House accountability leaders spent much of the opening session undermining one of the most important arguments of former President Donald J. Trump’s attorneys: that the lawsuit itself is unconstitutional.
Democrats stated early on that the president can be brought to justice even if they commit crimes in office, even if they no longer serve. This power, they say, is necessary to hold presidents accountable for violations committed in their last weeks and to avoid responsibility by resigning.
Most jurists, including some leading Conservatives, agree that a former president can be brought to justice even after he leaves the Senate, a point that Democrats have captured in their remarks. Colorado representative Joe Neguse noted that Brian Kalt, a lawyer who has been cited several times by Trump’s attorneys, has publicly disputed the portrayal of a legal journal article on the subject of persecution of former officials.
“Very badly they falsify what I wrote” tweeted Mr. Kalt, Professor of Law at Michigan State University. “My article presented all the evidence I found on both sides, so they had to use a lot of things fairly. They didn’t have to be that way and they were misleading.
Mr. Trump’s attorneys cite Mr. Kalt’s article 15 times in their presentation on defense of prosecution. His work is an exhaustive analysis of accountability after leaving office, which ultimately concludes that there is a well-founded historical, legal, and constitutional basis for such action. Last month, Mr Kalt was one of more than 170 constitutional scholars who signed a letter arguing that the former president could be convicted in a prosecution proceeding even though he was no longer in office.
“Professor Kalt’s position – which they should have known because it is quoted briefly in the article – is that removal” is not the only end to prosecution, “said Mr. Neguse. “
“This key constitutional scholar, relied on by President Trump, has laid the groundwork for it,” Mr. Neguse told the Senate.
Almost all Senate Republicans voted in the proceedings last month, arguing that the constitution forbids bringing a former president to justice. The decision, which focuses on the process, will allow Republicans and the president’s lawyers to avoid the narrower political issue of Mr. Trump’s role in inciting the January 6 attack on the Capitol.