Overwhelming Opinion: Trump can be still convicted in Senate trial

by James DiGeorgia | 01/22/2021 1:38 PM
Overwhelming Opinion: Trump can be still convicted in Senate trial

Members of the conservative Federalist Society legal group doom the hopes of the former president and his GOP allies who wish to avoid holding former President Donald Trump accountable for his role in the deadly January 6 insurrection.


In addition to the conservative Federalist Society, over 150 legal scholars have signed a letter stating that Trump can still be convicted in an impeachment trial even though he is no longer president. This was a key strategy that Trump hoped to use to avoid his accountability and avoid a Senate trial.

Politico put it this way…

The House impeached President Trump last week, for the second time in little more than a year, for “incitement of insurrection” following the Capitol’s attack by a pro-Trump mob. Trump and his two oldest sons, Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL) and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani whipped up the rallying crowd into a frenzy that left five people dead. As the impeachment process moves into its next phase in the Senate, the signatories of the letter are seeking to counter an argument that has been gaining steam among some Republican senators that it would be unconstitutional for the Senate to hold an impeachment trial for Trump now that he is a private citizen.

In the letter, the legal experts who signed it noted their diverse legal viewpoints…

“We differ from one another in our politics, and we also differ from one another on issues of constitutional interpretation,” wrote the signatories, which include the co-founder and other members of the conservative Federalist Society legal group. “But despite our differences, our carefully considered views of the law lead all of us to agree that the Constitution permits the impeachment, conviction, and disqualification of former officers, including presidents.” […]

More than 150 legal scholars signed on to the letter, which was obtained by POLITICO. They include Steven Calabresi, the co-founder of the Federalist Society; Charles Fried, who served as solicitor general under Ronald Reagan and is now an adviser to the Harvard chapter of the Federalist Society; Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University and adjunct scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute; and Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University and leading scholar on the specific question of whether former officials can be impeached. […]

Trump had signaled before leaving office that he might try to run for president again in 2024, and has reportedly mulled forming his own political party. But if the Senate were to hold an impeachment trial and convict him, he would be barred from holding public office ever again. That provision of the impeachment power, the legal scholars wrote, “is an important deterrent against future misconduct.”

“If an official could only be disqualified while he or she still held office, then an official who betrayed the public trust and was impeached could avoid accountability simply by resigning one minute before the Senate’s final conviction vote,” they noted. “The Framers did not design the Constitution’s checks and balances to be so easily undermined.”

A president who leaves office and retains the potential to return someday should still be subject to the unique processes set forth in the Constitution to sanction his office abuse. 

Bringing the former president back before the tribunal of Congress when it has uncovered misconduct makes eminent sense when the only permissible sanctions might be those that the Constitution provides. 

That misconduct invariably calls for a particular remedy. The Constitution provides that in disabling the president who has committed such misconduct of ever being able again to serve as president or any other federal office and continuing to benefit financially from his time as president. 

Presidents are not above the law, not when they are in office, and not when they leave the office of President of the United States.  There is a Constitutional accountability that comes with the job.


                     Can the Senate Legally Convict Trump After He Leaves Office?




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