Chuck Cooper, one of the biggest Republican lawyers in Washington, rejected on Sunday GOP senators’ claim outlined in Sen. Rand Paul’s resolution (R-KY) that holding an impeachment trial for ex-President Donald Trump is unconstitutional because he is no longer in office.
Cooper laid out his rebuttal in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, where he argued that an official already needs to be out of office, whether through conviction or otherwise, in order for the Senate to invoke its constitutional right to disqualify that official from election.
“Thus a vote by the Senate to disqualify can be taken only after the officer has been removed and is by definition a former officer,” he wrote. “Given that the Constitution permits the Senate to impose the penalty of permanent disqualification only on former officeholders, it defies logic to suggest that the Senate is prohibited from trying and convicting former officeholders.”
The lawyer urged the senators who had voted in favor of Paul’s resolution to “reconsider their view and judge the former president’s misconduct on the merits.”
Cooper’s op-ed joins the chorus of constitutional experts who have refuted Republicans’ argument.
Only five Republican senators sided with Democrats in voting against Paul’s resolution, signaling doom for efforts to successfully convict Trump after he encouraged a violent mob of his supporters to attack the Capitol last month.
Cooper served as former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s attorney during Democrats’ first impeachment efforts against Trump in 2019. He also represented former Attorney General Jeff Sessions during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.