Kaine eyes next week to file censure aiming to bar Trump from future office

Bonnie Cash

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said Thursday that he is looking at next week to file his resolution to formally condemn former President Trump and try to bar him from holding future office. 

Kaine is still gathering input but has drafted a resolution that would formally censure Trump. It also includes provisions that would mirror language in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment on barring officials from holding future office. 

“In a way I view it as kind of censure-plus because it has these two factual findings that could have the same consequence as an impeachment conviction,” Kaine said. “It’s not just, ‘hey you did those things and that’s bad.’ ” 

Kaine added that the language in the resolution — which he noted was technically a condemnation resolution — would have “practical consequences” if Trump runs for office again, something he’s flirted with. 

In addition to condemning Trump, the resolution makes two findings, according to Kaine: that Jan. 6 was an insurrection and that Trump gave “aid and comfort to the insurrection.” 

“If he ever were to decide to run again, which may not happen, then likely a court or somebody would say OK what about your behavior in January of 2021 including the congressional fact finding,” Kaine said, predicting that “Congress finding the facts would be given great deference by a court.” 

Democrats, including Kaine, have been looking at the 14th Amendment as a way to bar Trump from holding office. 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed that the Senate will hold a vote to block Trump from running for office again if it convicts him as part of his second impeachment trial. But with 45 Republicans backing an effort this week to declare the trial unconstitutional due to Trump no longer holding office senators in both parties recognize that is all-but-guaranteed not to happen. 

The 14th Amendment jumped into the national discussion in the wake of the Capitol riot, in addition to impeachment and talk of invoking the 25th Amendment, an idea rejected by then-Vice President Mike Pence.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment says that no public officials who had “previously taken an oath” to support the Constitution will hold office if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

The Senate has previously only censored one president, Andrew Jackson, an action that it walked back three years later. 

Trying to use a resolution to bar the president from future office would put Congress in the middle of murky legal and political waters. 

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) previously said that he had not been convinced that the 14th Amendment resolution could be used against Trump without a conviction. 

But he told reporters this week that Democrats would look at alternatives, like a censure resolution, if they aren’t able to convict Trump. 

“If something … is to be done … on the censure, then that would follow the trial if they so wish,” Durbin said.

Democrats would likely not go forward with censure if they couldn’t get the 10 Republican votes needed to get the resolution over a procedural hurdle. The measure faces tough odds as a growing number of GOP senators are signaling they want to move on from the Capitol attack. 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has been discussing the resolution with Kaine. Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have also said they would review the language. But even if all three signed on, something that is not guaranteed, that would still leave Democrats short. 

But other Republicans made it clear that there will be little appetite after an impeachment trial to discuss alternatives. 

“I appreciate they’re thinking outside the box,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) told reporters. “We’re past that point.” 

Tags Chuck Schumer Dick Durbin Donald Trump Lisa Murkowski Mike Pence Mitt Romney Roger Wicker Susan Collins Tim Kaine

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