As I write this, there is controversy over whether it’s legal to conduct an impeachment trial if the accused is no longer in office. Sounds like a genuine argument against impeachment, right?
In our civil-court system, we have statutes of limitations beyond which a suspect can no longer be tried, sometimes several years after the deed. These differ between states and are in accordance with the severity of the crimes.
When we discuss the last president, we only are talking about a few weeks after he left office. So isn’t it kind of ridiculous to believe a president’s case should be different?
Consider the consequences if our presidents were beyond impeachment immediately after leaving office? That would mean presidents could take any radical and/or illegal action a day before leaving office without fear of being held responsible.
Why should someone who manipulates our election process to benefit himself be forgotten once out of office? That would mean any president could engage in any illegal activity close to leaving office and get off scot free. This is obviously not what justice should look like.
I suggest Congress not only try President Donald Trump in the Senate but also establish clear guidelines about how long after leaving office any resident may be legally the subject of an impeachment trial. Perhaps six months or more? Whatever time limits are set, they would prevent any president from getting away with any crime he or she desired to commit during the entire presidential term, including shortly before leaving office.
Obviously, if a president abuses the law even one day before leaving office, it is only right not to let him or her avoid impeachment based on that technicality.
Peter W. Johnson
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