Here’s What To Know About Impeaching A President Who’s Left Office

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Can A President Be Retroactively Impeached? There Isn’t Much Precedent

On Feb. 5, the Senate acquitted President Donald Trump of the impeachment charges against him, officially making Trump’s impeachment trial to a close. Although the trial’s outcome was unsurprising, it nonetheless dealt a jolt to Democrat who were eager to remove the president from department. But can a chairman be retroactively charged after he or she leaves place? There isn’t much law precedent for it.

This question arose even before Trump was officially charged by the House of Representatives on Dec. 18, though not in the context you might expect. During a Dec. 4 House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz — a Republican and staunch Trump ally — showed former President Barack Obama should be impeached. According to, Gaetz appeared to be referring to a 2013 has pointed out that exposed the National Security Agency had been monitoring the calls of 35 world leaders. Though the White House affirmed at the time that Obama had knew there was this, Gaetz showed during the Dec. 4 hearing that Obama should be charged if “wiretapping political opponents is a political offense.”

Gaetz’s mentions, coupled with Democrats’ eagerness to get Trump out of the White House, raised the question of whether or not retroactive impeachment is actually possible, and whether an endeavor would have any real upshots.

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According to, there isn’t a total consensus on this issue from academics or constitutional students. That’s because there simply isn’t much of a precedent for even trying to impeach a onetime chairman. Keith E. Wittington, a professor of politics at Princeton University, told the a retroactive impeachment could be a “constitutional possibility, “ though not a popular one. “It would be very hard to persuade the Senate to imprison according to the principle of such an impeachment, and the House would be very open to criticism that it was abusing the impeachment superpower if it were to pursue such an impeachment, ” he told the

The Constitution doesn’t say a great deal about impeachment, which is also why it’s difficult to say for certain whether retroactive impeachment is possible. Back in 2001, after onetime President Bill Clinton had left office, consulted legal expert to determine whether or not Congress could theoretically impeach him again following his retirement. Harmonizing to, a retroactive impeachment could be possible because the Constitution offers two outcomes if a chairperson is convicted by the Senate. The first is removal from bureau, which was primarily what Democrats were aiming for in Trump’s case. But the second, per Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution, is barring a president from supporting elected department in the future.

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Per and, the Constitution doesn’t rigorously prevent the House from impeaching a president formerly they’ve left office. However, the Senate would apparently not be able to remove them from part, so the only real possible upshot would be disqualifying the onetime president in question from hampering elected role again. But many experts told the that even if it were possible, a court battle would be necessary in order to rule more definitively on the above-mentioned issues, and no tribunal has previously addressed this possibility. This uncertainty, along with the fact that impeachment is a costly and time-consuming process, offsets it unlikely Democrats will prosecute Trump’s retroactive impeachment. But with the regime of politics being exactly what he, Americans can’t rule out the potential.

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