Trump supporters wave a Trump 2020 flag during the Capitol riot.

Wait, Can Donald Trump Be Impeached a Third Time After Leaving Office?

This article is over 2 years old and may contain outdated information

It’s been a big week for Donald Trump publicly announcing his crimes and general misdeeds, and it’s only Tuesday.

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Over the weekend, Trump released a statement in which he explicitly says he thinks Mike Pence should have “overturned the Election” and that he thinks it was Pence’s “right” to “change the Presidential Election results.” He then doubled down in another statement issued Tuesday, saying Pence should be investigated for his refusal to help out with Trump’s desired coup.

This weekend, Trump also told a crowd at a rally in Texas that his only regret from last year’s violent attack on the U.S. Capitol is that his supporters have been punished for it, and that if he were to run again in 2024, he’d fix that.

“Another thing we’ll do, and so many people have been asking me about it, if I run and if I win we will treat those people from January 6 fairly,” Trump said. “And if it requires pardons we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.”

It’s also come out that Trump was reportedly deeply involved in plans to seize voting machines, even going so far as to draft two different executive orders—one ordering the Department of Defense to take control of them and the other aimed at the Department of Homeland Security.

Keeping Trump out of office

The idea of Trump running for President again has been a looming terror since before he even (unwillingly) left office. If the Senate had voted to convict after either of his impeachments in the House, that possibility could have been precluded. But the Republicans in the Senate are cowards, and they did not.

But what if Trump were to be impeached a third time? Could that happen, even after he’s left office? The answer appears to be … sure?

Conservative never-Trumper pundit Bill Kristol tweeted a possible scenario after Trump’s first statement was released:

On Tuesday, he followed up, writing, “This tweet was tongue-in-cheek. But why not?”

Obviously, Kristol is giving Mitch McConnell way too much credit, but the general idea makes sense.

“The focus of the Jan. 13 impeachment was Trump’s ‘inciting violence.’ But the attempt to use government instrumentalities to subvert the election is as or more worthy of impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from future office,” Kristol wrote.

Basically, because Trump is essentially admitting to new crimes that he committed during his presidency, why couldn’t Congress try him for those?

Impeaching a former president

As for whether Trump could be tried for crimes committed in office after his term is over, opinions on that seem to be divided (predictably, along party lines).

The Constitution says that “The President … shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” It does not say anything about impeaching a president after they leave office but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily unconstitutional, just that there’s no precedent for the matter.

The AP wrote last year, in the midst of Trump’s second impeachment:

A recent Congressional Research Service report for federal lawmakers and their staffs concluded that while the Constitution’s text is “open to debate,” it appears most scholars agree that a president can be impeached after leaving office. One argument is that state constitutions that predate the U.S. Constitution allowed impeachment after officials left office. The Constitution’s drafters also did not specifically bar the practice.

Can Trump be impeached after leaving office? The answer appears to be a general shrug emoji. But as long as he continues to be in the “f*** around” phase of bragging about crimes and positing future pardons and seizing voting machines, I think it’s only fair that he also have to find out.

This article has been updated with more information about Trump’s potentially impeachable offenses.

(via: The Week, image: Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.