Congressional Democrats are, again, trying to impeach President Donald Trump – this time over accusations that he incited a mob to break into the Capitol.
Last week, the world looked on in shock as thousands of pro-Trump protesters broke into the Capitol buildings in order to interrupt the proceedings of certifying the 2020 election results after Trump’s defeat to Joe Biden in the race for the White House.
The rioters are now being referred to as insurrectionists and Trump’s continued presence in the White House is being seen as a threat to American democracy. The new Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, is reportedly considering an impeachment trial or invoking the 25th Amendment to declare Trump mentally unfit for office. However, with just nine days to go until Biden’s inauguration, carrying out such a trial swiftly enough to convicting the outgoing President in his few remaining days in office is unlikely and it may be unconstitutional to impeach a former President.
“It is a very time-consuming process,” former Senate historian Don Ritchie tells Business Insider, who added that such a quick turnaround would be unprecedented and doubted the Constitution allowed the impeachment of an ex-president.
“The likelihood of the Senate organising a trial in two weeks is slim.”
However, if Trump were to be removed from office in time, he could be barred from ever holding a federal office again, which means that his plans to announce his candidacy for the 2024 elections are rendered moot.
The first, Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution, says, “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours.”
The second, Article I, Section 3, says, “Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honour, trust or profit under the United States.”
Once the House of Representatives votes to impeach an official by a simple majority, the Senate holds a trial. Representatives who voted for impeachment and defenders of the impeached official make their cases and the Senate holds a vote on whether or not to convict the President of any of the impeachment charges brought by the House. Following a conviction, the Senate could hold a second vote to block an impeached official from holding another office, and that requires only a simple majority of the Senate to pass.