As the Washington Times noted yesterday, Rep. Jason Smith, a Missouri Republican, is pushing a resolution that calls upon the Senate to amend its rules to require that the five senators running for the presidency recuse themselves in the event of an impeachment trial. The resolution, which is non-binding, is intended to highlight an obvious conflict of interests. The five, all of whom have aspirations to become president, would in essence be interfering in a presidential election — the very “crime” for which Donald Trump has been impeached.
But the problem would become more serious in the event one of the five went on to win the election. The victorious candidate would take the oath of office knowing full well, as would every American, that he had committed an impeachable offense to sway the election in his favor.
It could be fairly argued that the five senators have already attempted to injure “candidate Trump” by calling for his impeachment and removal. In September, Elizabeth Warren admonished Congress to move to impeach Trump or become “complicit” in his alleged crimes. On Dec. 10, Bernie Sanders importuned the Senate to “quickly” pursue a trial over the articles of impeachment, and a week later Amy Klobuchar called Trump’s impeachable offenses “a global Watergate.” Cory Booker, meanwhile, argued back in July that Trump should be impeached based on what’s in the Mueller report (viz., nothing).
So if, say, Bernie Sanders is elected and the Democrats retain the House, will Adam Schiff call for an inquiry on impeachment shortly after Inauguration Day? Will all House Democrats immediately fall in line, reminding the nation that no one is above the law, not even the President of the United States? Or will they snicker at the suggestion that the ridiculous charges they cooked up as grounds for Trump’s impeachment are nothing more than an unfunny joke?