Senate Republicans have always been fond of claiming to be “strict constructionists” when it comes to our Constitution. Indeed, the Founders’ wishes are purported to guide their every decision. Except, of course, when the Founders didn’t argue for the current GOP position. Tuesday was just such a day.
House Impeachment Manager Joe Neguse (D-CO) mapped out for all to see that the Founders had, in fact, made known their intent on impeachment and conviction even after an individual left office. Back in 1797, when John Adams was serving as our second President, a member of the Democratic-Republican Party, Senator William Blount from Tennessee, was discovered to be involved in a conniving deal to aid the British in acquiring both Florida and Louisiana. As the House moved to impeach Senator Blount, he resigned his Senate seat. The Vice-President under Adams, Thomas Jefferson, was also a Democratic-Republican and as VP presided over Senate proceedings. Even though Blount had already left office, the Senate went ahead with his trial.
Revered Founders who put their names to our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and the Bill of Rights were involved with the Blount impeachment. If they had had any reservations regarding the pursuit of a conviction after the subject had left office, they themselves would have blocked any Senate trial. They did not. The Senate immediately moved ahead with Senator Blount’s trial.
For today’s Republicans to argue any point other than the fact that the Senate has full jurisdiction to pursue an impeachment conviction even after an elected official has left office is bankrupt and vacuous. It turns out bankrupt and vacuous are part of the DNA of the 2020 Republican Party. The Founders have spoken!