Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said Wednesday that the Constitution does not permit the Senate to impeach a president after they have left office.
After the violence that took place on Capitol Hill, House Democrats and ten Republicans voted to impeach President Donald Trump, making him the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Trump’s impeachment trial will not be held before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20.
Cotton said holding the trial after Trump leaves office would violate the Founders’ vision of how impeachment ought to be conducted in a statement released Wednesday evening.
“Under these circumstances, the Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president. The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public office-not an inquest against private citizens.”
My statement on senate impeachment proceedings:https://t.co/F8q0VaQyWR
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) January 14, 2021
Cotton said that both certifying the electoral votes and impeaching Trump after the inauguration violated the Constitution.
“Fidelity to the Constitution must always be the lodestar of 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 said.
McConnell made a similar statement, claiming that the second impeachment trial would be unjust. “There is simply no chance that that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week. The Senate has held three impeachment trials, They have lasted 83 days, 37 days, and 21 days respectively,” McConnell said.
Although he is against impeachment, Cotton made it clear that he condemned the violence that occurred on Jan. 6.
“‘There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.’ Those words are as true today as when Abraham Lincoln spoke them. As I said last summer when mob violence gripped our streets, so I say again about the mob violence in our nation’s Capitol last week: those persons responsible should be held accountable in the courts to the fullest extent of the law,” Cotton said.
Both McConnell and Cotton said that ensuring a smooth transition of power when the Biden administration takes over is essential. McConnell has reportedly said in private that he believes Trump had committed impeachable offenses, the New York Times reported. (Related: McConnell Confirms The Senate Won’t Hold Trump’s Impeachment Trial Before Biden’s Inauguration)
Cotton’s statement did not mention his opinion on whether he believes President Trump committed impeachable acts.
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