Don’t use the language of criminal law for a constitutional process like impeachment

LINGUISTIC TRICKS

Don’t use the language of criminal law for a constitutional process like impeachment

By Ephrat Livni in Washington DC

The impeachment inquiry into president Donald Trump’s Ukraine dealings has spawned much discussion of the US Constitution. But all the talk has also given rise to some confusion about what exactly impeachment is and what it is not.

Impeachment is a constitutional process. It is not a criminal proceeding. While there are similarities between the two, they are not the same, and critical distinctions are being overlooked by Democrats and Republicans alike for different reasons.

Democrats emphasize criminality because they believe only evidence of the commission of a crime will convince the American people Trump must be removed. Take, for example, a recent “plea from 33 writers” in the New York Times, urging journalists to articulate carefully because “words matter.”

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