“There’s no requirement in the Constitution that the House do anything specific, in any order, prior to voting to approve articles of impeachment,” said Stephen Vladek, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas.
Mr. Bowman, who called the White House letter “a parade of absurdities,” noted that impeachment is just one of the powers granted to Congress so “if you took the White House argument seriously, it would mean that there has to be a vote” before any House committee could begin hearings on legislation related to interstate commerce, budgets or even establishing post offices.
What Was Said
“The House of Representatives is now essentially running an impeachment process without following precedent, without allowing the president to have counsel, without allowing the president to call witnesses or have subpoena power.”
— Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, in an interview this week
“If they have a vote to do a formal impeachment inquiry, historically, precedent is such that, yes, then everyone gets the right, the minority party gets rights. Certainly, the White House gets rights. The president gets rights that aren’t there now.”
— Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, in an interview this week
This is misleading.
This argument — which featured prominently in Mr. Cipollone’s letter and has been echoed by other defenders of Mr. Trump — misrepresents the separation of duties in Congress in regards to the impeachment process: The House investigates and charges, and the Senate holds trial.
Allowing the subject of an impeachment inquiry to call witnesses or present counterevidence is not required in either the Constitution or House rules. The House Judiciary Committee did hear testimony from the White House counsel at the request of the Clinton administration in 1998 and allowed Mr. Nixon’s defense lawyers to present rebutting evidence in 1974. But no such accommodation was made in Mr. Johnson’s case, who was impeached by the House before it even drew up articles of impeachment.
“It’s perfectly reasonable for folks to suggest that the House should follow these more conciliatory precedents,” Mr. Vladeck said. “It’s completely false to argue that it’s under any constitutional or legal obligation to do so.”
After a successful impeachment vote, the House then appoints lawmakers known as managers who essentially act as prosecutors in a Senate trial. The impeachment rules in the upper chamber do offer the impeached person some rights. Witnesses, for example, may be cross-examined and each side — the House managers and the impeached person — can make closing arguments before the Senate.
What Was Said
“Remember when Pelosi said that the transcript would show a quid pro quo? It doesn’t.”
— Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, in an interview this month
“No quid pro quo” has become a rallying cry among those opposed to an impeachment inquiry, particularly since the reconstituted transcript of the phone call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president was released on Sept. 25. (The phrase appears in talking points the White House pushed to its surrogates).