With Trump’s Senate Trial Underway, Is It Time To Reconsider The Concept of Impeachment?

A Michigan State University Law Professor says if the Trump impeachment has no real consequences, that could be a problem.

The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump is underway in the U.S. Senate. It’s the first time in history that a president has faced two different impeachment trials and the first-ever trial of a former president. Senators debated and cast their votes, rejecting the assertion that it’s unconstitutional to try a president who is no longer in office.

“With the polarization of politics it’s gotten a lot easier to get a majority in House to impeach but it’s gotten harder to get two-thirds in the Senate, we have these futile impeachments, it’s problematic. There are no consequences,” — Brian Kalt, MSU Law Professor

Michigan State University Professor of Constitutional Law Brian Kalt authored a seminal 2001 article on the impeachment of a former president and is cited 15 times in the Trump impeachment defense team brief. But, he says his work was taken out of context.

Listen: MSU Law Professor says Trump defense citing his legal work was misleading, and politics of impeachment proceedings are troubling in current American landscape of polarization.


Brian Kalt is a Professor of Law at Michigan State University and the author of “Constitutional Cliffhangers: A Legal Guide for Presidents and Their Enemies.” His work has been cited by Trump’s legal defense team in the impeachment trial. But he says it’s been misrepresented. Trump’s legal defense team pulled arguments from the article without the proper context, essentially “piggybacking on the credibility of the article, making it sound like I said I believed ‘X’ when in fact it was the opposite,” says Kalt.

Kalt says the political framework to allow the possibility of any real legal consequences for Trump from the impeachment doesn’t exist at this point. “It’s a real issue; it was an issue in the Clinton impeachment too, when the House impeached and they were pretty sure they wouldn’t get an impeachment,” says Kalt. “With the polarization of politics it’s gotten a lot easier to get a majority in House to impeach, but it’s gotten harder to get two-thirds in the Senate. We have these futile impeachments (which is) problematic. There are no consequences,” Kalt explains.

He adds that our nation needs to “think more broadly about not just impeachment but what drives our polarization… It’s a two reality system to some extent.”

Web story by Allise Hurd.

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