House Democrats ready to impeach Trump Monday. Here’s where the situation stands

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President Trump could be impeached again — here’s what that means.


Screenshot by Corinne Reichert/CNET

House Democrats are preparing to introduce at least one article of impeachment Monday, according to multiple reports, for “incitement of insurrection,” reflecting President Donald Trump’s role in inciting a violent insurrection of the US Capitol Wednesday, when a mob breached the building while seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election results confirming President-elect Joe Biden as president

If the House of Representatives initiate impeachment Monday, it would mark the second time in his presidency that Trump would face the process — and would make him the first president in history to be impeached twice.

“Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!,” Trump tweeted hours after the deadly riot, which CNET captured in a screenshot before Twitter blocked the tweet and banned Trump’s Twitter account.

trump-tweet-riot-capitol-hill-jan-6-2021

This screenshot of Trump’s tweet was taken before Twitter removed the posting and banned Trump’s account.


Screenshot by CNET

“It is the hope of Members that the President will immediately resign. But if he does not, I have instructed the Rules Committee to be prepared to move forward with Congressman Jamie Raskin’s 25th Amendment legislation and a motion for impeachment,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday in a statement. “Accordingly, the House will preserve every option – including the 25th Amendment, a motion to impeach or a privileged resolution for impeachment.”

More than 200 members of Congress are calling to remove Trump from office, including Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News late Friday. “If the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me.” (Murkowski says she will not become a Democrat.)

But if Trump does not resign and if Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s cabinet do not invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office — neither of which is likely — the legal proceedings could begin before Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, but would likely not conclude until after, since the Senate won’t return to session until Jan. 19, the day before Trump’s presidency ends. The Senate could return early, but only if all sitting Senators agree. If one objects, the Senate would not reconvene early.

We’ll explain what could happen to Trump if impeached, what the timeline could look like now and where the situation stands.

What happens to Trump if he’s impeached as US president?

Normally, the impeachment of a sitting president by the house and Senate would result in the president being immediately removed from office and disqualified from the benefits given to former presidents in the Post Presidents Act, including a pension and security detail. The Senate can also vote to remove the right to run for a second presidential term, or “any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States,” according to the Constitution (Article 1, Section 3). 

With just days left in office, Trump would likely finish out his term (more below), but could be barred from perks afforded to previous presidents, as well as running for public office, including seeking a second presidential term in 2024 and beyond.

Is it too late to impeach Trump before Biden takes office?

Yes and no. The impeachment process is likely to begin Monday, which would set into motion a process that is defined by the Constitution. However, the rarity of impeachment in US history, the extraordinarily circumstances of the article against Trump and the timing so close to Biden’s inauguration, draw some question marks over what could happen next, including a potential impeachment trial that would define the first days of Biden’s presidency. 

Biden has made it clear he wants Trump out of office by being sworn into the presidency himself, but ultimately said it was up to Congress to decide. 

Impeaching a president is typically a lengthy process involving months of inquiries and investigations, but House Democrats intend to speed up proceedings and bring the Articles of Impeachment to a floor vote.

Here’s the short version of the general procedure:

  • House of Representatives votes on levying impeachment charges against Trump.
  • If passed, House presents the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, which must bring it to trial.
  • House prosecutes, Senate sits as jury. Supreme Court’s Chief Justice presides. 
  • Trump has an opportunity to present a defense.

Here are some unknowns:

  • Would the Senate unanimously agree to reconvene before Jan. 19 for an impeachment trial? (Unlikely, since it rests on the objection of just one Senator.)
  • Could the impeachment process, if begun before inauguration, continue after Trump is no longer president?
  • Could Trump attempt to pardon himself from all crimes prior to inauguration?

What does it take to impeach a sitting president?

A president, along with other officers, can be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” according to Section 4 of Article 2 of the US Constitution.

To impeach, a total of 216 votes are required from the House of Representatives — a simple majority plus one. A trial is then heard in the Senate, where the US Chief Justice presides. A full two-thirds of the 100 senators must vote to impeach.

If the Senate were to convict Trump, it would not only remove him from the White House as soon as the vote occurred — it would also prevent him from ever being able to run for a second presidential term.

Trump’s White House criticized the move towards impeachment, saying it should be “a time for healing and unity” in a statement Friday. “A politically motivated impeachment against a president with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country,” the White House said.

What’s the difference between impeachment and the 25th Amendment?

Congress — including Republican representatives — have also been pushing Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution to remove Trump from office. Unlike impeachment, which is voted by Congress, the 25th Amendment would require Pence and a majority of the sitting Cabinet secretaries to invoke the power. Alternatively, it could also be invoked by the Vice President and another body that’s designated by Congress.

In order to do so, Pence and a majority of sitting Cabinet secretaries must decide a sitting president is unfit for office. Several cabinet members have now resigned.

Pence has reportedly said he will not invoke the 25th Amendment.

“The President of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a press conference Thursday. “In calling for this seditious act, the president has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people. I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the Vice President to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment.”

Congress certified Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ victory in the 2020 election in the early hours of Thursday after reconvening Wednesday night following their evacuation from the Capitol. Trump later appeared to grudgingly agree to an “orderly transition” of power.

In a video released Thursday evening, Trump reiterated that he’s now working on the transition. “A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20th,” Trump said. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power.”

Some Republicans also urge impeachment

Multiple GOP leaders echoed the calls for impeachment, or for Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove Trump from power.

In a video on Twitter during the early hours of the insurrection, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher likened the insurrection to actions seen in so-called “banana republics.” Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, took to the chamber floor in later hours to decry Trump’s encouragement of the mob.

House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney accused the president of “abusing the trust of the people who supported him” while GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas demanded Trump acknowledge his election loss. Former President George W. Bush, the last living Republican president, released a statement calling the violence “sickening.”

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse told CBS News Friday that he would “definitely consider” the impeachment articles if the House votes to impeach.

Wasn’t Trump impeached once already?

Yes. Trump was previously impeached in December 2019 by the House. However, the Republican-majority Senate acquitted him at the beginning of 2020 — with the process marked by a record number of tweets from Trump disparaging the impeachment trial.

His previous impeachment involved two articles accusing Trump of abusing power and obstructing Congress. On that occasion, the issue was Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, including a phone call in July 2019 during which he appeared to ask that country to investigate ties between Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and a Ukrainian gas company.

Read more: PayPal and Shopify remove Trump-related accounts, citing policies against supporting violence

CNET’s Rae Hodge contributed to this report.

source: cnet.com

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