The House of Representatives is expected to vote Wednesday to impeach Donald Trump in connection with his supporters’ violent siege of the US Capitol, there is only a week left before Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th US president.
The unprecedented move so close to the end of Mr. Trump’s tenure would make him the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, and the only one to be charged with so few days in office.
Indictment is the process by which the House of Representatives can lay charges against a government official, similar to an indictment by a grand jury in a criminal court. But that does not result in his automatic expulsion from the White House.
The US constitution gives the House the “sole power to indict,” while the Senate has “the sole power to judge all indictments.” Mr. Trump can only be removed from office or barred from re-running if he is convicted in a Senate trial.
The constitution provides few details on what constitutes a “reprehensible offense” except for one line: “The president, vice president and all civilian officials of the United States will be removed from their posts on impeachment. and conviction for treason, corruption or other serious crimes and misdemeanors. “
What is Donald Trump accused of?
the indictment article Drafted by House Democrats and introduced earlier this week, Mr Trump is said to accuse of “inciting violence against the United States government” in connection with last week’s siege on Capitol Hill.
The article alleges that Mr. Trump “repeatedly made false statements claiming that the presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud” and cites his fiery White House speech delivered hours before the Angry crowd storms the Capitol.
“If you don’t fight like hell you won’t have a country,” the president told crowds in Washington last week, before they forced their way into the Capitol in a violent riot that killed at least five people. people.
Lawmakers also highlight “Mr. Trump’s earlier efforts to subvert and obstruct certification of results” from the November 3 election, including January 2 phone call in which the president urged the Georgian secretary of state to “find” enough votes to reverse the outcome in the southern state of the United States.
The impeachment article claims that Mr. Trump “has seriously endangered the security of the United States and its government institutions.” . . threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power and endangered an equal branch of government ”.
Notably, the article also quotes the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, which prohibits anyone who “has engaged in an insurgency or rebellion against” the United States from performing “any office.”
In other words, by impeaching Mr. Trump, lawmakers are not only trying to expel him from the White House, but also to prevent him from occupying it again.
How many presidents have been removed?
Only three presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998 and Donald Trump last year. None of them have been removed from their posts, all of whom were acquitted in Senate trials. But Mr. Trump is set to become the first president to be impeached for the second time.
Mr. Trump was dismissed just over a year ago, in December 2019, on two counts: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The accusations stemmed from his efforts to persuade the President of Ukraine to dig up the filth of Mr Biden and his son Hunter during an infamous phone call between the two world leaders.
However, Mr. Trump was acquitted in February, following a Senate trial that saw lawmakers split along political parties.
Two-thirds of the 100 Senate members must vote to condemn for a president to be removed from office. Mitt Romney was the only Republican senator to vote to convict Mr. Trump on the sole charge of abuse of power in February.
What happens next?
The House is expected to impeach Mr. Trump, given that more than 200 Democratic lawmakers have co-sponsored the impeachment article and Democrats control the lower house. Three Republicans, including Liz Cheney, the GOP’s top woman on Capitol Hill, said Tuesday night that they would vote to impeach the president.
But it’s still unclear how quickly Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Speaker, will send the impeachment article to the Senate for trial. The last time, Ms. Pelosi waited almost a month to deliver the items.
While Republicans currently control the Senate, the balance of power will shift to Democrats when Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are sworn in after last week’s second round of elections in Georgia and Kamala Harris is named U.S. Vice President this week. next.
When will Mr. Trump be tried?
Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democratic congressman and one of Ms Pelosi’s top lieutenants, suggested this weekend that the articles could be put on hold until after Mr Biden’s first 100 days in office. It would give the new president time to push forward his ambitious legislative agenda, including a multibillion-dollar stimulus package to boost the pandemic-stricken economy, without the shadow of an impeachment trial.
Other high-ranking Democrats, including Steny Hoyer and Chuck Schumer, who will soon be the Senate majority leader, have suggested the trial be held as soon as possible. Mr Schumer cited a 2004 measure on Tuesday that would allow him and Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, to reconvene the Senate.
Mr Biden suggested that the Senate could ‘fork’ its time if the trial takes place after Mr Trump leaves office, devoting half of the day to Mr Trump’s trial and the other half to the appointment of its members to the cabinet and the adoption of the recovery plan.
Convicting Mr. Trump after he left office would obviously not serve to remove him from the White House, but it would prevent him from running for president or any other public office again.
Either way, it’s far from clear that more than a dozen Republican senators would vote to condemn Mr. Trump. While some of the president’s critics within his party have not done well in recent days – even going so far as to say he should resign early – few have shown much public appetite for his impeachment.