Senators see blame as an alternative to the impeachment trial in light of Trump’s possible acquittal

Two senators, a Democrat and a Republican, are lobbying to vote to criticize former President Donald Trump now that the Senate appears to be You are unlikely to be convicted His article on the dismissal of the House of Representatives.

While a majority of the Senate voted this week to go ahead with the trial, 55-45 votes It was well below the two-thirds required for conviction. This prompted Senator Tim Kane of Virginia and Susan Collins of Maine to propose a vote to criticize the former president as an alternative sanction.

Kane said that adopting a censure decision could prevent Trump card Who will hold a position in the future, but legal scholars are not sure.

Censure by either or both houses of Congress has no force of law if the person being watched is not a member of Congress. The Constitution explicitly gives Congress only power to punish its members, with the exception of the impeachment power. Thus, a vote to censure someone in the executive or legislative branch would only express a non-binding “feeling” of Congress.

The idea that censure could prevent Trump from holding future federal office is based on how Kane and his supporters read Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states: “No person may be a senator, a representative in Congress, or an elector. President, Vice President, or holding any office, civilian or military, under the United States, or under any state, who has previously taken the oath, as a Congressman, an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive Or judicial jurisdiction in any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, must participate in a revolt or rebellion against it. “

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Professor Steve Vladik of the University of Texas School of Law at Austin said it may sound strange, but that there is an ongoing legal question about whether the president is, in fact, “an officer of the United States”. This phrase appears frequently in law, but the courts have yet to define the meaning when it comes to the person who heads the executive branch.

Assuming the phrase applies to the president, if the Senate passes a censure resolution declaring Trump engaged in a rebellion, this could lead to a country blocking him from the ballot if he decides to run in 2024. Trump could then file a case, and the courts decide the case. .

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Alternatively, Trump could be allowed on the state ballot, and an opponent could file a lawsuit to expel him, which would also take the case to the courts.

Vladek suggests that with so much unknown, the wiser course is for the House and Senate to agree to the censure decision, to give it extra weight.

Unlike the vote to convict Trump in his impeachment trial, the vote to blame him will only require a simple majority, which is another reason some senators may find it likely to succeed. But for now, the Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, is focused on the House insulation material.

“There will be a trial, and the evidence against the former president will be presented with a living color for the nation and every one of us to see again,” said the Democrat from New York.

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Julie Tserkin Contributed.

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