Politics

Top Conservative Lawyer: Trump’s Impeachment Trial Is Constitutional

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Andrew Trunsky Political Reporter
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Chuck Cooper, a conservative attorney who defended former Ambassador John Bolton, argued the Senate trial of former President Donald Trump is constitutional.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Cooper examined Article I Section 4 of the Constitution, which he claimed provided the strongest argument against the trial’s constitutionality. The section outlines that the president, vice president and other U.S. civil officers “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“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,” Cooper wrote. “But the provision cuts against their interpretation. It simply establishes what is known in criminal law as a ‘mandatory minimum’ punishment: If an incumbent officeholder is convicted by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, he is removed from office as a matter of law.”

Following Trump’s second impeachment on Jan. 13, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul forced a vote on whether the trial was constitutional. Though the measure ultimately failed, all but five Senate Republicans voted that it was not. (RELATED: Trump’s Team Responds To Upcoming Senate Trial)

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A large group of pro-Trump protesters stand on the East steps of the Capitol Building after storming its grounds on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

A large group of pro-Trump rioters stand on the East steps of the Capitol Building after storming its grounds on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Trump was impeached on one charge of inciting the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

Ten House Republicans joined all Democrats in voting for the measure.

“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,” Cooper wrote. “The senators who supported Mr. Paul’s motion should reconsider their view and judge the former president’s misconduct on the merits.”

Trump’s trial is set to begin Tuesday. While several Republican senators may ultimately vote to convict, it is unlikely that 67 senators vote to convict in the body consisting of just 50 Democrats.

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