The trial for the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump will begin Tuesday. Trump’s lawyers, and even several members of Congress are questioning the constitutionality of the trial, in large part because Trump has since left office (https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-impeachment-40ef81572403c82422464169e67554d7). Trump is being charged with inciting violence among other potential crimes associated with the January 6th riots at the Capitol Building.
Senate Democrats have insisted on moving forward, arguing that they need to hold Trump accountable for his actions, regardless of his status as a now former president. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said, “A public trial serves a vital purpose. What Donald Trump mobilized and emboldened and incited is an expression of domestic terrorism that the public needs to see and understand.” President Biden has even kept the National Guard in Washington, D.C. in case there is any further violence.
While Republicans have tried to distance themselves from Trump, many have argued that the impeachment is unnecessary. Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) voted in favor of impeachment, but did amend his vote, saying, “I would have preferred a bipartisan, formal censure rather than a drawn-out impeachment process. I fear this will now interfere with important legislative business and a new Biden Administration. But it is time to say: Enough is enough.” Others, such as Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) have said that the trial is unconstitutional. He, along with 44 other Senate Republicans voted to set aside the trial because of this, even stating that there would not be enough votes to convict if they did proceed. Other conservatives have said that the Senate does in fact have the authority to convict ex-officials under the Constitution, making Sen. Paul’s argument a moot point.
Trump’s lawyers have insisted that the former president was exercising his first amendment rights, and that the trial is a purely partisan measure. They said, “Instead of acting to heal the nation, or at the very least focusing on prosecuting the lawbreakers who stormed the Capitol, the Speaker of the House and her allies have tried to callously harness the chaos of the moment for their own political gain.” Is there legal standing to impeach Trump a second time now that he has left office, and if so, should he be convicted? Will this trial bring closure to the Trump era, or will it further divide the country along partisan lines?
Image Credit: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP, Pool