Is Trump Impeached Or Not?

Perhaps, "It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is."  That, at least, would be one answer the Democrats might give.

More obviously, it also depends upon the meaning of "impeach."  The word is related to French empecher, to prevent, and originally covered any act prejudicial to the operation of something.  Later it came to be used in the sense of "accuse someone of a crime," and finally, to lay a formal charge of treason.  If Ms Pelosi means simply that, like every other shrew in the world, she has been shouting insults at the President and now gained the support of nearly all her Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives, than Trump should consider himself impeached.

On the other hand, in the impeachment of a President we are bound by legal definitions and traditional usage.  The House has so far done an investigation and on a strictly partisan vote accused the President of misconduct.  There are two relevant sentences in Article II of the Constitution

1.The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

So the authority to impeach is vested in the House.  How is that right exercised?

2. The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.

So a case of impeachment is tried by the Senate, the only body competent to pronounce judgment.  When the House votes "to impeach," that infinitive is an expression of purpose and intention.  It is something they are going to do by presenting the charges before the Senate.  In the parallel case of a homicide, what if someone were arrested for homicide, but the prosecutors never bothered to get an indictment of, if they did indict, had failed to put the accused on trial?  Here in Winnebago County, the defendant was released, when the State's Attorney failed to bring the accused to trial within a specified period of time.

In plain English, the President is not impeached until the charges are presented to the Senate.  It is Ms Pelosi's move.

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina