I can’t believe we even have to hear discussion of this. Of course you can have an impeachment trial and yes, you can impeach an official who has already left office.
That’s why there’s NOT ONLY a “remove from office” option but ALSO a “permanently block from serving” option.
Please. Let’s just play it out for a moment…
If every time someone loses an election (and the nature of an election is that, unless running unopposed, somebody lost) they were to then pull the kind of Big Lie insurrectionist bullshit we saw last month to try to overturn the results, and if they were the incumbent candidate then by its nature post-election, it would always be near the end of their term.
And if there are no possible repercussions for the incitement of insurrection, because the perpetrator(s) are shortly thereafter no longer in office, then why wouldn’t that keep happening?
After all, if there’s no repercussions then we are saying that we want to treat our democracy like it’s a video game with a reset option: you can just keep replaying the “coup” challenge, until you finally succeed at it.
If anyone thinks that’s a good outcome, they must want to see our democracy end.
There actually is one other thing we could do in that instance, that also is not a good idea. The other outcome would be to say, Nope, if you don’t prosecute that crime while they are in office then you can’t at all…
Well, operating under the rule of law, investigating, taking time to gather facts, even just having the trial itself takes time.
Time you don’t have if someone is leaving office and you think there’s some kind of artificial deadline on justice.
But there’s a less rule-of-law approach to serving swift justice that I’m pretty sure no one rational thinks would be a good idea.
So there has to be a trial, and it can’t (read as, should not) be dismissed as unconstitutional. Because it’s not, and because it’s important that the facts be laid out publicly. It’s important that actions have consequences and those consequences are resolved under the law.