Chuck Cooper, the conservative attorney for former national security adviser John Bolton wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the trial of former president Donald Trump is constitutional.
After Trump was impeached by the House, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul introduced a motion to dismiss the trial as unconstitutional since Trump is no longer in office. 45 Republican senators supported the measure. The motion ultimately failed by a vote of 55-45.
“The strongest argument against the Senate’s authority to try a former officer relies on Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution,” Cooper wrote.
Article 2 section 4 states:
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 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 noted. “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.”
Cooper said it “defies logic” to suggest that the Senate cannot convict a former President.
“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 in the Journal. “The senators who supported Mr. Paul’s motion should reconsider their view and judge the former president’s misconduct on the merits.”
Read the full Wall Street Journal op-ed.