Impeachment’s Partisan Doom
The US Senate has failed to convict former President Donald Trump for inciting insurrection on January 6. This outcome raises the question as to whether Congress has any effective means of holding a president to account for acts against the Constitution.
WASHINGTON, DC – The US Senate’s failure to convict Donald Trump for instigating the January 6 riot in the Capitol, for which the House of Representatives had impeached him, leaves the question of whether the US Congress has any effective means of holding a president to account for acts against the Constitution. The nation’s Founders had sought to prevent a president from enhancing his own powers to the point of becoming, in effect, a king. Under Trump, America’s constitutional system had a dagger pointed to its heart: a president who refused to recognize that he had lost an election and was willing to use a mob to physically attack a supposedly co-equal branch.
America’s Founders made conviction by the Senate, which brings removal from office, for an impeachable offense – which need not be a statutory crime – very difficult by requiring a two-thirds vote. A president, they believed, should not be removed from office as a result of a national mood swing.
No president has been removed from office through impeachment by the House followed by conviction by the Senate – Richard Nixon resigned because he was told by leading congressional Republicans that he had lost sufficient support in the Senate to stay in office. Essentially, to remove a president from office is to nullify the vote of the people. Moreover, that person is likely to retain a hold on at least a segment of his party. Indeed, until not long ago as US history goes, politicians were loath to even bring up the subject of impeachment.