Trump Impeachment: On Late Impeachment


My latest Bloomberg Opinion column goes through several of the arguments against convicting Trump, and finds them wanting. (I discussed an unconvincing argument for convicting him yesterday.) I briefly sketch the basic case that the impeachment provisions of the Constitution apply to former federal officials, a case based on the text, purpose, and history of those provisions.

In the Wall Street Journal, Chuck Cooper made an additional point worth mentioning: The Constitution’s language about disqualifying officials from future office after an impeachment can apply only to people who are no longer in office. As soon as the Senate convicts an official, he ceases to be one. The vote, as the Senate rules say, “operates automatically and instantaneously to separate the person impeached from the office.” Congress may then disqualify the now-former official from future office if it chooses. It thus cannot be true that the Constitution is implicitly referring only to current officeholders when it speaks of impeachment.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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