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Marco Rubio questions whether Trump impeachment sets 'new precedent' that could target Hillary Clinton


'Therefore, is it not true that under this new precedent a future House facing partisan pressure to "lock her up" could impeach a former Secretary of State...'

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Could the Democratic Party's pursuit of another Trump impeachment have consequences for one of their own? That is exactly what Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) suggested could happen.

What happened?

During former President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial on Friday, Rubio asked whether retroactively using the Constitution's impeachment mechanisms against Trump would create a ripple effect allowing other former government officials to be impeached and face a Senate trial.

In his question, Rubio asked about a "former secretary of state," a clear reference to Hillary Clinton.

Rubio asked, according to Mediate:

Voting to convict the former president would create a new precedent that a former official can be convicted and disqualified by the Senate. Therefore, is it not true that under this new precedent a future House facing partisan pressure to "lock her up" could impeach a former Secretary of State and a future Senate be forced to put her on trial and potentially disqualify from any future office?

In response, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead impeachment manager, claimed the "jurisdictional issue is over."

Raskin added that Rubio's hypothetical question "has no bearing on this case because I don't think you're talking about an official who was impeached while they were in office for conduct that they committed while they were in office."

What did Trump's lawyer say?

Michael van der Veen, one of former President Donald Trump's defense attorneys, disagreed.

He told Rubio that Democrats are setting a precedent that could not only be applied to the "former secretary of state," but "to a lot of people and that's not the way this is supposed to work and not only could it happen to a lot of people, it would become much more regular, too."

Van der Veen added that Rubio's question highlights the "absolutely slippery slope" of Democrats decision to pursue an impeachment trial despite Trump no longer being president.

"The original question is an absolutely slippery slope that I don't really think anybody here wants to send this country down," van deer Veen said.

Anything else?

Trump's trial will most likely end on Saturday with his acquittal.

Earlier in the day, the Senate voted to call witnesses, which would have extended the trial indefinitely. However, the Senate quickly reached an agreement that included not calling witnesses.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also announced that he would vote to acquit Trump.

"While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction," McConnell said in a letter to Senate Republicans.

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