WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) issues statement on his vote to acquit Donald Trump on the Article of Impeachment:
“I cannot support removing someone from office who is no longer in office. An impeachment trial after someone has left office is unconstitutional.”
The former president was acquitted by the Senate. Prior to the trial, Lankford supported a point of order on the constitutionality of the trial of a former president. The US Constitution outlines the basic process for impeachment and trial of the president, but it says nothing about trying a former president: “The president…shall be removed from office on impeachment…” (Article II, Section 4) and “when the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.” (Article I, Section 3, Clause 6) Additionally, “judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office.” (Article I, Section 3, Clause 7)
Four of the states in 1787 had impeachment clauses in their state constitution that specifically allowed impeaching a former official, but when they wrote the United States Constitution, they only allowed current officials.