What could a second impeachment mean for Trump? Here’s why it matters
The U.S. House of Representatives has moved forward with impeaching President Donald Trump, and though the effort is unlikely to result in his removal from office, it could have other consequences.
House Democrats introduced one article of impeachment for “incitement of insurrection” Monday. It follows last week’s violent attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob in support of the president, who has continuously touted false and unfounded claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Rioters breached the Capitol on Wednesday as Congress was convened to certify the Electoral College results. They scaled walls, smashed windows and laid siege on the building — delaying Congress’s certification for hours.
Five people have died as a result of the siege. A Capitol Police officer died Thursday from injuries sustained in the attack. One woman was fatally shot in the Capitol, and three others died of medical emergencies in the area.
Prior to the attack, Trump spoke to his supporters at a rally on Wednesday — falsely claiming the election was stolen from him and telling them to march to the Capitol.
Now, lawmakers pinning the attack on the president’s rhetoric are calling for him to be held accountable or removed from office.
House Democrats have urged Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would relieve Trump of his presidential duties. But Pence is reportedly opposed, making it an unlikely avenue for Trump’s removal from office.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, has previously said the House will bring impeachment to the floor. It would be Trump’s second impeachment and would make him the only U.S. president in history to be impeached more than once. He’s only the third president to be impeached.
The House will have to move quickly.
After articles of impeachment are drawn up and introduced, the House Judiciary Committee typically holds an investigation and hearings before the articles go before the full chamber, where members vote on whether to adopt them with only a simple majority required to do so.
But lawmakers are in a time crunch with nine days left until Trump leaves office on Jan. 20 and may bypass the committee’s consideration of the articles and move straight to a vote, The Washington Post reports.
Democrats hold a majority in the House and at least one Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, has expressed support for impeachment — meaning the effort will likely be successful.
Impeachment, however, is not the same as removal from office.
COULD TRUMP BE REMOVED?
Once the House votes to impeach, it can send the articles to the Senate, which is then required to take them up for consideration promptly. The Senate must reach a two-thirds majority to convict and remove the president, which could be difficult as a number of Republicans would have to get on board.
The timing also makes things tricky as the Senate won’t be in session until Jan. 19, the day before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. All 100 senators would have to agree to a schedule change to convene earlier than that, which is unlikely, The New York Times reports.
So, convicting and removing Trump from office in that time frame is a long shot.
It’s possible, however, for Trump to be impeached after he leaves office. Although history doesn’t offer much guidance on whether that’s allowed, there is at least some precedent to support it, according to the Times.
The House could hold on to the articles of impeachment until Democrats have a majority in the Senate, which will happen when incoming U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who won their runoff races last week in Georgia, are sworn in and once Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will serve as a tiebreaker, takes office.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, told CNN on Sunday the House may vote to impeach Trump this week but wait until after Biden’s first 100 days in office to send the articles to the Senate.
“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running, and maybe we’ll send the articles some time after that,” he told CNN.
If Trump were convicted in that scenario, it wouldn’t result in his removal as he would already be out of office. But it could result in other consequences.
BARRING HIM FROM OFFICE
The Senate has the power to disqualify a convicted president from holding office again, which would require a separate vote and a simple majority.
“Procedurally, they have the articles of impeachment, the Senate would convict and then after they convict, someone would make a motion to also disqualify and then they would take up that,” Brian Kalt, author of “Unable, The Law, Politics, and Limits of Section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment,” told NPR.
Trump has floated a 2024 bid for president, but disqualification would put that possibility to rest, further opening the field to other potential Republican presidential hopefuls, the Times reports.
Kalt told NPR that Trump could still try to run if disqualified from office but would likely be unsuccessful.
“There are people who have argued that,” Kalt said, according to NPR. “I think, though, as a practical matter, if they’re going to get two-thirds in the Senate against him, it would be a sign that just as a practical matter, he’s lost enough Republican support, that he’d be facing an uphill battle getting the nomination anyway.”