On Tuesday, Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO) led more than two dozen members of Congress in calling on Senators Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer to amend U.S. Senate Rules to bar any senator seeking the office of the president from participating in the senate’s impeachment trial.
Last week, Smith introduced House Res. 774, legislation compelling the U.S. Senate to amend its Rules of Procedure and Practice When Sitting on Impeachment Trials.
Smith also wrote an op-ed on his legislation for The Hill, outlining the Constitutional case for this change to the senate’s rules.
There are currently five U.S. Senators: Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Michael Bennet (D-CO), who are seeking the Democrat Party’s nomination for president of the United States, which puts them on a collision course with President Trump in next year’s election and means they are unable to serve as an impartial juror during an impeachment trial of their political opponent.
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In the letter, Smith and his colleagues make their case by comparing these senators to the vice president who has an obvious conflict of interest in the impeachment of the President and is required to recuse himself.
“Senators actively seeking election to the Presidency of the United States should be required to do the same given their vested interest in the reputation and political future of an incumbent President of the United States who is currently serving his first term in office," they said. “We believe the conflict of interest arising from this situation is far more profound than that of the Vice President.”
The Supreme Court established in Nixon v. United States that the Constitution grants “the sole Power” to try impeachments “in the Senate and nowhere else”; and the word “try” “lacks sufficient precision to afford any judicially manageable standard of review of the Senate’s actions.” In other words, the Senate has unchecked authority to establish the rules of its own proceedings in an impeachment trial, including by precluding members with a conflict of interest from participating.
On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee introduced Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump. If the Articles pass the House of Representatives, then they would be sent to the Senate to begin the trial. Read the text of the Articles of Impeachment on Page A10.