Paul Gigot interviews former Attorney General Michael Mukasey
While some members of Congress have claimed that President Trump's impeachment and swift conviction are necessary to keep him from serving out the final days of his term, others have acknowledged that they are focused on keeping him from ever running again.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor before the vote on impeachment that Trump "must go" and that he is "a clear and present danger," but remarks from her colleagues indicate they are concerned about what they view as a potential future threat.
"One of the other purposes of impeachment, in this case, is to make sure that President Trump is not able to run for federal office again, that he’s not able to seek the presidency," Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., told CNN's "State of the Union" that the Constitution "talks about conviction, removal, and disqualification from holding further public office." Both Raskin and Castro are House impeachment managers.
Even Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who claimed that Trump needed to be removed immediately, acknowledged that there is another motive behind impeaching him.
"Every minute and every hour that he is in office represents a clear and present danger not just to the United States Congress but frankly to the country," Ocasio-Cortez told ABC, adding that "we’re also talking about complete barring of the president, or rather of Donald Trump, from running for office ever again."
The argument that Trump must be removed from office due to any current threat he poses to the country has clearly not been shared by all Democrats. House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., told CNN before the House voted on impeachment that the impeachment might not even be sent over to the Senate until months from now so that it would not distract from President-elect Joe Biden's first 100 days in office.
"Let's give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running," Clyburn said. "And maybe we will send the articles some time after that."
It remains to be seen whether enough Senate Republicans will vote to convict Trump, but it has been a foregone conclusion that an impeachment trial would not remove him from office early. Given Senate rules that call for a trial to begin at 1 p.m. the day after the House turns over articles of impeachment, and the Senate not being in session until Tuesday, the earliest time a trial would start would be an hour after Trump leaves office at noon on Wednesday.