I don’t have a strong personal conviction on the question of whether a president can be tried for impeachable conduct after he leaves office. I lean toward yes, because conviction can be followed by a vote barring the convicted impeachee from holding office again.
Trump has certainly floated the notion that he hasn’t yet done enough damage to our democracy and might offer himself in 2024, maybe even as the head of a new Trump-is-our-savior Party. (TIOSP!)
So there’s that, although I can hardly imagine he will be a serious threat to be elected in 2024. (The trouble with that is that I could hardly imagine he could be “elected” in 2016).
And, as I’ve mentioned before, as much as Trump deserves to be impeached, and I think you could actually make an argument on all the grounds named in the Constitution, namely treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors – I have, pending future developments, seen little prospect of enough Republican senators to get to the two-thirds majority necessary for conviction.
If that’s true, the value of impeaching him diminishes, although doesn’t disappear.
I should confess, as I often have before, that I am not a future-knower. (Neither is anyone else, but at least I freely confess it.) And, P.S. to the above, it will be fine with me, assuming Trump is not in prison in 2024, if he starts his own MAGA party (I believe the rumor is that he would call it the “Patriot” Party.) That would be great for the Democrats.
The main argument currently being made by Trump’s “defenders” – that since Trump can’t be removed from an office he has already vacated, there is no basis for pursuing the impeachment process – is lame, especially considering the fact referenced above that he is threatening to mount a comeback.
As you have no doubt heard or read previously, a conviction at the impeachment trial (if it occurred) could be followed by a second vote, barring Trump from any future office. Two stupid follow-up thoughts on that:
Stupid Thought One: The language of the Constitution does at least suggest that you can’t be “impeached” after you have left office. But – ha ha – Trump was impeached while he was still president. Arguing that a former president, who was impeached while he was still president, cannot be convicted and then disqualified for running for future office is more problematic.
So, I say, convict him, then disqualify, and then let him waste his time and money arguing about it.
On the third hand, or whichever hand I’m up to (but I definitely have at least one more “hand” coming), I continue to assume that the 50 Senate Democrats will not find the necessary 17 Senate Republicans to get up to the necessary two-thirds to convict Trump, which leads to the fourth hand:
Which is to say, after sitting through Wednesday’s brilliant compilation of facts and arguments and self-incriminating Trump tweets that the Democratic prosecutors brought forth, rooted in Trump’s gift for stupid self-incrimination via Tweet, I actually wondered whether more Republican senators might decide to acknowledge what they already know (but are afraid to say out loud for fear of the MAGA mob turning on them), which is that Trump is absolutely guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, deserves to be impeached, is also guilty of terminal stupidity, and that any party that depends on Trumpism for its future has no future.