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Impeach and Convict Trump to Bar Him From Holding Future Office

Only three presidents have been impeached in American history: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998, and Donald Trump in 2019.

After Wednesday’s treasonous coup attempt at the Capitol for which Donald Trump is undeniably culpable, there is growing support for making Trump the only president to possibly be impeached twice.

But with only 10 days left of his presidency, some see this equivalent to the constitutional atomic bomb as futile.

Some argue it’s better to just wait it out lest we enflame an already divided electorate.

Some claim there isn’t enough time to proceed through the entire legislative process intended to culminate in a president’s removal.

Yet, to date, 176 House of Representative members support impeaching Trump for “incitement to insurrection,” and articles of impeachment could be announced as soon as Monday.

Of course, the president can avoid this by simply resigning, as has been proffered him.

If he doesn’t resign, Vice President Mike Pence could get enough cabinet members (some of whom have already quit) to support invoking the 25th Amendment.

There’s a more long-term practical reason for proceeding with impeachment, though, that extends beyond just removing Trump from the White House.

While article two, section four of the Constitution states: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” article one, section three makes clear:

“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 Law.”

It may seem ridiculous to go through all the trouble of removing Trump from office when, by the time even an expedited impeachment is concluded, his term will be expiring.

But a conviction in the Senate will prevent Trump from “holding and enjoying any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States.”

That means Trump can talk all he wants about running again in 2024.

If convicted, he will prohibited from doing so.

He will also lose post-presidency Secret Service protection and his pension.

Brown University political science professor Corey Brettschneider, author of The Oath and the Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents, wrote in The Guardian:

“Even if the House does not impeach Trump within the next two weeks, Congress should still move to impeach and disqualify him after he has left office.

“Still, Congress should attempt this approach after the two new Democratic senators from Georgia are seated to ensure it does everything in its power to keep Trump from threatening democracy in the future.”

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich added in his own Guardian piece:

“To let the clock run out on his presidency and allow Trump to seek the office again would signal that attempted coups are part of the American system. If Senate Republicans can install a new supreme court justice in eight days, Trump can be removed from office within 12.

“He should then be arrested and tried for inciting violence and sedition–along with Donald Trump Jr and Rudy ‘trial-by-combat’ Giuliani.”

Is a post-presidency impeachment/conviction even possible?

Although there is no precedent (pardon the pun), there is no language suggesting otherwise.

Therefore, even on inauguration day, as Trump is trying to figure how to dodge facing prison time for state and federal crimes, including tax, business, insurance, election fraud, and sexual assault, the Senate can convict him, cementing his political future.

While it’s never been done, some have proposed it for past presidents.

In 2001, Sen. Arlen Specter proposed impeaching Bill Clinton after he left office for pardoning financier Marc Rich.

In 2019, responding to Trump’s impeachment, Rep. Matt Gaetz suggested impeaching Barack Obama.

As Ed Kilgore writes in New York magazine:

“It’s probably accurate to say the weight of expert opinion is that it’s entirely possible to impeach and convict a former president (or other former federal executive or judicial officer), because otherwise it would be easy for scofflaws to evade sanction simply by resigning.

“The advantage to this approach, of course, is that it takes the pressure off Congress to act instantly, while maintaining deterrence against any wild Trump misconduct until he is safely out of office. And it’s even possible some Republicans who would otherwise fight impeachment and conviction might go along with it in order to save their party from the agony of four more years of being harnessed to the 45th president’s narcissistic irresponsibility.”

Yes, Donald Trump should be impeached again.

This time, the Senate needs to vote to convict.

That’s the only way we can avoid having to deal with Donald J. Trump ever again.

Otherwise, he is not only going to continue plaguing us (again, pardon the pun).

We will be sending the message to future aspiring fascists that as long as they commit treason close to their terms’ expirations, we will allow them to ride off into the sunset with nothing more than slaps on the wrist because we just can’t be bothered holding them accountable.

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Ted Millar is a teacher, poet, and political writer for Liberal America and the Left Place blog on Substack: https://theleftplace.substack.com/.

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Ted Millar

Ted Millar

Ted Millar is a teacher, poet, and political writer for Liberal America and the Left Place blog on Substack: https://theleftplace.substack.com/.

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