Conundrum (noun)-a confusing and difficult problem or question
“You can’t have your cake and eat it too”
We are presently in the throws of former President Donald J. Trump’s 2nd-impeachment trial. We at the Jackson Times-Voice are calling him the former-President.
Trump, on the other hand, rejects that reference. Trump doesn’t permit anyone else to call him that.
Trump prefers 45th-President. He simply refuses to acknowledge he lost the last election.
Trump maintains the previous election's result was a huge fraud. Trump tells followers he won the last election and that they, altogether, have had victory "stolen" from them. This dogged insistence, and his inciting a murderous insurrection against the country and its elected leadership on January 6, 2021, is exactly why he is standing trial.
Trump’s lawyers are proffering a defense with which Trump vigorously and violently disagrees; that he is no longer the rightful President. Do you see the source of the conundrum?
Now you see why Trump won’t voluntarily testify. Now you see why he will require a subpoena to secure his testimony. If it were I, I would have one executed, issued, and served. Always nice to accommodate the other party where possible.
Trump still clutches to the trappings of his once immense authority. Matter of fact, he has unlawfully misappropriated the “Official Seal of the President of the United States” to use as a heading for his stationary. After all, he’s still the President. Ask him.
Trump’s lawyers are arguing the Senate has no constitutional grounds to try him as he is no longer the President. These lawyers claim The US Constitution doesn’t provide impeachment as a tool to try civilians. Becoming a civilian to avoid impeachment proceedings wasn’t a hurdle to instituting charges and subsequently trying William Belknap, former Secretary of War under President Grant whose trial was in 1876.
Unlike here, in Belknap's case, both the House’s impeachment and subsequent trial in the Senate occurred after Belknap had resigned his post. Here, Trump was still President (even as we define that term) when the House impeached him.
We believe that is the key-point at the Times-Voice. When Trump was impeached (formerly charged) he was still President. For that reason, distinguishing this present case from its only precedent doesn’t appear necessary.
If William Belknap could be tried for conduct occurring while he was in office with said charges and trial occurring after his resignation; than surely a President can be tried for actions occurring while that President was still in office even where the trial has been intentionally delayed until after his term has expired. It would only make good sense.
Trump's lawyers say the framers didn’t intend for a civilian to face impeachment or they would have specifically and expressly provided for it. The problem…according to the client for whom they are making this argument (Trump), he isn’t a civilian; he’s still the President. Go on, ask him!
The U.S. Constitution, under Article II, Section 4 says, “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” That is all that is said on the matter.
Just what constitutes “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” has never been defined exactly. Our present House members believe someone who incites a murderous mob of insurrectionists, which that same person summoned to Washington in the first place, to forcibly enter the seat of American Democracy in an attempt to halt the certification of the Electoral College; thereby attempting to frustrate the peaceful transfer of power together with killing 6-people in the process, some of whom were Capitol Police officers, while also threatening the life of three (3) people in the direct Presidential line of succession, fits the definition.
You may beg to differ. It's a free country. Believe anything you wish.
The Republicans don’t seem to want to argue with that point. In his first impeachment over one year ago, where he was recorded tying congressionally allocated aid to Ukraine to the provision of dirt and/or charges levied against the Bidens, the President argued those acts weren’t impeachable even if he had done exactly of what he had been accused (which he did).
We aren’t hearing that argument this go-around. Instead, the main thrust of the defense is Trump has reached home-base, for those of you who have ever played the children's game, "Tag." His term in office expired; ergo he can no longer be tried.
He’s a civilian and can’t be impeached. Except, he’s not really a civilian. He won that last election. Ask him! Ask his supporters!
Trump’s entire defense crumbles the second he hits the stand. Trump will say he is the rightful President of the United States and that he is being unlawfully denied his position and governing authority because of a fraudulent result reported from an election he easily won.
So, he is impeachable, right? The Senate hasn’t lost the constitutional authority, correct? Ask him!
There are other applicable provisions here. Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 of The Constitution, grants the sole power of impeachment to the House of Representatives. The House exercised this grant of authority. They voted to impeach the then-President, during his term, by the most bi-partisan result in American history.
Article I, Section 3, Clause 7 provides that the sanctions for an impeached and convicted individual are limited to removal from office and potentially a bar from holding future office. Under this same provision, an impeachment proceeding does NOT preclude criminal liability.
If Trump is still in office as he claims, then let’s remove him now from his fantastical throne of power via the impeachment process. Then, the Senate could take up the other constitutionally provided sanction.
Sanction two, regardless of where you come down on Trump’s winning or losing the last election, is the penalty of lifetime ban from ever again holding federal office. It is still very much in play.
Matter of fact, did you know the 14th-Amendment to the US Constitution may also be in play? This Amendment was passed in 1866, ratified in July of 1868, exclusively to bar ex-Confederate military officers and civilian officials from holding political office at a time when soon-to-be impeached President Andrew Johnson was handing out pardons like parents distribute candy on Halloween.
If you watched the January 6, 2021 insurrection, you would have seen quite a bit of confederate regalia waived about the Capitol by Trump supporters. Maybe Trump is their very own Andrew Johnson or Jefferson Davis.
History really does repeat itself. It is truly remarkable.
This history is particularly poignant to Trump and the present Article of Impeachment to be tried. Trump and the other speakers at the pep-rally before the insurrection on January 6, 2021 all provided “aid and comfort” to those engaging in “insurrection or rebellion” against The Constitution of the United States. The argument, which doesn’t originate with me, makes it possible Trump is already barred from further political office regardless of the outcome of this trial.
The only outcome which isn’t possible is the one for which Trump is desperately hoping. Trump's position and what his counsel will argue are incompatible.
Trump, through counsel, can’t claim immunity from impeachment because he is a civilian. This position is defeated by Trump's insistence he is still the real and actual President.
Much like the old conundrum about eating and having a cake at the same time, this too poses a terribly difficult and confusing problem. The conundrum is how can one be a civilian, immune from trial before the Senate, and President at the same time?
I don’t know…ask him. Heck, for that matter ask us.
This is Fletcher Long requesting you take this for whatever you find it worth but THAT’S THE LONG VERION!