Even before the Senate voted Saturday to acquit Donald Trump for the second time, the discussions about either censuring Trump or invoking the 14th Amendment against him were fast and furious among Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media.

Failed 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) was one of the more high-profile Democrats to float the possibility prior to the start of the Senate’s trial. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said he was “intrigued” by the idea.

Though the bill Kaine spoke of at the time was a censure bill, his bill would’ve also involved what a conviction might lead to in the Senate’s impeachment trial: effectively barring Trump from running for office again:

Kaine is still gathering input but has drafted a resolution that would formally censure Trump. It also includes provisions that would mirror language in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment on barring officials from holding future office.

“In a way I view it as kind of censure-plus because it has these two factual findings that could have the same consequence as an impeachment conviction,” Kaine said. “It’s not just, ‘hey you did those things and that’s bad.’ ”


In addition to condemning Trump, the resolution makes two findings, according to Kaine: that Jan. 6 was an insurrection and that Trump gave “aid and comfort to the insurrection.”

“If he ever were to decide to run again, which may not happen, then likely a court or somebody would say OK what about your behavior in January of 2021 including the congressional fact finding,” Kaine said, predicting that “Congress finding the facts would be given great deference by a court.”

After Trump’s acquittal Saturday, talk of either censuring Trump or invoking the 14th amendment again reached fever pitch.

As far as the censure option goes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear after the Senate’s vote that she was not interested:

But what about invoking the 14th Amendment? Before we go further, let’s read the language from Section 3 of the 14th Amendment:

No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Former Clinton Labor Sec. Robert Reich, Lincoln Project co-founder George Conway, and numerous anti-Trump legal analysts brought up the possibility again of taking this route in the aftermath of the Senate’s vote to acquit, suggesting it can and should be done immediately:

Their arguments, however, are flawed. There is no evidence that Trump “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” nor that he “gave aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” It’s just not there.

Congress would first have to pass a statute that essentially stated Trump was guilty of aiding/abetting and/or providing comfort to the Capitol rioters, which would then theoretically mean Section 3 was applicable in their view. At that point, Trump’s defense team would almost certainly ask that the courts become involved.

That being said, Sen. Majority Chuck Schumer appeared to suggest in a speech yesterday after the vote that invoking the 14th Amendment was off the table. Note his language about letting the American people decide the future fate of Trump (my emphasis):

So let me say this: despite the results of the vote on Donald Trump’s conviction in the court of impeachment, he deserves to be convicted—and I believe he will be convicted—in the court of public opinion.

He deserves to be permanently discredited—and I believe he has been discredited—in the eyes of the American people and in the judgment of History.

Even though Republican Senators prevented the Senate from disqualifying Donald Trump from any office of honor, trust, or profit under these United States, there is no question that Donald Trump has disqualified himself.

I hope, I pray, and I believe that the American people will make sure of that.
And if Donald Trump ever stands for public office again, and after everything we have seen this week: I hope, I pray, and I believe that he will meet the unambiguous rejection by the American people.


Prior to Saturday’s vote, Schumer had left the door open to invoking 14th Amendment, but judging by what he said yesterday, it doesn’t appear that Senate Democratic leaders have the appetite to pursue it anymore.

As they say, stay tuned.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


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