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March 10, 2021

Legal News Source

Our legal expert, Attorney P. J. Mitchell of Mitchelland West, LLC discusses the Trump Impeachment

“Treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” are the means by which a United States President may be impeached. The lower chamber, the House of Representatives, has the “sole Constitutional power to impeach,” similar to an indictment. In the event of a simple majority vote by the House of Representatives, the President would be “impeached” and the upper chamber, the Senate, which has the “the sole power to try all impeachments” would conduct the trial. This Constitutional power to hold a trial and vote determines whether there should be a conviction on the Articles of Impeachment and a subsequent disqualification of the office. For conviction, sixty (60) Senators (which is a two-thirds majority) would need to vote “yes” for conviction. Thereafter, on the issue of disqualification, only a subsequent majority vote, fifty-one (51) votes, would be necessary to prevent a President from ever holding office again.

Historically, there have been several legal challenges to impeachments. Most notably, the latest challenge to impeachment procedure was by Judge Walter L. Nixon. See Walter L. Nixon v. United States, 113 S. Ct. 732, (1993). Nixon claimed Senate Rule XI violated the Impeachment Trial Clause of the United States Constitution because a Senate committee took testimony and gathered evidence during proceedings rather than the entire Senate. Pursuant to the Trial Clause, the Senate has the power to “try” all impeachments. Essentially, Judge Nixon claimed that the entire Senate must gather and hear the evidence rather than a select Senate committee. The Supreme Court held that the Senate had the sole discretion to choose impeachment procedures pursuant to the United States Constitution Article 1, Section 3, cl.6, under the rational that the Trial Clause was a non justiciable issue.

According to the United States Senate archives, in 1876 the Senate debated whether it had jurisdiction to proceed on five (5) Articles of Impeachment against Secretary of War, William W. Belknap after he had resigned from his cabinet position. The Articles alleged, among other things, charged Belknap with “criminally disregarding his duty as Secretary of War and basely prostituting his high office to his lust for private gain.” The Senate convened its trial agreeing that it retained impeachment jurisdiction over former government officials. Specifically, at trial the House managers argued that Belknap should not be allowed to escape from justice simply by resigning his office. Eventually Belknap was acquitted as the necessary two-thirds vote threshold was not reached.

To date Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, is the only President in history to have been impeached twice. Like his first impeachment trial, it is unlikely that Trump will be convicted, as a supermajority would be required for conviction. Additionally, a conviction would be a condition precedent for a vote for disqualificati onto hold future office. Based on review of the current Senators set to cast their votes, it appears Donald J.Trump will be acquitted again.

On balance, Trump’s supporters argue that Trump put “America First” through economic policy, trade policy and record unemployment, utilizing every tool in his tool box. Trump recognized that the political class had taken advantage of and otherwise used the working class. The working-class jobs had been shipped to other countries as a result of global policies which started with George H.W. Bush and carried forward through subsequent administrations. Trump understood the working class had been used for votes and to financially support this country. The working class has been working every day to put a roof over their collective heads and food on their tables with the hopes that their children would have a better life than themselves. The working class trusted their elected leaders to do the right thing and were let down. The Democrats should rethink this political strategy of this second impeachment a sit will continue to give oxygen to Trump and the Republican party.

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