Trump is on the cusp of being the first president to be impeached twiceJanuary 12, 2021
Last week, white supremacists stormed Capitol Hill following a “Stop the Steal” rally where President Trump delivered a rather troubling speech. While the event came at the tail-end of Trump’s presidency, Democratic representatives, along with a select few Republicans, immediately called for Trump to be removed from office. On Monday, the House formally introduced articles of impeachment. And with many expecting that the Democrat-controlled House will vote to impeach as soon as Wednesday, Trump will likely become the first president to be impeached twice.
Trump’s role in the Capitol insurrection cannot be understated. His continued attempts to delegitimize the presidential election results and his refusal to concede served as gas poured over a dry field. Then, during his speech right before the riot, Trump lit the spark when he literally told supporters he would lead them to the Capitol. He ended up going back to the White House but, as Wednesday’s events showed, people took him at his word.
With that in mind, it is unsurprising that Democrats’ first response included calls for impeachment. The same day as the insurrection, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted that she was drawing up articles of impeachment. In addition, there were bipartisan calls for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. But with Pence reluctant to do so, House Democrats have now taken it upon themselves to once again begin the impeachment process to remove Trump from office.
Formally introduced Monday, the resolution states that Trump “engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by inciting violence against the government of the United States”. It specifically cites Trump’s rally speech — noting he “reiterated false claims” by once again telling supporters that he had won the election — as well as a phone call with Georgia officials where Trump asked them to “find” enough votes to overturn the presidential election result in that state.
“In all of this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government,” the resolution states. “He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government. He thereby betrayed his trust as president, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”
Now that the resolution has been officially introduced, the House will need to take a vote to actually impeach Trump. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) attempted to pass the resolution by unanimous consent on Monday, but his effort was blocked by Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.V.). Now, the House is expected to hold a final vote sometime Wednesday; a simple majority will be enough to move the process along.
First, though, the House will vote on a formal resolution urging Pence to step in and invoke the 25th Amendment. Only if he declines to do so will the House then vote on impeachment — and given that Democrats control the House, the impeachment vite is pretty much guaranteed to go through. That was seen when Trump was impeached the first time around — which, somehow, was just a year ago — after being accused of withholding aid from Ukraine unless the country provided damaging information on now-President elect Joe Biden, who at the time was a candidate for president.
If he’s impeached again this week, Trump will once again face a trial in the Senate. Two-thirds of the Senate would need to vote to convict and remove the president; the first time around, the Republican-controlled Senate voted not to convict, with every GOP senator except Utah’s Mitt Romney voting to acquit on both counts. And right now, it’s unclear when a trial would even be held if the House votes to impeach, given Trump’s term is scheduled to end in eight days anyway. Reuters reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that earliest a trial can start is Jan. 19, because the upper chamber is currently in recess. That’s one day before Trump’s term ends on Jan. 20. Although Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is exploring using emergency authority to reconvene the Senate early, that would still require McConnell’s approval.
Many are wondering if trying to impeach Trump is wise, given Inauguration Day for Biden is right around the corner anyway. Remember, though, that there are perks to being president that extend past somebody’s time in office, including a lifetime pension of over $200,000 per year, an annual travel budget, and more. If he’s impeached and convicted by the Senate, Trump can’t access any of that.
But most importantly, if Trump is convicted, the Senate could also vote to make him ineligible to serve in future federal office. In other words: He wouldn’t be able to run for president ever again. And for many lawmakers, as well as members of the American public, guarding the U.S. against that possibility may be worth it.