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Will Trump go to prison when impeachment is first and the lawsuit is behind?

Will Trump go to prison when impeachment is first and the lawsuit is behind?

Trump, then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, then Australian Prime Minister Turnbull at the 2017 ASEAN Summit (Source: ABC)

The floor of the House of Representatives has fallen, and Trump has become the first president in American history to be impeached twice.

According to ABC, on January 13th local time, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the impeachment clause against Trump by a vote of 232 to 197. Subsequently, the impeachment case will be transferred to the Senate, when the Senate will try it.

Earlier, Trump thought that impeachment was a continuation of the largest “witch hunt” in American political history, saying that it had aroused great national anger.

However, the impeachment case is not just one that Trump will face. According to CNN, there are still many legal cases related to him, which put him at different levels of legal risk.

Impeachment and litigation are double-sided. How is Trump doing?

Will he be tried by the Senate after leaving office?

The House impeachment head is working on a strategy to bring impeachment to the Senate, according to the Associated Press. However, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell refused to immediately start trial proceedings.

He believed that it was time to focus on the inauguration ceremony and the peaceful transfer of power. The Senate trial of impeachment would not be earlier than January 19 local time.

This also means that Trump is likely not to be tried by the Senate while in office. So how will the impeachment process go after Trump leaves office?

There are different debates in the academic circles on this point.

There is a view that it is unconstitutional to continue the impeachment proceedings after Trump leaves office.

The Washington Post noted that the constitutional concept of impeachment is premised on the impeachment, conviction and removal of the president. The purpose of impeachment is to remove the president or other civilian officials from office before they further harm the country.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the power of the Senate is only to decide whether to convict the “incumbent” president.

After Trump leaves office, even if the House of Representatives has passed the impeachment clause, the Senate cannot convict the former president under the constitution or disqualify him from future public office.

Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, believes that as long as impeachment is initiated at the time of his appointment, the impeachment proceedings will continue after his resignation or departure. Gerhardt wrote that the core principle of the Constitution is that no one can be above the law.

Abuse of power is unconstitutional by definition. One of the penalties after the conviction of impeachment is to make those who abuse power no longer eligible for public office.

Therefore, it is totally unreasonable to let former officials or those who stepped down in time escape punishment.

Other scholars believe that the impeachment process can even be started after officials step down. Brian Kalt, a professor at Michigan State University School of Law, pointed out that William Belknap, then Secretary of War, was impeached in 1876 on suspicion of corruption.

Although he resigned from office before the impeachment vote in the House of Representatives, the House of Representatives passed his impeachment bill. and referred it to the Senate for trial. However, in the end, the Senate acquitted him.

Is it possible for the Senate to convict Trump?

Reuters pointed out that the House of Representatives accused Trump of “sedition” and the focus of incitement was that Trump had spoken to his supporters before the riots in the Capitol. In the Senate trial, Trump may use the First Amendment to defend himself, saying that his remarks are protected. Although he told his supporters to “fight”, he did not really call for violence.

According to the U.S. Constitution, two-thirds of the senators need to support impeachment before Trump can be convicted. The current Senate splits 100 seats equally, which means that at least 17 Republicans need to join the Democratic camp to vote together for conviction.

But that’s not easy, and Trump still holds 71 percent of Republican voters after the Capitol riots, according to a poll by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

Previously, a source revealed that McConnell was “happy” at Trump’s impeachment, believing that it would help to remove Trump from the party, but according to McConnell’s latest statement, he still did not decide how to vote.

NBC pointed out that if McConnell supported the conviction at that time, based on the deep trust he accumulated in the Senate, he may lead more Republicans to follow suit, the possibility of Trump’s conviction will increase.

According to ABC, Peverill Squire, a political science professor at the University of Missouri, pointed out that the only inevitable consequence of being convicted after impeachment is “rejected from office”.

This is the only negative result of conviction. This is not a criminal case. No one will be sent to prison, and there will be no fine or additional penalties.” Once Trump is convicted, the Senate can also hold a separate vote to decide whether to ban him from running for federal office again or whether to cancel his pension.

What other lawsuits does Trump face?

According to the Guardian, according to a memorandum from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Justice has been guaranteeing that the incumbent president will not be prosecuted for criminal offences for the past four years. Keith Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law School, pointed out that the President of the United States enjoys immunity.

In Nixon v. Fitzgerald, the court ruled that the president’s duties were of vital importance and that diverting his energy from concerns about private litigation would pose a risk to the effective functioning of the government. Therefore, the President enjoys full immunity from all official acts during his term of office.

U.S. media pointed out that once Trump leaves office, he will no longer enjoy immunity as president, and a series of criminal and civil investigations at the federal and state levels will follow.

According to the outcome of the case, he may face prison. CNN pointed out that at least six legal cases related to him are under trial.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is investigating the internal financial operations of the Trump Group. The case began when Michael Cohen, a former Trump lawyer and mediator, paid a silence fee to several women who claimed to have an extramarital affair with Trump on the eve of the 2016 presidential election.

Subsequently, the scope of the investigation was expanded, and prosecutors said in court documents that the investigation also included whether Trump and his company were involved in bank fraud, insurance fraud, criminal tax fraud and forgery of business records.

The New York Attorney General is investigating whether Trump’s company exaggerates the value of his assets in order to obtain favorable loan terms and insurance coverage tax benefits. Last October, Trump’s second son Eric Trump was summoned to ask whether he or the Trump group tried to artificially inflate or reduce assets.

In 2017, two attorneys generals in Washington, D.C. and Maryland jointly filed a lawsuit against Trump, accusing him of violating the remuneration provisions of the U.S. Constitution for commercial self-interest in his capacity as president.

The case progressed slowly and was dismissed halfway. Last May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled to restart the lawsuit against Trump’s compensation violation. At present, Trump has appealed to the Supreme Court.

There are also two defamation lawsuits. According to Reuters, Jane Carroll, a female counseling columnist of Elle magazine, filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, claiming that Trump’s false claim that he did not sexually assault her and fabricated “a large number of lies” undermined her integrity, honesty and dignity.

According to the BBC, former reality show contestant Zewers also filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, accusing him of being a “liar and misogynist” and “discrediting and discrediting” her reputation.

According to Reuters, Mary Trump, Trump’s niece, also filed a lawsuit against Trump, saying that she cheated himself to give up inheriting tens of millions of dollars.

CNN pointed out that in addition to the above cases, Trump also faces the possibility of being prosecuted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller for obstruction of justice. Previously, Trump had tried to hinder Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election.

At a July 2019 congressional hearing, former FBI Director Mueller noted that Trump could be indicted after leaving office.

According to the New York Times, people familiar with the matter pointed out that Trump had mentioned to his aides that he wanted to pardon himself and his family to avoid prosecution.

NPR noted that the presidential pardon powers apply only to federal charges, and he cannot pardon himself from impeachment, nor can he pardon people who violate state laws.

Therefore, many cases filed at the state level can still continue to advance under state law. Civil cases such as defamation or class action can continue, whether pardoned or not.

In addition, the Trump campaign is also facing legal proceedings. During the election, the Trump campaign repeatedly accused Dominion voting software of fraud and issued conspiracy theories.

Last December, Dominion formally filed a defamation lawsuit against the Trump campaign and several news media.

On January 8th local time, Dominion formally sued Trump’s lawyer Sydney Powell, saying that she spread “crazy” and “manifestly wrong” remarks, causing great harm to the company and demanding that it pay more than $1.3 billion in compensation.

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