A Conservative Constitutional Scholar Left Trump's Impeachment Gambit in Tatters

Charles P. Pierce
·2-min read
Photo credit: Pete Marovich - Getty Images
Photo credit: Pete Marovich - Getty Images

From Esquire

Earlier on Monday, we discussed the constitutional camouflage in which the former president*’s lawyers plan to sneak his legacy out of the storm sewer where it belongs. What I did not know is that a very serious conservative constitutional scholar had left the camo in tatters in the pages of Monday’s Wall Street Journal. Chuck Cooper used to work for Ted Cruz. He represented John Bolton. He still represents Kevin McCarthy, although who knows how long he’ll have that gig now. He’s repped the NRA and he’s argued against marriage equality. And he thinks that the former president*’s new lawyers are full of it.

“The trial’s opponents argue that because this provision requires removal, and because only incumbent officers can be removed, it follows that only incumbent officers can be impeached and tried. But the provision cuts against their interpretation. It simply establishes what is known in criminal law as a ‘mandatory minimum’ punishment…

This makes sense to me. Of course, I am not a self-credentialed ophthalmologist and constitutional scholar like Rand Paul, and Aqua Buddha can be relied upon to make a big fool of himself on this issue when the bell rings on Tuesday, as Cooper warned us he will.

“That punishment can be imposed only on former officers. That is because Article II, Section 4 is self-executing: A convicted officeholder is automatically removed at the moment of conviction. Thus a vote by the Senate to disqualify can be taken only after the officer has been removed and is by definition a former officer. Given that the Constitution permits the Senate to impose the penalty of permanent disqualification only on former officeholders, it defies logic to suggest that the Senate is prohibited from trying and convicting former officeholders.”

There are too many members of Congress who list “Defies Logic” on all their lawn signs. And you know who you are.

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