Bolton lawyer: Trump impeachment trial is constitutional
An attorney for former national security adviser John Bolton is arguing that the Senate impeachment trial of former President Trump is solidly grounded in the Constitution and should proceed.
“The strongest argument against the Senate’s authority to try a former officer relies on Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution,” attorney Chuck Cooper wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
The section of the Constitution Cooper cited dictates 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.”
“The trial’s opponents argue that because this provision requires removal, and because only incumbent officers can be removed, it follows that only incumbent officers can be impeached and tried,” Cooper noted. “But the provision cuts against their interpretation. It simply establishes what is known in criminal law as a ‘mandatory minimum’ punishment: If an incumbent officeholder is convicted by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, he is removed from office as a matter of law.”
After Trump was impeached by the House for a second time last month, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a motion to dismiss a Senate trial, arguing the proceedings are not constitutional because Trump has already left office.
Five Senate Republicans joined Democrats in voting against Paul’s measure, which failed.
“Given that the Constitution permits the Senate to impose the penalty of permanent disqualification only on former officeholders, it defies logic to suggest that the Senate is prohibited from trying and convicting former officeholders,” Cooper wrote in the Journal. “The senators who supported Mr. Paul’s motion should reconsider their view and judge the former president’s misconduct on the merits.”
Trump was impeached on one article of inciting insurrection against the government after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 following his speech at a rally telling them to march on Congress and contest the election’s result. The former president for weeks after the election peddled unproven claims of voter fraud and railed against an election he maintains was “stolen” from him.
Several people, including members of law enforcement, were hurt or killed as a result of the rioting on Jan. 6. Trump’s impeachment trial, his second, is slated to begin this week.
Bolton, a frequent Trump critic, wrote in National Review late last month that the second impeachment of Trump was unlikely to end in a conviction.
“Like the first, it is too narrowly drawn (first Ukraine, now the Capitol desecration) and was rushed through the House on largely partisan lines,” Bolton wrote. “Neither scenario is the right way to do impeachments, 50 percent of which in U.S. history have occurred in the past twelve months.”