DENVER – Congressman Joe Neguse, one of two Colorado Democratic impeachment managers for former President Trump’s second Senate trial, argued Tuesday that there was a constitutional authority to hold a trial, convict Trump and keep him from holding public office again.
Neguse, the Democrat who represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, was the second impeachment manager to speak Tuesday at the onset of the former president’s trial. Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 13 on one count of incitement of insurrection.
“Lead manager [Rep. Jamie] Raskin explained that impeachment exists to protect the American people from officials who abuse their power, who betray them. It exists for a case just like this one,” Neguse said. “Honestly, it is hard to imagine a clearer example of how a president could abuse his office than inciting violence against a coequal branch of government while seeking to remain in power after losing an election.”
Neguse, who is one of nine impeachment managers who will present the House’s case to the Senate as to why they should convict the former president, walked back through two particular previous removal cases that he said set the precedents for this week’s trial: that of Sen. William Blount in 1797 and that of War Secretary William Belknap in 1876.
“President Trump was not impeached for run-of-the-mill misconduct. He was impeached for inciting an insurrection – an insurrection where people died in this building. An insurrection that decimated our seat in government,” Neguse argued. “And if Congress were just to stand completely aside in the face of such an extraordinary crime against the Republic, it would invite future presidents to use their power without any fear of accountability. And none of us – I know this – none of us, no matter our party or our politics, wants that.”
Trump’s attorneys have argued in their briefs that because the president is now a private citizen and no longer in office that he cannot be removed from office.
But Neguse argued otherwise, saying that the Constitution notes that “judgment shall not extend further than to removal from office and disqualification.”“The meaning is clear. The Senate has the power to impose removal, which only applies to current officials. And separately, it has the power to impose disqualification, which obviously applies to both current and former officers,” Neguse said.
He added that Trump’s attorneys’ interpretation “essentially rewrites the constitution.”
Neguse pointed out that Blount was a former official when he was tried in the Senate and that Belknap was impeached after he had resigned and the Senate proceeded with a trial, but he was not convicted.
“The Belknap [case] is clear precedent that the Senate must proceed with this trial since it rejected pretrial dismissal, affirmed its jurisdiction and moved to a full consideration of the merits,” Neguse said.
And he said that the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 – which the managers argue was spurred by Trump and his words to supporters that morning – needed to be met with a proper response.
“What you experienced that day, what we experienced that day, what our country experienced that day, is the framers’ worst nightmare come to life. Presidents can’t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened,” Neguse said. “And yet, that is the rule that President Trump asks you to adopt. I urge you, we urge you, to decline his request, to vindicate the Constitution, to let us try this case.”
The Senate voted 56-44 Tuesday afternoon to affirm that the trial for Trump is constitutional. Six Republicans joined Democrats in the affirmation of the trial.
After the vote, debate between the impeachment managers and Trump’s attorneys will continue this week. Each side has up to 16 hours to argue their cases, after which the Senate will likely vote whether to convict or acquit Trump.
Rep. Diana DeGette, the Democrat who represents Colorado’s 1st Congressional District, is another of the impeachment managers and is expected to speak at the trial sometime this week. Rep. Jason Crow, D-CO06, was an impeachment manager for Trump’s trial last year.
Senators have said they will continue forward with the trial even through the weekend, when a vote on convicting the former president is possible.