Top GOP Lawyer Charles Cooper Says Trump Trial Is Constitutional
Conservative lawyer Charles J. Cooper said in an op-ed to the Wall Street Journal that the Republican Senate argument that former President Donald Trump cannot be tried because he is no longer in office is “illogical.” Cooper’s piece was published Sunday, just two days before the Trump Senate trial was set to begin.
Forty-five Senate Republicans voted in January in favor of throwing out former President Trump’s charges of “inciting insurrection” because he is no longer in office. The Republican theory is that since the Constitution’s penalty for impeachment is removal from office, impeachment cannot apply to a former president. While many lawyers and experts have disagreed with the Republican rationale, lawyers’ views have generally fallen along party lines.
Cooper, however, broke from with the GOP Sunday when he wrote, “The provision cuts against their interpretation.” Cooper explained that since impeachment also bars a person from serving public office again, “it defies logic to suggest that the Senate is prohibited from trying and convicting former officeholders.”
Cooper has formerly represented several Republican bodies and is a former advisor to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in his 2016 presidential campaign. He also represented House Republicans in a lawsuit against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California).
Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) introduced a motion in the Senate hoping to throw out Trump’s impeachment charges as unconstitutional. Cooper responded directly to Paul saying, “The senators who supported Mr. Paul’s motion should reconsider their view and judge the former president’s misconduct on the merits.”
Senate Republicans are still expected to debate the constitutionality of the Trump case during Tuesday’s trial. Trump’s legal team has already firmly denied the former president’s role in the riots.