The sad signal from the Senate – Trump is one for the law books
Impeachment is a political process, and the second impeachment of Donald trumpDonald Trump Texas fails to hire private contractor for election audit Lack of helicopter space forced Ivanka Trump and Kushner to drop plans to meet Governor Queen Elizabeth II MORE is no exception. This week’s vote on Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse passes bill to end crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity GOP political operatives charged with illegal contribution of Russian national to campaign in 2016‘s (R-Ky.) resolution to dismiss the indictment as unconstitutional failed to rally more than five non-Republicans. The resolution failed, but the outcome of the trial would appear to be an inevitable acquittal as at least 17 Republicans would have to join the 50 Democrats to secure a conviction.
The signal is unmistakable.
The argument for the dismissal is that Trump is now a private citizen, so there is no jurisdiction to remove someone who has already left office. So let’s ignore the insurgency of January 6, which the leader of the senatorial minority Mitch mcconnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer: Democrats “can’t and won’t” raise debt ceiling through reconciliation Mellman: McConnell’s strategy: hurt the country to help the GOP (R-Ky.) said Trump provoked. Of course, if there is a jurisdictional issue, McConnell created it. While still majority leader, he could have ordered a trial before January 20 with Trump still in power. But he refused to recall the Senate. And yesterday, he voted with the majority of his fellow Republicans to reject impeachment because the trial would take place after January 20.
Politically, many Republicans would like to oust Trump from their party. A conviction could prevent him from holding a position. But it is clear that their calculation is that their party is better off without impeachment than with it. They need Trump’s charisma, his call for a far-right base.
And many would-be defectors may fear his threats of a primary fight. Plus, they might think the public is tired of reading about Trump and wants to move on. It’s the “why beat a dead horse?” Argument, and it’s not that far-fetched. Even the mainstream media want to take it off the front page.
But the law and the Constitution also play a role in impeachment. Our elected officials are supposed to rule a country ruled by law, not fear or favor. That’s why Republican senators sat down over lunch the other day with Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University to talk about precedents. Turley recently wrote an article for The Hill, claiming that the impeachment of a private citizen is unconstitutional.
But in 1999 (about two months before the then president Bill clintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson Clinton Georgia Congressional Lines Target McBath, Reinforce Bourdeaux Time to Pass Reforms to Tackle Executive Abuse Has China Already Won? FOLLOWING was impeached), Turley wrote a play for the Duke Law Journal arguing that impeachment after the president’s departure is kosher, indeed on the agenda. His current explanation is not that he was wrong before, but that there are good faith arguments on both sides.
Other jurists are of the opposite opinion. Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe refers to at least three previous ones where officials were tried for dismissal after leaving office. One concerned Senator William Blount, one of the signatories of the Constitution, who attempted to sell Louisiana to the English.
It just doesn’t seem fair that a president could commit “treason, bribery or other serious crimes and misdemeanors” in the last few months before leaving office, escape a trial in the Senate, and run for re-election because he has become an official. simple citizen.
The evidence Trump instigated an insurgency is overwhelming. It’s based on mountains of video tapes of what Trump said on January 6 and what the crowds did on Capitol Hill.
Trump’s the words were inflammatory: stop counting; stop certification; overturn the election. His supporters will likely underline his statement that the mob should march on Capitol Hill, but do so “peacefully”. Can you yell “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire, then whisper “false alarm”?
The only president to have been indicted twice, Donald Trump is the model of a compulsory foundation course in all law schools. The lesson plan will be a mixture of criminal law and constitutional law. He may be called “Donald 101”.
His words of ambiguity were his anchor in the wind. But will it work? His starting shot was that he would come back “in a form.” Whether or not he returns, Trump’s legacy will certainly reside in the law school case books, as well as in the trash of history.
James D. Zirin, a former federal prosecutor, is the author of “Plaintiff in Chief — A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3500 Lawsuits”.