US President Donald Trump impeached by House of Representatives

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Democrat House speaker Nancy Pelosi at the close of Wednesday's proceedings. Copyright Saul Lobe/AFP Fair Use News.

Donald Trump has become the first US president to be impeached twice. Lawmakers have accused Trump of “incitement of insurrection” following the Capitol storming.

The US House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to impeach US President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection.”

Lawmakers supporting impeachment say Trump was responsible for inciting a mob of supporters that stormed the Capitol Building last week.

The impeachment resolution Democrats unveiled Monday accuses Trump of “incitement of insurrection.”The four-page document cites the 14th Amendment, which states that anyone who has engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the United States shall never again be permitted to hold any public office. 

A sitting president can only be removed from office if they are convicted by the Senate.

The resolution to impeach passed by 232 to 197. Ten Republicans joined 222 Democrats in voting for impeachment. Trump is the first president in US history to be impeached twice. 

In December 2019, the Democratic House members voted with their majority to impeach Trump for high crimes and misdemeanours over a phone call with Ukraine’s leader. Trump was accused of pressuring his Ukrainian counterpart to find damaging information on his political rival, Joe Biden, in a bid to secure reelection, and threatening to withhold military aid for Ukraine.

Impeachment, Part II

Though impeached in the House of Representatives, Trump was cleared of two charges in the Senate, the chamber that requires two-thirds majority to convict.

Democrats will again lack the two-thirds majority in the Senate in a potential impeachment process against Trump. If enough Republican senators vote to censure Trump, the Senate could subsequently vote on whether to ban Trump from any future nominations.

What happens now? 

The article of impeachment will now head to the US Senate, still controlled by the Republican Party, which is set to conduct a trial on the charges. A two-thirds majority is needed to convict Trump on the charge.

The Senate will not meet again until January 19 — one day before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, which all but ensures an impeachment trial will take place only after Trump leaves office.

Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has ruled out holding an emergency session, which had been called for by Democrat Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“Given the rules, procedures, and Senate precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week,” McConnell said in a statement issued soon after the impeachment vote.

“Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until President Trump had left office,” he added.  

What is certain is that a potential Senate trial would not be completed before Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. It would be several months before a potential Senate vote, Berman says. After all, the new president will have other priorities, such as getting his nominations for Cabinet posts confirmed by the Senate.

Legal experts differ on whether the US Constitution allows impeachment proceedings after a president is no longer in office.

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