Even if Republicans will find Trump innocent — his trial is essential for GOP accountability: columnist
President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Tuesday, March 10, 2020, upon their arrival to the U.S. Capitol for a Senate Republican policy lunch. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus noted that even if we know the outcome will likely be an acquittal, President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial will hang an albatross around the neck of every Republican for the rest of their lives.

"In the eyes of history, Trump's acquittal will convict those who failed to summon the courage to find him guilty," Marcus predicted in her Tuesday night column. "The dodge that the Senate lacks jurisdiction is just that — a dodge, a procedural escape hatch to avoid the politically perilous but morally essential duty to declare that Trump's crusade to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power constituted the ultimate high crime."

It was also revealed Tuesday that Trump's legal team intends to make the argument that he is still the rightful current president, which puts Republicans in a difficult position. If he's still president, then impeachment isn't "unconstitutional," as 45 of them voted it is. If he isn't president, then they disagree with Trump's "big lie." They're stuck either way.

"Since the dawn of the Republic," the House impeachment managers wrote, "no President had ever refused to accept an election result or defied the lawful processes for resolving electoral disputes." Mr. Trump "spent months using his bully pulpit to insist that the Joint Session of Congress was the final act of a vast plot to destroy America."

Republicans continue to maintain that the impeachment is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president, but the impeachment was already voted on in Congress on Jan. 13 while Trump was president. The Senate doesn't vote on the impeachment, they vote on the conviction at the trial.

"Presidents do not get a free pass to commit high crimes and misdemeanors near the end of their term," the impeachment managers also argued. "There is no 'January Exception' to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution."

Marcus argued that the constitutional language is ambiguous at best: The Constitution provides that the remedy in cases of impeachment and conviction "shall not extend further than to removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy an office of honor." Trump's lawyers think "the conjunction to mean that both steps must be available," Marcus assessed.

She explained that the seriousness of Trump's offenses requires the Senate to address the matter instead of dismissing it as they did with his attempt to bribe the president of Ukraine.

"What Trump did should be set out for all to see and judge — and for the senators to render their individual, recorded verdicts," she wrote. "Acquittal, even if it is based on jurisdictional grounds, risks legitimizing Trump's conduct, setting a precedent detrimental to the rule of law. Conviction, if it were somehow miraculously to occur, would risk turning him into a martyr, allowing him to claim that he was persecuted by political enemies even after he was out of office."

See the full column at the Washington Post.