Can A Third Impeachment For Trump Occur If He Gets A 2nd Term? Is It An Open Possibility If The Old GOP Leaders And Democrats Can Come Together?

By Donald A. Collins | 7 April 2024
Church and State

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

The swing state Wall Street Journal poll was a front-page article on April 2nd, headlined as follows: “Trump Leads Biden in Six of Seven Swing States, WSJ Poll Finds”.

These numbers should frighten anyone who realizes the real possibility the outcome of the 2024 election will likely be decided as was the 2020 election by the swing states’ results in the Electoral College!

Read the full WSJ article here.

The disaffected old GOP leaders such as Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney and many others in the GOP realize the profound impact a Trump victory would bring.

Read this 4/04/24 opinion piece in The Hill by Frank Donatelli, a former Republican National Committee Vice Chair (2008) and Reagan supporter, entitled “Trump’s GOP isn’t built to win, but only to protect himself” which offers a devastating list of reasons the GOP should never have allowed his rise.

It begins,

Donald Trump’s family has taken personal control of the Republican National Committee, and it is already beginning to resemble the D.C. branch of the Trump Organization rather than one that represents all Republicans.

Lara Trump, Eric Trump’s wife and the RNC’s new co-chair, had already decreed that her father-in-law’s election was the only priority for the RNC. Historically, the RNC has coordinated with other party committees and individual campaigns to provide in-kind and cash assistance, funds permitting. (Full disclosure: I served as deputy chair of the RNC in 2008.) The Trumps like decrees, and this one means that little help for Republican House and Senate candidates will be forthcoming this year from the RNC.

Next, the RNC has cut back its mail-in voting program, doubling down on Trump’s opposition to early voting. This is in spite of the fact that a growing number of Americans are casting ballots before Election Day — nearly 50 percent in 2020. Yet Trump has decreed that the GOP will at best make a token effort to attract early voters.

Instead, the RNC will beef up its anti-fraud unit, guaranteeing more baseless litigation, failed court cases and angry speeches by Trump. The one thing the new unit will not do is eliminate or significantly reduce early voting, meaning that Republican congressional candidates are on their own in turning out their voters.

It hasn’t been announced yet, but the likely next shoe to drop will be for the RNC to begin paying Trump’s legal bills for his four criminal trials, and maybe for appeals in the civil actions that have already cost him over $500 million in fines and sanctions. Viewed in the aggregate, this new focus amounts to severely curtailing any assistance for other Republican candidates — save the one whose family now runs the RNC.

Read this full text here.

He realizes he and his colleagues need to form a new party and says so.

Everyone agrees that Trump would pardon himself and begin to create an authoritarian regime which would dismantle our entire government including its vital non elected departments by replacing their personnel with his cronies.

If this coming election get a 2nd Trump term, could that disaster elicit a substantial number of disaffected Republicans and capture a majority of angry Democrats to provide enough substantial power to Congress so Trump, as our new President, could be impeached for his crimes by the House of Representatives and indicted for his crimes by the Senate!

Read here the Congressional ability to exit a our elected President:

From our Constitution: Article II, Section 4:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

The Constitution provides that [t]he President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States are subject to removal from office upon impeachment and conviction.1 However, neither the text nor early historical sources precisely delineate who qualifies as a civil officer. For example, debates at the Constitutional Convention do not appear to reveal the scope of who may be impeached beyond the provision’s applicability to the President.2 And while the Federalist Papers emphasized that the power of impeachment serves as a check on the Executive3 and Judicial Branches,4 they did not outline exactly what types of officials were considered to be civil officers.5

Historical practice thus informs the understanding of who qualifies as a civil officer. Aside from the President and Vice President, who are plainly identified in the Constitution’s text as impeachable officials, historical practice indicates that federal judges clearly qualify as officers subject to impeachment and removal, as the majority of proceedings have applied to those positions.6 Congress has also impeached the head of a cabinet-level Executive department.7 While this indicates a congressional understanding that high-level Executive officers may be subject to impeachment, it is unclear how far down the ranks of the federal bureaucracy this principle travels.8

The second impeachment trial of President Donald Trump centered on the question of whether former officials remain subject to trial by the Senate after leaving office. There is historical evidence to support an original understanding that former officials remain subject to conviction and punishment by the Senate for actions taken while in office.9 The constitutional text, however, does not directly address the question. Former President Trump’s attorneys viewed the Constitution’s command that [t]he President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment . . . and Conviction, as supporting a requirement that the impeachment process applies only to officials who are holding office during the impeachment proceedings.10 Justice Joseph Story, in his influential Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, similarly argued that the language of the constitution may create some doubt, whether [disqualification] can be pronounced without being coupled with a removal from office.11 Moreover, to extend the impeachment process to former officials could be viewed as in tension with the Constitution’s otherwise clear break from the British model, which permitted impeachment of private citizens.12

But it has also been argued, including by the House managers in the second Trump trial, that the constitutionally enumerated punishments of removal from office and disqualification from future office are distinct components of the remedy for impeachable misconduct.13 The fact that an official has left office, and is therefore no longer subject to removal, does not exempt them from the remaining penalty of disqualification.14 Moreover, if impeachment does not extend to officials who are no longer in office, then an important aspect of the impeachment punishment would be lost as Congress could never bar an official from holding office in the future as long as that individual resigns at some point prior to a Senate conviction.15

While these interpretive arguments have, and likely will continue to be raised, the Senate has determined by majority vote on multiple occasions that they retain the power to proceed against an Executive Branch official who has resigned from office. These decisions span from the trial of former Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876 to former President Trump in 2020.16 Nevertheless, it appears that while Congress may have legal authority to impeach and try a former official, current disagreement on the matter may be widespread enough to create a practical obstacle to obtaining the supermajority necessary to convict a former official.

So, what to do then about Trump’s VP would now be President?

The attached CBS article conjectures who they might be in its piece entitled “Who might Trump pick to be vice president? Here are 7 possibilities.”

Read here about who they might be.

Depending on the Trump VP’s rhetoric up to November 5th, we could hear of his or her intent to match Trump stated plans and hence inherit and seek to adopt his treasonous barnacles. Is another impeachment possible?

Recall what happened after Andrew Johnson succeeded Lincoln after his assassination.

From Tennessee, Johnson’s southern roots and concerns about giving southerners to much power after that bitter Civil War led to his impeachment by the House and his escape by one vote of being indicted by the Senate!

Read that story here.

Impeachment trial

Main article: Impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson

Theodore R. Davis’ illustration of Johnson’s impeachment trial in the United States Senate, published in Harper’s WeeklyIllustration of Johnson consulting with his counsel for the trial

On March 5, 1868, the impeachment trial began in the Senate. Congressmen George S. Boutwell, Benjamin Butler, and Thaddeus Stevens acted as managers for the House, or prosecutors, while William M. Evarts, Benjamin R. Curtis and former Attorney General Stanbery were Johnson’s counsel. Chief Justice Chase served as presiding judge.[95] The defense relied on the provision of the Tenure of Office Act that made it applicable only to appointees of the current administration. Since Lincoln had appointed Stanton, the defense maintained Johnson had not violated the act; they also argued that the president had the right to test the constitutionality of an act of Congress.[96] Johnson’s counsel insisted that he make no appearance at the trial, nor publicly comment about the proceedings, and except for a pair of interviews in April, he complied.[97]

Behind the scenes, Johnson maneuvered to gain an acquittal; for example, he pledged to Iowa Senator James W. Grimes that he would not interfere with Congress’s Reconstruction efforts. Grimes reported to a group of Moderates that he believed the president would keep his word. Johnson also promised to install the respected John Schofield as War Secretary.[98] Kansas Senator Edmund G. Ross received assurances that the new, Radical-influenced constitutions ratified in South Carolina and Arkansas would be transmitted to the Congress without delay, an action which would give him and other senators political cover to vote for acquittal.[99] Other factors also favored a Johnson acquittal. If he was removed from office, Johnson’s successor would have been Ohio Senator Wade, the president pro tempore of the Senate. Wade, a lame duck whose term would end in early 1869, was a Radical who supported such measures as women’s suffrage, placing him beyond the pale politically in much of the nation.[100][101] Additionally, many Republicans saw a President Wade as a potential obstacle to a Grant victory in the 1868 presidential election.[102]

Illustration published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper of Senator Edmund G. Ross casting his vote against conviction on the eleventh article of impeachment

With the dealmaking, Johnson was confident of the result in advance of the verdict, and in the days leading up to the ballot, newspapers reported that Stevens and his Radicals had given up. On May 16, the Senate voted on the 11th article of impeachment, accusing Johnson of firing Stanton in violation of the Tenure of Office of Act once the Senate had overturned his suspension. 35 senators voted “guilty” and 19 “not guilty”, and thus the Senate fell short by a single vote of the two-thirds majority required for conviction under the Constitution. Seven Republicans—Senators Grimes, Ross, Trumbull, William Pitt Fessenden, Joseph S. Fowler, John B. Henderson, and Peter G. Van Winkle—joined their Democratic colleagues in voting to acquit the president. After the vote, the Senate adjourned for the Republican National Convention, which nominated Grant for president. The Senate returned on May 26 and voted on the second and third articles, with identical 35–19 results. Faced with those results, Johnson’s opponents gave up and dismissed proceedings.[103][104] Stanton “relinquished” his office on May 26, and the Senate subsequently confirmed Schofield as Secretary of War[105] When Johnson renominated Stanbery to return to his position as Attorney General after his service as a defense manager, the Senate refused to confirm him.[106]

Allegations were made at the time and again later that bribery dictated the outcome of the trial. Even when it was in progress, Representative Butler began an investigation, held hearings, and issued a report, which was not endorsed by any other congressman. Butler focused on a New York–based “Astor House Group”, supposedly led by political boss and editor Thurlow Weed. This organization was said to have raised large sums of money from whiskey interests through Cincinnati lawyer Charles Woolley to bribe senators to acquit Johnson. Butler went so far as to imprison Woolley in the Capitol building when he refused to answer questions, but failed to prove bribery.[107]

For the remaining months of his term, Johnson was a nonentity with little influence on public policy.[108] In the months after the impeachment vote, Congress re-admitted the seven Southern states that had written new constitutions and ratified the Fourteenth Amendment. As Radical Republicans feared that these Southern states would deny African-Americans the right to vote in 1868 or future elections, they also drafted what would become the Fifteenth Amendment, which prohibited the restriction of suffrage on the basis of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”[109] Congress overrode Johnson’s veto of the re-admission of the Southern states, as well as Johnson’s veto of a bill denying electoral votes to the states that had not yet been reorganized.[110] Shortly before it adjourned in July 1868, Congress adopted a concurrent resolution declaring the Fourteenth Amendment to be a part of the Constitution, as the requisite number of states had ratified the amendment.[111] Though it made provisions for a reconvening in September should Johnson defy its policies, Congress did not reconvene until after the 1868 election.[110]

General US Grant became Johnson’s successor, and the formation of Reconstruction began, only to falter in 1876 allowing a decades long Jim Crow which still echoes today.

We really can do better and defeating Trump must be first on the minds of any voters who can read the facts.

The news this week that the No Label Party couldn’t find a candidate so these events might inspire a new party as the 1850’s Know Nothing party’s demise which led to the first national Republican Party run in 1856 and Lincoln’s election in 1960!

Can Trump be impeached is like asking where US Grant is entombed. But the situation from the Wall Street Journal poll bears reading again here.

In the Senate to convict Trump would require two thirds of its 100 members which of course may likely be impossible to achieve, but then lack of spine by the GOP in the House kept Trump rising in power. Maybe the enormity of his crimes, particularly if convicted, even after November 5th might change some minds.

Can Biden mute (despite Trump’s blockage) the serious impact of the immigration issue and win with the choice issue in 2024? I am not encouraged by the NPR 12/2/202 article and reports that Biden does not have the same impetus now as in 2020.

Stay tuned. And start thinking out of your fantasy bubbles, MAGAs!!!

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC, has spent over 50 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of “From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”, “Trump Becoming Macbeth: Will our democracy survive?”, “We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?”, “What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?”, “Vote”, “Can Homo Sapiens Survive?”, “Will Choice and Democracy Win?”, “Can Our U.S. Survive 8 Plus Billion of Us”, “Economic Growth: A Cancer on all Earthly Life”, “On the Precipice of Political Disaster in 2024” and “Democracy at Red State Risk”.

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