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Impeachment: what next for Trump?

Donald Trump has become the first president in United States history to be impeached twice.

Ten Republicans have joined Democrats in voting for impeachment after Trump was accused of inciting violence at the US Capitol on January 6th.

The article, carried by 232 votes to 197, charges the president with “incitement of insurrection”.

Trump will now face trial at the US Senate.

The process of impeachment began after a violent mob stormed the Capitol building following a rally held by the president. Trump encouraged his supporters to march on Congress, where Joe Biden’s election victory was to be confirmed, and “fight like hell” in an attempt to overturn the result.

Five people, including a police officer, were killed in the riot.

The president has repeatedly alleged the outcome of the vote was fraudulent without any evidence.

If Trump is convicted, he will be immediately removed from office. However, with such a short window of opportunity, it is likely a result will not be determined until after January 20th – the date on which the president’s term is set to end.

If this is the case, the Senate would be eligible to vote on banning him from running for public office again. Such a result would simply require a majority.

The president may also lose any public benefits he would otherwise be entitled to.

However, should Trump choose to pardon himself before leaving office, something no president has ever attempted before, the situation becomes unclear.

Trump was impeached for the first time in 2020 following claims he had held back aid to Ukraine in the hopes of an investigation into political rival Joe Biden. However, he was acquitted by the Senate.

Having easily passed in the House of Representatives, the bill is now set to be forwarded onto the Senate by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi next week. A two-thirds majority vote, backed by a significant number of Republicans, would be required to remove the president from office.

Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, has called for the trial to be held following Biden’s inauguration on January 20th. Speaking on whether he would vote for the conviction or not, McConnell said he had “not made a final decision”.

No US president has ever been removed from office under impeachment proceedings. Andrew Johnson was the first leader to face the process in 1868, but avoided removal by a one-vote margin in the Senate.

Bill Clinton, who was impeached over the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998, was the only other leader to face impeachment. However, he was acquitted by a Senate trial.

Following the Watergate scandal in 1974, Richard Nixon would have also faced proceedings, but resigned before the process could begin and handed the presidency to Gerald Ford. 

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About Author

William Warnes

William Warnes

Global Editor - 2019/20

Co-Deputy Editor - 2020/21

March 2021
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