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.
Mr. Trump’s most egregious impeachable offenses 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 has been introduced in the House. Once Mr. 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 and remove him from office.
The Senate must also disqualify him from ever again holding any public office. That vote after conviction only requires a simple majority of 51.
With the House set to impeach 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 Mr. 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 misdemeanors, impeachable offenses enumerated in the Constitution, are crimes against American democracy. Mr. Trump’s incitement of an insurrection qualifies, without question, as an impeachable offense.
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 Mr. 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.
If Senator McConnell disagrees, the House should still impeach Mr. Trump immediately, and he 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.
Mr. 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 recognized that in establishing both qualifications and empowering disqualification. It is both appropriate and necessary to bar Mr. 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 is a danger to the nation and must be removed immediately and disqualified from ever holding public office again.
Steven Calabresi is a professor at the Pritzker School of Law at Northwestern, where he teaches constitutional law. Norman Eisen, a senior fellow at Brookings, was ambassador to the Czech Republic and special assistant to the president for ethics and government reform during the Obama administration. He was also a special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the first Trump impeachment.
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