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First, the criminal penalties facing the president might be insufficient. There might be constitutional barriers to criminally investigating the president; the offense might not be a crime; or the ex-president could have been pardoned, cut a deal, or just left alone. (Significantly, no prosecution was ever brought against the obviously corrupt Secretary of War William Belknap—who was late-impeached but acquitted by five votes.) Congress might feel the urge to punish the ex-president as only it can, such as disqualifying him from future office. If it tweaks the presidential pension laws a bit, it could also use late impeachment to strip an ex-president of retirement benefits, as Senator Specter suggested be done to President Clinton in 2001 (had there been harder evidence against Clinton in the Marc Rich case, Specter’s comments might be more than the less-than-a-footnote they are today).
Second, the impeachment would need to represent some sort of perceived political advantage for Congress.
Third, Congress might act to protect its prerogatives. If the president left office to avoid impeachment, or if the ex-president was stonewalling a lower level congressional investigation, Congress might feel as though late impeachment was the only way to vindicate its authority. To take a current example, I can easily imagine (1) President Obama deciding not to pursue criminal charges against President Bush and his administration over the torture and surveillance controversies; (2) a netroots-led partisan groundswell that spurs the House to pick up the matter, as the only authority with the power to investigate and make public the former administration’s actions; and (3) impeachment emerging as the only way to break through the ex-president’s assertions of privilege and hold him accountable. Not my cup of tea, but I can still picture it.
originally posted by: yuppa
This would be big. if convicted all his laws passed can be revoked. like when a prosecutor is found guilty.
originally posted by: Sillyolme
Oh and finding an example of a congressman being impeached after he resigned because they were going to bring impeachment charges against him doesn't count.
Just in case that's what you're thinking. Lol