capitol trial

Most Read

Top stories

GOP Rep. Went on MSNBC to Claim Impeaching a Former President Was 'Unconstitutional' and Got a Brutal Fact Check

The impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump continues in the Senate, but some House Republicans are still lamenting that Trump was impeached at all.

On January 13, Trump became the first President in American history to be impeached more than once in his term. The House charged Trump with inciting an insurrection after his lies about the integrity of the 2020 election prompted a mob of pro-Trump extremists to carry out a deadly failed insurrection against the Capitol on January 6.

As the articles of impeachment were delivered to the Senate, Republican lawmakers argued that holding a trial for a former President is unconstitutional. Two separate motions to deem the trial unconstitutional both failed in the face of bipartisan opposition.

Freshman Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC), whose vote against impeachment in the House dashed hopes she'd be a moderate Republican, appeared on MSNBC to argue that it was unconstitutional to impeach a former President.

Host Chuck Todd reminded her that Trump was impeached on January 13—a week before he left office.

Things only got awkward from there.

Mace said:

"Impeaching a President who's no longer President has never been done before in this country."

Todd reminded Mace that he was impeached while he was President, but Mace—after a long pause—appeared to think he was referring to Trump's first impeachment, which occurred in 2019:

"Right. This is the second impeachment trial. We've never impeached a President who is no longer President. That's never been done in our nation's history to my knowledge."

Later in the interview, Mace repeated the lie:

"The impeachment process, as I've stated before, is unconstitutional."

Todd more forcefully corrected her.

"You keep saying that, but Congresswoman, that is not the fact of the case. He was President of the United States when he was impeached. He is an impeached President even if he's convicted. He was President when impeached. The constitutionality question has also been answered by the Senate ... and they have said that this is constitutional."

Impeachment and conviction for articles of impeachment are not the same thing, but they're commonly conflated among everyday Americans, though usually not among members of Congress.

When the House votes to impeach a President, it's essentially filing a charge asserting that the President committed high crimes or misdemeanors. When that passes the House, the President is impeached and goes on to face trial in the Senate.

People quickly poked holes in Mace's argument.

Interestingly enough, Mace said that criminal charges against Trump could be a viable alternative to an impeachment trial (the two are not mutually exclusive).

This was something even her critics could get behind.

The impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump continues in the Senate.