In a letter to Schumer, the South Carolina senator said the impeachment potential should only be used to protect the nation from harm from an incumbent president and not to vindicate political complaints after a president has left office.
Trump is set to step down from office on Jan. 20 and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he has no intentions to call the Senate back to a session early to begin an impeachment trial.
The Democrat-controlled House on Jan. 13 voted 232–197 to impeach Trump on a single article of impeachment, claiming that the president urged an “insurrection” that caused the U.S. Capitol breach on Jan. 6. The impeachment was finished in a single seven-hour session and has been slammed by Republicans for its expediency and lack of due process.
“It cannot be that the Framers intended to empower Congress to disqualify any former officer it would like, whenever it would like, and with no investigation. And of course, they did not,” Graham wrote. “The two constitutional remedies for impeachment are available only when an official has been impeached by the constitutional impeachment process set forth in the Constitution.”
“The disqualification remedy is available for a constitutionally impeached official as an additional option to the Congress. It is not itself support for an unconstitutional impeachment,” he added.
The two provisions of the U.S. Constitution Graham referred to include Article II, Section 4, which states: “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
The second requirement Article I, Section 3, Clause 7, states: “Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States.
Graham claims that a case of a former president would not be a constitutional move by the Senate.
“If a Senate trial is not constitutional, then the remedy is unavailable to disqualify the Congress as a punishment for the unconstitutionally impeached president,” he maintained.
He said the Senate should vote to “dismiss the article of impeachment once it is received in the Senate,” adding that a failure to do so would permanently block the heading of the United States.
“Our obligation to the People we represent is clear. History will judge us harshly, as it should, if we do not rise to the occasion of this historic moment in our history,” he wrote.