DAVIS, Calif. (KTXL) — Local experts from the University of California, Davis School of Law weighed in on Wednesday’s proceedings in Washington and the fallout of the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week, trying to shed light on the impeachment process and why some congressional leaders feel it is necessary.
While rioters undoubtedly broke numerous laws, President Donald Trump has also been implicated in encouraging the violence.
Those who voted for impeachment felt he incited the riot and even the overthrow of the government, but determining what “incitement” means can be tricky.
“If he had said squarely, ‘Storm the Capitol, go break into the Capitol,’ that would be an incitement. But he didn’t quite say that,” said Carlton Larson, a constitutional law professor at UC Davis.
Legal experts said there’s plenty of circumstantial evidence that President Trump and others encouraged crimes, and that shouldn’t be brushed aside.
“You cannot simply sort of declare what happened last week as over. You have to deal with the consequences,” said UC Davis terrorism and international law professor Karima Bennoune.
Some legal experts say removing the president with the 25th Amendment wasn’t feasible because Trump doesn’t have a medical disability. There are also legal and procedural issues with invoking the 14th Amendment, which has sanctions against those who are guilty of attempting the overthrow the government.
That leaves a solution that is not exactly clean.
“The most sensible thing to do is to hold an impeachment trial at some point in the Senate. It need not be soon because there’s no urgency at this point,” explained constitutional law professor Ashutosh Bhagwat.
But a guilty finding could lead to banning Trump from ever holding an elected office again.
When it comes to finding the president guilty in the Senate, Bhagwat said, “Conduct does not for us have to be a crime in order to be something that is subject to impeachment.”
“What is an impeachable offense is a political judgment, not a legal one,” he continued.
Larson said the idea of impeachment dividing the country is “absolutely ludicrous.”
“It is President Trump who is responsible for any divisions right now in this nation,” he added.