A Guide Through Trump’s Record Second Impeachment

  • January 21, 2021

Impeachment like most American legal processes stems from English common law. Article 1, Section 2 of the constitution designates the House of Representatives with “the sole Power of Impeachment." 

To begin, the House of Representatives drafts articles of impeachment that explain why an individual has committed impeachable offenses such as bribery, treason, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Then, in order to approve these articles, the House of Representatives has to have 

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Photo obtained from latimes

a simple majority vote for these articles. After these articles pass in the House of Representatives, the Senate moves to try the individual. During a Senate trial, the Chief Justice who in this case would be John Roberts would preside over the Senate trial. In order to convict an individual, the senate needs to reach a two-thirds supermajority.

So what does this mean for the 45th president Donald Trump? After the events of January 6th at the United States Capitol, the House Representatives or the lower chamber drafted articles of impeachment based on incitement of insurrection charging Donald Trump with “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Incitement of insurrection, as defined by the United States Code Title 18 Section 238, refers to “whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto” and is usually met with a fine or a maximum of ten years of prison.

In the midst of his second impeachment, Trump has been relegated to the Senate and is awaiting conviction. In the House of Representatives, 197 representatives, all Republicans, voted no to approve the articles charging the president with high crimes and misdemeanors whereas 222 Democrats and 10 Republicans have voted yes to approve the articles. Although many may see 10 Republicans as a minuscule amount, this severely contrasts from when the House voted on Article I: Abuse of Power and Article II: Obstruction of Congress in which zero republicans voted yes for the articles. To a political commentator, this could mean many things.

However, the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States Joseph R. Biden does not halt the possibility of Donald Trump being convicted in the senate. Along with the inauguration of the new president comes the inauguration of senators that would give Democrats control of the Senate, House of Representatives, and the White House.

So what happens if Donald Trump is convicted in the Senate? In order for Trump to be convicted the Democrats need 17 Republicans to vote in favor of conviction. If Donald Trump is convicted in a Senate composed of 50 democrats, Vice President Kamala Harris, and 50 Republicans, Democrats would be able to use their slim margin to determine the process of this trial in the Senate. With this slim margin, Senate Democrats and Joe Biden would be able to invoke a bifurcated schedule with the approval of a Senate Parliamentarian. As mentioned by Lindsey McPherson on behalf of Roll Call, “the president-elect, however, wants to ensure that an impeachment trial does not interfere with his agenda. Biden told reporters last Monday that he reached out to the Senate parliamentarian to determine if there could be a “bifurcated” schedule in which the Senate splits its time between the impeachment trial and other business. As previously stated, Trump can still be convicted when he leaves office. However, punishments for such convictions are unclear. If convicted Trump would not be able to run in 2024 or any other election cycles along with being stripped of his post-presidential privileges.

Though conviction may seem like a rightful ending to Trump’s political career in the eyes of his critics it may be a long shot or on the other hand a live display of the deconstruction of the Republican Party. Whether it be the factions of the Republican party refocusing their agendas, opting to convict Trump, or trying to maintain support from Trump supporters by voting no, the probability of Trump being convicted is still up in the air.