Trump Is About To Be Impeached, Again. Here’s What We Know

A number of senior Republicans have broken ranks with Trump and backed the impeachment efforts.

Donald Trump could be set to break yet another norm of the most powerful office in the world this week – becoming the first US president in history to be impeached twice.

After a mob rampaged through the US Capitol building last week, Democratic-led efforts to impeach Trump have gained momentum since the weekend.

He faces a single charge of “incitement of insurrection” — after the most serious and deadly domestic incursion at the Capitol in the nation’s history.

In a major development, a number of senior Republicans have broken ranks with Trump and backed the impeachment efforts.

Representative Liz Cheney, the third most senior Republican, said on Tuesday: “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Here’s where things stand right now.

Why is impeachment being considered?

On Wednesday, a violent and largely white mob of Trump supporters overpowered police, broke through security lines and rampaged through the Capitol in protest of the formalisation of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

Five people, including a police officer, died as a result of the siege.

The violence came directly after Trump encouraged a crowd of supporters in DC to take action and repeated baseless claims of election fraud.

A noose is seen on makeshift gallows as supporters of US President Donald Trump gather on the West side of the US Capitol in Washington DC.
A noose is seen on makeshift gallows as supporters of US President Donald Trump gather on the West side of the US Capitol in Washington DC.

How did Trump react to the violence?

On Friday, Republican senator Ben Sasse said Trump was “delighted” when rioters stormed the Capitol, and was surprised others didn’t share his perspective.

“[As events were] unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as... rioters [pushed] against Capitol police, trying to get into the building,” Sasse said.

“That was happening. He was delighted.”

Trump initially praised his supporters at the Capitol but, in a complete u-turn, later condemned their violence in a video.

The decision to call for calm came at the urging of senior aides, some arguing he could face removal from office or legal liability, sources told Reuters.

California representative Ted Lieu, who has drafted the Article of Impeachment, said: “We have videos of the speech where (Trump) incites the mob.

“We have videos of the mob violently attacking the Capitol. This isn’t a close call.”

When could impeachment happen?

In a letter to colleagues on Sunday, Pelosi urged Mike Pence to invoke the never-used 25th amendment of the US Constitution, which allows the vice president and the cabinet to remove a president deemed unfit to do the job.

Pence rejected this demand on Tuesday evening, writing in a letter to Pelosi: “I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our constitution.”

This has set the stage for a vote today on Articles of Impeachment which Democrats introduced on Monday.

The House is Democrat-controlled so it is likely to pass. When this occurs, Trump will have been impeached for a second time.

No president in US history has been impeached twice.

What happens next?

From the House, the Article of Impeachment moves to the Republican-controlled Senate where Trump will face a trial, with senators acting as jurors who would ultimately vote on whether to acquit or convict Trump.

Last time this happened, the Senate cleared Trump over allegations that he threatened US national security, but this time around, the outcome isn’t quite as certain.

And neither Republicans nor Democrats are keen to have a Senate trial straight away, as it would likely hamstring Biden’s first weeks in office and overshadow his agenda.

Democrats want to condemn the president’s actions swiftly but delay an impeachment trial for 100 days.

What are Republicans saying?

Trump’s iron grip on his party is showing further signs of slipping. At least four Republicans, including a member of the House leadership, said they would vote for his second impeachment – a prospect no president before Trump has faced.

But whether enough Republicans will go one step further and convict Trump in the Senate remains to be seen.

The New York Times reported that the Republican majority leader of the US Senate, Mitch McConnell, was said to be pleased about the Democratic impeachment push, suggesting Trump’s party was looking to move on from him after the attack on Congress.

McConnell believes the impeachment effort will make it easier to purge Trump from the party, the paper said.

Republican leaders in the House did not urge their members to vote against impeaching Trump, saying it was a matter of individual conscience.

Cheney, the daughter of former Republican vice president Dick Cheney, said in a statement that Trump had “summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack” on the Capitol on January 6, adding: “I will vote to impeach the president.”

Three other Republican House members, John Katko, Adam Kinzinger and Fred Upton, said they would also vote for impeachment.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said on Friday that Trump should resign immediately and suggested she would consider leaving the party if Republicans cannot part from him.

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania told Fox News on Saturday that Trump had “committed impeachable offences” but declined to commit to voting to remove him.

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a frequent Trump critic, told CBS News he would “definitely consider” impeachment because the president “disregarded his oath of office”.

But other key Trump allies, including Senator Lindsey Graham and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, have urged Democrats to shelve any impeachment effort in the name of unity.

What has Trump said?

In characteristic fashion, Trump has shown little remorse, warning legislators off impeachment and suggesting it was the drive to oust him that was dividing the country.

“To continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country,” he said.

In his first remarks to reporters since last week’s violence, the outgoing president offered no condolences for those dead or injured, only saying: “I want no violence.”

Trump speaking to supporters last week, some of whom later stormed the Capitol.
Trump speaking to supporters last week, some of whom later stormed the Capitol.

What has Joe Biden said?

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden has not taken a position on Trump’s impeachment, saying he will leave it to Congress to decide.

What happens if Trump is convicted?

If convicted, Trump would be removed from office and succeeded by the vice president, but only for a few days at most.

This is all happening against the quickly-approaching deadline of January 20, the day Joe Biden will be officially sworn in as the new US president.

So what’s the point of impeaching him?

It may seem slightly pointless to impeach Trump while he has so little time left in office but symbolically, the move would be huge.

Trump would forever be known not only being hugely divisive but also of being the only president in history whose behaviour warranted the most severe rebuke the US political system can impose.

And remember, even if the Senate clears him, the impeachment itself stays on his record.

Could Trump be impeached after leaving office?

Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, has suggested any trial would likely occur after Trump’s term ends, when Democrats will take control of the Senate thanks to victories in two Georgia runoff elections last week.

If found guilty after leaving office, Trump would still lose benefits enjoyed by ex-presidents, such as security and pension, and he would be barred from running for a second term.


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