The courts could hold Trump accountable if Republican senators refuse: legal expert
Donald Trump (Shutterstock)

All Republicans take an oath to be impartial jurors in the impeachment, but it isn't expected that they actually will do it. Instead, it's expected that they will shirk their responsibility and put the party before the law.

Writing for Yahoo News, legal expert Michael J. Stern explained that there are several laws that make it illegal for someone to "incite 'any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States'; agree with others to use force 'to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States'; impede "any official proceeding' before Congress; or intentionally disrupt 'the orderly conduct of Government business' by engaging in 'disruptive conduct' near a restricted building."

The Justice Department has already indicted dozens of those at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 attacks and many more are expected. But could one of those be Trump? The House Impeachment Managers are scheduled to make the case to the Senate this week that Trump is culpable after spending months calling the election fraudulent, creating conspiracy theories to justify his belief and then pouring gasoline on all of it before lighting the match Jan. 6.

Stern quoted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who proclaimed, "The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president."

According to Stern, McConnell's use of the word "provoked," sounds a lot like the federal insurrection statute, which says "incited."

Trump didn't have to march with the crowd to do something illegal. Stern explained that federal law says any person who "counsels, commands, (or) induces" anyone to commit a crime is also guilty. That means Trump. So, what happens to the former president after his Republican allies let him go?

"Once Trump's senate fraternity brothers and sorority sisters give him a pass, the real question is whether the Department of Justice will make good on its name by conducting a full investigation into the many activities of Trump that appear criminal," wrote Stern. "There is plenty to investigate, from the campaign finance fraud payoff of Stormy Daniels, to the extortion of Ukraine's president that tied American financial aid to manufactured political dirt on Biden, to the breach of the Capitol that ended in the deaths of five people."

It isn't unheard of. Former President Ulysses S. Grant was arrested after he was out of office for speeding in his horse-drawn carriage. Stern doesn't want to see justice give Trump a pass out of hassle or increased scrutiny.

"We saw this type of 'caution' play out with special counsel Robert Mueller, who presented a report bursting with evidence of Trump's obstruction in the Russia investigation," he explained. "Mueller was never going to take the heat for indicting Trump because Justice Department precedent says sitting presidents cannot be prosecuted. Yet Mueller would not even publicly opine on the task he was hired to perform: Determine whether Trump had committed a crime that would justify an indictment when he left office."

Republicans will likely blow off the impeachment, "squandering their second opportunity to hold Trump accountable and protect American democracy from the man who brought it to its knees." But that doesn't mean that the Justice Department must follow, he closed.

Read the full column at Yahoo.