President Donald Trump is facing one of the ultimate challenges a president can face: The prospect of impeachment in the House of Representatives.
But the impeachment presents unique problems for Congress as well. And on Wednesday, Axios noted one of the biggest ones: this is the first time in U.S. history that a president is facing impeachment and re-election at the same time.
“Never before have we had a president who might be in a position to be re-elected after impeachment,” wrote Axios. “Andrew Johnson wasn’t nominated for another term, Bill Clinton was already in his second term, and Richard Nixon resigned in his second term in the face of certain impeachment.”
The unique risk is that Trump could be impeached, but then acquitted by the Senate and re-elected to another four years in office. And if that happens, “Democrats will face a predicament neither party has confronted in U.S. history.”
Theoretically, they could impeach the president a second time if more abuses of power were uncovered. Legal experts say there is no barrier to do so.
“There is almost certainly NOT a barrier to a second impeachment, even for the exact same conduct,” said former Whitewater prosecutor Paul Rosenzweig, adding that this obviously goes for “a second impeachment for a different offense” as well.
But it seems unlikely that they would want to do so with a midterm election coming up, especially considering the failed impeachment of Bill Clinton is often cited as a reason for the historically unusual 1998 midterm loss for the GOP.
It would be a situation fraught with risks — and a bridge that presumably Democrats will not want to cross until after the current impeachment and election are resolved one way or the other.