Harvard Law Professor Calls Impeachment Trial ‘Unconstitutional’

Last week, former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz stated that impeaching a President after finishing their term would be unconstitutional. 

In an interview with Fox News, Dershowitz said “The constitution is very clear. The subject, the object, the purpose of impeachment is to remove a sitting president. And there are two precedents. One is very obvious. When President Nixon resigned in anticipation of being impeached and removed, there was no effort to impeach him after he left office.”

Dershowitz said the other precedent was set in 1876, “there was a failed effort, a failed effort to remove the secretary of war. In an initial vote, the Senate voted close, in a close vote, that they did have jurisdiction to try somebody who had resigned.”

Mitch McConnel has said that he does not want to begin an impeachment trial before Biden’s inauguration. In a statement released to his Twitter account, he wrote “I believe it will best serve our nation if Congress and the executive branch spend the next seven days completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden administration.”

This would set the date for President Trump’s impeachment trial after Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“There is no jurisdiction. You cannot put citizen Trump on trial. If you could do that, it would be a bill of attainder, number one, putting somebody on trial who was not a sitting president,” Dershowitz stated, further explaining that, “If you can impeach anyone who is not a sitting president, there are no limits to the power of the Congress to try ordinary citizens. It is plainly unconstitutional. And the Senate should not proceed with this unconstitutional act.”

Dershowitz defended the President during his first impeachment trial in the Senate, which resulted in President Trump’s exoneration. The President has not yet decided who will represent him during the upcoming impeachment trial.