Democrats have used impeachment to attack President Trump on the grounds that he is a “clear and present” danger to the American people.
However, as many House Democrats have confessed both tacitly and openly, impeachment is not about protecting the American people right now, it’s about protecting Democrats’ power in future years.
Pulling back the curtain
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), has been more careful in her use of language surrounding impeachment, but her less-experienced House colleagues haven’t been as sly in the communication of their intentions.
“One of the other purposes of impeachment, in this case, is to make sure that President Trump is not able to run for federal office again, that he’s not able to seek the presidency,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (T-TX) told ABC on Sunday.
Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD) also spoke of the future benefits of impeaching President Trump after he departs the White House, noting that the Constitution “talks about conviction, removal, and disqualification from holding further public office.”
Both Raskin and Castro were named impeachment managers by Pelosi, indicating that all three are on the same page in regard to the real motivation behind the speedy impeachment push.
Leftists like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have been even more transparent, paying lip service to the narrative that President Trump is a “danger” to the American people, but adding that “we’re also talking about complete barring of the president, or rather of Donald Trump, from running for office ever again.”
Hitting the brakes
Despite all the hyperventilating about removing Trump from power, Pelosi shows no signs of rushing the article of impeachment over to the Senate.
President Trump will leave office voluntarily at noon on Wednesday regardless of the status of the articles of impeachment. Democrats then face the choice of spending the first several weeks — or even months — of Joe Biden’s presidency squabbling over Donald Trump, or delaying the impeachment until after Biden’s agenda has been prioritized.
Either way, the House’s rush to impeach puts them in a bind that could backfire in a spectacular way, causing a lengthy and politically damaging fight at a time in which Democrats promised unity and healing.
Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz argues that attempting to impeach Trump after he leaves office is unconstitutional, noting that the Senate has no jurisdiction over an individual that is not President at the time of the impeachment.
“The Constitution is very clear. The subject, the object, the purpose of impeachment is to remove a sitting precedent,” Dershowitz explained,” continuing:
And there are two precedents. One is very obvious. When President Nixon resigned in anticipation of being impeached and removed, there was no effort to impeach him after he left office. It was clear that the Senate had lost jurisdiction at that point. The proponents cite another precedent. In 1876, there was a failed effort, a failed effort to remove the secretary of war. In an initial vote, the Senate voted close, in a close vote, that they did have jurisdiction to try somebody who had resigned.