- Donald Trump became the first President of US to be impeached twice
- The House voted to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection, after the president incited a violent crowd to storm the Capitol last week, resulting in five deaths
- Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, believes that Trump is a “clear and present danger”
In American history, President Donald Trump became the first president to be impeached twice. Yet being impeached is not the same as being convicted or thrown out of office and barred from holding the office again.
Here’s what happened and what could happen next:
What are the implications?
As the first U.S. president to be impeached twice, Trump will go down in history. If he is convicted by the Senate until he leaves office on Jan. 20, he will be suspended, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Wednesday that before Trump leaves office, the chamber will not take up the matter. The Senate could take another vote to bar him from taking office again if it convicts him.
Why another impeachment?
Impeaching Trump was not on Congress’s to-do list in his final days in office. But then there was the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Following Trump’s months-long quest to sabotage the 2020 presidential election, appeal his defeat, and intervene in the counting of election votes and confirming that Joe Biden will be the next president, Congress convened under tense circumstances.
The position of Congress in who is president is primarily a formality. But scores of Republican senators, including a majority of members of the Grand Old Party (GOP) House, intended to use an 1880s rule to object to Trump’s loss of seating electors from swing states. This is when all the states in the USA already met the minimum Congress’ legal requirement and even when none of those challenges were able to succeed in getting the votes.
Trump was on the Ellipse as they began, addressing supporters whom he had invited to Washington to “be there, will be wild,” and whom he encouraged to “fight like hell” that day to try to undo his defeat.
Hundreds of those backers flooded the Capitol as debate on the first GOP challenge began, overwhelming the Capitol Police and forcing legislators and staff members to leave the chambers. The riot was linked with the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police officer.
Hours later, Shaken’s members of Congress returned and confirmed Biden’s victory.
Democrats and some Republicans began calling immediately for Trump’s removal from office. Several top House Republicans said on Tuesday that they endorsed impeaching him.
Rep. Elizabeth Lynne Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, said, “The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.” Liz Cheney further added, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president Trump of the US of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Why not the other consequences?
Besides impeachment, there were a few ways to get Trump out before he has to leave by Jan. 20 at noon. He may resign. Or, based on a provision of the 25th Amendment that allows them to declare him unfit to serve, Vice President Mike Pence and half the Cabinet may vote to remove him. Pence said it would not be “in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution.” to oust Trump now.
House Democrats called for Pence to remove the president in this manner before they tried to impeach Trump, but there was no movement when there were talks in the Cabinet to do so. Any members of the Cabinet resigned over Trump’s role in the riot, withdrawing themselves from involvement.
House Democrats called for Pence to remove the president in this situation before they tried to impeach Trump, but there was no action when there were talks in the Cabinet to do so. Some members of the Cabinet resigned over the involvement of Trump in the riot, withdrawing themselves from participation in taking this unprecedented move.
Some experts in constitutional law argue that Congress could use a lesser-known clause to bar Trump from office in the 14th Amendment by voting that he “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” and should thus not hold office again. They claim it will only require a majority vote, but it may be subject to challenges from the courts.
House Democrats, more than 300 historians, constitutional law scholars and some Republicans have said that the longer Trump remains in office after endorsing the riot, the more he poses threat.
The House Democrats said, “We should not let this go unanswered, with each day, Mr. Trump grows more and more desperate,” and the also said that they “should not allow him to menace the security of our country for a second longer.”
And what is next?
For a hearing on whether to convict or acquit the president, the impeachment article goes to the Senate. From a narrow Republican majority to a narrow Democratic majority, the Senate is in the process of changing hands.
Under a senate which is controlled by the Democrats, the timing of the House vote, which is less than 7 days before Biden has to be sworn in, means that the Senate trial will definitely take place.
The Democrats will be able to outline how the trial would run.
But for a couple of days, it could require the Senate to stop all business, including confirming Biden’s Cabinet. (Some Democratic leaders of the House have proposed that Biden refrain from submitting the impeachment article to the Senate until his administration is more settled.) Biden asked the Senate if it could break the day into two, confirming his nominations and holding a trial. Whether the Senate would do so is uncertain.
The repercussions for Trump are uncertain. A president will likely be charged after leaving office, but convicting Trump requires the help of two-thirds of the Senate, more than the Democratic majority. Democrats will like 17 Republicans in the Senate to join them, and they seem to have no such support. Three Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, have expressed openness to impeachment or to getting Trump out of office after the Capitol riot.
In the days following the invasion, Murkowski said, “I want him out. I want him to resign. He has caused enough damage,”
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the sole Senate Republican who voted to convict Trump during his first impeachment, has expressed doubt that impeachment is the best way to go, although he has also said he maintains that somehow the president should be kept accountable.
Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker of The Washington Post reported that McConnell said he’s angry with Trump about what happened and doesn’t plan to talk to him again. The Post reported that he told others that Trump was likely to have committed impeachable offences.
It would require removal from office, then a majority vote, to bar a president from running for office again.
What does the latest impeachment article say?
By a vote of 232-197 by the House of Representatives makes three key claims, primarily that Donald Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” because:
1. Donald Trump, mis leaded his followers and declared that he won the election: “Shortly before the Joint Session commenced, President addressed a crowd of his political supporters nearby. There, Trump restated false claims that ‘we won this election, and we won it by a landslide.”
2. He deliberately made statements that encouraged riots- and predictably resulted in – imminent lawless action at the Capitol. A crowd illegally violated the Capitol, wounded law enforcement officers, assaulted members of Congress and the Vice President, interfered with the solemn constitutional obligation of the Joint Session to validate the results of the election, and engaged in aggressive, lethal, damaging, and seditious actions.
3. He had been putting his words into action to try to undo his loss: the article describes a recent call by Trump to Georgia’s Secretary of State asking him to “find” just enough votes to overturn the victory of Biden there.
What the Republicans are saying?
Trump’s actions are not defended by Republican politicians, but few openly consider his role in inciting a violent mob and attempting to disrupt the presidential election.
Most Republicans in the House have been lining up behind the claim that impeachment will be too divisive for the country, and are trying not to recognize the role of Trump in the rhetoric that led to the Capitol’s storming. They also presented solutions such as censorship, a much weaker alternative.
The majority of Republicans in the Senate are silent as to what they think would happen to Trump. Some claim that impeachment is not a good idea.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a Trump supporter who stopped his support for Trump after the riot, told The Post on Monday after meeting with the president, “I think letting the president stew in his own juices is probably the best way to go here. And impeachment is going to reignite the problem, and we’ve got nine days to go here. Sen. Lindsey Graham, also further added, “It will do more harm than good, and I’m hoping that people on our side will see it that way.”
On Tuesday morning, Trump, who used his now-defunct Twitter account to defend himself during his first impeachment trial, called the latest impeachment campaign “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics.”
What happened in the most recent impeachment?
In the fall of 2019, following months of discussion within the Democratic Party about whether to impeach Trump for his attempts to block a Russian government investigation, Democrats pushed ahead with impeaching Trump for forcing Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden. They went slowly, beginning with an investigation into impeachment in which they called around a dozen witnesses before making some dramatically testify, sometimes in violation of Trump’s instructions not to do so.
By December 2019, Trump was impeached by the Democratic House for two articles by a largely party-line vote: misuse of power and obstructing the inquiry of Congress. In January, without calling new witnesses, the Republican-controlled Senate arranged a relatively swift trial and acquitted Trump. In one of the articles, only one Republican senator, Romney, voted to convict Trump.