President Donald Trump tried to sound upbeat in a series of morning-after tweets about impeachment, but he got caught making up a quote about the upcoming Senate trial.
The Democratic-led House will delay sending the approved articles of impeachment to the Senate until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agrees to rules they consider to be fair, and Trump tweeted out his own interpretation of the constitutional process.
“’The Senate shall set the time and place of the trial,’” Trump tweeted, with quotation marks bracketing that first statement. “If the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by Default!”
“The Senate shall set the time and place of the trial.” If the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by Default!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2019
It’s not clear what the president was quoting about the Senate’s authority over the trial, but it doesn’t match what the Constitution lays out.
“The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments,” the Constitution says. “When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.”
The Constitution offers no clarity on the process for transmitting articles of impeachment from the House to the Senate, but says only that the House has “the sole power of impeachment” and that the Senate “shall have the sole power to try all impeachments.”
There’s no constitutional basis for Trump’s claim that Democrats would “lose by default” if they choose “not to show up”.