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 Can the US Senate try private citizen Trump?

14.1.20. Listening to the ABC one would assume that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team have already impeached Trump. They have created an article accusing Mr Trump of inciting an insurrection. It states that he “gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government. He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.” Wow, Trump must be a bastard, one would think. The real question is why would they even think of doing it days before he leaves office when to do so is not possible in the time frame he is in the office. As Alan M. Dershowitz discusses, no chance after he leaves:
Some pundits and Senators have suggested that a former President can be impeached and tried as a private citizen. I don’t know if they think this applies to all former presidents, including Clinton, Carter, Bush and Obama, or whether it is applicable only to a president who has just recently left office. But either way, they are simply wrong as a matter of the Constitutional text and meaning. The relevant text of the Constitution reads as follows: “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 II, Section 4)
Another provision of the Constitution says that an impeached president (or other office holder) may be disqualified “to hold and enjoy any office….” So some are arguing that the Constitutional provisions regarding impeachment should be interpreted to apply to any person who may be eligible to run in the future. Such an absurd interpretation of the Constriction would literally allow millions of ordinary citizens over the age of 35 to be impeached and disqualified from future office holding.
This absurd reading of the Constitution shows how far people are willing to go to prevent President Trump from becoming a candidate in 2024. Such an interpretation of the Constitution would render the impeachment provisions utterly meaningless.
The Framers of the Constitution debated impeachment extensively. It is clear that they intended it to apply only to sitting presidents and other office holders and not to private citizens who previously held that office.
So, there can be no real dispute that President Trump could not be impeached and tried once his term ends.
But what if the House of Representatives impeached him while he was still president, but the Senate tried him after his term had concluded. Obviously the Constitution does not explicitly consider or deal with that unanticipated issue. Nor did the Framers consider it. The Framers did, however, regard impeachment and trial as part of one single process, culminating in removal from office. And so, if removal from office is no longer a possibility it would seem that Congress would have no jurisdiction to impeach.
Let us be clear about what those who would impeach and remove President Trump are really trying to do. They know that under the Senate timetable, there is no realistic possibility that a Senate trial could be conducted and completed before January 20 at noon. What they want to do is to impeach President Trump without giving him an opportunity to defend himself at a Senate trial. This would be analogous to a prosecutor deciding to indict someone and then deny him a trial at which he could disprove his guilt or prove his innocence. That would be a core denial of due process, as would impeaching a president based on a majority of the House while denying him a trial in the Senate that requires a two-thirds super majority to remove.
President Trump’s opponent are so angry at the President for his volatile speech — which was misguided and wrong but completely protected by the First Amendment — that they are prepared to tear up the Constitution in an effort to remove him by any and all means. They are prepared to ignore the First Amendment, distort the 25th Amendment, stretch the criteria for impeachment, and permit House impeachment without a Senate trial.
These efforts, if successful, would do more damage to the rule of law than the horrendous mob did when they criminally stormed the Capitol and inflicted harm to life, property and democracy. What these rioters did deserves serious punishment and it will likely be forthcoming. But the constitutional rights of all Americans should not be compromised based on that terrible singular incident.
{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Muphin 14/01/2021, 4:51 am

    Polosi must be in hysterics about her stolen laptop that has all her carefully laid out plans to steal the election . That is the reason she is so desperate to remove Trump before he can have her arrested for treason.
    According to the media Trump is going to be impeached TWICE.
    Technically Trump has NOT been impeached. The first attempt to impeach him he was acquitted of the alleged crime.

  • Bob 14/01/2021, 7:00 am

    Now, after the Capitol riot, Pelosi wants to use the 25th against Donald Trump. She told Mike Pence that if he didn’t, she would be forced to bring up new articles on impeachment. Pence declined her offer … by quoting Nancy Pelosi.

    Just a few months ago, when you introduced legislation to create a 25th Amendment Commission, you said, a President’s fitness for office must be determined by science and facts. You said that we must be very respectful of not making a judgment on the basis of a comment or behavior that we don’t like, but based on a medical decision.
    Madam Speaker, you were right.

    • Penguinite 14/01/2021, 10:03 am

      Science and facts not screeching and farts!

  • Lorraine 14/01/2021, 7:14 am

    Nothing that is written , or happening in America is the rule of law….The left always have stated if they believe the law is wrong then they have every right to break that law…..Ask Sally McManus the ugly part of the Australian left.

    • Dave 14/01/2021, 9:12 am

      Everyone needs to be aware that the socialists in Australia like Sally McManus, Bill Shorten, Albo and the rest of Labor together with Jacinda Ardern in NZ are all part of an international socialist organization which includes Biden, Harris, Pelosi and the rest of the US Democrats. They have global ambitions to bring down all our prosperous countries for their own elite rule. The Great Reset. Stealing the election from Trump stuffs conservatives all over the world and the world is now about to pay the price of collective insanity by brain dead electors and corrupt government.

  • Ian A 14/01/2021, 7:22 am

    It’s not about the riot at the Capitol, or Trump’s intemperate speech — both riots and incendiary speeches are increasingly the Left’s stock in trade — this impeachment effort is cancel culture at work, and is solely grounded in Trump Derangement Syndrome.

    • Neville 14/01/2021, 11:16 am

      Quite so, Ian.

  • Ozman 14/01/2021, 9:48 am

    Dershowitz is right. If Trump is not able to arrest all and sundry prior to Biden’s inauguration, the game is over! The sixteen year plan will recommence. One World Government is on its way, even if it is running a little later than intended. Agenda 2021 has been pushed out to 2030. It may need to be pushed out to 2040 because of Trump awakening the people.

  • Disgruntled 14/01/2021, 10:05 am

    The image at the top says it all!!
    That Pelosi animal needs it’s fanny pulled over it’s head and the draw string needs to be pulled tight and tied off!!

    She just will not give up no matter what! Fancy having that for your wife or mother or mother in law; Real frightening thought!

    And Dave; your comment is quite right!

  • Aktosplatz 14/01/2021, 10:21 am

    It does seem that this Impeachment (2nd attempt) is to block Trump for 2024. The Trump Derangement Syndrome Disease has been attacking Nancy Pelosi since the 2016 election.

    She’s unhinged and insane in her behaviour.

  • Neville 14/01/2021, 11:19 am

    And another thing: despite the demented bleatings of the MSM, “impeach” does NOT mean ‘convicted’. It only means ‘charged’, or ‘accused’.
    The prevailing sense of meaning among the lefty-greeny-democrats, and then by extension, among the rest of the uninformed, is that impeached means ‘guilty’, and ‘convicted’.

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