Impeachment Trumps Pardons

After the assault on the Capitol building which was incited by President Trump’s rhetoric there are people in both parties calling either for him to be removed from office by the 25th Amendment or to be impeached a second time. So far it would appear that while a few members of the president’s cabinet have floated the idea of his being removed using the 25th Amendment there seems to be little chance that Vice President Mike Pence would go along. But even if you could get a majority of the cabinet and the VP to agree that the president was unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office the process doesn’t end there. The declaration of the president’s inability would have to be submitted to the President pro tem of the Senate, but according to the amendment the president could then submit his own declaration to the Senate that he is, in fact, that no such disability exists. At that time the VP and the cabinet would have to state again that the president is unable to do his job, at which time it would fall to the full Congress to vote on whether he was not up to the job; this would require a two-thirds majority of both houses to make it stick. The chances of this happening are very slim.

The chances of the impeachment process being able to remove Trump from office areWhi not really any better. With a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives it should be no problem for articles of impeachment to be approved, but conviction in the Senate is almost certainly doomed to failure, since it would require a two thirds majority vote to actually remove the president from office.

While neither of the available options have much of a chance to remove the president from office, there is an advantage of the impeachment process that would help keep Trump from avoiding being held accountable for his actions once he leaves office. Many people have been worried that Trump would either try to pardon himself or resign from office for the purpose of allowing Mike Pence to pardon him. Luckily for us, Article 2 of the Constitution states that the president’s pardon power does not apply to cases of impeachment. This would mean that any charges of wrongdoing contained in the Articles of Impeachment could not be made to disappear by a presidential pardon. Someone might say that if there isn’t a conviction in the Senate then the pardon would be valid, but nowhere does the Constitution state that the Senate has any role; impeachment is separate from trial and conviction by the Senate, so therefore impeachment is all that’s necessary to invalidate any attempt to pardon someone for acts for which he was impeached. This means that the charges from the first impeachment as well as the additional charges related to the insurrection that a second impeachment might include would not be pardonable. For this reason impeachment is certainly the best option available here.

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