As a prelude, I don’t know why some commenters are arguing that the 1876 William Belknap impeachment trial is a valid precedent for trying a private citizen no longer in office on a charge that has no other purpose but to remove that individual from his or her federal office. It’s just a bad argument, which is why Belknap has only been raised by desperate anti-Trump zealots. As I pointed out in the comments, an unconstitutional act doesn’t change the Constitution. There have been many, many unconstitutional actions by our government that were allowed to occur in the past (President Jackson’s defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court to forec the Trail of Tears is an especially egregious one.\); they still can’t be cited as proof that the actions were Constitutional, or precedent for violating the Constitution again. Balknap, who had resigned as Grant’s Secretary of War just as he was about to be impeached by the House, submitted to the Senate’s unconstitutional trial. I have always assumed this was because he was certain that he would be acquitted, so he could later claim innocence. (He was incredibly guilty.) Since he was acquitted, there was no occasion to challenge the trial, the issue being moot.
The entire system was in chaos in 1876; if the Belknap trial is binding precedent that a private citizen can be tried by the Senate to remove him from office when he isn’t in that office, why not make the same claim about the unconstitutional deal between Republicans and Democrats to install the loser of the 1876 Presidential election (Hayes) in the White House in exchange for removing federal troops from the former Confederate states?
1. An example of ethical trolling, I think:
Miller is getting all sorts of outraged responses from critics online who seem to have missed the critical fact that he was just quoting Maxine Waters’ call for harassment of Trump administration officials. Normally I regard deliberate posting of positions one doesn’t believe as unethical unless the poster makes the sarcasm or irony obvious. This one is obvious, unless the reader wasn’t paying attention to how irresponsible and vicious Democrats were in the past four years, and if the such a reader was that ignorant, he shouldn’t be involved in the discussion at all.