In an op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal, Cooper explained why he believes the argument against the Senate’s authority to try Trump cannot be substantiated.
“The strongest argument against the Senate’s authority to try a former officer relies on Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution, which provides: ‘The president, vice president and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,'” Cooper wrote.
He noted those arguing against the trial suggest, “Because this provision requires removal, and because only incumbent officers can be removed, it follows that only incumbent officers can be impeached and tried.”
Cooper argued the provision dismantles their claim because it establishes what is called a “mandatory minimum” punishment, meaning, if the Senate convicts an incumbent by a two-thirds vote they are removed from office.
“If removal were the only punishment that could be imposed, the argument against trying former officers would be compelling,” Cooper explained.
He notes Article I, Section 3 allows the Senate to “impose an optional punishment on conviction: ‘disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.'”
Cooper wrote only former officers can receive the punishment.
“That is because Article II, Section 4 is self-executing: A convicted officeholder is automatically removed at the moment of conviction,” he added.
Cooper continued to claim only after the officer is removed can the Senate vote to disqualify.
“Given that the Constitution permits the Senate to impose the penalty of permanent disqualification only on former officeholders, it defies logic to suggest that the Senate is prohibited from trying and convicting former officeholders,” Cooper continued.
He mentioned there are some who argue the trial is unconstitutional because Chief Justice John Roberts was asked and declined to preside.
Cooper acknowledges Article I, Section 3 says “when the president of the United States is tried, the chief justice shall preside.”
He went on to note Trump is no longer president.
“The senators who supported Mr. Paul’s motion should reconsider their view and judge the former president’s misconduct on the merits,” Cooper concluded.