On Wednesday, Donald Trump vowed to fight impeachment efforts by taking his case to the Supreme Court if he has to, Yahoo News reports. The problem is, the Supreme Court has no Constitutional authority over impeachment proceedings.
In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, Trump railed against the Mueller report and congressional Democrats, who may be inclined to use the findings in the report as the basis for impeachment. In fact, Trump made at least two mistakes in his defense of himself.
In his first Twitter post, Trump vowed to “first head to the Supreme Court” if Democrats impeach him. What Trump fails to realize, however, is that the Supreme Court has no constitutional authority to intervene in impeachment proceedings. The Constitution is clear that impeachment is a matter for Congress and Congress only.
In another post on Twitter, Trump attempted to defend himself by stating that he has committed no “high crimes or misdemeanors,” the two categories of wrongdoing that the Constitution specifies as grounds for impeachment. However, Trump fails to understand the meaning of the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
As the Constitutional Rights Foundation explains, the term, as it had been understood in English law for centuries before the Framers wrote it into the Constitution, refers to a variety of actions, not just criminal ones. It can mean everything from failing to properly spend allocated money, bribery, to failing to properly moor a ship.
Indeed, of the two presidents to be impeached by Congress, only one of them, Bill Clinton, was impeached for actual criminal offenses — in his case, perjury and obstruction of justice. The other, Andrew Johnson, was impeached for a variety of political and procedural missteps that angered the Congress that was in session at the time.
Though both men were impeached in the House of Representatives, neither was convicted in the Senate nor subsequently removed from office, and both men completed the remainder of their presidential terms.
Whether or not Trump will be impeached is far from clear. Democrats, now in control of the House of Representatives, have mentioned the word a few times, but as of this writing, no one in the 116th Congress has actually introduced articles of impeachment. If that happens, the Democrat-controlled House may very well vote to impeach Trump, but the process of removing him from office would face an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate. What’s more, it would take a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate to remove him from office, a vote that would require a “yes” vote from at least 18 Republicans in the Senate, and that’s only if all 49 Senate Democrats also voted to remove Trump from office.