In a short interview with CNN this week, President Joe Biden finally expressed an opinion on Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. Asked about whether or not Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell should move forward with the trial of a president who is no longer in office, Biden said, “I think it has to happen.”
Biden said that he understood the deteriorating effect an impeachment trial would have on the sheer time the Senate has to enact his agenda and get his nominees through to the Cabinet, but he said that the country risks “a worse effect if it didn’t happen.”
It’s not entirely clear what “worse effect” Biden is talking about, because he acknowledged in the interview that it’s very unlikely that the required 17 Republicans senators will vote to convict Trump on charges of incitement. He said that things might be different if Trump still had time remaining in office.
The trial, as it were, already looks questionable from a constitutional standpoint. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is supposed to oversee the trial according to the Constitution. However, the Constitution notes that this is in the case of a “sitting president,” which Trump is not. Democrats are taking this to simply mean that someone else can preside in the instance of a non-sitting president, but many legal experts question whether the trial itself is constitutional in the first place.
“On its face, the planned impeachment trial is at odds with the language of the Constitution, which expressly states that removal of a president is the primary purpose of such a trial,” wrote law professor Jonathan Turley in a recent op-ed. “At the time, Trump will be neither a president nor in office. He will be a citizen and would be best served legally to forgo the trial entirely as extraconstitutional and invalid.”
In remarks to Newsmax TV on Monday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) hammered that exact question: “How do you unify when you’re trying to impeach a president that’s already left?”
“The Democrats have been trying to remove President Trump from office before he got there, now they’re trying to remove him after he left,” said Jordan. “How do you unify when you impeach a president with no due process? How do you unify when you have the cancel culture trying to prevent 75 million people from even speaking, from even exercising their First Amendment liberties and having a real debate in this country?”
All good questions – and ones we expect that Democrats will happily ignore as they present their case to the Senate on February 8th.