Can Congress create an article of impeachment for obstruction of justice because President Trump told his people not to come when subpoenaed?

This is different than other questions because I am asking simply if it is possible to use this action as a basis for an article of impeachment. Is that allowed?

  • 1
    The first answer to the first dupe link says yes and gives an example when that happened. Nov 18, 2019 at 6:55

1 Answer 1


Yes, as has been referenced many times, Congress can create an Article of Impeachment around anything they please. Obstruction of Justice being one of the more obvious.

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

The Constitution provides no other guidance on the limitations of an charge of impeachment.

As to the trial of an impeachment trial, the Constitution is likewise very concise:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. 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.

As to the penalty (judgement) upon conviction:

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Note that the Constitution limits the extent of the punishment, which gives leave for the Senate to "sentence" a person convicted to a punishment that is less extreme than removal and disqualification.

Additional information: An comprehensive report was written by the Congressional Research Service on Impeachment and Removal in 2015. It can be found here

One of the more interesting takeaways in this report is:

Impeachable conduct does not appear to be limited to criminal behavior. Congress has identified three general types of conduct that constitute grounds for impeachment, although these categories should not be understood as exhaustive: (1) improperly exceeding or abusing the powers of the office; (2) behavior incompatible with the function and purpose of the office; and (3) misusing the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain.

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    Would a sentence "No more Twitter for you, Mr President" be less extreme or not?
    – Cœur
    Nov 17, 2019 at 13:54
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    I have no actual source for this, but my impression has always been that "shall not extend further" meant that "this is the only thing that can be applied", not "this is the worst thing that can be applied".
    – Bobson
    Nov 17, 2019 at 14:41
  • @Cœur I think it would be an infringement of the rights of twitter to associate with whom they please, but it would probably be best for all concerned.
    – emory
    Nov 19, 2019 at 1:31
  • @Bobson I had not thought of it before, but it seems the Senate could convict Trump and sentence him to censure - without removal from office - if they so wished. Any punishment that required his participation (e.g., 30 lashes - if he refuses to show up to be lashed the courts will probably find the sentence unconstitutional) is questionable.
    – emory
    Nov 19, 2019 at 1:37
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    For what it's worth, authors at wikipedia suggest that conviction (on an impeachment charge) carries a mandatory and automatic removal from office, but not necessarily an automatic disqualification to hold another office. Historically, there are some individuals that were removed on conviction and others that were removed and disqualified. (wiki does not cite a source)
    – BobE
    Nov 19, 2019 at 4:09

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