This past Monday at 7 p.m. eastern, the House managers walked the Articles of Impeachment down to the Senate chamber. This officially marked the formal process of impeachment in the Senate.
The delivery comes from negotiations between now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Further, the negotiated schedule included a two-week delayed start date of February 8. According to Politico, the rules also stipulate that President Trump’s legal team “will have until February 2 to answer the articles and House managers will submit their pre-trial brief the same day. Trump’s pre-trial brief will then be due February 8 and the House will have until February 9 for their rebuttal, which will allow for the trial to officially begin.”
While President Trump’s second impeachment trial is expected to drag out less than the first, which took 3 weeks, it will surely occupy almost all of the Senate’s official business. As Texas’ Senator John Cornyn said:
“Absent some agreement, we won’t be doing any confirmations, we won’t be doing any Covid-19 relief, we won’t be doing anything else other than impeaching the person who’s not even president.”
But the big question that everyone is asking is whether or not the Senate can actually impeach a non-sitting President. And, on Tuesday night, the GOP made a pretty strong defense that it is not possible. Kentucky’s Senator Rand Paul offered a motion to declare the trial as unconstitutional. In his almost 9-minute speech, Paul rightly points out the biased and partisan effort it is. He states at one point:
“If the accused is no longer president where is the constitutional power to impeach him? Private citizens don’t get impeached. Impeachment is for removal from office. And the accused here has already left office. Hyper-partisan Democrats are about to drag our great country down into the gutter of rancor and vitriol the likes that have never been seen in our history.”
In Article 1, Section 3, the Constitution states:
“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 Law.”
The punishment for impeachment is removal from office and “…disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States…” It does not say or the “…disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States…”
Our Senators must figure out if it is indeed Constitutional to impeach a President when he has already been removed from office. Make no mistake, if the Senate decides to convict President Trump, it will set a dangerous precedent. It will be hard to stop the legislative branch from impeaching any former President, Supreme Court Justice, or Governor, etc. if they don’t use their position of power how the legislative branch would like them to.
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) said of the impeachment and possible conviction:
“Congress would be opening itself to a dangerous standard of using impeachment as a tool for political revenge against a private citizen, and the only remedy at this point is to strip the convicted of their ability to run for future office — a move that would undoubtedly strip millions of voters of their ability to choose a candidate in the next election.”
Thankfully, it is not looking like President Trump will be convicted. In Senator Paul’s vote this past Tuesday, only five Republicans, Romney (UT), Sasse (NE), Collins (ME), Murkowski (AK), and Toomey (PA), voted with the Democrats to table the motion. Seventeen Republicans would have to break ranks and vote with the Democrats in order for President Trump to be convicted.
Eagle Forum will be monitoring the impeachment trial and do our best to keep you up-to-date with any relevant information that you may need to know.