What does “Sole” Mean?

The House decides what is impeachable.

In his speech from the floor yesterday Alan Dershowitz made the flooring claim (which echoes similar notions from others in Trump’s defense team):

“That is clear from the history. That is clear from the language of the Constitution. You cannot turn conduct that is not impeachable into impeachable conduct simply by using terms like ‘quid pro quo’ and ‘personal benefit.'”

Source: Fox News, “Dershowitz calls out House Dems in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial after Bolton shock waves

I would remind the good professor, and his colleagues, that the US Constitution states:

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

Article I, Section 2, paragraph 5

“Sole” means “being the only one” and “having no sharer” or “belonging exclusively or otherwise limited to one usually specified individual, unit, or group.”

The House determines by vote what is, or is not, impeachable. So, yes, the House can determine that the president abusing his power for personal benefit is impeachable.

This is the case based on the clear language of the Constitution.

Indeed, President Trump has been impeached.

Yes, I know that Derschowitz is making a rhetorical argument to persuade the Senate not to remove Trump, but the notion that he and his colleagues get to decide what the House can decide is impeachable is grating to the ear and runs counter to obvious reality.

Beyond any of that, it is profoundly dangerous and disturbing for part of the president’s defense to be that a president can, in fact, abuse his power for personal gain, up to an including leveraging a foreign government to influence a US election because, well, there is no specific law against it.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Impeachment
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Dershowitz is angling for a presidential pardon for his upcoming child rape and molestation conviction.

    Seriously. So much for strict constructionalism and adherence to the words of the Constitution.

    4
  2. gVOR08 says:

    Derschowitz is making a rhetorical argument to persuade the Senate not to remove Trump

    This was out of the corner of my eye as I was leaving the gym Sunday so I may have misread it, but the FOX “News” tube showed Derschowitz and the captioning read ” You can’t impeach a duly elected President”. So the Constitution has nothing to do with what Derschowitz says, unless it’s the imaginary Constitution in conservatives’ heads. He does know that the senators will vote solely on their own political considerations. He’s not trying to persuade any senator, he’s trying to provide sound bites to FOX to give senators some cover with the base. And in the process get himself another fifteen minutes of fame he can cash in on.

    And really, what else can he do? He can hardly defend Trumpsky on the law and the facts and they’ve got three days of air time to fill.

    6
  3. Barbara A Carson says:

    The Congress did impeach and now the Senate is to be the judge and jury. The professor Dershowitz said quid pro quo is not an impeachable offense. I agree with him. If it was an offense, everyone in Wa. DC would be criminals. Why would anyone give millions to another country if they did not want something in return. Sorry it does not work that way. Now I have not heard anyone here, say anything about Biden, and how he actually had a prosecutor fired for having the audacity to look in to his sons shady behavior. He is on TV saying he would withhold money from Ukraine if they did not fire him. Can we at least be fair in this, otherwise you only sound like another partisan hack who does not care to give up all the facts.

    2
  4. DrDaveT says:

    @Barbara A Carson:

    The professor Dershowitz said quid pro quo is not an impeachable offense. I agree with him.

    You are both wrong. Please read Dr. Joyner’s post on this subject from earlier today.

    If it was an offense, everyone in Wa. DC would be criminals.

    No one else in Wa. DC used the authority of their office to extort political favors from a foreign government. That’s the only crime on the table today.

    Why would anyone give millions to another country if they did not want something in return.

    Even accepting that sad transactional view of life for a moment, the US gives things to other countries in order to get benefits to the US. Not personal benefits to Donald Trump. You missed that part.

    Now I have not heard anyone here, say anything about Biden, and how he actually had a prosecutor fired for having the audacity to look in to his sons shady behavior.

    That’s probably because it never happened. You have been lied to. Find better news sources.

    He is on TV saying he would withhold money from Ukraine if they did not fire him.

    No, he isn’t. See above. Become less gullible.

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  5. Kathy says:

    @Barbara A Carson:

    This is really sad. Once upon a time I’d read something like this and think, “Well, there it is. That’s the dumbest thing I’ll read all year.”

    Now, I read it and think, “Well, there it is. That’s the dumbest thing I’ll read all day.”

    13
  6. drj says:

    @DrDaveT:

    That’s probably because it never happened. You have been lied to. Find better news sources.

    Actually something like this did happen.

    But the US, the EU, and the IMF (not just Biden) all pressured Ukraine to get rid of a prosecutor who wasn’t prosecuting corruption.

    The US gives things to other countries in order to get benefits to the US. Not personal benefits to Donald Trump. You missed that part.

    That’s of course the real issue here.

    3
  7. @Barbara A Carson: Here’s the thing, you are correct that this for that (quid pro quo) is not in itself the problem. The problem is what for what in whose benefit.

    If I tell a student that this grade of an A requires that set of assignments being completed well and properly we have no problems.

    If, however, I say to get this grade of an A you have to do that list of chores at my house we have a problem.

    The first is a legitimate interchange.

    The second is a corrupt leveraging of my position to get personal gain.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Barbara A Carson:

    Why would anyone give millions to another country if they did not want something in return.

    For starters, Congress gave the money to Ukraine, and trump broke the law when he withheld the aid. As to why they gave it to Ukraine, you could call and ask, or better yet you could just go back and read what they said at the time. (ftr, I know why they did it, but it’s time you started putting in the work of educating yourself, so I’m not telling) They did it in a public and transparent way, totally above board. Unlike your… gutless weasel in the WH who did it in as underhanded a way as he thought he could get away with and then when caught denied he had and when caught in that lie said it was OK and when caught in that lie he…

    Why bother? You’ve heard his lies, each one contradicting the previous one, but you swallowed them whole, without question anyway because you want to be lied to.

    5
  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy:

    “Well, there it is. That’s the dumbest thing I’ll read all day.”

    You lucky girl. There is usually competition in my day, and I try to avoid the stupid.

    2
  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Barbara A Carson: I realize you were instructed to use American sounding names, but Barbara A Carson is just too precious.

    5
  11. Barbara A Carson says:

    @gVOR08: Thank You I am not afraid to use my actual name. What I said is how I feel

    1
  12. Barbara A Carson says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Hey stop it, the money was not held back, they got it. They said they were not threatened and they got the money. Unlike BIDEN Son of a bitch they fired the prosecutor. Then they got the aid. CNN much, really the BSN

    1
  13. DrDaveT says:

    @Barbara A Carson:

    Hey stop it, the money was not held back, they got it.

    The bank robbers returned the money, OK? It’s all cool. Robbing banks isn’t a crime unless you keep the money, right?

    (The saddest part of this whole situation is what it has revealed about how thin the veneer of reason and civilization is on so many of my fellow-countrymen…)

    13
  14. Jax says:

    @Barbara A Carson: They only got the aid because Trump got caught.

    The prosecutor was fired for NOT prosecuting corruption. Corruption that occurred well before Hunter Biden was on Burisma’s board.

    9
  15. bookdragon says:

    @DrDaveT: I’d say ‘fellow countrymen’ is facts not in evidence here.

    Maybe she really is willfully ignorant, but if it sounds like a russia-bot, and spouts RT agiprop…

    5
  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Barbara A Carson:
    Interesting. When I Google “Barbara A. Carson I get obits for a dead woman. And also this:

    Barbara A. Carson, 75 was booked at 3:40 a.m. at the Marion County Jail. She provided a breath sample and the results were .160 and .170. The state legal limit at which someone is presumed to be intoxicated is .08. She remained at the jail late Tuesday, with bail set at $1,000.

    Not from Florida, are you Barbara?

    1
  17. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Yeah, well, I was wrong.

  18. Gustopher says:

    @bookdragon: Oh, for fucks sake, nearly half the country is spoon fed this stuff from Fox, there’s no reason to assume she is a Russian because she repeats it.

    Have you found decent chunks of her comment only on Russia Times or something?If so, show your work, otherwise it’s obvious that you are a Venezuelan bot.

    4
  19. Gustopher says:

    @Barbara A Carson:

    Now I have not heard anyone here, say anything about Biden, and how he actually had a prosecutor fired for having the audacity to look in to his sons shady behavior.

    He delivered a message from the US government, consistent with policies in the EU, that the prosecutor had to go, because he wasn’t prosecuting corruption. Did Biden get our entire foreign policy apparatus and our allies to help protect his son? The prosecutor had dropped the Burisma case before this, btw, so even that doesn’t make sense.

    Biden should have recused himself, and had someone else deliver the message, to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

    And, this was all well known as it was happening. And the Republicans said not a word. Had they found it troublesome, they could have held hearings or even impeached Biden, as they held the House.

    ——
    Let’s look at the grammar — a misplaced comma and a lack of an apostrophe. That’s the English of a native speaking American.

    5
  20. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Many people have no google presence. I am eclipsed by a researcher in my field and a Scientologist.

    I suspect Barbara A Carson might live in the boonies.

    6
  21. All,

    I understand that yes, there are bots and operatives out there and that, yes, our new visitor is offering up talking points. However, do we have to set upon a new person by immediately questioning their authenticity and/or Googling their name?

    I mean, is that really helpful in any meaningful senses? Do we think it will encourage new commenters? (Some of the lurkers have to see that kind of stuff and say, nope, not for me!).

    13
  22. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I mean, is that really helpful in any meaningful senses? Do we think it will encourage new commenters? (Some of the lurkers have to see that kind of stuff and say, nope, not for me!).

    Seconded.

    @DrDaveT:

    The bank robbers returned the money, OK? It’s all cool. Robbing banks isn’t a crime unless you keep the money, right?

    Its also worth noting that they only “returned” the money because they discovered that it was going to be revealed that they “robbed” the bank.

    Or that they decided to release the hostages once they knew the cops were on the way.

    For the record, John Kelly apparently just said he believes Bolton’s account.

    3
  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Barbara A Carson: I repeat: “it’s time you started putting in the work of educating yourself,” it’s not my job.

    @Kathy: All things come to she who waits.

    1
  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: On to the next step: “That’s the dumbest thing I’ll read this morning.”

    […]

    “…the imaginary Constitution in conservatives’ heads.”
    Wait… you mean there’s another one? WA!

    1
  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @DrDaveT: @Jax: Y’all DO realize you’re not gonna change her mind, right?

    1
  26. Jax says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I know, I know, I just remember this one time (at band camp 🙂 ) I was talking to another person like her about the Ukraine transcript (which he hadn’t read for himself), and I sent it to him, and he was like “Whoa, that’s not at all what they said was in it on Hannity!” and the angels sang from the heavens and it was BEAUTIFUL….for about 2 seconds, then he was back to no quid pro quo. 😉

    2
  27. Michael Bailey says:

    Good post . The constant struggle over establishing whether we live in a shared reality is exhausting. The GOP’s willingness to change what they hold to be real is exhausting. But most exhausting of all is their feigned innocence in playing this nihilistic game.

    4
  28. @Michael Bailey: Indeed. So very exhausting.

    3
  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: 😀

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: To quote myself:

    Why bother? You’ve heard his lies, each one contradicting the previous one, but you swallowed them whole, without question anyway because you want to be lied to.

    and

    it’s time you started putting in the work of educating yourself,

    Hard for me to see where I “tried to change her mind”.

  31. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Thank you for gently smacking people.

    This distrust, by the way, is what the Russian psy-ops is trying to create. Destroy the political discourse in America, and cripple the country so Russia can play unfettered on the world stage. The people leaping to attack Barbara are as much of Russian stooges in that moment as the people who marinate their brains in conspiracy theories are most of the time.

    Yes, @Michael Reynolds, @gVOR08 and the rest, I’m calling you out! Bad stooges! Bad!

    The harm of believing someone is who they say they are is that you might look slightly foolish for trusting them. The harm of going straight to accusations is that you are contributing to the distrust and division that our country’s adversary is try to promote.

    If you love your country, risk being naive. It’s the patriotic thing to do.

    ——
    Michael, gVor, I love you both (I don’t know bookdragon from Adam, but welcome dude/dudette/dudeling…), but maybe don’t try to be so clever?

    1