which the House would reasonably be expected to vacate a legally valid impeachment through the exercise of power expressly delegated to it by the Constitution. I yield back to my opponent, 

[3] Ibid, pg. 586-587

Round 2
IV Argument: Rebuttal to the Articles of Impeachment

IV.a Article I: Abuse of Power

IV.a.1 Charge: President Trump… corruptly solicited Ukraine
According to the 7/25/2019 telephone transcript,[1] when President Donald Trump spoke with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump asked for a favor [only ONE], he spoke to the subject of Crowdstrike first, and then Robert Mueller, then Ukrainian corruption, and then Zelensky spoke for a while. Then Trump resumed with talk about Rudy Giuliani [a private citizen, working on behalf of the President as an attorney working pro bono],then William Barr [Attorney General of the United States], and then Marie Yovanovich [former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine], and then, finally... “the other thing,” ignoring all the previous conversation: Biden’s son, and, by association, Joseph Biden [former Vice President, and 2020 candidate for the Democrat presidential nomination]. So, the Democrats cherry-picked the last on that list as Trump's one favor. By seven degrees of separation? In what universe does that happen? 
Only in the universe of Rep. Adam Schiff [D-CA28], lead Manager of the House impeachment trial in the Senate, who skipped the previous seven items of discussion in his parody written and read into the Congressional Record on the first day of his ‘official’ duty as Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence investigating the possible impeachment of President Trump. Note that Mr. Schiff never read the actual transcript into the record. Just one of many problems: the parody was not, is not, and never will be evidence on which to base an impeachment hearing, let alone to propose Articles of Impeachment.
IV.a.2 Charge: Former Vice president Joseph R. Biden is a political opponent
As of now, Mr. Biden is the presumptive nominee, but the designation of “nominee” is still a future event. At this juncture in the Democrat presidential election campaign, even Democrats are expressing concerns that Joe Biden may not be the candidate to nominate.[2] According to the referenced source, 26% of Democrats, including 40% of Democrats less than 45 years of age, think the Party should choose another candidate. 
Moreover, does it matter if one considers Mr. Biden as a political opponent of President Trump? Does Mr. Biden’s candidacy somehow make him immune to a legitimate vetting investigation? His own statement recorded on video in January 2018 acknowledged the direct link to the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor with the release of $1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine. 
IV.a.3 Charge: Russia alleged Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is a debunked theory.
If the theory was debunked, why, did Democrats bother to make an issue of it? To Democrats, that should table the matter as unfounded. What should it matter how it relates to President Trump’s foreign policy of Ukraine? Further, how does it relate to the 7/25/2019 telephone call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky since neither mentioned anything about any election?
IV.a.4 Charge: The President’s corrupt motives included conditions on the favor request noted above – see [IV.a.1].
Since [IV.a.1] and [IV.a.2] are rebutted, the notion of any further corrupt action on the part of President Trump is likewise rebutted for the following two reasons:
One: While means, motive, and opportunity are critical factors in the identification of a perpetrator of crime, motive is the most difficult of the three to determine, as it requires a virtual invasion of the suspect’s mind to identify it. This is why, legally, motive is typically not an absolute in statutory law. Admittedly, there are some references to it, but it is rarely possible to prove as evidence. Therefore, any claim made by the prosecuting House Managers should prove its presence and proof to justify impeachment by statutory or Supreme Court precedent.
Two: ‘Corruption,’ like ‘motive,’ must have a statutory/precedential reference, or it is a blind, open-season charge. Corrupt by what definition? Corrupt by what resulting malfeasance? Corrupt by what intent? By the verbiage of the 7/25/2019 telephone transcript, the definition/malfeasance/intent is conditional on the favor request. What favor? Crowdstrike? Mueller? Ukraine corruption? Zelensky’s commentary and actions? Giuliani, Barr, Yovanovich? Or do we zap all the preceding and charge directly to Biden? And what condition, therefore? Is the condition the same for whichever item happens to tickle one’s assumption?
IV.a.5 Charge: President Trump held release of $391M in aid to Ukraine.
GAO claimed that President Trump broke the law by holding the transfer of the $391M in aid to Ukraine. GAO cited 2 USC, Chapter 17B, §686, but that statute makes use of the term “deferral,” not “hold.” GAO interprets the former as a simple delay. No. Both in legal and financial circles, “Deferral” is notdefined as an arbitrary hold on transfer of funds. It is a deferralbeyond the natural end of a financial cycle[3]such as 9/30/2019, which just happened to be the end of fiscal 2019. Since the payment was eventually released well before the 9/30 deadline on 9/11/2019, there was no deferral in effect, regardless, let alone a hold.
The House charge, however, is that the release occurred only after the alleged deferral became public, and that the release was an attempt to cover up. Since there was no deferral by legal/financial definition, or a hold by definition of the fiscal year-end deadline, is it covered up by its release? 
Further, no soldiers died, as now claimed by Democrats, as a result of the alleged hold since that last payment of aid due by 9/30 was for Ukraine expenditures beginning fiscal 2020, not for use in fiscal 2019.
IV.a.5 Charge: President Trump has denied President Zelensky’s request for a visit to the White House.
Ignoring for the moment that such a charge goes not to the President’s alleged malfeasance, but to a matter of foreign policy [are benign issues such as State visits fodder for impeachment?], the President stated in the 7/25/2019 telephone call with President Zelensky, “Whenever you would like to come to the White House, feel free to call. Give us a date and we’ll work that out.”[4] He made a similar invitation in the 4/21/2019 telephone conversation between presidents Trump and Zelensky.
IV.a.6 Charge: The President released the Ukraine aid[see IV.a.5]only after threat of public revelation of his actions.
The public was aware that aid to Ukraine was released prior to the established fiscal year end deadline of 9/30/2019. In addition, President Trump released the transcript of his 7/25/2019 telephone call with President Zelensky prior to 9/30. Therefore, there was nothing to hide from the public or anyone else, unless one was not paying attention.
IV.a.7 Charge: President Trump previously invited foreign interference in U.S. elections.
This charge is made, though lacking any citation of alleged previous invitations. Recognizing the questionable use of assumption, let us presume this has reference to the 2016 presidential debate when Trump jokedthat Russia should begin looking among the documents they had hacked for Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails. Ignoring that it was a joke – that it was a serious “invitation” – by Ms. Clinton’s own previous statements, the emails were not the subject of the election, nor pursuit of foreign influence in same, but “yoga exercises,” and “Chelsea’s wedding plans.” As a private citizen’s matters, the alleged invitation to find them does not rise to impeachable offense, even if not a joke. 
IV.b Article II: Obstruction of Congress
IV.b.1 The House of Representatives has engaged in an impeachment inquiry. 
There is sufficient Supreme Court precedent to address this lack of House protocol, such as U.S. v Rumley [1953]and Watkins v. U.S. [1957],not to mention House Rules.
My opponent has argued against the SCOTUS decisions in his round 1, and I will address my rebuttal to him in my round 3, but, even if his argument is valid, this “charge” is not of effect on President Trump. It is a statement of fact. The House did engage an inquiry. So, what?
IV.b.2 Charge: The White House defied a lawful subpoena from the House Committee
The President has full authority, by recognized executive privilege, sustained by the Supreme Court, to overrule House subpoenas. The House has the power to attempt to overrule an executive privilege impasse by taking the matter to Court, as previous Congresses have done in the face of such impasses. That Speaker Pelosi chose to deny that available option due to a clock, does not lead to a valid impeachable offense. The Constitution imposes no clock on impeachment investigation. 
IV.b.3 Charge: The White House defied a lawful subpoena from the House Committee to obtain documents and records.
See the rebuttal of item IV.b.2, above.
IV.b.4 Charge: President Trump directed current and former Executive Branch officials to not cooperate with the Committee.
See the rebuttal of item IV.b.1, above.
IV.b.5 Charge: President Trump continued to engage previous efforts to undermine the United States Government.
See the rebuttal of item IV.b.2, above.
The President, not Congress, nor any one else, establishes foreign policy, and his establishment of policy is the United States Government foreign policy, not the whim of any member of Congress in either chamber.
IV.b.6 Charge: No president has ever ordered complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry.
See the rebuttal of item IV.b.2, above. And, so what? There’s a first time for everything. There must be a justification of the charge by vote of the Senate. The House failed to obtain that. 
IV.b.7 Charge: President Trump will remain a threat to the Constitution
Given the lack of substance in any of the above, there is no threat to the Constitution. It may be a threat to the Democrat chances in the 2020 election, but that is political rivalry that does not rise to impeachable offense. That’s politics.
IV.b.8 Charge: President Trump warrants removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.
These underlined words are direct quote from the Constitution, Article I, section 3, clause 7, but they do not conclude the clause. It continues, “…but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”  Article 1 of 2 alleges that, according to the GAO, the President broke the law, as mentioned in commentary under Article 1, IV.a.5. However, that commentary describes the law cited by GAO, and its incorrect interpretation of “deferred” by that body. Since the Article does not suggest further legal action against the President, even the very charge indicated in Article 1, IV.a.5 is incomplete, even though, by strict understanding of Article 1, section 3, clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution, by virtue of the included word “nevertheless” [one must be prepared to understand the word in context of 18thcentury syntax], and contrary to current DOJ policy, the President can be indicted while a sitting President.


My opponent has laid out an interesting argument against the impeachment of the President. That being said, we are not here to debate the facts of this particular impeachment, and it is not the duty of the House of Representatives to re-litigate and revisit impeachment simply because there are some who find the grounds lacking. Such a duty, to provide stricter scrutiny to the charges of a particular impeachment, is granted to the Senate, where the impeachment is then tried. It is at this Senate trial that the facts are given a fuller hearing and are weighed against other concerns and the findings of the House. In the case of President Trump, the Senate voted on both counts to acquit the President. So the issue, then, should be moot.

Vacating the impeachment would only serve partisan political ends. Even if one maintains, and I readily concede that one fairly can, that the impeachment of the President was at least in part politically motivated, there is no substantive reason to now vacate an impeachment the charges of the which the President has been acquitted of. To vacate an impeachment on the grounds that such an impeachment was lacking in evidence is an absurdist and triumphalist act when it would serve no substantive end. As I noted before, the President was acquitted, and as such the vacating of his impeachment by the House would be simply pointless. It would be a show of partisan force, rather than an attempt to see justice done.

In total, nineteen federal officials had been impeached by the United States House of Representatives before that body voted to impeach President Trump. [1] Not once has their been a concerted effort to vacate any of these impeachments. Three Presidents have been impeached by the House, not one was convicted by the Senate, and yet the House never sought to vacate these impeachments. In fact, in many past impeachments we can see even graver partisanship than that alleged here, but never has the House sought to rectify this by vacating an impeachment it had previously made. It is clear, then, that vacating an impeachment would be unprecedented, and it is therefore fair to argue that it is not something we should do for light or transient causes. For the House to break with over 230 years of precedent simply because some feel that the President was unfairly impeached on weak grounds is unthinkable, especially when the President was then acquitted by the Senate.

If the House were to consider the vacating of an impeachment, it would first need to establish from where it derives the power to vacate an impeachment. Article I of the Constitution grants the House “… the sole power of impeachment” but this does not by any means give the House the power to then vacate or retract an impeachment once it has voted to impeach. Notably, one has to seriously question the procedure by which the House would even attempt to vacate an impeachment. An impeachment is, to borrow an old English legislative phrase, “spent” as soon as the Senate has debated and voted on the matter. To vacate an impeachment would be like trying to ‘repeal” the budget of a previous year, or to repeal any act that had a one time effect. To vacate an impeachment would therefore be of great procedural difficult, and it would ultimately be futile.

But, let us entertain for a moment the idea that an impeachment, not even this particular impeachment, but any impeachment, could be vacated, and that the House were able to overcome any possible procedural challenges. What grounds should we require for the vacating of an impeachment, duly passed by the House, following their own rules of procedure? Perhaps there could be some extraordinary case in which vacating an impeachment would be justified, but frankly this is not one of them. We can agree or disagree on the interpretation of the facts, but simple factual disagreements, surely, can not be enough to over ride over 230 years of Constitutional and procedural precedent.

I would also note that impeachment, since its inception, has been a “political” process. One can go back to the birth of the common law and see even in the 14th century that it was a “political” rather than a legal procedure. Theodore F. T. Plucknett noted as much, writing that impeachment as a procedure was “… confined to political prosecution, frequently of royal ministers”. [2] It is vital, then, that we consider first and foremost the precedent we set with impeachment, as it is impacted as much by our politics and precedent as by our laws, if not more so. To decide here that an impeachment, the charges of which the President has been acquitted of, and stemming from a case in which there has been no substantial change in factual basis, would be to cast a serious shadow over the very practice of impeachment. In fact vacating impeachments would, if anything, make the process more common as it would make it less serious. From a purely precedent minded standpoint, then, it is vital that we do not take any steps to trivialize impeachment, and whatever ones opinions of this particulate impeachment, vacating it would only serve to trivialize the process.

I will close this section simple by noting that, when it comes to vacating an impeachment, the underlying impeachment should not be the main focus of debate. Indeed the attempt by my opponent to re-litigate the entire episode, though interesting, is extraneous to the issue at hand. In impeachment, the House acts as a grand jury would, and thus we must be willing to concede that a reasonable decision to pursue impeachment further can be made even is we disagree with it. To now, for the sake of partisan gamesmanship, go back and engage in an unprecedented attempt at vacating an impeachment would devalue the process, weaken the House, and even further polarize our politics. Thus, for all concerned, weather you agree with the impeachment or if you where vehemently opposed, it is better to allow the impeachment by the House to stand as we should allow the acquittal by the Senate to stand. The issue is spent, and we should not go digging it up to score political points.


[2] Plucknett, A Concise History of the Common Law, Second Edition, pg. 184

Round 3
I Rebuttal: The scope of the impeachment effort
I.a My opponent asserted in his round 1 that the Articles of Impeachment “did not include the Report issued by Robert Mueller,”and that he will “confine my arguments to the impeachment proceedings, and the grounds cited for impeachment.”That’s fine if Con would like to limit the scope of his arguments, but I will remind all that the scope of impeachment began on January 20, 2017 with the Washington Post article referenced in my round 1, to wit,“The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.”[i]
I.a.1 Let us recall that as of the evening of the election, November 8, 2016, that Democrats were declaring that Trump was an illegitimate President, that he did not actually win the election because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. She said, speaking of her election loss that it was like “applying for a job and getting 66 million letters of recommendation and losing to a corrupt tornado.”[ii] That’s very funny considering that letters of recommendation do not do the hiring; the American people do by election, not by popular vote nationwide count, but, according to the Constitution, by a vote of the electoral college, state by state, representative of the American people, state by state which Trump won, 30 states to 20.[iii] One would think a presidential candidate would be aware of the nature by which presidential elections are conducted, and campaign accordingly.
1.a.2 Therefore, an effort started virtually immediately to find some reason to eject the President from the White House, due to the “illegitimacy” of his presidency. Jimmy Carter declared, “I think a full investigation would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election, and he was put into office because Russians interfered on his behalf.”[iv] This charge was levied three months after the release of the Mueller Report, which “full investigation” already concluded that, although the charge of collusion with the Russians by the Trump campaign was charged, no evidence of collusion could be found: “Further, the evidence was not sufficient to charge that any member of the Trump Campaign conspired with representatives of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election."[v] That investigation was launched by the appointment letter of Rod Rosenstein of 5/17/2017[vi], and occupied 22 months of “full investigation.” That, and Carter’s commentary, is the link of the Mueller Report to the impeachment effort, which finally settled on an argument that the collusion was really with Volodomyr Zelensky.[vii]
1.a.3 Considering the merry-go-round effect of the Democrats’ efforts to remove a duly-elected President from office from the day of inauguration, fully 33 months after the inauguration, but that the Articles of Impeachment concerned only the cause and effects of the 7/25/2019 telephone conversation of the President with Mr. Zelensky, President of Ukraine, which have been addressed and rebutted in detail in my round 2, the evidence of Democrat efforts of removing Trump by any means and at any cost seem laid bare, exposed as a travesty of common sense, let alone legitimate purpose.
I.a.4 My opponent charges in his round 1 that certain Supreme Court cases cited in my round 1 do not rise to, nor speak to, the necessities of Congress to adhere to precedents set by those cases, and that the decisions do not speak to congressional responsibilities relative to organizing and conducting committee investigations by authorization consisting of more than the Speaker’s presser.
I.a.4.B Regarding Quinn v. United States [1955],my opponent alleged that this case has naught to do with the impeachment of Donald Trump. I beg to differ, and that difference is in the syllabus of said case: 1[c] “If an objection to a question is made in any language that a committee may reasonably be expected to understand as an attempt to invoke the privilege, it must be respected both by the committee and by a court in prosecution under § 192. Pp 349 U.S. 162-163.”[viii] That privilege being a refusal to testify under subpoena against President Trump in Articles of Impeachment, Article II, page 7, line 3-5.[ix]
I.a.4.A Re: Watkins v. United States [1957],my opponent alleged in his round 1 that this case only involved an issue of “both houses of Congress is not necessary for one to start an investigation.” That is not the precedent I was defining. Rather: “[a] The power of Congress to conduct investigations, inherent in the legislative process, is broad, but it is not unlimited. P. 354 U.S. 187.”[x][c] No inquiry is an end in itself; it must be related to, and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of Congress.” P. 354 U.S. 187.[xi]Impeachment is not an act of Congress; it is an act of one chamber: the House.
II Argument: Charged – President Trump will remain a threat to the Constitution
II.a I will concentrate on this one charge from the Articles of Impeachment to conclude my arguments. The seventh charge of Article of Impeachment II was that President Trump would “remain a threat to the Constitution,”assuming that he ever was a threat in the first place so as to be charged in an Article of Impeachment. That is a significant over-reach of a charge considering the serious nature of the President’s oath of office; the only oath of a government officer included in the Constitution of the United States.[xii] By comparison, considering the source of all presidential impeachments, the House of Representatives, and it’s current Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, let us review what she said, since we are drilling down on what one says, in September, 2019, after announcing the House inquiry into the impeachment of President Trump, that impeachment was not to be a political gambit, “…but as a project to preserve the checks and balances of American democracy. That’s my responsibility: to protect the Constitution of the United States.”[xiii]
II.b That’s fine, but the words do not happen to be her oath of office as a member of the House of Representatives. That oath, documented in Title 5, Section 3331 of the United States Code, reads: “I, [name] do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true and faithful allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” I read no mention of “preserve, protect,… the Constitution…” That oath, including the bolded text, is exclusively the President’s oath of office. 
II.c Is Nancy Pelosi having illusions of grandeur, being but two successive steps away from the presidency, and thus motivated, decided to reverse her entire position relative to the succession to the presidency sequence, by which, with a little manipulation, could move that sequence along? It’s a legitimate question considering her reversal of opinion that “I’m not for impeachment… unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path because it divides the country.”[xiv] Well, Articles of Impeachment are certainly “compelling and overwhelming,” and the House ultimately tried to make them so, without success, but the House was hardly of one accord in the matter. “Bipartisan” was not the definition of the House vote to approve the Articles of Impeachment. In fact, it was only a modicum of bipartisanship due to the defection of Democrats in the House voting against both articles in Jerry Nadler’s resolution to impeach.[xv]
II.d One may think this is straining at gnats, but one’s words have led to an impeachment. Perhaps one’s words, regardless of who says them, should allow for some leeway of a sense of fairness and tolerance, because all of us sometimes say words that reveal less of our character than they represent the foibles of human error. Errors such as claiming, as did President Trump, with regard to constitutional, Article II presidential powers, in saying, “I can do what I want.” Do we remove a President from office for saying that, and retain a Speaker of the House for claiming her oath of office is the President’s oath of office? Where do we draw the line?
II.e Perhaps we might also compare another’s words, repeated woefully too often in the presidential election campaign of 2008: “I will fundamentally transform America,” said by Democrat candidate Barack Obama.[xvi] In the referenced article, Obama deflected the question posed by Bill O’Reilly, but Obama said this very phrase on numerous occasions. What is more fundamental to America than her Constitution? The implications of the statement speak for themselves. However, do we throw caution to the wind and impeach one president for his words, and not another? Was President Obama not a threat to the Constitution by his words if President Trump is?
II.f I conclude the answer is also woefully obvious: let one’s actions speak for one’s words. The Senate determined on the basis of testimony obtained by the House in their inquiry that the President’s actions spoke more than his occasional wayward words. The vote was to acquit. They acquitted his words and his actions. Period. I further conclude that, by the weight of Supreme Court precedent as I described in my round 1, and defended in this round 3, and by the Articles of Impeachment as rebutted in my round 2, that the whole effort was a series of attempts from the beginning of the Trump administration to the approval of the House Articles of Impeachment in December 2019 was a continuous, episodic attempt to remove an alleged illegitimate President from his office. Such a long-enduring effort, applied finally by the lightweight accusations presented by a parody by Adam Schiff, and not the actual transcript of a telephone call, rises to the unprecedented call to vacate the impeachment of President Trump. 
Yes, it is unprecedented, as my opponent declares. I agree. However, unprecedented does not mean it should not be done. Was the effort by writing and submitting the Declaration of Independence to the Crown of Great Britain, and the ratification of the United States Constitution notunprecedented? Yet, these documents, these most unique and mysterious of American documents, do exist, and endure, unprecedented, or not. Unprecedented does not mean forbidden to engage.
I yield to my opponent.

[iii]U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1, clauses 2, 3, &4

[v]Mueller Report, "Executive Summary to Vol 1," pg. 9


[xii]U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1, clause 8


I would like to start by noting that one reading the Article in The Washington Post would be forgiven for assuming, and rightly so, that the impeachment of President Trump did not in any meaningful way start before or shortly after his inauguration. Notably, the article makes no reference to any official attempt to impeach the President, but refers instead only to public actions taken to support official action. [1] I would also maintain that to vacate an impeachment that is in no way related to the charges posed by public protesters, or by extremists in the population or the House, is unwise when we consider how unprecedented a step this would be. It is also important to remember that the Mueller Report was released in mid April of 2019, months before the impeachment inquiry began, and that only two months later Speaker Pelosi not only publicly rejected any notion that she would pursue impeachment, but rules out even a much more mild censure which would have done little more than express Congress’s disposal of the President’s actions. [2] So again, while it may have shaped public perception, I would be loath to agree that impeachment began at any time before September of 2019 when the House of Representatives actually began its impeachment inquires. The President was impeached by the House, weather rightly or wrongly, on the basis of his conduct with the Ukrainian President, and the impeachment my opponent would see vacated represents these charges, not any other number of extraneous and unrelated efforts that never managed to secure the support of the House. 

Turning back to the law, my opponent makes reference once again to the Supreme Court’s decision in Quinn v United States, and this time charges that Quinn would protect the President against the charges of obstruction of congress. The wording citied would seem, at first blush and when taken out of context, to support this.

“If an objection to a question is made in any language that a committee may reasonably be expected to understand as an attempt to invoke the privilege, it must be respected both by the committee and by a court in prosecution under § 192. Pp 349 U.S. 162-163.” [3]
One will note, however, that in this "privilege" is not presented here in its unqualified sense, referring to executive privilege or to classic legal privilege, but rather it is modified by the definite article "the". When we consider the context of the decision, we can see that the privilege in question is in fact the Constitutional right against self incrimination found in the Fifth Amendment, as noted in the case syllabus shortly before the quoted passage

 Petitioner's references to the Fifth Amendment sufficiently invoked his constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. Pp. 349 U. S. 160-165. (emphasis added).
So while my opponent may be correct that the President is protected against providing evidence to Congress, the grounds he provides for such a protection go to protections against self incrimination in a legal sense. The President never objected to the subpoenas on Fifth Amendment grounds, he cited instead executive privilege. Thus, the standard in Quinn can not be construed to void on legal grounds the Obstruction of Congress article. Thus, as the issue was one of Congressional power vs Executive privilage, it became fair game for impeachment, even if it should have been ultimately rejected by the House. Regardless of ones feelings about the obstruction count, it was not legally prohibited by Quinn. Furthermore, Quinn itself stemmed from direct Committee questioning, not from the issuance of subpoenas, and is thus dubiously applicable at all.

As to my opponents argument about Watkins, I fail to see how the logic stands up at all. First, we should note, no one disputes that Congressional investigative powers are broad but not unlimited. Watkins rightly held that investigations must serve Congress in the performance of its duties. That is plainly noted in the language of the case

    (c) No inquiry is an end in itself; it must be related to, and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of Congress. P. 187. [4]
Such language would surely include an impeachment inquiry. Even if, as my opponent alleges, such language does not in fact cover impeachments, I am at a loss to understand how the language in Watkins could be cited to invalidate impeachment on legal grounds. Beyond the fact that Courts general refuse to involve themselves in impeachments, because they are so firmly in the realm of Congress's power, I fail to comprehend through what linguistic gymnastics one must go to come to the conclusion that by reference to "Congress" in this passage the Supreme Court somehow means to exclude actions reserved in origin to one House. Revenue bills, like articles of impeachment, must originate in the House, but surely no one would argue that they are not a legitimate task of Congress. And even more to the point, even if we accept this linguistic gymnastics as fact, how would that invalidate the impeachment or any investigation conducted by the House. Arguably, using my opponents interpretation of Watkins, since impeachment is reserved to the House and thus in his opinion not a legitimate task of Congress as defined in this case, standards of legitimacy need not apply at all since Watkins would have no impact on impeachment. Alternatively, my opponent could argue that impeachment is never legitimate, since it must start in the House, but such an argument is refuted by simply consulting the Constitution. I fail to see how my opponent's interpretation of Watkins in any way pertains to impeachment, let alone to this specific impeachment. 

I should like to return, as well, to the question of precedent before I close. Never, in all its history, has the House vacated an impeachment. Never, as far as I can tell,  has it even been discussed. Such blatantly partisan impeachments, like that of Justice Samuel Chase for being too biased against the Congressional majority, or that of President Andrew Johnson, who Congress sought to remove after he violated an unconstitutional law that Congress had passed specifically so that he would violate it and give them grounds for impeachment, have never been vacated. But, both Chase and Johnson eventually got their justice when acquitted by the Senate, acting in its Constitutional function as the moderating influence in impeachment, as in all Congressional business. Perhaps there was a vast and concerted effort to remove the President from the start, perhaps this impeachment was unjust, but in any event, regardless of what one believes about the impeachment, the matter is now settled, the Senate voted to acquit. To now vacate the impeachment would serve no end. Why should we now vacate an impeachment, the charges of which the President has been acquitted? What purpose would it serve? If, as many people reasonably believe, the impeachment was purely politically motivated, then how would vacating it do anything more than further politicize a process that is clearly already very much too politicized in the eyes of many? To vacate is to trivialize the severity of impeachment, and in doing so it makes the likelihood of impeachment greater, and will gradually erode the high standards we set for impeachment. Perhaps these high standards were not met in President Trump's case, but that was for the Senate to decide, and it made its decision. To allow the House to play partisan games with impeachment through this process of vacating is wrong, as it is wrong to impeach for grounds that do not meet the high standards necessary. But you do not address one wrong with another, especially when it would require a break with centuries of precedent. When something is unprecedented that does not mean it is forever off the table, but it requires a grave situation to occasion a break with the precedent of centuries, and this impeachment does not rise to such egregious levels of  graveness. This impeachment is not the most partisan in our history, not the most unjust, and it is wrong to test the limits of our Constitution and of logic to vacate it. I feel I should briefly note that I by no means endorse the impeachment of the President. At best I am rather ambivalent here. What concerns me is the dangerous precedent we set by vacating an impeachment.

I look forward to my opponents closing, and yield to him. 



Round 4
I Defense: When the impeachment effort really began
I.a My opponent has asserted, again, in beginning his round 3 argument, that the impeachment effort of Donald Trump did not really begin with the Washington Post article[1] of 1/20/2017 I referenced in round 1 and round 3 of my argument. He is correct. It started, as I proposed in round 1, nearly as soon as Trump announced his candidacy, and certainly by the time he was the unexpected nominated candidate, as I asserted in my round 1 argument: “I.a There is little doubt, and absolutely solid evidence that an investigation into the alleged collusion of Donald Trump and his presidential campaign, and just about anything with the common denominator, Russia, was begun by official Obama Administration officials even before the 2016 election.”Of a certainty, the actual call for impeachment, using that term, started with Democrat Representatives Brad Sherman [CA] and Al Green [TX].[2] So, having the term used and, granted, unofficial charges, with resolutions entered in the House well before Nancy Pelosi turned 180 on her personal impeachment position in September 2019, more than 2 years later, it is evident that impeachment was an early, earnest effort on the part of Democrat House members.
II Defense: Supreme Court
II.a I have quoted from Supreme Court syllabuses of cases, which, although do not directly stipulate impeachment concerns, do discuss legal aspects of the limitations on Congress in their investigative efforts. I’ll let you decide if, indeed, Congress is limited, or unlimited in that regard.
III Defense: Unprecedented actions
III.a I am surprised that my opponent has pressed the point that a House action to vacate an impeachment is unprecedented, and, on that basis, should not be done, and has argued as such over three rounds. I have rebutted the argument over two rounds, so it appears to be a sticking point that demands defense justification. I will do so.
III.a.1 As I alleged in round 3, The action taken by colonists, subject, at the time, to Great Britain, primarily, took the unprecedented course to declare, yes, to demand their independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, and successfully waged a military campaign against Great Britain, and other nation’s conscripted troops, to seal their independence by blood. It was not a popular effort in many quarters of the colonists. We were not united in the effort; the history is well documented on that score. 
III.a.2 In fact, on that score, having won the Revolutionary War, the status of the United States of America, having ratified a Constitution twelve years later, June, 1788, was tenuous. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, it was “…a republic, if you can keep it.” In fact, prior to that statement in answer to a lady’s question about what had just been accomplished, in his final address to the Continental Congress, Franklin said, "…when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views."[3] Yes, the United States of America, as an institution, was unprecedented. Do we infer by this that “unprecedented” is to be avoided, as my opponent argues with regard to an act of the House, to vacate an impeachment never attempted before?
III.a.3 My opponent argues that there have been three successful impeachments of Presidents in history: Johnson in 1868, Clinton in 1998, and Trump in 2019. All were tried in the Senate and acquitted. My opponent argues that these acquittals ought to be enough. However, let us look at what impeachment actually is and means.
III.a.3.A Impeachment, as defined by Hamilton in Federalist Paper #65, is a political action taken by the House of Representatives to attempt to remove as President [or other federal officers] from political office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” [ref U.S Constitution, Article II, section 4] subject to the conviction on the articles of impeachment in the Senate.[4] Any legal aspect of the charges contained in articles of impeachment is the duty of the Judiciary to conduct.
III.a.3.B But what if the preparation of the articles of impeachment is, as I alleged in round 1, IV, poisonous? I referred to the Supreme Court case, Silverthorne v. U.S. [1920].[5] In that decision, Justice Holmes declared, “The Government now, while in form repudiating and condemning the illegal seizure, seeks to maintain its right to avail itself of the knowledge obtained by that means which otherwise it would not have had.”[6] The begged question: was the action taken by the House to develop articles of impeachment derived from illegal means? I quote from my round 1 argument [IV]: “I submit that the House erred as described in the points above, and thus its evidence obtained was tainted. As prosecutorial evidence, it is invalid.” I argued in round 3 [II.f] that “Such a long-enduring effort, applied finally by the lightweight accusations presented by a parody by Adam Schiff, and not the actual transcript of a telephone call, rises to the unprecedented call to vacate the impeachment of President Trump.” 
A “parody” is: “A literary composition modelled [sic – it’s British] on and imitating another work, esp. a composition in which the characteristic style and themes of a particular author or genre are satirized by being applied to inappropriate or unlikely subjects, or are otherwise exaggerated for comic effect. In later use extended to similar imitations in other artistic fields, as music, painting, film, etc.”[7]**
Modeled. Imitated. Satirized. Exaggerated. Inappropriate. Comic effect. Are these terms that belong in a serious discussion of even the political action to remove a President from office based on “high crimes and misdemeanors?” Is this what my opponent alleges in finding, “To now vacate the impeachment would serve no end.”  [My opponent’s 3rdround argument] How about serving the demands of equal justice under the law? That there was past injustice in the impeachments of Johnson and Clinton, notwithstanding, offers no justification to continue with that particular precedent. That Supreme Courts have reversed their prior decisions on 12 percent of its cases is reason enough to consider that a first-time effort to correct a wrong committed by the House, regardless of the acquittal by the Senate, is not satisfied by removal of the impeachment stain, worn forever, as Nancy Pelosi alleges. How about to serve the ends of justice?
III.a.3.C My opponent confuses the terms “justice” and the “Judiciary.” Justice is a term applied to all three branches of government in their conduct; it is not solely the purview, nor the “sole power,” to use that phrase applied to both chambers of Congress, of the Judiciary. So, to say that impeachment is merely a political act, and that by acquittal, the Senate has “removed the stain,” begs reasonable logic. In the two previous cases of impeachment, those Presidents still wear the stain of impeachment in historic reference to their presidencies. I argue that it should not be so.
To vacate a failed impeachment when that impeachment is derived from poisonous sources, i.e., Adam Schiff’s parody, which, among other things, deleted seven points of discussion between Presents Trump and Zelensky in the 7/25/2019 telephone conversation, as I argued in round 1 [IV], round 2 [Iv.a.1], and round 3 [I.a.3], while going directly to the charge that Joe Biden was the subject of “the favor” is just such political, and legal poison.
I would assert, by the way, though it has no place in this debate, and should not be considered as added evidence to support what this debate does propose, [I reject that this amounts to argument in this debate, but is merely a recognition of fairness] that a poorly reached acquittal, or conviction of impeachment, by the Senate ought to also be capable of being vacated, even if that action did not restore the convicted President to his office, given time passed. It would still answer the demands of justice.
IV Conclusion
IV.a My opponent’s argument against vacating an impeachment might hold reason on precedence, alone, except that we know the Supreme Court has reversed itself on many occasions. Is reversal solely a power exclusive to the Judiciary? The Constitution, in fact, does not make reference to Supreme Court reversals; yet, they do it repeatedly. Does the Constitution make reference to the House vacating an impeachment? No, it does not. But why cannot the House do what the Supreme Court does habitually? As it happens, the Constitution makes no reference to Congress conducting investigations, either. The word does not exist constitutionally; yet, they do it, and have Supreme Court allowance to do so for legislative purpose, including impeachment.
IV.b I conclude that the question of House vacating of an impeachment, while not constitutionally, nor statutorily mandated, is, was, and can be a legitimate action to reverse a prior poor course of action, even while being unprecedented. The first Supreme Court case was unprecedented. The election of George Washington as President of the United States was unprecedented. The Declaration of Independence was unprecedented. The election of the first woman as President will be unprecedented. Unprecedented does not mean forbidden. I do not argue that the record of impeachment be expunged, just as the Constitution, when amended, does not change its original language. However, vacating a poor decision, just as the Supreme Court reverses decisions [while keeping the record of the original decision], seems particularly just, unprecedentedly so.
I rest my case.


[7]O.E.D., unabridged.

** Note that unless one has either a hard copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, unabridged [20 volumes], or a subscription to the online version [I have both] one is not able to access the online version. Therefore, I swear that my definition given associated with reference [7] is a true accounting of the full definition. I use it because I consider [and many agree] the OED to be the definitive dictionary of the English language, bar none.

I will start my closing by reminding us all of the serious nature of the question before us. Since the 14th century, impeachment has been a part of the Anglo-American political tradition. In all that time, it has never been suggested that an impeachment, after passage by the lower house of the legislature, could or should be vacated by that lower House, especially after the body charged with trying the impeachment has acquitted the impeached official.  To vacate an impeachment, for the first time in the history of the procedure in this country or indeed in its recorded history in English common law, is beyond unprecedented. It is a vandalism of the procedure itself for partisan ends, and would serve only to further degrade and devalue a very serious procedure that we can all agree has been far too readily "politicized". We have a long history in this country of hyper-partisan impeachments, of both Presidents and other federal officials, and in this case as in those it is the duty of the Senate, not retroactively the duty of the House, to ensure that the offenses alleged rise to the level of seriousness required to remove a federal official from office. 

My opponent has sought to compare the unprecedented vacating of an impeachment with the breaking of precedent by the Supreme Court, and that both ultimately serve the course of justice. Such a comparison is deeply flawed. When the Supreme Court breaks with precedent, it does so only in the gravest of circumstances, and when it does so it actively shapes the laws. Its rulings, when it breaks with precedent, serve to change the law, they serve a practical purpose. To vacate an impeachment, to break with centuries of legislative procedure, would serve no such practical purpose. No one would be restored to office, no wrongs would be materially righted, and if anything such an act would only make future impeachments even more likely as it would make less serious the consequences of impeachment. We should thus seriously consider what breaking with the long standing accepted nature of impeachment, established over 700 years across two nations, would actually mean. 

Even should we ignore this, and accept that vacating an impeachment is easily possible, let us pause to consider why this case more than any other in our history should serve as the catalyst for such unprecedented change. As already noted, in the case of both Justice Samuel Chase and of President Andrew Johnson, the House readily advanced articles of impeachment even more blatantly partisan than those leveled against President Trump. In both cases, the matter went before the Senate, and both men were acquitted. Never was vacating the impeachment of either man mentioned. And why should it be? The impeached officials were cleared of all charges, and the matter was therefore settled. 

What has my opponent offered as the grounds for vacating the impeachment? Simply put, that the impeachment was somehow unjust. Perhaps it was partisan, perhaps the charges did not rise to the serious level required of impeachment. At the end of the day, however, the Senate voted to acquit, as it was concerned by these very real possibilities. But why should we vacate an impeachment that was passed by the House, in accordance with its rules, and thus bringing with it the full legal force of such a measure? Though my opponent has sought to debate the precedent set by the Courts, it is now undisputed fact that the inquiry and impeachment began and was conducted in accordance with the rules of the House of Representatives and its respective committees. Though we can split hairs on the matters of legal precedent, it is of little consequence as the right to launch and conduct impeachment inquiries is the undisputed role of the House. This is not even to make mention of the fact that the Supreme Court has held that impeachment is nonjusticiable, as it held in Nixon v United States [1] (the Nixon is not Richard, just as a note). When a matter, such as impeachment, is so firmly placed by the Constitution in the hands of the Congress, the Supreme Court is loath to intervene, and rightly so. 

To finish, I would like to note once again that vacating an impeachment would be a major step, and would represent a drastic break from centuries of precedent. Though my opponent is chomping at the bit to leave this long standing precedent in the dust, we should pause to consider both what that would invite, and the grounds on which we are asked to break with this precedent. To vacate this impeachment would make even more partisan a process that is all ready to tainted by the stain of partisan politics. Further, it would cast serious doubt on the authority of the House, which has never before taken such a step that would cast its own rules and prerogatives in such a negative light.  And on what grounds do we seek this unprecedented break? The impeachment was conducted, by the admission of all parties, using the proper procedures of the House and Senate. It is far from the first partisan impeachment, and it is far from the most egregious. Perhaps there will come a time when it will be necessary for the House of Representatives to vacate an impeachment, but we should not take that step lightly. In this case, to break such a long standing precedent, to risk making impeachment even more partisan when the matter is already settled, is simply not consistent with a desire to see justice done. 

Let us consider here not the impassioned partisan arguments that have tainted so much of our politics, but let us rather consider here the facts. An impeachment, conducted by all accounts in a manner prescribed by the rules of the House of Representatives, even if blatantly partisan in origin, that has since been discharged by the Senate in the course of its Constitutional duty, should not be vacated in a break with seven centuries of common law and Constitutional precedents to serve no end other than the vainly symbolic. 

Let us take impeachment seriously, and may we all give serious pause before voting here to end impeachment as we know it, and yet further degrade this process. 

I rest my case.