Trump impeachment: Legal expert explains what the hell happens now

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Thanks to Donald Trump's presidency, I think we've all become amateur experts on constitutional law — at least to a certain degree. But in search of more nuanced (and legally accurate) answers a few days before Trump's unprecedented second impeachment, I asked Corey Brettschneider, a professor of po...
litical science at Brown University and author of "The Oath and the Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents," to join me on Salon Talks.

Brettschneider has zero doubt that the framers of the Constitution would support impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office for inciting an insurrection. As Brettschneider explained, the framers specifically feared that a dangerous demagogue like Trump might come to power, which was the very reason they included the impeachment provision in the Constitution. Brettschneider also made a compelling case that Trump absolutely must be barred by the U.S. Senate from ever seeking federal office again. (If he is convicted, the Senate can add that provision on a straight majority vote. "What's really at stake here is the defense of democracy," he explained, adding that if Trump is not disqualified from future campaigns, he could do "an enormous amount of damage even just running for office."

Brettschneider also argues that now that Trump has been impeached, his ability to pardon anyone involved in conduct related to the impeachable offense is restricted, even before his Senate trial. That issue has not yet been tested in our federal courts, but Brettschneider believes that the Framers would support this view and would adamantly oppose the idea that Trump, or any other president, can effectively pardon himself.

Watch my Salon Talks episode with Brettschneider here, or read a transcript of our conversation below to learn more about what may become of our 45th president in the weeks ahead — and even beyond — and why his actions, and their consequences, will be studied by constitutional law scholars for years to come.

The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Corey, you have been very outspoken in saying the second Trump impeachment is necessary, regardless of what plays out in the Senate and regardless of the fact that he's about to leave office. Tell us why it's so important for…
Dean Obeidallah, Salon
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