Opinion | Republicans Are Giving Rogue Presidents a Pass by Redefining Impeachment

Of course, Congress must be careful not to turn the impeachment of previous presidents into political football. The GOP’s determination to use procedural objections to avoid being confronted with evidence that the former president’s conduct resulted in the deaths of five people, including one police officer, is deeply worrying. And it threatens to restrict the use of impeachment to the point where it has become irrelevant.

Remember that in the first impeachment, Republican senators were made two main arguments against the conviction of Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Republicans’ first argument was that the Democrats had not proven Trump committed bribery by withholding military aid from Ukraine unless its president agreed to announce an investigation into Joe Biden’s relationship with a Ukrainian gas company . (Bribery is one like treason enumerated basis for impeachment Under Article II of the Constitution.) The second argument, however, was that the impeachment effort was an attempt to “undo the will,” according to Reps Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan and Michael McCaul, who prepared a Republican staff report against impeachment make of the American people ”andβ€œ to stop the re-election of President Trump ”, then another 10 months away. Senate Republicans voted against hearing witnesses who may have helped provide the evidence “Election no impeachment“Dispute. In the end, with the exception of Mitt Romney, they voted for the acquittal.

Voters decided in November, of course, but Trump declined to accept the results and led a week-long campaign to discredit the election as a massive fraud. Many in the same crowd of Republicans submitted a pleading in support of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit to ask the Supreme Court Nullify millions of duly cast votes in four other states – Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. The argument that the voters – not the legislators in Congress – have to decide the fate of the accused presidents at the ballot box is therefore hollow.

Now, in his second impeachment, Trump is specifically charged with offense Section 3 of the 14th Amendmentwhich prohibits any person from engaging in an uprising or rebellion against the United States from holding[ing] any office … under the United States “and with insult Article II Section 3who demands that a president “see that the law is faithfully carried out”. This bill is, of course, the constitutional confirmation of the vote by Congress.

Faced with wrongdoing by the president after this In an election, the Republicans found a new reason not to condemn Trump. And there is still nothing to be done that almost all of the senators have actually seen in real time. A year ago an election was too narrow, so voters should decide for themselves. Now the election is over and there is no point in bothering about it.

There are many Debate among legal scholars on the validity of Republicans’ recent argument that only seated presidents can be impeached, even if the House issued impeachment articles when he was president. There are examples of federal officials charged after they left office. In 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant’s Secretary of War, William Belknap, was indicted, tried and acquitted after resigning from office. In 1862 a federal judge who had deserted for the Confederation was indicted and also expelled from the federal office.

Whether these precedents would convince the US Supreme Court that Trump’s second impeachment trial is constitutional is unlikely to be answered. The only way to bring the question to justice is whether Trump would challenge a Senate conviction. Even then, the court could dismiss the case as a political issue that only Congress can resolve. Congress answered that question this week in the affirmative – presidents can be tried after they leave office, at least as long as they have been removed from office. In addition, it is hard to argue that the case is controversial or stale, as the Constitution provides a tool that still matters to Citizen Trump: “Disqualification from holding and holding any office of honor, confidence, or gain in the United States. ”

In light of the events of January 6, the Republican consensus that Trump’s impending trial is unconstitutional is appalling.

This would mean that first-term presidents who lose re-election can with impunity incite mob insurgents to attack the Capitol while Congress counts the votes of the electoral college. As Laurence Tribe tweeted, Rand Paul’s argument would “give all future presidents two weeks at the end of their term in office to engage in a crime without ever facing the consequences of a Senate disqualification process.” By definition, between January 6th and Inauguration Day, January 20th, Congress never has enough time to propose impeachment articles and vote on impeachment articles, transferring articles to the Senate, swearing senators, summoning the president, and exchanging pre-trial papers on Hold You have a real trial with witnesses and documents (which Republicans blocked for the first time), counsel as Senator jurors, and vote on the conviction.

Where are we left with this absurdly narrow interpretation? Apparently, if you want to indict someone who tries to overthrow an election by force, the conspiracy must be successful and you must wait until the first part of his or her second term to do something about it.

It’s hard to imagine that this would have made any sense to the framer.

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