The publicly televised impeachment inquiry is probably over. It’s still possible that Democrats will call more witnesses to testify in the near future, but all signs point to the inquiry wrapping up as soon as possible — which is no surprise, because Democrats want this entire business out of the way before primary season begins in a few short months. Republicans seem just as eager to continue the narrative that Democrats are on a witch hunt by dismissing any articles of impeachment during a very short, and very superficial, impeachment trial in the Senate.
Reports say that it could last as little as two weeks.
But what if Republicans change their mind and decide to convict the president? It might sound crazy, but it’s really not. Anyone paying attention to the political landscape knows that Republican support for Trump is contingent on voter support for Republicans. If voter dissatisfaction with Republicans in Congress seems untethered to support for the president, they’ll quickly abandon him.
And if that happens, Trump may be the first president removed from office by impeachment.
Although unlikely, the potential scenario begs another question: Could Trump be convicted in a criminal court of law if convicted of abusing the office of the presidency during an impeachment trial? The answer might not please you. Nixon was forgiven for his obvious trespasses against the people of the United States. And so was Clinton (though his trespasses were obviously more personal in nature).
Even if Trump is removed from office, it’s likely that a President Pence would pardon him for any and all crimes committed.
But what could Trump be indicted and convicted for?
Likely, charges would stem from the most public of his many underground dealings. They would undoubtedly include many counts of obstruction of justice during the Mueller affair and yet more counts of obstruction during the current investigation into Ukraine. In addition, he would almost certainly be indicted for bribery of a foreign official for personal political motives.
Bribery of a foreign official is a felony with at least a one-year mandatory prison sentence. The bigger crime is obstructing justice — and that could cost Trump the rest of his life behind bars if he were to be tried and convicted.
The law regarding obstruction of justice is clear: “For example, the code section made infamous by Presidents Nixon and Clinton (18 U.S.C. § 1505) is punishable by a fine and imprisonment of up to five years (or up to eight years if it involves terrorism).”
But that’s for a single count. Trump could potentially face dozens.