What’s next for Trump?
Darby Callahan (TheLorian)
The second impeachment trial of former-President Donald J. Trump is set to begin on Feb. 8. The presider will be Senator Patrick Leahy, who will have to both preside and be a juror in the trial. This should raise questions as to whether he has a conflict of interest. There should be no senator that presides over the impeachment, the Constitution is not very clear regarding who has to preside over impeachment trials of former presidents nor non-presidents. Traditionally, it has been the Vice President, as they are the President of the Senate. Since Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts has declined to preside over the case; I would question why Vice-President Harris was not asked to preside over the case. It simply could have been for the sole reason that she is now the Vice President following the impeached president’s administration, which could raise questions of conflict of interest especially if Trump were to be acquitted and decide to run for re-election.
The trial is set to be relatively short according to the Wall Street Journal; the trial may last a week. The article by the Wall Street Journal also mentions Sen. Leahy is next in line after the Chief Justice according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Though it is legal for him to proceed as the presider over the trial, I feel as though the person presiding over the case should be someone other than a member of the Senate. I feel there could have been an Associate Justice that was willing to preside over the impeachment trial of the former president.
According to the same Wall Street Journal article, the Senate took a vote on the constitutionality of the impeachment trial of a former president, and the Senate rejected it by a 55-45 vote, which was a sign that there were less Republicans interested in a conviction that had been previously thought. Some of their reservations were the fact that Chief Justice Roberts was not going to preside over the trial and that one of their fellow Senators was going to be both presider and Senate juror. This was taken as a sign that this impeachment trial was going to be based on partisan views rather than the capital breached by insurrectionists. According to an article by thehill.com, Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, called a Constitutional Point of Order and alleged, on Thursday, Jan. 28, that the impeachment trial of a former president is unconstitutional. The motion failed as mentioned earlier in the article, but Paul’s motion also caught senators by surprise.
Overall, I believe that the trial will proceed considering nowhere in Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution does it say that a former president can’t be tried on impeachment charges. If for some reason the Senate does decide to acquit, there are questions looming which states and if the federal government will press charges on him from his time in office. Personally, I believe the only charges he may be facing are regarding the election in Georgia. I do not believe there would be any evidence for other charges during his time in office or prior to holding office. There is speculation that he may face charges in New York regarding his tax returns, but there simply is no law stating that presidents have to show their taxes. I do not believe there should be charges brought regarding tax evasion.