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Our Constitution’s framers were openly concerned with the possibility that a corrupt politician might contrive to win the presidency by treason, bribery, fraud, or other criminal means. They said so. And they were explicit about creating the impeachment power as the one and only means of removing such a criminal president. They opposed the imposition of criminal punishment through legislative trials, which accounts for the ban on bills of attainder at either the state or federal level. It also accounts for the specific language limiting the Senate’s power upon convicting an impeached officer to “removal from office” and “disqualification” to hold any future federal office — while leaving any such removed official “liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.”

Those who say this set-up presupposes delaying any indictment of a president for crimes committed in winning the presidency are wrong. Worse than that, they’ve gotten things upside-down.

Just think about it: The president and vice president run as a ticket. No president selects a vice president who wouldn’t strongly consider doing for him exactly what Vice President Gerald Ford did for President Richard Nixon: namely, give the president a full pardon shortly after he becomes the former president — whether that sudden reversal of fortune occurs upon the president’s being turned out by the voters, or upon his being impeached and removed, or upon his resigning under the threat of such ignominious removal.

It’s crazy to assume that the framers of the impeachment power would have created a system in which even the most criminally corrupt president could permanently escape full accountability. Immunized from criminal trial while serving in office (as the ostensible Justice Department policy would require), such a president could count on receiving a get-out-of-jail-free card upon his exit. For he would leave behind him a newly minted (albeit unelected) president wielding the power to pardon any and all “offenses against the United States.”


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Constitution rules out immunity for sitting presidents 229 Jock 17-Dec-18 02:37

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