President Trump has accepted an invitation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to deliver the annual State of the Union address before Congress on February 4, 2020.
Just two days after the House voted to impeach him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Pelosi invited the president to deliver the address "in the spirit of respecting our Constitution."
"In their great wisdom, our Founders crafted a Constitution based on a system of separation of powers: three co-equal branches acting on checks on each other. To ensure that balance of powers, the Constitution calls for the President to 'from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union,'" Pelosi wrote in her letter to Mr. Trump.
"In the spirit of respecting our Constitution, I invite you to deliver your State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 in the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives," Pelosi said.
Although the House voted to impeach Mr. Trump on Wednesday, it adjourned for the year without transmitting the articles to the Senate. Pelosi said on Thursday that the House would not vote on a resolution designating impeachment managers — members of the House who will prosecute the case against Mr. Trump in the Senate — until the Senate had finalized rules for the trial.
"When we see the process that's set forth in the Senate, then we'll know the number of managers we'll have to move forward, and who we would choose," Pelosi said.
At the same time, the White House is considering making the argument that Mr. Trump has not officially been impeached, given that Pelosi hasn't sent the articles to the Senate, two sources involved in the president's impeachment defense told CBS News.
The White House has begun sending its surrogates an opinion piece by Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman on Bloomberg's opinion page Thursday. Feldman was one of the legal experts called by Democrats to testify before the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month and has advocated for Mr. Trump's impeachment and removal from office.
"If the House does not communicate its impeachment to the Senate, it hasn't actually impeached the president. If the articles are not transmitted, Trump could legitimately say that he wasn't truly impeached at all," Feldman wrote.
However, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe wrote on Twitter that he disagrees with Feldman's analysis, saying that "under Art. I, Sec. 2, Clause 5, he was impeached on Dec 18, 2019. He will forever remain impeached. Period." That portion of the Constitution says that the House of Representatives "shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."
The scheduling of this year's State of the Union address also had its setbacks. Soon after Pelosi became speaker this year, she invited the president to deliver the 2019 State of the Union address and then afterward informed Mr. Trump she wouldn't allow him to make the speech while the government was shut down. The two agreed he should postpone the address until after the partial shutdown ended. The shutdown lasted three weeks.
Here's the text of Pelosi's letter.