Could President Trump be impeached and convicted – but also reelected? The launching of an “official impeachment inquiry” into President Donald Trump’s conduct has sailed America into largely uncharted waters.
While there have been demands for the impeachment of many presidents, just three previous ones – Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton – have faced formal impeachment inquiries, and the Senate convicted none of them. None of those three sought reelection.
After Johnson’s acquittal, he was denied his party’s presidential nomination. Nixon and Clinton were in their second terms already and could not run for reelection. A little-known wrinkle in the Constitution might allow Trump to be
Reelected president in 2020 even if he is removed from office through the impeachment process. At the time the Constitution was ratified in 1788, many of its authors regarded impeachment as an improvement over the violent methods often used in Europe to get rid of corrupt rulers.
Nonetheless, they recognized the dangers that impeachment would always present. They also limited the possible punishments that the Senate may impose to “removal from Office,
And disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States.” But they only required that an impeached and convicted official “be removed from office” but did not mandate that the person also be disqualified from holding a future office.
Nowhere does the Constitution define the standards for disqualification. Moreover, the Senate has declined to establish a standard. But, as Ohio State University law professor William Foley points out,
Senate procedures require separate votes to convict someone of an impeachable offense and to impose a disqualification penalty. So even if President Trump were impeached and convicted, there is the possibility that he could be reelected to the same office from which he had been removed.