Trump has now been impeached twice, the first US president in history to be so censured, after being accused of “inciting insurrection” during the deadly riots that rocked the Capitol Hill in Washington DC last week.
The US House of Representatives on Wednesday approved an unprecedented second impeachment for Donald Trump, with the majority supporting the impeachment resolution and making Trump the first president in the history of the United States to be impeached twice.
After the voting ended, 232 Representatives voted in favour of the initiative, including several Republicans, and 197 voted against.
Among those who supported the move to oust the president, who was first impeached in December 2019, were at least 10 Republicans.
Now the impeachment resolution will move to the Senate, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that the Senate process would begin “at out first regular meeting following receipt of the article from the House”. He outlined that no final verdict would be reached before the 20 January inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
“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 asserted, adding, “even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office.”
If the Senate agrees to the second impeachment, Trump will be barred from ever again holding public office.
However, the chances of the Senate passing the impeachment resolution are “non-existent”, according to Professor Stephen B. Presser from the Northwestern University School of Law.
“As leading Constitutional scholars such as Alan Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley have pointed out, this effort at impeachment is in blatant conflict with the First Amendment to the Constitution, and, while all it takes is a rabid majority in the House to pass an impeachment (and the Democrats have the votes to do that), the chances of the President being convicted in the Senate are non-existent, because he will have left office by the time any trial could be held under Senate rules, and because, as Professor Dershowitz has pointed out, the Constitution does not contemplate removal proceedings for someone who is no longer in office”, Presser said.
Accusations of Inciting Violence
Wednesday’s resolution to impeach Trump followed the deadly January 6 Capitol insurrection, which Trump is accused of inciting.
On 6 January, crowds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, damaging and vandalizing offices and disrupting the certification of election results in Congress. The riot resulted in 5 deaths, including that of a police officer who was beaten to death by the Trump supporters.
The outgoing president denied his responsibility for inciting the insurrection, claiming after the fact that he wanted no violence on US streets. In response to threats of additional violence on the 20 January Inauguration Day, Trump on January 13 issued a statement urging that there must be “no violence, no lawbreaking and no vandalism of any kind”, referring to reports suggesting there might be more demonstrations.
The impeachment article was introduced on Monday by Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu, five days after the deadly riots in the US Capitol.
“In his conduct while President of the United States—and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States, and to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, Donald John Trump engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanours by inciting violence against the Government of the United States”, the article reads.
Accused of inciting violence and facing removal from office, Trump has also been permanently banned from Twitter and muted on other mainstream social media platforms – something that caused an intense backlash among his supporters, with many of them condemning big tech corporations for “censorship” and “restriction of free speech”.
Alongside the impeachment efforts, some lawmakers suggested an initiative to invoke Section 4 of 25th Amendment, which would declare Trump “unfit” for the presidency, making VP Mike Pence the acting president.
Pence, however, opposed invoking the amendment, suggesting that it would set “terrible precedent”.
Previous Impeachment Efforts
Trump was impeached in December 2019, accused of pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of President-elect Joe Biden.
Initiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Trump’s first impeachment inquiry accused the president of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. Although Trump was impeached by the US House of Representatives on 18 December 2019 for abusing the powers of his office and obstructing Congress – the 3rd US president in history to be impeached – the US Senate on February 5 subsequently voted to allow him to retain his tenancy in the White House.
Trump has repeatedly described his impeachments as “a witch hunt” and “a hoax”.
“The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country and is causing tremendous, anger, division and pain, […] which is very dangerous for the USA”, he claimed during a speech in Texas on Tuesday.
In 2020, Trump continuously expressed his anger with the outcome of the 2020 presidential race, claiming that Joe Biden’s victory was the result of “massive election fraud” that was “centrally engineered” by the Democratic party.
After vehemently refusing to concede, Trump appeared to pledge to ensure a peaceful transition.