Judge Has Last Word/ House Democrats’ Impeachment Inquiry Is Legal

The republican President Donald Trump and his GOP supporters in the White House and the US Congress have been attempting to disparage that the House’s formal declaration of its commencement of an “Impeachment Inquiry” with the talking point that its inquiry isn’t  legal as the House members have never held a vote as was done in the past 2 presidential impeachments.

The Democratic Party leadership members in the US House of Representatives have countered that the US Constitution mandates that they have the sole power to initiate the impeachment inquiry/ investigation to collect evidence which would culminate with the House members voting in favor or not, for “Articles of Impeachment,” a list of charges that the House determines to be why the impeachment process against President Trump must continue to trial in the US Senate. Until the “Articles of Impeachment” are voted on, a vote at any earlier stage is not required. The House has initiated numerous impeachment inquiries without anyone voting for it.

It turns out that a US Federal judge agrees with the House Democrats that they have the constitutional mandate to conduct the impeachment inquiry without subjecting its members to vote on its commencement.

The status of an “impeachment inquiry” grants the House more power to collect evidence because they no longer have to prove legislative intent when requesting documents. The US Constitution has granted the House of Representatives its one non-legislative duty, the power of impeachment.

There’s precedent for the House, while its under the umbrella of an impeachment inquiry, to now demand access to study the grand jury portions of the 3/22/2019 FBI’s final report regarding its 22 months long Trump-Russian probe. The same judge concurred with this standard.

Here’s 75-page opinion by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell. It’s a probability that the White House will appeal Judge Howell’s ruling.

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Here’s the rest of the story..

On October 25, 2019, Charlie Savage and Emily Cochrane of the New York Times penned the following report, “Impeachment Inquiry Is Legal, Judge Rules, Giving Democrats a Victory”  (“The finding came in an order directing the Justice Department to hand over secret grand jury evidence from the Mueller investigation to House impeachment investigators.”)


 “A federal judge handed a victory to House Democrats on Friday when she ruled that they were legally engaged in an impeachment inquiry, a decision that undercut President Trump’s arguments that the investigation is a sham.”

Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell

“The declaration came in a 75-page opinion by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the Federal District Court in Washington. She ruled that the House Judiciary Committee was entitled to view secret grand jury evidence gathered by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.”

“Typically, Congress has no right to view such evidence. But in 1974, the courts permitted lawmakers to see such materials as they weighed whether to impeach President Richard M. Nixon. The House is now immersed in the same process focused on Mr. Trump, Judge Howell ruled, and that easily outweighs any need to keep the information secret from lawmakers.”


And in a rebuke to the Trump administration, she wrote that the White House strategy to stonewall the House had actually strengthened lawmakers’ case. She cited Mr. Trump’s vow to fight “all” congressional subpoenas and an extraordinary directive by his White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, that executive branch officials should not provide testimony or documents to impeachment investigators.”

“The White House’s stated policy of noncooperation with the impeachment inquiry weighs heavily in favor of disclosure,” Judge Howell wrote. “Congress’s need to access grand jury material relevant to potential impeachable conduct by a president is heightened when the executive branch willfully obstructs channels for accessing other relevant evidence.”


“The administration is likely to appeal the ruling; the Justice Department was reviewing it, a spokeswoman said. It came on a day when House investigators unleashed another round of subpoenas. They demanded that the acting chief of the White House budget office and two other administration officials testify next month in their inquiry into Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to open investigations that could benefit him politically.”

“Democrats praised Judge Howell’s decision. Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, applauded the “thoughtful ruling” and its recognition that “our impeachment inquiry fully comports with the Constitution.”

“This grand jury information that the administration has tried to block the House from seeing will be critical to our work,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement.”


In arguing that the impeachment inquiry is a sham, Republicans have noted that the full House has not voted for a resolution to authorize one, as it did in 1974 and 1998 at the start of impeachment proceedings targeting Nixon and President Bill Clinton.

Democrats have countered that no resolution is required under the Constitution or House rules and pointed out that impeachment efforts to remove other officials, like judges, started without such a vote.

Link to entire article: View on nytimes.com


  1. Hello Gronda. As you wrote this will be appealed. How does that work in practice? Can an appeals court simply decline to hear the appeal? What are the odds the ruling will be over turned. I can not seem to find a break down on these questions online. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Republican arguments about process rather than the substance of the allegation show traitorous neglect of the constitutional basis of our country. I keep thinking a Nuremberg like trial situation will likely be on the way for the Republican leaders who continue to deceive with this sham.


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