The second time around, Democrats could propose preventing Trump from ever holding federal office again.
House Democrats are expected to come back next week and start a second round of impeachment proceedings that could lead to President Donald Trump’s removal from office, after Wednesday’s armed insurrection at the Capitol building.
In the days leading up to the violent break in, Trump clearly encouraged his supporters to go “wild” in Washington on Jan. 6. Even as domestic terrorists sieged the Capitol, Trump was reluctant to denounce their actions, which ultimately led to five deaths, including one Capitol police officer. The fact that Trump incited the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812 has prompted Democratic lawmakers to prepare to remove him from office, even though his term ends in less than two weeks.
Here is more information on the impeachment process and how it looks different this time around.
What is impeachment and how does it work?
The Constitution allows Congress to remove a sitting president before their term is up through the process of impeachment. In the presidential impeachment process, the legislature brings charges against a current president for charges limited to treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives draft Articles of Impeachment outlining the charges against the president. Once the Articles of Impeachment are drafted and passed by relevant committees, they head for a vote in the House. (The committees might get skipped this time, given the time crunch.) If a majority votes in the House, the case is taken up in the Senate, where lawmakers hold a trial and vote. If the vote passes by a two-thirds majority in the Senate, the president is convicted of the charges and is removed from office.
The president cannot appeal the impeachment.
An added benefit of a full impeachment is that Congress can choose to disqualify Trump from ever holding federal office again — and he has already toyed with the idea of running for president again in 2024.
Trump already went through one impeachment, why did nothing come of that?
In 2019, Trump was accused of abusing his power and obstructing Congress over his role in an alleged quid pro quo with Ukraine’s president, in an effort to dig up dirt on his political opponent then-candidate Joe Biden.
At the time the House, which has Democratic control, passed two Articles of Impeachment along party lines, and sent the case to the Senate. Republicans had control then, and voted against removing Trump from office and acquitted the president of the charges. Because of that vote Trump remained in office and continued leading the country.
What is the thinking for impeachment this time around?
Lawmakers, political experts, and American citizens have voiced outrage over the president’s role in the violent coup attempt this week. There is also some concern that if Trump is allowed to remain in office until his term ends on Jan. 20, he will pardon himself, his family members, and associates so that it is impossible to bring charges against them in the future. And if lawmakers do nothing, Trump may be able to run for office again in 2024.
In the hours after the violent insurrection, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would remove Trump from office for being unfit to lead. She said that if Pence does not begin the process to use the 25th Amendment, leaders would begin the impeachment process.
Will anything come of it?
Things are different this time around for the impeachment process. Back in 2019, Senate Republicans had 53 out of 100 seats. After Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff beat both Georgia Republican senators this week, Democrats will have 50 members once Warnock and Ossoff are sworn in. But that won’t happen until sometime between Jan. 15 and Jan. 20, when Georgia hits a deadline to certify its vote.
That tighter margin means Democrats haveto get fewer Republicans to flip against Trump. But it’s unclear there will ever be enough to hit the 2/3rds vote required. So far, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) dismissed the idea of impeaching the president before his term ends. But Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said that he would consider voting to impeach, and current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has yet to comment.