If You Don't Remove Trump, Just Disqualify Him

Impeachment won't mean the president gets removed from office - but, the 14th Amendment could fix that

G.S. Potter | Contributing Editor

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Donald Trump recently admitted to using the office of the Presidency to pressure the Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden and his son Hunter - as part of efforts to obtain information to use against the elder Biden … in the battle for the White House.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) answered by finally announcing this week that she was pushing forward with an “impeachment inquiry” - not necessarily full blown impeachment, but the start of a six-committee process to lead towards that outcome. The next day, the White House released a memo summarizing Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky - not the full transcript, there’s a difference - that pretty much suggests a high level of extortion taking place:


If this was a political effort to protect the integrity of the White House, Trump could have sought to investigate the Bidens through traditional channels of national security and defense.  His actions against the Ukraine were not taken in the interest of the public, they were taking for his own private benefit.  And so, he sent his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. 

Giuliani also admitted to seeking information from the Ukraine in efforts to derail the Biden campaign.

Both Giuliani and Trump and much of the Republican political operative universe have launched a preemptive media campaign to steer attention away from the illegalities of his actions and into a possible smear campaign against Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. 

As the Washington Post explained:

“Trump was essentially doing what Giuliani did Thursday: laying a preemptive defense in case it emerges that Trump did offer Ukraine something or threatened (explicitly or implicitly) to withhold something — such as $250 million in aid, which Trump did withhold for a time — in exchange for Ukraine investigating former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Trump refers broadly to “corruption,” but that’s the umbrella term used to talk about investigating the Bidens (conveniently, without alluding to the fact that this is an issue in which Trump has a very personal stake). And the argument would cover just such an arrangement.”

If we keep our attention centered on Trump’s actions, though, a very clear risk to National Security emerges.  It is not only an unethical or corrupt action for Trump and his Administration to work with a foreign nation to help him win an election. It is a form of rebellion or treason against the Constitution of the United States to pressure the Ukraine, a foreign country, to run interference in a U.S. election.

If Russia is found to be involved, which likely they will be, not only will it be a personal rebellion against the Constitution committed by the Trump Administration, but Trump could be considered to have given aid and comfort to Russia in their attempts to commit a form of insurrection against the United States.

Russia has already been found to have interfered in the 2016 election.  They are also the only actor other than the Trump administration that would functionally benefit from the United States withholding aid to the Ukraine.  There is no evidence that Russia has deescalated their interference efforts, and in fact, there is evidence that such interference has escalated. 

The Democratic Party has called this a tipping point in terms of efforts to impeach the President. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, had already responded to the revelation of Trumps dealings with the Ukraine saying:

"If the President is essentially withholding military aid at the same time that he is trying to browbeat a foreign leader into doing something illicit that is providing dirt on his opponent during a presidential campaign, then that may be the only remedy that is coequal to the evil that conduct represents.”

But impeachment may not be the only remedy. 

As noted by many experts, the likelihood that the GOP controlled Senate will move to convict the President even if he is impeached by the House is slim to none.  So while many would argue, an impeachment proceeding should move forward, such proceedings will not likely remove Trump from office.

And while we might not be able to remove Trump from office, we may be able to prevent him from running again. 

According to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment:

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

The “Travis Translation” of the Constitutional Law Reporter clarifies:

No one can be a Senator, Representative, Elector or officer of the United States — or United States military officer, or member of a State Legislature, or a Governor, or a judge of any State — if they took an oath to support the Constitution and then took part in a rebellion against the United States, or gave aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States. But Congress can change this with a two ­thirds vote.

Theoretically, Trump could be prevented from seeking re-election through enforcement of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.  The question is, would Democrats move to enforce it?