Trump Impeachment Odds: Can President Trump be convicted after he leaves office? Here’s what both sides are saying, plus the odds it actually happens.
Top story from Reuters: “Donald Trump on Wednesday became the first president in US history to be impeached twice. Under the US Constitution, impeachment in the House triggers a trial in the Senate. A two-thirds majority would be needed to convict and remove Trump, meaning at least 17 Republicans in the 100-member chamber would have to join the Democrats. Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell has said no trial could begin until the Senate was scheduled to be back in regular session next Tuesday, one day before Biden’s inauguration. The trial would proceed in the Senate even after Trump leaves office.” So, this begs the question: can Trump be convicted after he leaves office? Here’s what both sides are saying, plus the odds it actually happens:
Trump Can Be Convicted as an Ex-President: In an op-ed for the New York Times, Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, believes that “Trump Can Be Convicted Even as an Ex-President.” Vladeck’s argument rests on Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution which says that “Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States” (emphasis added). Vladeck argues that “That latter clause is the key, because it drives home that the Senate has two decisions to make in impeachment cases: First, it must decide whether an officer should be removed. Then it must decide whether this person should be disqualified from holding any future federal office.” Vladeck points out that of the eight officers that the Senate has voted to remove, three were subsequently disqualified. This precedent supports the thesis that “removal and disqualification are separate inquiries.” Therefore, Vladeck says “It’s ultimately Congress’s call — for former officers as much as current ones.”
Trump Can’t Be Convicted as an Ex-President: J. Michael Luttig, who served as a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit from 1991 to 2006, disagrees. In an op-ed for The Washington Post Luttig says the Senate can’t hold an impeachment trial once Trump leaves office. Luttig says, “The Constitution itself answers this question clearly: Once Trump’s term ends on Jan. 20 [he] would no longer be incumbent in the Office of the President at the time of the delayed Senate proceeding and would no longer be subject to ‘impeachment conviction’ by the Senate, under the Constitution’s Impeachment Clauses. [This] is to say that the Senate’s only power under the Constitution is to convict — or not — an incumbent president.” Luttig then acknowledges Vladeck’s argument above but says “it is incorrect because it is a constitutional impeachment of a president that authorizes his constitutional disqualification. If a president has not been constitutionally impeached, then the Senate is without the constitutional power to disqualify him from future office.” If Trump is convicted in the Senate, and it does happen after the inauguration, Luttig ultimately believes it will end up in the Supreme Court. Luttig concludes by saying, “It is highly unlikely the Supreme Court would yield to Congress’s view that it has the power to impeach a president who is no longer in office when the Constitution itself is so clear that it does not.”
Trump Impeachment Odds: So what’re the odds that President Trump is actually impeached? Political betting market, Smarkets, priced in a 91% chance that Trump would be the first president ever to be impeached twice, but they also set nearly the same odds that Trump won’t be convicted in the Senate. US-Bookies.com projected a similar outcome, saying there was 89% chance of Trump being impeached, but only an 11% probability that he is actually removed from office. SportsBetting.AG’s odds forecast a 75% probability that Trump will remain president on January 19, which is one day before the inauguration of Joe Biden. Gambling.com’s 1/6 odds outline that the site gives Trump an 85.69% chance to complete his term. Currently, odds of Trump impeachment and ultimate conviction in the Senate are low.