One of the first questions the Senate will face in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is whether the chamber has jurisdiction to hear a case against a former official. For the Founders, it would have been obvious that the “power to impeach” included the ability to hold former officials to account. The impeachment power was imported to America from England, where Parliament impeached only two men during the 18th century, both former officers. No U.S. state constitution limited impeachments to sitting officers, and some allowed impeachment only of former officers. […] The American founders understood the history of demagogues and dictators corrupting republics and the need to exclude them from future office.
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