Mr. Donald J. Trump has sent his formal objection to the article of impeachment sent for trial to the Senate. A ‘legal analysis’ by Mr. Seth Abramson has been published recently in response*, by way of informal rebuttal. We set out the essence of each, with our ripostes thrown in for good measure.
TRUMP: The Senate of the United States lacks jurisdiction over the 45th President
because he holds no public office from which he can be removed, and the
Constitution limits the authority of the Senate in cases of impeachment to
removal from office as the prerequisite active remedy allowed the Senate under
our Constitution, rendering the Article of Impeachment moot and a non-justiciable question.
ABRAMSON: Trump’s attorneys confuse “impeachment” and “conviction.” Trump was duly impeached while he was still president. The only question now is whether he can be tried for that impeachment after leaving office. Trump’s answer wrongly states that the United States Senate is trying to impeach him post-presidency. It is not. Trump’s lawyers have misread the “and” in Article I, Section 3 of the United States Constitution to mean that “conviction” post-impeachment is a prerequisite to being disqualified from future office. It is not—as what the relevant provision actually says is that there are two potential punishments for a post-impeachment conviction, and they are (a) removal from office, “and” (b) disqualification from future office. There is no other word the Founders could have used to express that these are the two valid post-conviction penalties after an impeachment trial. Trump is deliberately misreading “and” to represent a chronological sequence of events, but there’s no particular reason to do so—as the two penalties are quite different, and (in the instance of, say, someone who tries to resign right before conviction) the second penalty would still be applicable and indeed urgent even if the first no longer were. In short, the Founders created two possible penalties in this sort of situation to ensure that elected officials couldn’t resign immediately prior to conviction in order to preserve their right to run for office again. In this case, while Trump didn’t resign, he did commit incitement to insurrection so late in his term that his trial could not be held prior to the end of his presidency—a circumstance he created, not Congress. A circumstance of his own vile devising cannot now be allowed to give him immunity from the second of two punishments that the Founders envisioned following an impeachment trial.
TVC: Article 1, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution relevantly states: “Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States..” Senate precedent (1936 trial of Judge Ritter) holds that disqualification is a discretionary concomitant to removal (to prevent, for example, a Vice President, who becomes President upon her predecessor’s removal, appointing that predecessor Vice President and then resigning). Importantly, the vote for disqualification has always been by simple majority rather than the 2/3rds Senate vote required for removal, reflecting the subordinate role of the incidental power**. Apart from the clear purpose of the impeachment mechanism – first and foremost a removal mechanism – and the clear language of the Article clumsily construed and strained by Mr. Abramson – precedent makes clear that disqualification is not a stand-alone alternate remedy. When President Nixon resigned in August 1974, the impeachment process stopped: there was no further jurisdiction to proceed. The Chief Justice’s refusal to preside at this current farce rather suggests – we infer – that he agrees with us. In fact, the only utility, in now conducting a trial to remove from office one who has left office, would appear to take 3 forms: (1) Assuaging the hate of those suffering from TDR; (2) Seeking tactical political advantage, and (3) Attempting to disenfranchise the people of the United States by imposing a legislative fiat preventing a candidate from running in 2024. It is reminiscent of the papal Cadaver Trial of 897, where Pope Stephen VI had Pope Formosus’ corpse exhumed and brought to the papal court for judgment. At the end of the trial, Formosus was pronounced guilty and his papacy retroactively declared null (see main image – painting by Jean Paul Laurens). At least Mr. Trump will have the benefit of a ‘jury’ of 100 Senators, 67 of whom need to vote to convict to ‘remove’ him, which seems unlikely. But it is clear that this process in the Senate is unlawful (Abramson is wrong and irrelevant to assert that the laying of the charge during 45’s term renders impeachment valid) and liable to be struck down by the Supreme Court, unless it has been ‘stacked’ by the time the appeal is called on. In any case, this omnishambles merely serves to undermine President Biden’s wearisome and recurrent calls for “Unity.”
TRUMP: Should the Senate act on the Article of Impeachment initiated in the
House of Representatives, it will have passed a Bill of Attainder in violation of
Article 1, Sec. 9. Cl. 3 of the United States Constitution.
ABRAMSON: Trump’s answer suggests, at its close, that Congress has now created a “special category” of persons that includes the President of the United States, and has then singled this category out for worse treatment than average citizens receive. (The inapplicable legal term used by Trump’s lawyers here is “bill of attainder.”) Not only is this facially preposterous—as of course the President of the United States has certain obligations and privileges that average citizens do not have—but it is made positively obscene by the fact that Trump spent four years in office daily touting his right to special (and better) treatment in all legal proceedings than any other citizen would receive. Indeed, in every lawsuit seeking tax records or other materials from the president, in every civil lawsuit by a private citizen alleging he had committed some tort, Trump’s response was that as President of the United States he had to be treated differently from everyone else—and better. Now that he’s incited an insurrection, he wants to pretend he’s just the guy who lives next door to you? It’d be laughable if it weren’t an affront to our democracy, our rule of law, our justice system, our electoral infrastructure, our traditions and values and first principles, the Constitution, and everything else both average citizens and the President of the United States alike are supposed to hold dear. Trump, through his lawyers, eviscerates into meaninglessness Section 3 of the 14th Amendment by leaving it unclear precisely who has the authority to determine that a person has committed an act of insurrection and therefore cannot serve in an office of public trust in the future. One could certainly argue that only a federal court can do so—upon a federal criminal conviction for such an offense, presumably—but Trump does not argue this, nor does he explain why Congress is allowed (under the Constitution) to impeach and remove an elected official from office for engaging in insurrection, and, further, can disqualify that person from future office under another provision of the Constitution, but is prohibited from doing so under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The Founders would have been explicit in prohibiting this power to Congress and reserving it for another body if that had been their intent. Trump’s interpretation of these clauses creates a nonsense—which courts don’t allow in matters of constitutional interpretation.
TVC: We respectfully disagree with the Trump argument and respectfully agree with Abramson on this point. An impeachment is not a legislative criminal conviction, such as historically occurred with now defunct bills of attainder. It is a pity that Mr. Abramson expressed his argument so pungently however. But then, he is the author of three books on the Trump administration that are not much more than yellow journalism.
TRUMP: The Article of Impeachment misconstrues protected speech and fails to
meet the constitutional standard for any impeachable offense.
ABRAMSON: Trump’s response to the allegation that he violated his Oath of Office amounts to no more than, “No I didn’t!” Ultimately, the power is vested in Congress to make this determination, and to be very clear, the standard here isn’t a criminal one—Congress doesn’t need to find a violation of a federal criminal statute. By way of example, the sort of “abuse of power” allegations we’ve historically seen in cases of presidential impeachment do not, in themselves, outline a federal crime. So Congress could determine that Trump had violated his Oath of Office and was removable even without criminal incitement being proven against him beyond a reasonable doubt, contrary to the presumption inherent in Trump’s answer. Trump falsely claiming that he won the 2020 presidential election would be covered by the First Amendment if he weren’t the President of the United States at the time he said it. In certain instances, public officials can have a diminished First Amendment right when they are speaking on matters within their purview. While Trump is not obligated to concede the 2020 presidential election formally or congratulate Joe Biden on winning it in a popular-vote and electoral-college landslide, when a president declares himself the winner of an election he in fact lost by millions of popular votes and 74 electoral-college votes it is what the law considers a “performative” speech-act: that is, it’s a public statement that makes something happen merely with the utterance of it. The most commonly used example of this is an explorer planting a flag an exclaiming, “I claim this land for [country]!” While such a statement can certainly be contested by any number of others, if the explorer in question has been authorized by the Government of [country] to make such a statement, making the statement above in the hearing of others would constitute an attempt to stake a legal claim with the “utterance” of it. Just so, Trump’s supporters have every right under the First Amendment to say that he won the 2020 election when he didn’t, but if Trump does so—as the then-current president, the chief executive of the government’s executive branch, and one of the parties with a vested legal interest in the outcome of the election—he is engaging in a performative speech-act or utterance that indicates he’s making an actionable legal claim. Trump is of course entitled to such a speech-act or utterance prior to a final determination on the question of the general election by the leaders of a co-equal branch of government—the Supreme Court, the head of the judicial branch—but if he (and he specifically) continues to make such a claim after he has lost all his legal challenges, as he certainly did, he is asserting the authority as president to make a determination that is not his to make and that may, further, incite insurrection against the man who actually won the election. So Trump and his lawyers pretending he’s merely a “private citizen” who has the same First Amendment rights as anyone else ignores the fact that while engaged in the conduct now alleged against him he was not a private citizen and was not similarly positioned to private citizens with respect to the First Amendment. Neither Trump nor his attorneys nor any Republican has yet explained what Donald Trump’s intent on January 6 actually was. That he now claims his speech was about election security broadly writ can be discarded as an argument, as it does not comport with anything he actually said on the date in question. But his more specific claim that he did not intend the mob he spoke to to “interfere” with the joint session of Congress or be “destructive” in any way is likewise so contrary to the facts that the burden shifts to Trump and his team to explain what he anticipated the response to his speech to be. In his speech, he told his followers to “stop” the “steal” happening at the Capitol by “fighting like hell” up at the Capitol, with him alongside them. He told them that the consequences of not “stopping” the “steal” up at the Capitol by “fighting like hell” would be the end of America itself. Yet now he says “fight” was metaphorical—and so was “stop.” No jury in America, Senate or otherwise, would credit this claim, so it falls now to Trump to paint a picture of a march on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 that would have “stopped” the “steal” and “saved America” and involved “fighting like hell” but was also (a) entirely peaceful, and (b) not an interference or attempted interference of any kind with the joint session of Congress Trump’s speech was explicitly scheduled to end just before. We have yet to hear any such narrative from Trump or his lawyers or his allies and we don’t get it in his answer, either.
TVC: Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution 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.” (Note that disqualification of a President, the subordinate remedy, is not contained in this specific power). The charge against Mr. Trump is that he incited an insurrection (the ‘cosplay insurrection’) at the Capitol on 6 February 2021 by his speech to persons gathered at the White House earlier that day. This cannot amount to Treason (assisting a foreign power defeat the U.S.) or bribery: so we have to consider the arcane phrase, “high crimes and misdemeanors”. Perjury and obstruction of justice were considered to come under this umbrella in the Nixon and Clinton impeachments.
Incitement is a felony in the U.S. and requires for a conviction that someone solicit, command, induce, or otherwise endeavor to persuade other persons to engage in physical force against property or against the person of another in violation of the laws of the United States, and under circumstances strongly corroborative of that intent. We agree with Abramson that conviction for impeachment does not require a criminal standard, but setting aside his strained and selective assessment of what happened, the facts fall well short of incitement, including any credible evidence of intent. Quoting selectively from Trump’s speech, Mr. Abramson somehow manages to miss the phrase: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
First, a large cohort listening to that speech did not go to the Capitol. Of those that did, a large number did not storm it. Of those that did, they can’t have been incited by the words of Mr. Trump, at least if you stick to the definition of incitement. The charge, already constitutionally invalid, fails for want of inculpatory evidence. There may be, of course, some evidence of further exhortations, but we would have assumed this would have been formulated in the impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives, if they’d held any. If evidence is offered at the Senate trial, that would be interesting – but it might lead to the need for an adjournment to investigate several other disturbing matters, such as the presence of a known Antifa supporter in the most violent breach of the building, the affray starting before Trump’s speech had even finished, the pipe bombs planted the previous evening outside the RNC and DNC, and the criminal negligence in neglecting the provision of security (despite FBI warnings before the day) by the House Majority Leader and D.C. Mayor. And if the prosecutors lead witnesses of anything extraneous to the agreed transcript of Trump’s speech, they’d be serving up a long-hop to the defence to call Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) who incited a riot at the Supreme Court against Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsich, or the rioters in Minneapolis, Portland and points E., W., S. and N. to ask them if they found solicitation, command, or inducement in the words of several high-ranking Democrats – including the Vice President (rioting being the language of the unheard, to quote MLK). We’re not equating 6/1/21 with the Reichstag fire, but perhaps the Senate needs to scan the vision to look for a young and dodgy-looking Dutchman.
TRUMP: The House of Representatives deprived the 45th President of due process
of law in rushing to issue the Article of Impeachment by ignoring it own
procedures and precedents going back to the mid-19th century. The lack of due
process included, but was not limited to, its failure to conduct any meaningful
committee review or other investigation, engage in any full and fair
consideration of evidence in support of the Article, as well as the failure to
conduct any full and fair discussion by allowing the 45th President’s positions
to be heard in the House Chamber. No exigent circumstances under the law
were present excusing the House of Representatives’ rush to judgment. The
House of Representatives’ action, in depriving the 45th President of due process
of law, created a special category of citizenship for a single individual: the 45th
President of the United States. Should this body not act in favor of the 45th
President, the precedent set by the House of Representatives would become
that such persons as the 45th President similarly situated no longer enjoy the
rights of all American citizens guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The actions by
the House make clear that in their opinion the 45th President does not enjoy
the protections of liberty upon which this great Nation was founded, where free
speech, and indeed, free political speech form the backbone of all American
liberties. None of the traditional reasons permitting the government to act in
such haste (i.e exigent circumstances) were present. The House had no reason
to rush its proceedings, disregard its own precedents and procedures, engage
in zero committee or other investigation, and fail to grant the accused his
“opportunity to be heard” in person or through counsel – all basic tenets of due
process of law. There was no exigency, as evidenced by the fact that the House
waited until after the end of the President’s term to even send the articles over
and there was thus no legal or moral reason for the House to act as it did.
Political hatred has no place in the administration of justice anywhere in
America, especially in the Congress of the United States.
ABRAMSON: Trump’s “due process” argument is the same one that was debunked over and over and over again a year ago, during his first impeachment trial. But anyway, to repeat: impeachment is a political process, not a legal process, so the rules of evidence and other conventional courtroom protocols don’t apply. Even beyond this, “impeachment” equates—if it equates to anything at all—to “indictment” in the criminal justice system, and most indicted federal defendants have been so indicted (a) without their knowledge, (b) by a grand jury that sat in secret without ever being selected by the defendant or his/her attorney, and (c) without any witnesses being called and examined before that grand jury by the defendant or his/her attorney. So to be “impeached” without public hearings or the calling of witnesses is literally no different from what happens to nearly every defendant in America when they are indicted. The question of “due process” arises at trial, not the impeachment stage. That Congress historically conducts an “impeachment inquiry” pre-trial, and sometimes gives the official being investigated a chance to suggest witnesses, is a political nicety with no foundation in law and—far more importantly, here—does not apply when a president has, by his own vile decision, acted in an arguably impeachable way within 14 days of the end of his presidency. Trump cannot leave Congress no time to participate in political niceties and then complain not only about the lack of political niceties but also a “due process” to which he is not entitled at that stage of the proceedings in any case. And finally, because Trump’s actions—willful and voluntary—implicated nationally security, as he was repeatedly warned by his attorneys they would do, it was his decision, not Congress’s, to put America in the position of having to move as quickly as possible with impeachment. He can’t complain about these consequences of his actions now.
TVC: The presentation of impeachment articles occurred with indecent haste, maximum prejudice, and no process. But we disrespectfully agree with Abramson that this is not a viable ground of objection to the Senate Trial. We disregard the commentator’s partisan attacks on Mr. Trump and merely observe that the impeachment in the lower house is akin to laying a charge – natural justice is not required and the accused right’s are ‘protected’ at least in theory, by a Senate Trial. As for the trial itself, the absence of the Chief Justice, and his replacement by ‘judge’ senior Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont – who will also be a juror (!) suggest that the proceedings are a global embarrassment, likely to result in the damp squib of an acquittal on party lines after a few days of hot air.
TRUMP: The Article of Impeachment violates the 45th President’s right to free
speech and thought guaranteed under the First Amendment to the United
ABRAMSON: Trump’s First Amendment defense is fraudulent on all grounds. First, he falsely alleges that his January 6 speech and public statements in the week prior to that speech only involved his upset that certain state courts, state legislatures, and state governors had enacted revised election protocols in mid-pandemic that he considered improper. In fact, Donald Trump, as the head of the executive branch, attempted to usurp the authority of the co-equal judicial branch by declaring the determinations of that branch to be “illegitimate” and—because he did so while being the President of the United States, not a mere citizen, and because he and his allies have advanced the so-called “theory of the unitary executive”, which holds that a president is “above” the other two branches of the U.S. government—Trump calling these perfectly legal, valid, and final court rulings “illegitimate” convinced his followers that they in fact did not have the force of law, and that therefore the state elections they governed were themselves illegitimate. Second, Trump eliminates from any of his public remarks, on January 6 or otherwise, any reference to claims of voter fraud that the evidence reveals he knew were false and inflammatory when he uttered them, though it is these claims, not the ones about election protocols being altered because of the pandemic, that he used to incite an insurrection. Third, Trump’s January 6 address was not, as he and his lawyers now claim, focused on the past; nor was it focused broadly on election security. Trump repeatedly returned to the present and near future by focusing obsessively on an event that was about to unfold at the Capitol—a joint session of Congress to certify Biden’s electoral victory—and Trump’s demand that his followers “fight” to “stop” it by marching to the Capitol. Trump even said he would be marching with them and advised them on how best to get the Capitol Hill. The notion that his public remarks on January 6 and before were merely retrospective is contradictory to the facts before the Senate; indeed, no person in America did more to promote the January 6 march on the Capitol that then-President Trump did. He promised it would be “wild” and elevated inflammatory tweets, literature, and speakers for weeks before the event. He then had his political director Brian Jack book speakers for the event, including Rep. Mo Brooks, who incited violent insurrection at the Capitol with the very speaking slot Trump had gifted him. Trump’s reference to other times in American history that slates of electors have been contested is irrelevant on two counts: first, the circumstances of those instances were dramatically different, in that there had been a prior concession by the Democratic candidate and consequently there was no concerted effort to overturn any election results rather than lodge a merely symbolic protest; second, Trump’s actions at the Ellipse have nothing to do with the fact—the accurate observation—that senators have a right to protest slates of electors should they have an evidentiary basis to do so. By January 6, more than 60 federal courts had rejected any and every argument proposing the general election was fraudulent; every state had certified its slate of electors without incident; and Trump’s own administration (Chris Krebs) had called the election the most secure in history. Because Trump did not concede—and based on calls made by his attorney Rudy Giuliani to Tommy Tuberville, and a mountain of other evidence of Trump and his agents’ public and private statements on the matter—it was clear that, despite the foregoing, the objections lodged in Congress on January 6 were not symbolic but a bona fide attempt to overturn a certified democratic election. Thus Trump’s discourse on the history of senators symbolically objecting to individual slates of electors based on uncontested evidence is wildly inapt. That Trump was working with his allies in the DOJ to get involved in Georgia’s post-election recount at the time he told the Secretary of State of Georgia that he could be charged with a federal crime for not following the president’s directions during the recount is uncontested. It cannot credibly be claimed, as Trump attempts to in his reply, that he didn’t threaten Brad Raffensperger with federal prosecution, nor that he wasn’t concurrently taking clandestine actions that would have given that threat real teeth. Moreover, Trump cannot now claim that he merely wanted Raffensperger to only “find” all legal votes in Georgia because he expressly told Raffensperger at the time of their now-infamous call that he only “needed” enough votes to win the state. Had Trump not threatened DOJ action against Raffensperger, and had he consistently, during his phone call with him, demanded only that every legal vote in Georgia be located—no matter how many or how few there were that had, in Trump’s view, not yet been located—the call would have been wildly inappropriate but not part of a coordinated insurrection. Unfortunately, the facts are what they are: Trump was using his authority as president to rig events at DOJ and to try to rig Georgia’s election to the specific outcome he wanted. He told Raffensperger exactly how many votes the Georgia secretary of state needed to “find”—and it was the exact number Trump needed to win the state.
TVC: The premise of Trump’s argument here is flawed. Speech is free but it isn’t actually consequence-free. If the then President had actually incited violence, that would be an impeachable offence, were he still in office. As for the November 2020 election, we can ignore Abramson’s sweeping and singeing dismissal of electoral fraud. That which is asserted without evidence can be refuted without evidence. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that ‘shenanigans’ and ‘malarkey’ (to quote President Biden) took place last year: the dismissals in the various State Courts were based on an admixture of technical grounds and a lack of materiality, the almost invariable hurdle to applications to courts of disputed returns (i.e. to overturn an election , fraud or irregularities aren’t enough: the actual proven corrupted votes have to numerically change the result). There was never a merits hearing on the irregularities, a matter which might be best left to reform by an honest legislature, if one can be located.
TRUMP: The Article is constitutionally flawed in that it charges multiple instances
of allegedly impeachable conduct in a single article. By charging multiple
alleged wrongs in one article, the House of Representatives has made it
impossible to guarantee compliance with the Constitutional mandate in Article
1, Sec. 3, Cl. 6 that permits a conviction only by at least two-thirds of the
members. The House charge fails by interweaving differing allegations rather
than breaking them out into counts of alleged individual instances of
misconduct. Rule XXIII of the Rules of Procedure and Practice in the Senate
When Sitting on Impeachment Trials provides, in pertinent part, that an article
of impeachment shall not be divisible thereon. Because the Article at issue
here alleges multiple wrongs in the single article, it would be impossible to
know if two-thirds of the members agreed on the entire article, or just on parts,
as the basis for vote to convict. The House failed to adhere to strict Senate
rules and, instead, chose to make the Article as broad as possible intentionally
in the hope that some Senators might agree with parts, and other Senators
agree with other parts, but that when these groups of senators were added
together, the House might achieve the appearance of two thirds in agreement,
when those two thirds of members, in reality, did not concur on the same
allegations interwoven into an over-broad article designed for just such a
purpose. Such behavior on the part of the House of Representatives may have
a less nefarious reason, in the alternative, and simply be a by-product of the
haste in which the House unnecessarily acted while depriving the 45th
President of the United States of his American right to due process of law. The
45th President of the United States believes and therefore avers that the defect
in the drafting of the Article requires that Senators be instructed that if two
thirds of them fail to find any portion of the Article lacking in evidence
sufficient for conviction, then the entire Article fails and should be dismissed.
ABRAMSON: He does not address what he describes as a “thorny constitutional question”.
TVC: So, neither will we, other than to say that the Article of Impeachment, this breathless compendium of main stream news flashes, this flourish posing as particulars of a high crime, would probably be liable to dismissal if it were a criminal indictment, but impeachment, a political/constitutional mechanism, is faster and looser. There is an element of the ‘kitchen sink’ in the supporting rubric to the single charge (the Ukraine phone call and other things apart from the 6 January speech are thrown in) but whilst there is some substance to Trump’s objection here, this will presumably be clarified and sorted-out at trial.
TRUMP: The Chief Justice of the United States is not set to preside over the
proceedings contemplated by the Senate, as he would be constitutionally
required to do if the House was seeking to have the president removed from
office under Art. I, Sec 3, Cl. 6 of the United States Constitution. Once the 45th
President’s term expired, and the House chose to allow jurisdiction to lapse on
the Article of Impeachment, the constitutional mandate for the Chief Justice to
preside at all impeachments involving the President evidently disappeared, and
he was replaced by a partisan Senator who will purportedly also act as a juror
while ruling on certain issues. The House actions thus were designed to
ensure that Chief Justice John Roberts would not preside over the proceedings,
which effectively creates the additional appearance of bias with the proceedings
now being supervised by a partisan member of the Senate with a long history of
public remarks adverse to the 45th President. The 45th President believes and
therefore avers that this action of the House of Representatives, additionally,
violated his right to due process of law because the House, effectively,
maneuvered an ally in the Senate into the judge’s chair.
ABRAMSON: (He did not address this contention, but suggested that this lacuna is due to the Senate not commencing a trial before 20/1/2021.)
TVC: Whilst the whole process is problematic, ostensible bias cannot be a bar to staging what is, in the final analysis, a political event. Its constitutional validity per se can be challenged, but not the intricacies of the process itself. (If the Senate, to operate lawfully, had to be free of actual or ostensible bias, it would never convene.) A criminal lawyer (like Mr. Abramson was from 2001-2007) would file a motion to have the trial heard out of town, of course.
[* https://sethabramson.substack.com/p/a-comprehensive-legal-analysis-o] (Some of the above material has been edited for clarity of comparison). [** Can the Democratic leadership be that crafty? Can the Republicans be that stupid? Once Mr. Trump is acquitted on ‘Removal,’ (absent a 2/3rds majority), do they move to ‘Disqualification’ (on a simple majority, i.e. 50 Democrats, with the Vice President, Karmela Harris, breaking the tie and voting in the affirmative?). That might make the contest in 2024 Harris v Rubio – when the Gods wish to curse the Democrats, first they grant them their foolish wishes. Note there is talk of enlivening Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, where an office holder who has engaged in insurrection can be disqualified, but that would need a criminal conviction by an actual Court – unlikely, but then these days, we guess anything is possible.] [Update: Donald Trump was acquitted on 13 February, evoking a ‘Tanti’ from House Majority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, and giving rise to the following joke:
Trump: Knock knock.
Pelosi: Who’s there?
Pelosi: Owen who?
Trump: 0 and 2.]