With the nation now facing the launch of an impeachment inquiry concerning President Trump, Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science examined, in The Conversation, the unique situation where Trump faces possible impeachment even as he gears up to run for a second term.
Three previous presidents —Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton – faced formal impeachment inquiries. The Senate convicted none of them, but none were re-elected. Johnson lost his party’s nomination, and Nixon and Clinton were in their second terms.
“A little-known wrinkle in the Constitution might allow Trump to be reelected president in 2020 even if he is removed from office through the impeachment process,” Sarat wrote, pointing out that the Founders, when crafting the Constitution, “only required that an impeached and convicted official ‘be removed from office’ – but did not mandate that the person also be disqualified from holding a future office.”
“Nowhere does the Constitution define the standards for disqualification. Moreover, the Senate has declined to establish a standard,” Sarat wrote. “Senate procedures require separate votes to convict someone of an impeachable offense and to impose a disqualification penalty.”
“The Senate should, if the president is convicted … disqualify him too,” to avoid the even more divisive situation of a conviction occurring during the election itself, he concluded.