Most Read
Image 01 Image 02 Image 03

Impeachment 2.0 – No, the Senate cannot convict Trump after he leaves office

Impeachment 2.0 – No, the Senate cannot convict Trump after he leaves office

At best, supporters of post-departure Senate impeachment conviction could say there is an argument for it, but it’s complicated. Opponents merely need to point to the words of the Constitution.

https://youtu.be/pRXZHkKpLBk

The U.S. House will be voting today to impeach Trump. It’s a done deal because Democrats have the majority, and probably will get about 20 Republicans to join them. Then it eventually heads to the Senate for trial, where Mitch McConnell has said the earliest a trial could be held under Senate Rules (unless there is unanimous consent to waive them, which will not happen) is an hour after Biden takes office on January 20.

I have seen discussion that McConnell and Schumer could agree to an emergency session, but that would mean a quick trial in a matter of days. Not sure how viable an option that is. [Update – reports indicate McConnell will not agree to an emergency session.]

Democrats are suggesting that the Senate could hold a trial even after Trump leaves office, perhaps as much as months later depending on what timing Biden thought benefitted his legislative agenda. The purpose would not be to remove Trump — he’d already be gone — but to preclude him from running again as part of the punishment. They also might seek to strip away his lifetime salary and security stipend.

The question is, can the Senate hold an impeachment trial and convict a president after the president already has left office. I think the plain wording of the constitution says such post-departure impeachment is not permitted. But there is a split of opinion.

Article II, Section 4, provides:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

So the premise of impeachment is that it is against someone who is the President, not someone who once was the President. Also, the purpose is removal, which cannot happen if someone already has left office.

Article I, Section II, Section 7, provides for the remedies available in the Judgment after Senate trial:

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.

So there are remedies beyond removal, but that presumes a proper conviction. It is those other remedies that Democrats and some Republicans want more than anything, but there is nothing in the language of the constitution to suggest that the post-conviction remedies expand the time scope of impeachment trial and conviction.

Former appeals court judge J. Michael Luttig writes in WaPo:

It appears that even if the House of Representatives impeaches President Trump this week, the Senate trial on that impeachment will not begin until after Trump has left office and President-Elect Biden has become president on Jan. 20. That Senate trial would be unconstitutional….

The Constitution itself answers this question clearly: No, he cannot be. Once Trump’s term ends on Jan. 20, Congress loses its constitutional authority to continue impeachment proceedings against him — even if the House has already approved articles of impeachment.

Therefore, if the House of Representatives were to impeach the president before he leaves office, the Senate could not thereafter convict the former president and disqualify him under the Constitution from future public office.

Alan Dershowitz expressed a similar view, that the power of the Senate to try an impeachment ends when Trump leaves office:

I was quoted in the NY Post also taking that position:

“You can’t impeach non-sitting public officials,” said former NYU Law professor Peter Rajsingh. “Once he’s left office, it’s a moot situation.”

Cornell Law professor William Jacobson agreed.

“Any such post-departure Senate trial would be a show trial for political purposes, not a legitimate constitutional trial,” he said.

While Trump was the third president to be impeached by the House but acquitted, no president has ever been removed from office by a Senate conviction — so legal scholars disagree on whether an ousted chief executive could lose his pension or Secret Service protection.

An argument can be made for such consequences, “but that assumes a proper conviction,” Jacobson said. “The language does not suggest that after leaving office, impeachment could be used to strip an ex-president of his pension and continuing benefits.”

In December 2019, when Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz suggested former President Obama could be impeached, WaPo gathered some scholarly takes, which basically concluded that it was unclear at best.

Yahoo News reports on some contrary views:

No court has definitively ruled on the matter of post-presidential impeachment. But while “impeachment is the exclusive method for removing a president from office,” as leading conservative scholar Michael Paulsen points out, “nothing in the constitutional text literally limits impeachment to present officeholders.” In fact, as Brian Kalt of Michigan State University College of Law argued in a 2001 article, “late impeachment was practiced in England and, unlike other aspects of English impeachment, was never explicitly ruled out in America. Indeed, some state constitutions made late impeachability explicit, or even required.”

The possibility of punishment is key. “Structurally,” Kalt continued, “impeachment is designed not just to remove but to deter, and this effect would be severely undermined if it faded away near the end of a term. Convicted impeachees can be disqualified from future federal office, an important punishment that should not be automatically mooted if the officer resigns or the president removes him.”

The Kalt research paper, while superficially concluding the Senate could conduct post-departure impeachment, emphasizes in its conclusion that it is uncertain:

Late impeachment provides a difficult problem of constitutional interpretation. It confronts an ambiguous portion of the text, which renders unclear whether the political focus of impeachment limits just the offenses and offenders who can be pursued, or whether it also restricts the timing of the proceedings as well. But if the text is unclear, the history underlying it is not. Late impeachment was practiced in England and, unlike other aspects of English impeachment, was never explicitly ruled out in America, either in pre-1787 state constitutions or in the federal one. Indeed, some state constitutions made late impeachability explicit or even required.

Constitutional structure is also consistent with late impeachability. If the only purpose for impeachment were removal, then there would be no reason to conduct a late impeachment. But removal is not the only purpose of impeachment. Impeachment is designed as a deterrent to prevent offenses from occurring in the first place, and this deterrent effect would be severely undermined if it faded away near the end of a term. Moreover, convicted impeachees can be disqualified from future federal office, an important punishment that the offender himself should not be able to moot. Nor should the President be able to preempt a full investigation or full punishment; the Constitution forbids the President from using his pardon power to achieve these ends, and late impeachment is the only way to prevent an end run around this clear structural imperative. Although some opponents of late impeachment make allowances for these extreme cases by allowing some late impeachments, in reality, no constitutional basis exists for distinguishing between them.

Finally, precedent favors late impeachability. Admittedly, there is no wholly clear and binding authority. States construing similar provisions have come to mixed results. But the Senate, which, in the end, is the final arbiter of this question, has approved late impeachment. Senate opponents of late impeachment may have prevented convictions, but they have not prevented late trials, and they cannot alter the formal declaration of a majority of the Senate that officers can be impeached after they have left office.

In practice, late impeachment may rarely if ever prove worthwhile to pursue. Then again, one can imagine several scenarios in which it might. Even if no occasion ever arises in which late impeachment is worthwhile to pursue, this would place late impeachment in the same class as regular impeachment—more important to have available than to actually use. No federal executive official has ever been impeached and convicted, either while in office or after leaving it, but every federal officer is appropriately constrained by the possibility of impeachment, and it is only with late impeachment that this constraint can be properly whole.

Some also argue that the courts would not address the issue because it is a political question or a matter up to the Senate. That’s not true, it is a constitutional matter — May the Senate convict a president after the president has left office? That’s a threshold matter that I think SCOTUS would decide. If SCOTUS answered in the affirmative, then it would not nitpick Senate procedures, but whether the Senate even has constitutional authority is not up to the Senate.

So at best, supporters of post-departure Senate impeachment conviction could say there is an argument for it, but it’s complicated. Opponents merely need to point to the words of the Constitution.

DONATE

Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.

Comments

Since when did the words of the constitutional mean anything to the left? Fuck. Them. All.

The court hasn’t much authority after ignoring a fraudulent election and why hasn’t Pelosi been arrested for urging the Joint Chiefs of Staff to ignore the Commander in Chief?

We don’t have much of the ‘law’ left in this nation, do we?

    JoeKDoe in reply to stablesort. | January 13, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Pelosi advocated for a military coup d’état.

    txvet2 in reply to stablesort. | January 13, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    According to one article today, the JCS signed a statement backing impending President-by-theft Biden, just as they SHOULD have been behind Trump.

    Milhouse in reply to stablesort. | January 13, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    She hasn’t been arrested because her words were protected both by the first amendment and by the speech or debate clause.

      AF_Chief_Master_Sgt in reply to Milhouse. | January 13, 2021 at 7:01 pm

      @Milhouse. I infer from your past commentary and this comment that you believe the Constitution, specifically the first amendment, does not apply to the president.

      Furthermore, the Constitution does not protect a representative or a senator from prosecution for felonies. Calling for insurrection, in the parlance of the left, is a felony.

      But go ahead. Continue to bastardize the Constitution.

        @Milhouse. I infer from your past commentary and this comment that you believe the Constitution, specifically the first amendment, does not apply to the president.

        Huh? How on earth could you possibly infer that? I infer from this comment of yours that you have no capacity for reason.

        Furthermore, the Constitution does not protect a representative or a senator from prosecution for felonies. Calling for insurrection, in the parlance of the left, is a felony.

        No, it isn’t. It’s protected by the first amendment. And if done by a congressman in his official capacity, it’s protected by the speech or debate clause as well.

        But go ahead. Continue to bastardize the Constitution.

        Try reading the thing.

      randian in reply to Milhouse. | January 13, 2021 at 10:06 pm

      The speech or debate clause only applies while actually in a meeting of Congress. Meetings with the Joint Chiefs to discuss mutiny against the sitting President doesn’t qualify.

        Milhouse in reply to randian. | January 14, 2021 at 7:36 pm

        The speech or debate clause only applies while actually in a meeting of Congress. Meetings with the Joint Chiefs to discuss mutiny against the sitting President doesn’t qualify.

        Wrong. See Gravel v USA. The clause “protects Members against prosecutions that directly impinge upon or threaten the legislative process”, including committee meetings. “To confine the protection of the Speech or Debate Clause to words spoken in debate would be an unacceptably narrow view. Committee reports, resolutions, and the act of voting are equally covered; in short, . . . things generally done in a session of the House by one of its members in relation to the business before it.”

        Further, “the Speech or Debate Clause applies not only to a Member but also to his aides insofar as the conduct of the latter would be a protected legislative act if performed by the Member himself.”

        “If the speaker by authority of the House order an illegal act, […] that authority shall exempt him from question”, but not the people who carry out the illegal order.

        Pelosi’s meeting with the joint chiefs was part of her job as speaker, therefore it was a legislative act and covered. But if they had accepted and acted on her suggestion, they would not be covered and could be prosecuted.

      DaveGinOly in reply to Milhouse. | January 14, 2021 at 2:01 am

      The Left believes merely talking about enforcing the Constitution and restoring America’s institutions is a form of “sedition.” Pelosi wasn’t merely “talking” – she was attempting to unlawfully alter and decapitate an American institution (the lawfully-established chain of command over America’s military) in a manner contrary to the Constitution. This is certainly sedition, by their own lights (although they’d never admit it).

        Milhouse in reply to DaveGinOly. | January 14, 2021 at 7:37 pm

        The Left believes merely talking about enforcing the Constitution and restoring America’s institutions is a form of “sedition.”

        Yes, but they’re wrong. And they don’t really believe it themselves either; they only pretend to believe it when they can use it to accuse a Republican.

      caseoftheblues in reply to Milhouse. | January 14, 2021 at 5:30 am

      She hasn’t been arrested because she is a democrat. The first amendment provided no such protection for Trump…who was just impeached and his voters and the few in Congeess who stood up and spoke. Seriously have you been asleep?

        Excuse me? Has Trump been arrested? No. The first amendment absolutely does protect him. Of course it doesn’t prevent his impeachment; why would you think it should?

It all seems so petty. I expect nothing more. The man has been mistreated since winning office and the professional politicians just don’t know when to stop. To even think of someone I know was acting in such a manner would disgust me. All the lies by politicians and media over the last 4 years. . . I’ll be honest with all of you: if this continues there are those in society who will do our Nation great harm due to the behavior of these politicians. I expect in the next few months we are going to start seeing lone shooters taking out politicians and media folks. It is going to be a bad time. If they had only done an honest election investigation all of this could have been avoided. I am very worried for our Nation’s future.

    JoeKDoe in reply to OldSarg. | January 13, 2021 at 1:03 pm

    I have predicted for years now that this will end in blood shed by the far left media, politicians, and even sports/other entertainment instigators of the vile hatred they have spread for those they disagree with. It’s getting so ugly now that I fear my prediction will prove prescient even before I die.

    Paul in reply to OldSarg. | January 13, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    If someone behaved in such a manner to my face, I would stomp a fucking mudhole into their face.

Appreciate the post Professor and you are correct, but the words of the Constitution only mean something when everyone abides by them. The entire democrRat party and its braindead enablers/supporters have rejected it.

Wild West time.

    dging in reply to Paddy M. | January 13, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    There is precedent for impeachment after leaving office. The House impeached and the Senate tried one of Grant’s cabinet officers after he resigned. He was acquitted and SCOTUS never ruled. But there is precedent. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/the-founding-father-who-was-impeached-after-leaving-the-senate-in-shame/ar-BB1cIYsO?ocid=msedgntp

      GWB in reply to dging. | January 13, 2021 at 7:43 pm

      But is it legal precedent. If the court never ruled, then it’s mostly just a “Hey, someone did this once,” making it neither smart nor legal nor Constitutional. Much like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel – been done, and lots more attempted, so there’s precedent, but……

        DaveGinOly in reply to GWB. | January 14, 2021 at 2:15 am

        The courts will not rule on such. They will call it a “political question” and not amenable to, and inappropriate for judicial oversight.

        I think the argument that because one of the punishments for conviction in the Senate becomes moot after an official leaves office is as faulty as citing the militia clause in the 2nd Amendment as the only purpose for the RKBA. Because there is another punishment – banishment from future office-holding – this suggest that a Senate trial post-term is not moot because there is still a purpose for the conviction – to prevent the impeached officer from attaining office in the future.

        I think the argument against post-term impeachment is logically exceedingly weak. Are convicts on death row or imprisoned for life w/o parole immune from further prosecution merely because they’re already locked up or are approaching the end of their shelf-lives? How do you punish someone whose life is already forfeit? But we do. The fact that a post-term impeachment could have an enforceable punishment makes a much stronger argument that post-term impeachment is valid.

        For what it’s worth, I was writing here on these pages years ago that HRC should have been impeached after her term as SOS precisely to prevent her from achieving any office of public trust. I thought the punishment particularly appropriate for her mishandling of classified information. Surely, there are some public officials who should be kept out of public office in the future, and impeachment, including post-term impeachment, is how it can be done.

          tbonesays in reply to DaveGinOly. | January 14, 2021 at 6:15 pm

          The death row analogy would fit if they were contemplating prosecuting an already executed dead man. I suppose the additional penalty could be the desecration of his gravesite to deter bad behaviour from the living.

IMPEACH OBAMA

IMPEACH BOTH CLINTONS

IMPEACH W

With the Courageous John Roberts (sarc) as Chief Justice of the United States the words will mean anything the Democrat Party wants it to mean. He’d even waste 6 months of the Court’s time presiding over a trial.

    CommoChief in reply to dystopia. | January 13, 2021 at 6:22 pm

    To be fair, if CJ Roberts is spending six months presiding over an impeachment trial in the Senate then the Senate is, in effect, blocked from doing anything else during that six months. Impeachment takes precedence over all other Senate actions.

    Since it would be an unconstitutional waste of time that puts off passing any d/progressive policies …….maybe six months is ok. I don’t recall whom to attribute this quote to but ‘No man is safe when Congress is in session’.

    Bottom line is we can express our opinions on the matter to our Senators. Contemplation of anything beyond that and you are allowing Pelosi to live rent free in your head.

    My advice is control what you can and don’t waste emotional or psychological health obsessing over what bat shit crazy thing the d/progressive are doing. Get organized and involved at the municipal, county and State level politics.

    Spend your excess energy networking with like minded people, reach out to those who might be ‘converted’. Get ready for the next election. Yes, there will be future elections. Don’t let some dystopian fever dream warp your life.

Close The Fed | January 13, 2021 at 1:00 pm

I like Matt Gaetz more all the time:

“In December 2019, when Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz suggested former President Obama could be impeached,”

Interesting article, I would say that there is talk of the senate starting proceedings on the 19th of Jan. Would this functionaly change the arguments presented above or not?

The democrats don’t care about the constitutionality of anything. They just want their pound of flesh and they want it now.

The left doesn’t want impeachment so much as they want,

VENGEANCE !!!

Against any and every one who would limit the created government to the words of the Constitution.

Note to swamp:

If you’re trying to impeach Trump, you’re trying to impeach me, and I take very personally.

Such considerations would be relevant if the U.S. Constitution still applied, but it does not, nor would anyone in power care if it did.

If this last year has proven anything, it’s that Democrats don’t give a shit what they’re ‘allowed’ to do.

They’re going to do it anyway and dare the RINOs to do something to stop them.

    Wrathchilde in reply to Olinser. | January 13, 2021 at 3:52 pm

    When I was younger, I had a friend that played RPGs that way. Push the limits for all their worth, and push past them as often as possible.

    It was a dick move when I was 15, and it hasn’t changed any since.

Bucky Barkingham | January 13, 2021 at 2:05 pm

Possible scenario: The Lefties hold off on a Senate trial while they pack the Supreme Court with enough new Lefties to make a majority, then they convict Trump in the Senate with the help of Roll Over Party Senators who blame Trump for every ill in society. When the challenge gets to the Supremes the new Lefty majority concurs with the Lefty Senate. Seem farfetched? So was a Biden victory just a month before the election.

Justice for Ashli Babbitt!

This is the Democrats’ “…and the horse you rode in on” swing — but they forget that the south side of a northbound horse is pretty damn dangerous.

How is impeaching a citizen not holding a federal office not in office a bill of attainder?

    Milhouse in reply to thad_the_man. | January 13, 2021 at 6:54 pm

    Because that’s not what a bill of attainder is.

    It is a bill of attainder. Lovett’s test says that a bill of attainder has these prongs: 1) specifically identified the people to be punished; 2) imposed punishment; and 3) did so without benefit of judicial trial.

    All of the above would apply to a Senate trial. It would be an act of a legislature declaring a person, or a group of persons, guilty of some crime, and punishing them.

      DaveGinOly in reply to atlas. | January 14, 2021 at 2:42 am

      It’s not a bill of attainder. It fails the first “prong” and the third prong is not relevant.

      Impeachment is a process that can be used against certain government office-holders. Specifically, the impeachment we’re discussing is described in the Constitution, and it’s about how to remove a president. Not Donald Trump, any president. Even without his name, for it to have been an attainder it would have to have been written specifically to apply to him at the time of writing, even if it could be applied to other people later.

      Impeachment isn’t authorized by legislation and is therefore not a “bill.” And although it has “punishments,” it’s not a judicial process – it’s a political process. The “third prong” of the test presumes a criminal process that should have a judicial process but does not. The punishments of impeachment are political punishments, not criminal punishments (there are no fines or imprisonment, and no seizure of property).

      Also, SCOTUS has, quite logically, said that no part of the Constitution can be interpreted in a way that brings it into conflict with any other part. Because the Constitution both authorizes impeachment and bans bills of attainder, SCOTUS’s logic demands that impeachment can’t be considered a bill of attainder. Why would you think one part of the Constitution would prohibit something another part of the Constitution plainly permits?

Not sure the Constitution and the law matter anymore when it comes to Trump and his supporters.

I.hate.these.people.so.much

Has anyone heard from our President, Donald Trump lately?
It seems the 4th Estate is no longer going to allow him.

Anybody else having trouble getting into this site today? I’ve been trying for quite awhile, and just now managed to get in after a long wait.

We know with the Supreme Court wishes can be fishes and they can make the law whatever they want.
And laws are what the Democrats say they are, no court will go against them.

Prof J, I don’t think you’re right on this. You’re reading words into the constitution that simply aren’t there.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

So the premise of impeachment is that it is against someone who is the President, not someone who once was the President.

That’s not what it says. It says that if the president is impeached and convicted he shall be removed. It doesn’t say nobody else can be impeached. The default position is that others can be impeached, but that this consequence of conviction doesn’t apply.

Also, the purpose is removal, which cannot happen if someone already has left office.

Who says that’s the purpose of impeachment? It’s a consequence, not necessarily the purpose.

There is nothing in the language of the constitution to suggest that the post-conviction remedies expand the time scope of impeachment trial and conviction.

True, but why would there need to be? There’s nothing in the language to suggest that such a time limit exists in the first place, so there’s no need to specify that it is extended.

I think your basic mistake is that you seem to assume impeachment is a novel proceeding that was invented at the Philadelphia convention, for the purposes to which the constitution puts it. But that’s not the case. In 1788 impeachment was already a thing. The founders didn’t need to invent it, any more than they needed to invent elections. They specified how impeachment proceedings should be conducted, and what its consequences could be, but they didn’t place any other limits on it, so it continues to have the scope that it had before 1788.

I am impressed that Luttig agrees with you; he’s someone who generally knows what he’s talking about. But in this case he offers no evidence but his ipso dixit, while acknowledging that Congress’s historical understanding has been the opposite.

======

In the NY Post piece you are quoted as saying “I read it to mean the president cannot pardon his own conduct that gave rise to impeachment, but that might have to be litigated.” I assume this refers to the “except in cases of impeachment” clause. I must once again disagree with you. To me the meaning of that clause seems crystal clear: A presidential pardon applies only to criminal proceedings, not to impeachment. I believe he can pardon his own conduct, and that would preclude any federal criminal proceedings against him, but he could still be impeached for it, just as he could still be charged by a state for it.

======

Finally, you don’t contest the claim that if impeached and convicted Trump could not run for office again. There are some who hold that view, but I don’t think it’s viable. Throughout the constitution, “office under the united states” means only appointed office, not elected office. Elected offices aren’t “under the united states”. So I think that were Trump to be convicted the senate could (but need not) sentence him to never being hired or appointed to any federal job, but it could not prevent him from running for and being elected to a federal position, including the presidency.

    It doesn’t say nobody else can be impeached. The default position is that others can be impeached
    You’re right, others can be impeached. But only people who are actually in office. You can’t impeach a judge who retired 10 years ago. You can’t impeach a Governor who left office. Impeachment is based on the office, not the actions of an individual. Otherwise I could impeach my neighbor for playing their radio too loud. Yes, that’s reductio ad absurdum, because the idea of impeaching someone not in office is absurd.

    It’s a consequence, not necessarily the purpose.
    The consequence IS the purpose. Why you do something is to achieve the ends of that something.

    Once again, it seems you’re so interested in splitting hairs you forgot the guy just came in for a haircut.

    ———————–

    As to the Professor’s arguments, I do see one flaw:
    So there are remedies beyond removal
    Well…
    shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification
    That has an ‘and’ in it. It’s not an ‘or’. They can’t pick and choose, it seems to me – you get all or nothing. And, if the one cannot be imposed (by logic and reason), then the other can’t really, either.

      Milhouse in reply to GWB. | January 14, 2021 at 7:51 pm

      You’re right, others can be impeached. But only people who are actually in office.

      It doesn’t say that. You’re just reading it in. Yes, you can impeach a judge who retired 10 years ago, or (if you’re a state) a Governor who left office.

      You can’t impeach someone who never held public office, not because there would be no consequences but because by the very definition of impeachment it applies only to public officers, past or present. That is the historical understanding of the term, and how it was used in England before 1788. That is how the framers understood the term. And it’s how Congress continued to understand the term for at least the next century. President J. Q. Adams said years after his presidency that Congress could still impeach him if it liked, until the day he died.

      shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification. That has an ‘and’ in it. It’s not an ‘or’. They can’t pick and choose, it seems to me – you get all or nothing.

      Yes, they can. They can decide to remove someone from office but not disqualify him from future offices. “And” is the limit of the consequence; removal and disqualification is the maximum penalty. To impose any further penalties there must be a criminal trial in a court of law. Which the constitution explicitly says there can be; no double jeopardy.

Point of order on Parliamentary procedure in the US Senate:

Trump has been impeached now by the 117th Congress which began on 3rd January 2021. Mitch McConnell will serve his post until 20th January. He has said today that no trial of the President will commence until after that.

When he is replaced by the new Democratic majority leader, won’t they be the ones conducting the trial? Won’t it be a whole different clown show? Still seems like it might be hard to get 17 Republican Senators over the line to reach the 2/3 requirement.

    Milhouse in reply to Aggie. | January 14, 2021 at 7:53 pm

    It won’t be hard, it’ll be impossible. There’s no question that if the trial happens Trump will be acquitted. Again. He wouldn’t be if he were actually guilty, but he isn’t, so there won’t be any Republicans voting to convict except Romney, and maybe one or two more, though I doubt it.

nothing in the constitutional text literally limits impeachment to present officeholders

That reasoning, it would be permissible to impeach people who are not yet officeholders and preemptively bar them from office.

    Milhouse in reply to randian. | January 14, 2021 at 7:54 pm

    That can’t happen because the definition of impeachment is for acts taken in office. Future officeholders can’t have done any of those.

“To me the meaning of that clause seems crystal clear: A presidential pardon applies only to criminal proceedings, not to impeachment.”

Absolutely correct. What people seem to not be grasping here is that impeachment is a political process. If a president is impeached and removed from office he is still susceptible to being tried for his crimes – “double jeopardy” does not apply.

The “presidential pardon” is for crimes. Impeachment is a political remedy used to remove an office holder for crimes committed while in office, but it is not a trial for the crimes themselves. It’s meant to solve the political problems that can be associated with having a criminal in an office of public trust. That’s why the punishments are political (removal from office, banned from future offices), not criminal (no property seized, no fines levied, no prison terms). A pardon can only shield someone from criminal charges, but not from an impeachment.

It’s theoretically possible for an office holder to be impeached for certain offenses and removed from office, and subsequently found innocent of any actual criminal charges arising from those same offenses. This could even happen to Trump, should he be impeached and convicted and subsequently tried for sedition (or something equally foolish).

    DaveGinOly in reply to DaveGinOly. | January 14, 2021 at 2:58 am

    From the Constitution:
    (Following impeachment) “…the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”

    This plainly indicates that impeachment is not a criminal process and that the criminal process is still potentially applicable to the offenses that led to the impeachment.

According to Ms Nancy, Chuckie and the rest of the Fascists could care less about the out of date, written by white men, and irrelevant Constitution.

Font Resize
Contrast Mode
Send this to a friend