The Cadaver Senate

 

In the year of our Lord 897, the moldering body of Pope Formosus was disinterred and brought to trial. The reasoning behind this macabre spectacle was truly Byzantine. The guy wearing the cool hat at the time, Pope Stephen VI, belonged to a different political faction than poor dead Formosus and apparently thought that this bizarre act would stifle the opposition. He may have also have wanted to take posthumous revenge on the ex-pope for previous slights. Formosus was duly excommunicated and what was left of him was dumped in the Tiber river.

In February 2021 C.E., the recently deceased presidency of Donald Trump will be exhumed and brought to trial before the U.S. Senate. The reasoning behind this absurd spectacle is truly Byzantine. The party in power in the Senate belongs to a different political faction than poor Orange Man Bad and apparently thinks this ridiculous act will stifle opposition. They may also want to take revenge on Trump saying mean things about them.

Now, I’m not a Constitutional scholar, but I thought the whole point of the impeachment trial was to remove the person from office. In fact, once a person leaves office and becomes a private citizen, the Senate does not have any authority to conduct a trial. The Senate, after all, is not part of the Judicial branch. Separation of powers and all that. Hey, I have an idea! Let’s look at the actual Constitution:

Wow, those founding fathers were really prescient!

Well, if that’s the case, why stop at Trump? The great Obama had the most scandalous scandal-free administration in history; let’s impeach him. Then we can impeach George W. Bush for the Iraq War. Nixon will get the impeachment he weaseled out of by resigning and dying. Let’s nail LBJ for running the Vietnam War and JFK for starting the Vietnam War. FDR will get his for the racist Japanese internments. Harding will finally be held accountable for Teapot Dome. Woodrow Wilson will finally be held accountable for being Woodrow Wilson. Jackson will be convicted of exiling the Cherokees to Oklahoma, Washington, and Jefferson for having slaves. Then we’ll take all their bones and dump them in the Potomac. That’ll unify the country!

Or we could stop this farce right now. I’m not saying this because I’m a fan of Donald Trump; frankly, I was looking forward to a respite from all the drama. But the Democrats want to keep DT in the limelight. Without him as a distraction, the Democrat voters might realize that the party leadership is a bunch of ancient inept political hacks.

The basis for this farce is ludicrous, of course. The supposed inciting remarks occurred a mile away at the same time that the assault on the Capitol building was happening. Once they were caught, some of the loons who took part in that idiocy claimed that Trump told them to do it. I guess they had taken off their tinfoil hats and received the message via the fillings in their teeth. If we accept the testimony of nutjobs, we’ll also have to charge the Beatles for the Tate-LaBianca murders. Charlie Manson, after all, said that he was being directed by the lyrics in the White Album. George Harrison and John Lennon are obviously guilty, having nothing to say in their defense.

Things did not turn out so well for Pope Stephen VI after the original Cadaver Synod. The opposition became more united in response to the weird ritual, and his allies deserted him. He had his awesome hat taken away, was thrown into prison, and was strangled in his cell. At least the Democrats don’t need to worry about that. Nowadays, no high-profile criminals are strangled in their jail cells.

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  1. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    They should impeach, convict, jail and execute Trump. Take his wealth to spread among Democrats cronies. Lock up his children, wives, extended family.

    • #1
  2. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    They should impeach, convict, jail and execute Trump. Take his wealth to spread among Democrats cronies. Lock up his children, wives, extended family.

    Yep, and since the legal precedent for persecuting private citizens is now established, next they’ll come after you.

    • #2
  3. Some Call Me ...Tim Coolidge
    Some Call Me ...Tim
    @SomeCallMeTim

    Some democrats should worry about getting the Pope Stephen treatment – at least the ones who cross the Clintons. 

    • #3
  4. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Also. Oliver Cromwell.

    On the Restoration of monarchy by Charles II of England, Cromwell and several other Roundheads were exhumed, hung and then decapitated.

    • #4
  5. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    I think that the next time the GOP has the House, they should impeach every Democrat ever in the White House, starting with Obama and Clinton. Don’t send them to the Senate right away. Use the Pelosi precedent to send new articles over every time they want to disrupt the proceedings of the Senate.

    • #5
  6. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    They should impeach, convict, jail and execute Trump. Take his wealth to spread among Democrats cronies. Lock up his children, wives, extended family.

    Not to mention destroying Mar-a-Lago with cannon fire (ala the Talaban) and sowing the land with salt (ala the Romans). Can’t be too careful…

    • #6
  7. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Also. Oliver Cromwell.

    On the Restoration of monarchy by Charles II of England, Cromwell and several other Roundheads were exhumed, hung and then decapitated.

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with a good pun on Cromwell.

    • #7
  8. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Also. Oliver Cromwell.

    On the Restoration of monarchy by Charles II of England, Cromwell and several other Roundheads were exhumed, hung and then decapitated.

    I believe they were also drawn and quartered.

    • #8
  9. Dennis A. Garcia (formerly Gai… Member
    Dennis A. Garcia (formerly Gai…
    @Gaius

    Trump is very much alive, and, unlike Obama eligible to re-inhabit the presidency. The point is to bar him. 

    There are good arguments on either side of the constitutional question though I think the late impeachers have the better of it. Either way it’s the quintessential political question under supreme court doctrine, so if the Senate decides to then clearly they can.

    • #9
  10. Dennis A. Garcia (formerly Gai… Member
    Dennis A. Garcia (formerly Gai…
    @Gaius

    Cool painting though.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Awesome post, Jose. You always have a unique take!

    • #11
  12. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    I think John Roberts saying he won’t preside at any trial kind of blows the cover for McConnell, Mitt or any other Republicans who would like to have a trial and get 50-plus voters to at least bar Trump from running for office again, if not the 67 needed for impeachment.

    If the very cautious Chief Justice appointed by George W. Bush and who has given Democrats several victories on major issues over the past 15 years refuses to preside at a Senate trial of Trump, because he believes the point is moot since Trump is no longer president, it’s going to be impossible for any GOP Senators to come off not looking both vindictive and calculating if they now support essentially telling Roberts “Who needs you!? We’ll run the trial ourselves with Kamala as presiding judge, ya’ big wimp!” That wouldn’t stop the Democrats, if Schumer still wants to hold a trial, but John Cornyn seems to read the writing on the wall when he told a Houston radio station pretty much the same thing Roberts did with his action — that an impeachment trial for Trump after he’s out of office would be a waste of time and resources (and, if you’re Republicans hoping to get any votes in 2022 or ’24 from the base, a huge waste of political capital).

    • #12
  13. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    How would you deal with hypothetical high crimes and misdemeanours committed by a president just before he departs? Is there ever a need to?

    • #13
  14. Eb Snider Member
    Eb Snider
    @EbSnider

    Interesting history. Someone already beat me too Oliver Cromwell. But it’s worth underlining that when hostiles exhumed Cromwell’s corpse the show trial was skipped and went straight to desecration of the corpse including hanging it.

    Trump really screwed the pooch post-election. But this Trump impeachment I believe is purely political hardball and is intended to be used like a sledge hammer against all opposition of the Progressives. I think the defense team could call up and question every Democrat that gave speeches of incitement and gave excessive extremes in their language. I think the Impeachment trial could be dragged out and used as a political stage for Republicans to display the horrendous language used by standard Democrat Politics. Not to mention highlighting the irony of Dems wanting to defund the police and demonizing law enforcement. 

    There is a substantial list. It seems that crazy things not all that long ago are lost the the media noise… thinking of some truly top ones like the US Senate was flooded with protestors during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and threatening Senators, near mass assassination of Republicans at a Softball field by a Bernie Sanders worker in light of the Sanders hyperbolic language toward conservatives and the country, the Democrat Senate leader whipping up a crowd to threaten the Supreme Court literally right in front of the court, remember when Democrats directly incited people to harass and get in the faces of Republicans and Trump administration personnel (Trump’s Press Secretary couldn’t even get service at a restaurant and was verbally attacked), Rand Paul has been assaulted multiple times, Hillary declaring for Biden to never concede the election if he lost, call up Biden himself about his role in undermining norms in abuse of power with the Obama admin with the spying and I’m sure it goes on as could be tolerated. Drag all those people up there to be questioned and testimony. I’m sure others can think up many more examples. Use this to soak up attention on Dem misdeeds and delay the Biden agenda which we have already seen a sneak preview of in its initial actions. 

    I think the right needs to focus on the battles ahead and not dwell over Trump which doesn’t further anything tangible. 

    • #14
  15. Tim H. Member
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    I’m not entirely convinced. There are two possible punishments: (1) removal from office and (2) prohibition on holding future office. So a trial at this point isn’t…pointless (sorry). He could still be prevented from holding Federal office again.

    I can imagine that an impeachment by the House might be unconstitutional once he is out of office, but they did that step before his term expired. The language you cite is a little vague, I think, because it’s merely subsequent to the impeachment text. Somebody wrote earlier today that there have been trials of Federal officers (or one, maybe) who had already left office, so there’s precedent.

     

    • #15
  16. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    JosePluma: The guy wearing the cool hat at the time, Pope Stephen VI, belonged to a different political faction than poor dead Formosus and apparently thought that this bizarre act would stifle the opposition. He may have also have wanted to take posthumous revenge on the ex-pope for previous slights.

    There was a more, um, legalistic end in mind. Formosus wasn’t just retroactively excommunicated, his entire papacy was declared invalid. That in turn meant that any bishops Formosus had consecrated were not valid bishops, and that meant that any priests those bishops had consecrated were in turn invalid.

    Ergo: for those bishops to retain their sees, they had to petition Stephen and show loyalty, or else surrender their offices. In one fell swoop, and one unceremonious river toss, Stephen politically neutered an entire faction in Vatican politics. Stephen made the papacy of Formosus cease to have even existed.

    • #16
  17. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Tim H. (View Comment):

    I’m not entirely convinced. There are two possible punishments: (1) removal from office and (2) prohibition on holding future office. So a trial at this point isn’t…pointless (sorry). He could still be prevented from holding Federal office again.

    I can imagine that an impeachment by the House might be unconstitutional once he is out of office, but they did that step before his term expired. The language you cite is a little vague, I think, because it’s merely subsequent to the impeachment text. Somebody wrote earlier today that there have been trials of Federal officers (or one, maybe) who had already left office, so there’s precedent.

     

    But they do have to deal with the reality that John Roberts is not going to participate in any Senate trial of Trump. Schumer can still get 50 votes to seemingly ban Trump from seeking office again, if he replaces Roberts with Judge Kamala at an impeachment trial. But Cocaine Mitch would have to have snorted his entire stash to sign onto that procedure, since Roberts decision for virtually all Republicans is going to confirm the idea that an impeachment trial for an ex-President is illegitimate in the eyes of the Chief Justice, and any trial where they have to recruit the new vice-president to preside is simply on the level of a show trial staged by Democrats (and one where, if held, Trump could end up going to court to try and have nullified based on his no longer being in office, in order to retain his right to run for that office again in 2024).

    • #17
  18. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    Tim H. (View Comment):

    I’m not entirely convinced. There are two possible punishments: (1) removal from office and (2) prohibition on holding future office. So a trial at this point isn’t…pointless (sorry). He could still be prevented from holding Federal office again.

    I can imagine that an impeachment by the House might be unconstitutional once he is out of office, but they did that step before his term expired. The language you cite is a little vague, I think, because it’s merely subsequent to the impeachment text. Somebody wrote earlier today that there have been trials of Federal officers (or one, maybe) who had already left office, so there’s precedent.

     

    But they do have to deal with the reality that John Roberts is not going to participate in any Senate trial of Trump. Schumer can still get 50 votes to seemingly ban Trump from seeking office again, if he replaces Roberts with Judge Kamala at an impeachment trial. But Cocaine Mitch would have to have snorted his entire stash to sign onto that procedure, since Roberts decision for virtually all Republicans is going to confirm the idea that an impeachment trial for an ex-President is illegitimate in the eyes of the Chief Justice, and any trial where they have to recruit the new vice-president to preside is simply on the level of a show trial staged by Democrats (and one where, if held, Trump could end up going to court to try and have nullified based on his no longer being in office, in order to retain his right to run for that office again in 2024).

    Something to watch for is that the conviction will fail to get two-thirds, but they will then take a vote to bar him from future office and pass that by a slim majority.

    • #18
  19. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    Something to watch for is that the conviction will fail to get two-thirds, but they will then take a vote to bar him from future office and pass that by a slim majority.

    That’s what I expect will happen. But with Roberts not being there to give the Senate trial a veneer of constitutionality, any Republican who then votes to bar him from future office will face the same backlash as if they voted to convict (and the only way I see the ban not happening is if Schumer somehow decides it’s better for the Democrats in ’24 if Trump remains in the GOP political field. But given his party’s TDS in general, I don’t see how he could push that strategy and get away with it, unless he gave Joe Manchin a ton of stuff to be the 51st ‘no’ vote on the ban).

    • #19
  20. Tim H. Member
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Something to watch for is that the conviction will fail to get two-thirds, but they will then take a vote to bar him from future office and pass that by a slim majority.

    I don’t think that could happen. My understanding has been that there has to be a conviction in order to have a punishment, and so he’ll get off entirely.

    The weird thing is that the two articles of impeachment that the Democrats drew up are for (1) threatening the Georgia Secretary of State to do something illegal, and (2) inciting the riot. I’ve read the transcript, and I think he sounds senile and ignorant of how elections work, but he’s not threatening or trying to get something done he knows to be illegal. And the day of the protest, he was explicit in telling them to be peaceful. So I couldn’t vote to convict on either of these. Now, the weird thing is that the most impeachable thing was how he didn’t send help to stop the attack once it started, but they left that off entirely! That’s something that I could have voted for a conviction over. You might have gotten several Republican votes. Why leave that off? I think they rushed the impeachment and let their heated passions get the better of them.

    • #20
  21. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Tim H. (View Comment):

    I don’t think that could happen. My understanding has been that there has to be a conviction in order to have a punishment, and so he’ll get off entirely.

     

    This is only true if Democrats respect the constitution. They don’t. Half of the things they are talking about doing are unconstitutional, so why would that be a bar in this case? They can vote this without worrying about any judicial review, and a large part of the population will take it as valid.

    • #21
  22. Acook Member
    Acook
    @Acook

    I’ve missed something. We know that a supermajority is needed to convict, but why is it being assumed that a simple majority is all that is needed to keep him from seeking Federal office again?

    • #22
  23. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Eb Snider (View Comment):
    nate was flooded with protestors during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and threatening Senators, near mass assassination of Republicans at a Softball field by a Bernie Sanders worker in light of the Sanders hyperbolic language toward conservatives and the country,

    That’s different. They were only Republicans.

    • #23
  24. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Acook (View Comment):

    I’ve missed something. We know that a supermajority is needed to convict, but why is it being assumed that a simple majority is all that is needed to keep him from seeking Federal office again?

    It seems to be another point of contention that the Constitution doesn’t specifically say a two-thirds vote is needed to disqualify someone from running for office again. That’s on top of the guaranteed-to-be-litigated question of the legitimacy of holding a Senate trial in the first place with Trump no longer serving as president.

    • #24
  25. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Zafar (View Comment):

    How would you deal with hypothetical high crimes and misdemeanours committed by a president just before he departs? Is there ever a need to?

    You try him in the appropriate federal court for the crimes committed. Simple.

    • #25
  26. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    Acook (View Comment):

    I’ve missed something. We know that a supermajority is needed to convict, but why is it being assumed that a simple majority is all that is needed to keep him from seeking Federal office again?

    It seems to be another point of contention that the Constitution doesn’t specifically say a two-thirds vote is needed to disqualify someone from running for office again. That’s on top of the guaranteed-to-be-litigated question of the legitimacy of holding a Senate trial in the first place with Trump no longer serving as president.

    Words matter. You do not get to impose a “judgment” without first “convicting.” So the rule in Article I, Section 3 is as follows:

    The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

    Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

    You do not get to vote on a judgment without first securing a conviction, just like a criminal trial. First comes the “guilty/not guilty” phase, then, if and only if the verdict is “guilty,” do you get to the sentencing phase. Here, you get a Yes or No on each article of impeachment. If you fail to reach Yes with 2/3 of Members present on at least one article, then you never get to vote on judgment. That last bit “two thirds of the Members present” means that, while it would be satisfying to boycott the sham proceedings, any Republican not present is actually helping the Democrats shrink the number needed for conviction. 

    • #26
  27. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    Acook (View Comment):

    I’ve missed something. We know that a supermajority is needed to convict, but why is it being assumed that a simple majority is all that is needed to keep him from seeking Federal office again?

    It seems to be another point of contention that the Constitution doesn’t specifically say a two-thirds vote is needed to disqualify someone from running for office again. That’s on top of the guaranteed-to-be-litigated question of the legitimacy of holding a Senate trial in the first place with Trump no longer serving as president.

    Words matter. You do not get to impose a “judgment” without first “convicting.” So the rule in Article I, Section 3 is as follows:

    The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

    Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

    You do not get to vote on a judgment without first securing a conviction, just like a criminal trial. First comes the “guilty/not guilty” phase, then, if and only if the verdict is “guilty,” do you get to the sentencing phase. Here, you get a Yes or No on each article of impeachment. If you fail to reach Yes with 2/3 of Members present on at least one article, then you never get to vote on judgment. That last bit “two thirds of the Members present” means that, while it would be satisfying to boycott the sham proceedings, any Republican not present is actually helping the Democrats shrink the number needed for conviction.

    Thus the reason for the boycott

    • #27
  28. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    Thus the reason for the boycott

    Lol. You’re even more cynical than I thought.

    • #28
  29. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    Thus the reason for the boycott

    Lol. You’re even more cynical than I thought.

    The world is more cynical than you thought. I just notice it more than most.

    • #29