Fact Check: Our President HAS Been Officially Impeached. Twice. -- Video Misstates Constitutional Process

Fact Check

  • by: Olivera Perkins
Fact Check: Our President HAS Been Officially Impeached. Twice.  -- Video Misstates Constitutional Process Yes, Impeached

Has President Donald Trump officially never been impeached because the United States Senate hasn't convicted him? No, that's not true: The U. S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives sole power of impeachment and the Senate sole power to try all impeachments. Both in the dictionary and the constitution, the verb means to charge a public office holder with misconduct. The charges are tried in the U.S. Senate.

The claim appeared in a YouTube video (archived here) posted by the First Harvest Ministries channel on January 13, 2021, under the title "Our President Has NOT BEEN Officially Impeached." Shortly before the 1-minute mark of the 6:20-minute video, the speaker says:

Our president, Donald Trump, is not impeached. I'm going to say it again. He's never been impeached, nor is he impeached today. So, if we are going to put the record straight. No, he's not been impeached twice. He's never been impeached. Now, there's you some real facts.

Click below to watch the video on YouTube:

Jonathan L. Entin, a professor emeritus of law and an adjunct professor of political science at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, told Lead Stories that even an "acquittal does not make the impeachment disappear."

On January 13, 2021, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump on a single charge of "incitement of insurrection" in connection with role in encouraging his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol January 6, 2021 in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College win. The date for the Senate trial has not been set as of this writing. Trump made history by being impeached twice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 for what USA Today describes as "his efforts to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden." The Senate acquitted him in 2020. Only two other presidents, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999, have been impeached. No president has been convicted by the Senate. No president has been impeached twice.

At about the 1:40 mark, the speaker says:

You've ever heard of an indictment? The prosecutor goes down to the grand jury, they present their side of the story, and they get what's called an indictment. An indictment is the same thing as an impeachment. It means nothing. Now, stay with me. I'm going to help you understand it. So, the prosecutor gets an indictment against you on his side of the story. Once he gets that indictment, or that impeachment against you, the next thing is what? You get a fair trial in a court of law to determine if the indictment is going to stand, and turn into a conviction.

So, if you go to court and are found not guilty -- which happens all day long in the United States -- they find you not guilty. Were you ever convicted of a crime? No, therefore the felony indictment vanishes. It goes away, like it never existed. An impeachment is an indictment for one side of the story -- one side of the story. . Now, it goes to trial. [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell said that he will not bring the Senate back into session. So, Donald Trump will not be removed from office. Praise God! Hallelujah! That's a wonderful thing. Now, they will have a trial whenever they resume their session.

Entin, the law and politics professor, explains why the information in the video is inaccurate. He wrote in an email to Lead Stories:

This speaker does not understand the term impeachment. The House of Representatives has the power to impeach; after the House impeaches, the Senate conducts a trial. The Senate determines whether to convict the official of the charge(s) for which the House impeached the official, but impeachment occurs when the House votes to approve one or more articles of impeachment. In other words, impeachment is a fact, not a legal conclusion. An official can be impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate. That is what happened to President Trump the first time around. But the acquittal does not make the impeachment disappear. It happened. (The speaker's analogy to an indictment is similarly flawed: Even if the criminal charge results in acquittal, the fact remains that the defendant was indicted. The indictment might not have much legal significance at that point, but it still happened as a factual matter.)

Entin emailed Lead Stories the sections of the Constitution on which his conclusions are based:

Article I, Section 2, Clause 5: "The House of Representatives . . . shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."

Article I, Section 3, Clause 6: "The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments."

Article II, Section 4: "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

The Senate website also cites the Constitution:

The United States Constitution provides that the House of Representatives "shall have the sole Power of Impeachment" ( Article I, section 2 ) and that "the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments...[but] no person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present" ( Article I, section 3 ). The president, vice president, and all civil officers of the United States are subject to impeachment.

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  Olivera Perkins

Olivera Perkins is a veteran journalist and fact checker at Lead Stories, who has covered a variety of beats, including labor, employment and workforce issues for several years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Olivera has received state and national awards for her coverage, including those from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Read more about or contact Olivera Perkins

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