President Trump’s impeachment trial can’t be held once he’s out of office — because it’s unconstitutional, according to Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton.
The Republican lawmaker issued a statement Wednesday shortly after the House voted to impeach Trump for a second time — and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there’s no chance the impeachment trial could be held before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.
“The House has passed an article of impeachment against the president, but the Senate under its rules and precedents cannot start and conclude a fair trial before the president leaves office next week,” Cotton said.
“Under these circumstances, the Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president.”
The senator added, “The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public office — not an inquest against private citizens. The Constitution presupposes an office from which an impeached officeholder can be removed.”
Cotton, who is vehemently opposed to Trump’s impeachment, said Congress instead should focus on a “safe and orderly transfer of power.”
“After January 20, Congress should get on with the people’s business: improving our vaccination efforts, getting kids back to school, and getting workers back on the job,” he said.
Donald Trump speaks at “Save America March” rally in Washington, DC. Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Sen. Tom Cotton is against impeaching Donald Trump. Getty Images
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The House of Representatives passed an article of impeachment on Wednesday accusing Trump of inciting the US Capitol riots last week. But the Senate is not due to reconvene until Jan. 19 — the day before Biden is inaugurated.
McConnell said that means there is “simply no chance that a fair and serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week.”