House Judiciary Committee
Committee Markup: Impeachment Investigation Procedures
Statement by Congressman Tom McClintock (transcript)
As I understand the Chair's opening comments, it was in essence since the rules are silent, that gives us the ability to make them up as we go along. Well, no. When the rules are silent, precedent governs, and the precedence is clear.
As my colleague from Arizona pointed out, in the 206 years that this committee has sat, it has never conducted an impeachment proceeding without first being authorized to do so by a vote of the full House. That's because the power of impeachment belongs to the whole House, and the whole House has not delegated that power to any of its committees. It must first make that delegation and to this date, it has not.
Committees are creatures of the house. Their only powers are those that are delegated by the House. Committees can't freelance.
If the majority wants to exercise the House's power of impeachment, all you’ve got to do is ask the House to do so. All you have to do is ask the House that it direct and authorize this committee to conduct an impeachment inquiry. That's all you have to do. Resolve that the House authorizes the Judiciary Committee to conduct an inquiry into the impeachment of the President…it's that simple. I dare you to do it. In fact, I double-dog-dare you to do it. Have the House vote on those 18 words and then go at it.
Why won't you do that? It's because you want to give the illusion of impeachment without the reality of it. You're duping that portion of your base that is clamoring for impeachment into thinking you are when you aren't. Some Democrats can tell their constituencies they're conducting an impeachment inquiry while others can tell their constituencies that they aren't. You can have your impeachment and deny it too. That's why you won't pass that resolution. If this President is guilty of such heinous crimes as you irresponsibly charge, why are you so reluctant to impeach him? If you can actually prove these accusations, as Joseph Welch once said, “why won't you do so before the sun goes down?” You won't do so because you can’t, and if you want to know what an abuse of power truly looks like, it looks like what is unfolding right now.