Breaking With G.O.P., Top Conservative Lawyer Says Trump Can Stand Trial
Added 02-07-21 06:40:03pm EST - “Charles J. Cooper, a stalwart of the conservative legal establishment, said that Republicans were wrong to assert that it is unconstitutional for a former president to be tried for impeachable offenses.” - Nytimes.com
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Charles J. Cooper, a stalwart of the conservative legal establishment, said that Republicans were wrong to assert that it is unconstitutional for a former president to be tried for impeachable offenses.
One of Washington’s leading conservative constitutional lawyers publicly broke on Sunday with the main Republican argument against convicting former President Donald J. Trump in his impeachment trial, asserting that an ex-president can indeed be tried for high crimes and misdemeanors.
In an opinion piece posted on The Wall Street Journal’s website, the lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, who is closely allied with top Republicans in Congress, dismissed as illogical the claim that it is unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a former president. The piece came two days before the Senate was set to start the proceeding, in which Mr. Trump is charged with “incitement of insurrection” in connection with the deadly assault on the Capitol by his supporters on Jan. 6.
Since the rampage, Republicans have made little effort to excuse Mr. Trump’s conduct, but have coalesced behind the legal argument about constitutionality as their rationale for why he should not be tried, much less convicted. Their theory is that because the Constitution’s penalty for an impeachment conviction is removal from office, it was never intended to apply to a former president, who is no longer in office.
Many legal scholars disagree, and the Senate has previously held an impeachment trial of a former official — though never a former president. But 45 Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader who is said to believe that Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses, voted last month to dismiss the trial as unconstitutional on those grounds.
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