President Trump’s allies have argued that House Democrats impeached him with the hope of removing him from office, so they don’t have to face him on the ballot in November. But it would take a second vote — not just a conviction — to keep Mr. Trump from running for office again.
It remains a tall order for 20 Republican senators to side with all of the 47 members of the Democratic caucus to reach the two-thirds majority needed to convict the president and remove him from office. But if that were to happen, it would take an additional vote — this time a simple majority of senators — to prevent him from serving in future office, according to legal experts.
Without that added punishment, Mr. Trump would still have time to get on the ballot for Republican presidential nominating contests in 39 states. He could also run as an independent.
Mr. Trump’s removal from office also would elevate Vice President Mike Pence to the Oval Office, presenting him with the option of running for his own reelection as president in November.
The U.S. Constitution says punishment for 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.”
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said House Democrats have sought that penalty but it is up to the senators about whether to include it in an ultimate conviction.
“If it were included by the Senate, it would not bar state offices, but it would bar Trump from holding federal office, Mr. Turley said.
The U.S. has never encountered the scenario, though, because both President Johnson in 1868 and President Clinton in 1999 were acquitted.
House Democrats, without any GOP votes, impeached Mr. Trump on two charges, abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, and obstruction of Congress of not cooperating with the impeachment inquiry.