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Impeachment ‘Joke’ Muddies Term Limit Rule


Quick Take

A viral social media post suggests that the Constitution would allow President Donald Trump to seek a potential third term in office if he were to be impeached, but not removed. The Constitution does not say that.


Full Story 

The impeachment inquiry facing President Donald Trump is bound to have far-reaching political effects. But it is not the case that a potential impeachment by the House could allow Trump to seek an additional term beyond the two elected terms allowed by the Constitution.

That falsehood, which originated as a purported joke, is being spread on Facebook as if real.

“These Democrats don’t realize that if they impeach Trump and the Senate doesn’t confirm it then it nullifies Trump’s first term and he gets to run two more times,” the posts read. “Read the Constitution, people.”

There is no part of the Constitution that says that. Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard University, also confirmed as much.

“There is nothing in the Constitution’s language, structure, or history to support any such claim,” Tribe told us in an email.

The posts are screenshots of an Oct. 1 tweet from a Trump-supporter named Jack Posobiec, whose previous posts have played into conspiracy theories such as the debunked “pizzagate” scandal.

Following his tweet about impeachment, Posobiec referred to the claim as a joke and saidwith one tweet I got the libs to not only read, but actually defend the Constitution for once!”

But comments on Facebook, where thousands shared snapshots of the tweet, suggested that some didn’t get Posobiec’s joke.

“Wow. Hope this is true,” one man wrote. Others expressed confusion and inquired for more information about the supposed stipulation.

The 22nd Amendment dictates that presidents are permitted to hold office for two elected terms.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

Posobiec, Jack (@JackPosobiec). “These Democrats don’t realize that if they impeach Trump and the Senate doesn’t confirm it then it nullifies Trump’s first term and he gets to run two more times. Read the Constitution, people.” Twitter. 1 Oct 2019.

Tribe, Laurence. Professor of constitutional law, Harvard University. Email to FactCheck.org. 2 Oct 2019.

U.S. Constitution. Legal Information Institute, Cornell University. Accessed 2 Oct 2019.