January 14, 2021

Trump Impeached

“Donald Trump on Wednesday became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, as 10 of his fellow Republicans joined Democrats in the House of Representatives to charge him with inciting an insurrection in last week’s violent rampage in the Capitol.” Reuters

Legal experts are divided as to whether the Constitution permits an impeachment trial after a president has left office, as you’ll see below. NBC News

See past issues

From the Left

The left is dismayed by continued Republican support for Trump.

“The House should've added an article charging Trump with dereliction of his oath of office for his dithering response once the rioting at the Capitol had begun…

“Trump sat on his hands, watching the invasion of the Capitol on TV, ignoring pleas from current and former staff as well as from frightened Republican lawmakers hiding from the rampaging mob that he do something to call off his supporters and that he immediately order the deployment of the National Guard to expel the insurrectionists from the halls of Congress… It took Trump 30 minutes after the Capitol was first breached, according to the Post, for him, at the urging of key staff, to issue a mealy-mouth tweet…

“President Dwight D. Eisenhower dispatched paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 to protect nine black school children seeking to integrate schools. Sixty-four years later, Trump could not lift a telephone to protect hundreds of duly elected members of the first branch of government.”
Steven A. Holmes, CNN

The Republican frenzy over Benghazi spanned two presidential elections. In October 2012, Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, opened hearings on the Obama administration’s ‘security failures.’ In a letter issued two weeks before that year’s presidential election, Issa and a fellow Republican lawmaker accused the administration of ‘endangering American lives’ by ignoring the ‘escalating violence’ that had preceded the attack…

“At the 2016 Republican National Convention, Sen. Marco Rubio alleged that Clinton had ‘turned her back on the fallen heroes in Benghazi.’ Sen. Ted Cruz, taking Clinton’s words out of context, accused her of shrugging off ‘the death of Americans at Benghazi.’… The response of these Trump apologists to last week’s insurrection makes a mockery of their hysteria over Benghazi.”
William Saletan, Slate

“As the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach Donald Trump for a second time, some Republicans argued that such a move — a constitutional obligation, really — was unnecessarily divisive at a time when the nation should be healing and proposing unity. The irony is that this plea is being made by many of the same legislators who just last week were supportive of Trump’s scheme to fraudulently overturn the results of a free and fair election, thereby disenfranchising millions of voters who formed the majority of the electorate.”
Charles M. Blow, New York Times

“Colorado Representative Jason Crow, a Democrat, told NBC this week that he had spoken with multiple House Republicans who wanted to vote in favor of impeachment but were afraid that Trump’s supporters would murder them and their family, citing death threats they had received over the past few days. It’s a remarkable coda to the post-9/11 era, when ‘not giving in to terrorism’ was put forward as a basic principle of American life. That any member of Congress would be coerced into a vote instead of resigning or following their conscience is also a dark sign for the future of American civic life.”
Matt Ford, New Republic

Regarding an impeachment trial after January 20th, “To be sure, [after leaving office] a former officer may no longer be ‘removed’ even upon conviction by a two-thirds vote. But that has no bearing on whether such an ex-officer may be barred permanently from office upon being convicted. That separate judgment would require no more than a simple majority vote. Concluding otherwise would all but erase the disqualification power from the Constitution’s text

“The question was first raised during the attempted 1797 impeachment of Sen. William Blount. One of the lead House prosecutors, Rep. James Bayard and Blount’s lawyer agreed that a civil officer could not escape impeachment through resignation. President John Adams concurred, declaring that ‘I hold myself, so long as I have the breath of life in my body, amenable to impeachment by this House for everything I did during the time I held any public office.’ Likewise, in 1876, Secretary of War William Belknap resigned minutes before the House was set to impeach him; the House still transmitted five articles of impeachment to the Senate.”
Laurence H. Tribe, Washington Post

From the Right

The right is critical of Trump’s conduct but skeptical of an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office.

The right is critical of Trump’s conduct but skeptical of an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office.

“Mr. Trump will soon be gone, Joe Biden will take power, yet Democrats are still preoccupied with Donald Trump… What next? No one seems to know, which is also why impeachment should die in the House. Mr. McConnell said Wednesday there will be no Senate trial before Mr. Biden is inaugurated. How could there be—unless the Senators want to deny Mr. Trump time to prepare a defense? That means a trial would have to take place when Mr. Trump is a private citizen…

“Democrats are now triumphant in Washington. If they really want to calm political tempers, they’ll drop an impeachment trial and let Mr. Trump slink away to Florida. They can take the high road and get on with their agenda. Mr. Biden could even take credit for suggesting it and his approval rating would soar. The shame is that Democrats seem so obsessed with Mr. Trump that they are the ones who can’t let him go even after they’ve won.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

Some argue, “There is no doubt that Donald Trump has committed an impeachable offense… But it remains more likely [than not] that the Senate won’t convict…

“Impeachment with a Senate acquittal is a kind of censure, raising the question of why Congress doesn’t pursue a vote of censure directly. It’d be a way for Congress to act while avoiding the pitfalls of the current course. It could happen quickly. It wouldn’t involve ignoring or twisting well-established processes or creating bad precedents. It could well get significant bipartisan support. And it would avoid the political downsides of a post-presidency trial, including potentially giving Trump a political shot-in-the-arm when he’s exiting the stage anyway and his standing is at a low ebb.”
The Editors, National Review

“With the impeachment vote, Speaker Pelosi is abandoning not only Mr. Biden’s presumed rationale for his campaign—normalcy—but also putting at risk the new president’s legislative agenda. Mr. Biden’s statement that the Senate could spend a half day conducting a trial of the impeached president and a half day approving the new president’s nominees or proposals is delusional. A second Senate trial will obsess and consume the whole world…

“If it were still possible to think in America’s best, long-term interests, the most statesmanlike thing Mr. Biden could do would be to pardon Donald Trump and move the country past its current destructive disorders.”
Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal

“The other undeniable factor at play here are Trump’s voters — over 70 million of them. With Trump off Twitter and Facebook, there is an eerie aura of uneasiness. Trump’s social-media tantrums were a window into the mind of his voters. They were a way to know what they were thinking along with him… the fallout of the Capitol siege won’t truly be known until GOP voters have a last say in 2022 and 2024

“Only then will the party have a full picture if expelling Trump at the behest of Liz Cheney and Mitch McConnell is a return to pre-Trump politics, or the birth of a new populist Tea Party. No one — the media, professional NeverTrumpers, GOP establishment grandees who tolerated Trump for the past four years — should have any misconceptions. They aren’t going to sweep back into power like the tanks rolling in Baghdad.”
Stephen L. Miller, Spectator USA

Regarding an impeachment trial after January 20th, “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… the Senate’s only power under the Constitution is to convict — or not — an incumbent president. The purpose, text and structure of the Constitution’s Impeachment Clauses confirm this intuitive and common-sense understanding…

“It has been suggested that the Senate could proceed to try the former president and convict him in an effort to disqualify him from holding public office in the future. This is incorrect because it is a constitutional impeachment of a president that authorizes his constitutional disqualification. If a president has not been constitutionally impeached, then the Senate is without the constitutional power to disqualify him from future office.”
J. Michael Luttig, Washington Post

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