Trump Allies in Congress Try to Erase His Two Impeachments

Trump has no problem denying inconvenient facts. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Republicans make no bones about arguing that they are justified in considering impeachment resolutions against President Joe Biden and his appointees as an act of vengeance for the two Democratic-led impeachments of their once and probably future leader, Donald Trump. But two particularly servile House GOP members, Republican conference chair Elise Stefanik and the ever-outrageous Marjorie Taylor Greene, want to go even further by eliminating any record that the Trump impeachments of 2019 and 2021 ever happened. As Reuters reports:

Greene’s two-page resolution would expunge the 2019 impeachment, saying he was “wrongfully accused of misconduct.” Stefanik’s six-page measure would overturn his 2021 impeachment on grounds that his opponents failed to prove that he committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Greene’s resolution follows one introduced in 2022 by then-House member Markwayne Mullins, who is now a senator. Somebody has to carry on the tradition, I guess.

“Expungement,” as the American Bar Association explains, is a very specific concept in criminal law:

In law, “expungement” is the process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from state or federal record. An expungement order directs the court to treat the criminal conviction as if it had never occurred, essentially removing it from a defendant’s criminal record as well as, ideally, the public record.

It is important to clarify that expungement is not “forgiveness” for committing a crime — that is a legal pardon.

Most often, expungements are offered to minors so that they aren’t haunted the rest of their lives for first-offense arrests for DUIs. The ABA notes there is no federal statute for expungement; orders to expunge records are almost always conducted by state authorities in pursuance of state laws. And as Republican-friendly legal scholar Jonathan Turley of Georgetown University told Reuters, expungement of an impeachment makes no sense because impeachments aren’t criminal procedures:

[Turley] noted that the U.S. Constitution contains no provision for expunging impeachments.

“It is not like a constitutional DUI. Once you are impeached, you are impeached,” Turley said in an email.

So what Stefanik and Greene are trying to do is closer to a simple whitewash than anything based on legal precedents. It would make a hash of the constitutional scheme if every House impeachment resulting in a Senate acquittal meant the impeachment wasn’t warranted in the first place.

Some defenders of the 45th president may argue that a 1837 Senate vote reversed an earlier censure of Trump’s hero, Andrew Jackson. But censure, unlike impeachment, isn’t a constitutionally sanctioned procedure; it’s just an expression of a judgment by one or both congressional chambers that can be reversed without doing violence to the historical record. Additionally, it’s never happened in the subsequent 186 years.

If the Stefanik-Greene resolutions gain any traction, it might cause an uncomfortable moment for Trump presidential rival Ron DeSantis. While the Florida governor has no problems with defending Trump against Democrats and the criminal-justice system, he did just veto a bill expanding expungements of arrests in Florida where no conviction occurred, apparently on grounds that such a step would make him look “soft on crime.” Arguably presidential crime, proven or simply alleged, should be no exception to that general rule.

More on politics

See All
Trump Allies in Congress Try to Erase His Two Impeachments