This question is of course inspired by current events, but I'm not looking for an answer primarily based around Trump's character, or the Republicans' strategy.

What if a president was renominated, and then removed?

1) Can his party nominate someone else, e.g. his VP who would have succeeded to the presidency? Presumably if it happened a week before election day that wouldn't be allowed.

Below answered by law stack post in first comment

2) Does being convicted by the Senate bar the ex-pres from trying to stand again and being elected, despite not being president for a short time after he was removed? Presumably the senate can't remove his ballot access after it's been formally granted, even if his own party voted against him.


2 Answers 2


It depends what the Senate “sentences” the president to when they “convict” them:1

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States

—Article I, Section 3, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution

As you can see, the US Constitution allows the Senate to apply one or both of only two judgments on an impeached officer: removal from office, and/or disqualification from being able to hold any government offices in the future.

With the president removed from office, the vice president is sworn in as president. If there is no vice president (e.g. as happened with Nixon, though he was not formally removed from office), the Speaker of the House is sworn in as president instead. And so on and so forth until someone who can be president is found; there’s a defined order of succession for any case that causes a sudden need for a new president (usually the death of the previous one but impeachment and removal would also do it). This does not affect the upcoming election in any way, though with an election coming up, the new president is unlikely to have very much power or ability to get something done—the ultimate “lame duck presidency.”

If the Senate votes to remove the president from office, but not to bar him from future office—a very unlikely scenario since it’s hard to imagine why anyone would vote for the first but not the second—then the impeached president and current party nominee is still eligible for the presidency and so, if re-elected, can be president again.

In the vastly more likely case—that if they’re removing the president from office, they’re also barring them from future office—then the impeached president cannot be president again. What happens at that point is far, far murkier.

Each state has its own laws about how elections are run. Some states will allow the nominee to be changed on the ballot, or even require it, while others might not allow the ballot to be changed, depending on how close we are to the election. Some states will have laws specifying what electors are to do in such a situation, but most won’t—most state laws just say that electors have to go to the electoral college and vote for whoever won that state. If that was the impeached president, it’s unclear what the electors should do—the state law they have to vote for someone who is ineligible. Do they vote for the impeached, ineligible president anyway? Or do they vote for the party’s replacement nominee, or for whoever the impeached president’s running mate was (even if that person is not the party’s choice of replacement)? And if the electors do cast “throw-away” votes for the impeached president, and those votes are majority, what are we to make of that? Do they not count, resulting in a victory for whoever came in second, or do they count for the running mate, who becomes president instead of vice president? Or, what if the electors break their various state laws—since those laws weren’t written to handle this—and cast votes for whoever they personally feel like is most appropriate—does that count?

We have no answers to these questions. The Constitution does not specify—the Constitution imagined that the electoral college would handle this situation, did not anticipate the states passing laws that attempt to strictly control what the electors can do. And those laws may well not have anticipated such a situation, and may force the electors to do something problematic.

If this actually came up, my guess is that states would scramble to amend their laws to account for it, assuming there is enough time. If not, we would almost-certainly have a Constitutional crisis. There would be many, many lawsuits, on both the state and federal levels, to try to sort this out.

  1. Scare quotes used because the Constitution does not use either term, and there are significant differences between a criminal conviction followed by a criminal sentence, and what happens during impeachment. See this answer for details. Nonetheless, there are enough analogies to make them useful enough in this context, and besides, the question uses “convict.”
  • Ultimately, this answer feels incomplete to me—I do not know exactly the state of the election and electoral laws in each state, which would be really necessary to answer this well. I am largely just guessing that there exist states whose laws don’t account for this possibility and that there would be at least some chaos. The further from the election we are, the better off things would go here.
    – KRyan
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 16:17
  • 1
    "If there is no vice president (e.g. as happened with Nixon, though he was not formally removed from office), the Speaker of the House is sworn in as president instead." Nixon had a vice president at the time of his resignation: Gerald Ford, who was then sworn in as president. There was no vice president for two months in 1973 after Agnew's resignation, but Ford replaced Agnew eight months before Nixon's resignation. Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 13:53
  • @user4556274 Huh, I have been misreported to.
    – KRyan
    Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 13:54

Technically nothing. A conviction of Impeachment in the senate only immediately removes the office holder from office. A Separate action at a later date may be passed by the senate blocking the impeached individual from holding office, but the initial conviction will only remove the individual in question. At least one former Federal Judge was impeached and convicted by the senate and now sits as a U.S. Representative at time of writing because he specifically was never banned from holding federal office (just removed from his current one).

So upon immediate conviction of a President, during a second term campaign, there is nothing barring the impeached President from continuing his campaign (and U.S. Presidents in second term bids tend to go full campaign mode in the election year, so it's not that much different.). If the President's party is able to hold off on the block on the individual president running for office in favor of the public ousting the President to confirm it, there's a theoretical chance a popular President could win. It would also become the second time in U.S. history for a president to hold office in two non-consecutive terms (assuming the president won) as the current President would be the former Vice President. Supposing this bizzare scenario occurs with current situations in play, this scenario results in President Trump becoming the 45th and 47th President of the United States with Mike Pence as the 46th.

Additionally, based on the linked answers in the comments, if the ban happened prior to the general election, the Vice President (now President) would be sworn in as President on January 20th of the election. Additionally because the previously elected President was removed with less than two years on his term, the ascended vice President could seek a "second term" in the next election as the Constitution counts a term as 2 years and a day from last inauguration day for purposes of term limits (in the unlikely event that on January 21, two years into a term, the President is removed from office by any means, the Vice President ascends to President and can have a 10 year term if he chooses to take advantage of all re-elections. This hasn't happened as only two presidents achieved office by ascension since term limits were amended into the Constitution (Johnson and Ford) with a third President having immunity from the Ammendment (The sitting president at the time of Amendment ratification (in this case Truman) was specifically stated to no be subject to the amendment), and in all three cases, none of these Presidents were re-elected to a second term (Truman and Johnson were able to win a term following their ascension and Ford was not able to win a single term following Nixon's resignation).

It should be pointed out that one of the benefits of the Electoral College is that the Electors can make the decesion to not elect an impeached president to a second term and while the Vice Presidential candidates always a pair on the ballots, the Vice President is subject to a second election in the college independent of the President. If the Electoral College fails, there are contingencies in the Constitution to pick the President and Vice President outside of the failed college (Congress picks, with the House picking the President and the Senate picking the Vice President).


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