Tom Cotton Suggests It’s Unconstitutional to Impeach Trump After January 20

News & Politics

When the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump a second time on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had already announced that the Senate would not reconvene until January 19, one day before Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. This means that the process of impeachment would be guaranteed to continue after Trump had left office.

Procedurally, there is no reason why the Senate could not hold an impeachment trial to convict or acquit Donald Trump after he ceases to be president. However, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) insisted that such a post-presidential impeachment would violate the Constitution.

Cotton began his remarks by championing the rule of law and vocally condemning the horrific violent attack on the U.S. Capitol last week that followed a pro-Trump rally where the president spoke.

Cotton quoted Abraham Lincoln, who said, “There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.”

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“As I said last summer when mob violence gripped our streets, so I say again about the mob violence at our nation’s Capitol last week: those persons responsible should be held accountable in the courts to the full extent of the law,” the senator began.

He suggested that a Senate impeachment trial for Trump after January 20 would involve similar lawlessness.

“The House has passed an article of impeachment against the president, but the Senate under its rules and precedents cannot start and conclude a fair trial before the president leaves office next week. Under these circumstances, the Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president,” Cotton argued.

“The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public office—not an inquest against private citizens. The Constitution presupposes an office from which an impeached officeholder can be removed,” the senator insisted.

“Fidelity to the Constitution must always remain the lodestar for our nation. Last week, I opposed the effort to reject certified electoral votes for the same reason—fidelity to the Constitution—I now oppose impeachment proceedings against a former president,” Cotton declared.

He called on Congress and the executive branch to “concentrate entirely for the next week on conducting a safe and orderly transfer of power.”

After Biden’s inauguration, Cotton argued, the Senate should not take up the article of impeachment. “After January 20, Congress should get on with the people’s business: improving our vaccination efforts, getting kids back to school, and getting workers back on the job.”

Cotton makes a strong argument. The key focus of impeachment is removal from office. However, the Constitution also suggests that impeachment can include “disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States.”

This potential punishment suggests that impeachment could be used in the way Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) aim to use it in this case: to prevent Trump from ever holding office again.

While Cotton raised an interesting constitutional question, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that the Senate will take up the impeachment when it reconvenes. It remains to be seen how the Senate will act under the incoming Democratic majority, but the Democrats are not less likely to take up Trump’s impeachment.

The Constitution mentions impeachment three times:

Article 1 Section 2 The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Article 1 Section 3 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.

Article 2 Section 4 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.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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4 Comments

  1. Tom cotton is a idiot. He betrayed the president and his voters. A little coward. He knows the President didn’t say anything about going into capital building. Lies by Nancy Pelosi, Ralph, and Adam the weasel. A betrayal by the house to stop the president from running in 2024. You people are too stupid to understand that. America is dead. Kiss your freedoms goodbye.

  2. The delusional democrats don’t care about trump , they already did what they said they would by any means … Even voters fraud . Now they have to stop trump from running in 2024 cause they know he will win again and mess up their cult take over of the country . We will be like Russia or Cuba till their done and all that voted for them will cry at the sky like they did for trump and wish trump was still running the country cause they blew it by voting for the delusional democrats . Be warned the civil war is coming because the delusional democrats won’t stop till they own and run everything . Old joe already has the ties with China . Hillary has the ties to Russia and Obama has the ties to the Muslims . It’s a dark day in the old usa that was the greatest country . Lost by corrupt people that didn’t care enough to try to stop this from happening . One last thing. .. remember you did this to your kids kids life’s . Hope your happy … dumb ass’s

  3. He is right, the United States Senate doesn’t have the authority to put a private citizen on trial, if they want to go after Trump they will have to use the DOJ.
    If the democrats would put forth policies that work for ALL Americans then maybe they wouldn’t have to worry about Trump running again but they don’t have any of those now do they….

  4. I am an armed Veteran, of 20 years military service in 17 nations, an Oath Keeper, and I do NOT need to be “deprogrammed” by some libturd Dem-Communist! I am a free citizen, and have survived 74 years, with God, the Bible, and my firearms. I support the great efforts of our President Trump, in closing our borders to drugs, pedophiles, murderers, and the sex slave trade of women, and children! Build the wall!!! Impeach Biden for his proven felonies!!! Not fit to serve, while he holds stocks in CCP businesses!

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