By JOHN KANELIS / firstname.lastname@example.org
Donald Trump’s Senate suck-ups are making what I believe is a specious argument about the constitutionality of a pending Senate trial of the former president of the United States.
Here is what the nation’s founding government document says about impeachment in Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7:
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the Members present. 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 the law.
That in effect is the sum of what the Constitution lays out.
Trump is going to stand trial a second time. The Senate acquitted him the first time on multiple charges of abuse of power and coercing a foreign government. This time he is standing trial on a single charge that he incited an insurrection.
He left office on Jan. 20, meaning that he cannot be “removed” from an office he no longer occupies.
But let’s parse the language of what the founders wrote, OK?
They wrote that “judgment shall not extend further than to removal from Office.” The way I read that clause means that removal from office is the maximum punishment that a conviction that deliver. It doesn’t preclude any other judgment.
If one is to take an “originalist” view of the Constitution — acknowledging what the founders intended when they wrote it — then one could presume that the brilliant men who crafted the document would accept the idea of putting a former president on trial.
But … the suck-ups in the Senate are likely to stand firm in their cowardly attempt to curry favor with Donald Trump’s lunatic base of voters who would threaten them if they do the right thing.