One of us is a Republican who proudly served in the Reagan administration and voted for Donald Trump in 2016; the other is a Democrat who worked for President Barack Obama and served as a special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during the first Trump impeachment and trial.
We have considerable political differences. But we firmly share a view that should transcend partisan politics: President Trump must be impeached again and tried as soon as possible in the Senate, either before or after Inauguration Day on Jan 20.
Trump’s most egregious impeachable offences are inciting a violent insurrection against his own vice president, the Senate and the House of Representatives, and pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes for him to overturn the legitimate election result there.
An article of impeachment encompassing those acts was introduced in the House. As Trump is impeached — the equivalent of an indictment — by the House, Republican senators must join their Democratic colleagues and provide the two-thirds majority required to convict him.
Senate must act
The US Senate has the power to disqualify him from ever again holding any public office. That vote after conviction only requires a simple majority of 51.
With the House set impeaching the president on Wednesday, there is no real reason that a full-fledged and scrupulously fair trial cannot begin the very next day in the Senate. This is not a complex case factually. Audio of Trump’s call to Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, is in the public record. So are the president’s videotaped words inciting his supporters to march on the Capitol. The violence that followed was on television for all to see.
Nor is the law hard to understand. High crimes and misdemeanours, impeachable offences enumerated in the Constitution, are crimes against American democracy. Trump’s incitement of an insurrection qualifies, without question, as an impeachable offence.
The Senate’s majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has said that he cannot commence an impeachment trial before Jan. 20, unless all members of the Senate agree to allow it sooner. In fact, as Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, has suggested, in emergency situations, the rules allow him and McConnell to reconvene the Senate immediately. Removing from power at once a president who has incited an attack on his own government certainly qualifies as an emergency situation.
Never holding office again
Trump should be tried at any convenient time in the first 100 days of the new administration. There are precedents for such trial proceedings after officials leave office. Impeached officials can also be disqualified in a separate vote from ever holding any public office again.
Trump may seem too weak to pose a threat to American democracy now, but he has hinted that might run again for the White House in 2024. He raised $495 million during a brief period last fall in political contributions.
But not everyone who wants to occupy the Oval Office is qualified to do so. The Constitution’s framers recognised that in establishing both qualifications and empowering disqualification. It is both appropriate and necessary to bar Trump from the White House even if, as incredible as it may seem, some voters might wish to vote for him again.
We should not allow that to happen. He tried to steal the election and incited a mob to abet his wrongdoing. He must be removed immediately and disqualified from ever holding public office again.
Steven G. Calabresi, a Republican, is a professor at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law. Norman Eisen, a Democrat, is a top American attorney, author, and former diplomat
The New York Times