Opinion

With Impeachment DOA, Senators Weigh Dubious Censure Resolution to Bar Trump from Presidency

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Republican Susan Collins of Maine are putting together a censure resolution intended to bar President Donald Trump from running for office by finding he engaged in an “insurrection.”

The effort moved to the fore following 45 senators voting on Tuesday for GOP Sen. Rand Paul’s point of order to find the impeachment of a former president unconstitutional.

“That is more than will be needed to acquit and to eventually end this partisan impeachment process,” Paul noted in a tweet after the vote.

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Kaine told PBS the following day the chances of convicting Trump are “virtually zero” in light that outcome, given the 67 votes (two-thirds of the Senate) needed.

According to the senator, his and Collins’ resolution, an alternative to impeachment only requiring 60 votes, would “declare the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, an insurrection against the Constitution of the United States because they were trying to stop us from doing our constitutional duty in counting certified Electoral votes.”

“It would find that President Trump gave aid and comfort to the insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol by preaching a big lie about election fraud and encouraging to gather in D.C. for a ‘wild’ event and encouraging them to go up and raise hell with Congress,” he added.

Kaine then cited the post Civil War 14th Amendment, Section 3 which provides, “No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.

“But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

Kaine argued if such a resolution were to pass (which would only require 60 votes to get beyond the filibuster threshold), it could be used as evidence in courts of law to argue Trump is ineligible to run for office.

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“That would be for courts to decide,” the Democrat conceded.

Both NBC News and The Hill reported the prospect of such a resolution preventing Trump from running for president is dubious.

First, University of Texas School of Law in Austin professor Steve Vladeck explained to NBC News that courts have never decided if “an officer of the United States,” as provided in the 14th Amendment, includes the president.

“Assuming the phrase does apply to the president, if the Senate passed a censure resolution declaring that Trump engaged in insurrection, that might trigger a state to block him from the ballot if he decided to run in 2024. Trump could then sue, and the courts would have to decide the issue,” according to NBC News.

An opposing candidate could seek to sue to get Trump thrown off the ballot too.

The Hill reported, “Trying to use a resolution to bar the president from future office would put Congress in the middle of murky legal and political waters.”

Beyond all these facts, how can what Trump did be labeled an insurrection, when he encouraged his hundreds of thousands of supporters in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 “to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” which the vast majority of them did.

For the relative few who didn’t, Trump voiced his disapproval on Twitter instructing everyone “to remain peaceful” and engage in “no violence” and “respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue.”

Trump later released a video statement telling all his supporters to “go home.”

That sounds like the opposite of promoting an insurrection.

Additionally, if merely calling the election results into question is an insurrection, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has done so on multiple occasions over the last four years, as has the current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Democrats’ push to censure Trump demonstrates they are afraid he will run again and win.

It is a sign of weakness and certainly works against the “unity” message President Joe Biden delivered in his inaugural address, just last week.

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