Could Pandora’s Box have just been opened by Democrats after pursuing former President Donald Trump over impeachment although he had left office? Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), for one, thinks so.
On Sunday, after the votes had been counted and President Trump was acquitted of the impeachment charges, Graham said that the Democrats may live to regret the precedent they have now set. Vice President Kamala Harris may be facing impeachment from Republicans if they successfully regain control of the House. And the charges against her would be the very same ones they threw at President Trump.
“We’ve opened Pandora’s box to future presidents,” Graham said. “If you use this model, I don’t know how Kamala Harris doesn’t get impeached if the Republicans take over the House because she actually bailed out rioters, and one of the rioters went back to the streets and broke somebody’s head open,” Graham explained. “So, we’ve opened Pandora’s box here, and I’m sad for the country.”
One of the biggest questions looming over Trump’s Senate trial last week was the legitimacy of conducting an impeachment trial against someone who is now a private citizen.
Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution seemingly limits impeachment to the “president, vice president, and all civil Officers of the United States.”
Graham’s mention of Harris references the former California senator urging her supporters to contribute to a bail fund for protesters last summer. Graham also believed that the impeachment trial against Trump was an unconstitutional endeavor. “He is the first president to ever be impeached without a lawyer, without a witness, without an ability to confront those against him and the trial record was a complete joke, hearsay upon hearsay.”
During Trump’s Senate impeachment trial on Friday, Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) questioned whether using the Constitution’s impeachment apparatus against Trump would have a flow-on effect allowing other former government officials to be impeached, in reference to Hillary Clinton.
“Is it not true that under this new precedent, facing calls to ‘lock her up,’ a future House could impeach a former Secretary of State and potentially disqualify her from any future office?” Mr. Rubio asked, reports Breitbart News.
Fulfill your oath.
Disqualify him from using the power of elected office to incite deadly insurrection again.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 12, 2021
In response, Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, declared the jurisdictional question finished, and Rubio’s question has no bearing on the case.
Michael van der Veen, one of former President Trump’s defense attorneys, however, disagreed. He said that Democrats are setting a precedent that could be applied to many people and could be a regular feature in the future. He added that Rubio’s question underscores the knock-on effect of Democrats’ resolution to pursue an inquiry despite Trump no longer being president.