Q&A of the Day – Can senators recuse themselves from impeachment?
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
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Today’s entry: Should the senators running against Trump 2020 have to recuse themselves from the impeachment proceedings?
Bottom Line: Under the constitution every senator must participate as jurors. They're not legally able to recuse themselves even if they wanted to do so. Here’s what the constitution specifically has to say about the role of senators:
Article 1 Section 3
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
It’s likely the founders thought through implications of having direct political rivals deciding the fate of the president. You might imagine this is why the founders mandated a two-thirds vote to convict and remove in the Senate compared to just a simple majority in the House to impeach. Something to be mindful of regarding the structure of our government is what it was designed to do. Serve us through a series of checks and balances. Not serve the politicians or to protect them – including the president. A way of thinking about the way impeachment was setup is like this...
Four years is a long time for Americans to be led by someone who’s corrupt and serves themselves over the interest of the country, even if we elected them to that position. If a majority of the House - which represents every district in the country, along with two-thirds of Senators, which provide equitable representation for all states regardless of size - say the President needs to go, it probably needs to happen. They’d be speaking for and representing the interests of the country as a whole. Keep in mind midterm elections were setup specifically to provide another layer to the checks and balances in power as the country could change course within two years if desired. That’s likely why they left the vague wiggle room of “high crimes and misdemeanors” as the barometer for drafting articles of impeachment. It’s obviously been such a high threshold, that with 44 Presidents, a civil war, civil rights battles, two great wars, and endless political angst over the years – it’s never happened. And isn’t going to this time either to our 45th.
As an aside, the Democrats running for president in the Senate- Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren aren’t running against President Trump at this stage. They’re running against each other. This is more than just a technicality as it pertains to federal rules and regs and ironically – despite the vocal support of removing the president from office, all hope they’ll be in position to run against President Trump this fall.