An impeachment trial of Donald Trump isn’t about removing him from the presidency – his term ends Wednesday, either way.
It’s about preventing him from seeking the presidency again in 2024.
Several senators, including Republicans, have noted that if they vote to convict Trump of inciting last week’s attack on Congress, they could then vote to bar him from future public office, effectively nixing another presidential campaign.
“If the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., soon to be the new Senate Majority Leader.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the chamber’s top Republican, made clear he is considering conviction, opening the door to an effective ban on Trump within the Republican Party.
“I have not made a final decision on how I will vote,” McConnell said this week. “and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate.”
To be sure, conviction is not guaranteed; House prosecutors would need at least 17 Republican senators to join all Democrats in support of it.
But many Republicans beyond Congress have said it would be a good idea to leave Trump behind, underscoring GOP anxiety over another Trump presidential run in the wake of last week’s insurrection by supporters.