Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, who testified for the Democrats during the impeachment inquiry, said if the House "does not communicate its impeachment of President Donald Trump to the Senate, it hasn't actually impeached the president."
"Trump could legitimately say that he wasn't truly impeached at all," he said.
Feldman made his comments in a column for Bloomberg posted Thursday.
"The Constitution doesn't say how fast the articles must go to the Senate. Some modest delay is not inconsistent with the Constitution, or how both chambers usually work," he said.
"But an indefinite delay would pose a serious problem. Impeachment as contemplated by the Constitution does not consist merely of the vote by the House, but of the process of sending the articles to the Senate for trial.
"Both parts are necessary to make an impeachment under the Constitution: The House must actually send the articles and send managers to the Senate to prosecute the impeachment. And the Senate must actually hold a trial."
Feldman noted that under the Constitution, "impeachment" means the House sending the approved articles to the Senate.
"Once the articles are sent, the Senate has a constitutional duty to hold a trial on the impeachment charges presented," Feldman said. "Failure for the Senate to hold a trial after impeachment would deviate from the Constitution's clear expectation."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she will send the articles to the Senate once the trial process is outlined by chamber leaders.
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