The impeachment process begins with a referral by the House of Representatives to the Senate regarding alleged misconduct by a public official. The Senate conducts a trial and a two-thirds majority is needed to convict.
In the wake of the Jan. 6 mob trespass, vandalism and violent acts in the Capitol, the big question is if the outgoing president should be convicted of impeachment for his support of this and other actions related to “inciting sedition.”
Merriam-Webster defines sedition as “incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority.”
There appear to be three components of the House’s charge of inciting sedition.
These all relate to the interfering with constitutional processes — i.e., attempting to obstruct the conduct of lawful authority.
These three components are: attempts to change votes counted and ignore state-certified voting results; that the president’s claims of voter fraud should nullify votes for Joe Biden and that Donald Trump should remain in office by default; and orchestrating endeavors designed to prevent the accepting of state vote certification by armed rioters and trespass.
The theme here is that each of the efforts above keep Trump in office for another term.
Trump reportedly called governors or secretaries of state of swing states where he lost to Biden asking for votes for Biden to be cast out and them to “find more votes” for himself.
In a revealed recording with the Georgia secretary of state, even after the third Georgia vote recount, Trump implored that the vote tally be changed by only 11,800 votes.
The first reason not to convict Trump is that he, or any president, has the right to interfere, threaten and use any method of persuasion necessary to force elected officials to ignore the constitutional process of conducting a valid vote count and rather to put in numbers to the president’s liking.
In other words, Trump should not be convicted because, as president, he has the right to cause by threat or coercion state election officials to alter votes that he might win.
Trump’s claims of voter fraud and a “rigged election” should be accepted on face value because, as president, he said it.
We should ignore the loss of 60-plus court challenges of election fraud. Despite revealing no evidence of being rigged, as president, Trump has the authority and constitutional right to ignore facts and perpetuate false narratives that interfere with due process.
As president, Trump also has the authority to direct a coordinated effort by members of Congress to not accept valid state-certified election tallies.
Trump therefore should not be convicted based on this second point in that as president, he has the power to use his position to call upon elected officials to refuse legally gathered and state-certified reports, even without cause.
Trump for weeks had been directing his followers through Tweet and rallies to come to the Capitol and “stop the steal” on Jan. 6.
It has been well reported that bus tickets, hotel accommodations and other means of amassing a crowd of thousands were funded by Trump’s allies for the Jan. 6 protest.
It was explained by Trump that this march was specifically organized to prevent the vice president from accepting state vote certifications.
The Senate should not convict Trump for planning, organizing, assembling, and directing 15,000-plus angry supporters to march on the Capitol, riot, and interfere with the lawful processes being conducted by Congress.
If you agree that this president had every right to interfere with the lawful processes of counting votes, from certifying accurate votes, and from accepting state tallies, then so does every president who follows.
If so, we should modify the Constitution to reflect that the whim of any president can lawfully omit votes against him or her and prevent the acceptance of certified state votes, and thus negate the tally for that state.
For the Senate not to convict Trump signals we support totalitarian governance and that the promise of democratic voting no longer matters.
What say you?
Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations agency, is the CEO of a private security firm, is the COO of an acting conservatory, a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.