Storm clouds for Trump: Yes, former presidents can be prosecuted without excuse of a faux impeachment
As Thomas Wolfe titled a chapter in his posthumous novel You Can't Go Home Again, "I have a thing to tell you."
What I have to tell is not about the plight of a German Jew trying to get money out of the Third Reich, the context of this cited part of the Wolfe novel. What I have to tell is that Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist No. 65, wrote that a former president "will still be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law."
True, Hamilton put that observation in the context of a president who has been impeached by the House, convicted by the Senate, and "sentenced to a perpetual ostracism [bold in the original] from the esteem and honours and emoluments of his country."
But is a former president not convicted of articles of impeachment not subject "to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law"? That is, is a former president immune to prosecution or, as the cliché goes, above the law? Of course not.
The New York Times carried an op-ed on Feb. 3, from one Bob Bauer, a New York University law professor and former campaign functionary for Joe Biden. The gist of the memo was not exactly in the title, "Trump Must Be Tried," because the op-ed a focused on a Senate trial that needed to convict private citizen Trump so he could not seek the presidency again. This political law professor cited the Federalist Papers, without specifying the particular document, but not the language quoted above from Federalist No. 65. Why is that? Because, again I submit, this Biden partisan wanted to make sure private citizen Trump would be placed on the fast track never again to challenge Biden or any other candidate for the presidency. (And the Bidenista zealots seem to be maneuvering to make it impossible for any Republican to ever again gain the Oval Office.)
Still, should GOP senators not suddenly turn tail and rush to join the Bidenista zealots in demonizing the national private citizen en extremis, there is no doubt in this mind that Prof. Bauer, or certainly one of his academic colleagues (perhaps by petition of the hundreds) will suddenly discover Hamilton's words in No. 65 and demand that Mr. Trump be brought to trial (in the District of Columbia, undoubtedly) and convicted of incitement to insurrection and whatever else they throw into the indictment. Remember, it has been said, famously, that a ham sandwich can be indicted. And why not add to an indictment: eating treif at McDonald's as a poor influence on Mr. Trump's religiously observant Jewish grandchildren?
The anti-Trump zealots likely will acknowledge, breathlessly, that a former president convicted and sentenced in federal court is hardly likely to win a second term from prison in Danbury or Atlanta and, therefore, will admit, in their own minds, that prosecution after the Senate failed to convict is not a bad alternative to Senate conviction.
Nor is Biden likely to pardon Mr. Trump, is he?
Image: Public domain.