President Donald Trump, America’s 45th President, has been impeached for the second time within his one-term tenure, by the United States House of Representatives. He was charged with “incitement of insurrection” by the Congress. This followed the deadly storming of the Capitol on Wednesday January 6, 2021. President Trump was accused of encouraging and instigating
President Donald Trump, America’s 45th President, has been impeached for the second time within his one-term tenure, by the United States House of Representatives. He was charged with “incitement of insurrection” by the Congress.
This followed the deadly storming of the Capitol on Wednesday January 6, 2021. President Trump was accused of encouraging and instigating the violence with his false claims of election fraud.
The impeachment debate was an emotional day-long affair in the Congress with Democrats and Republicans espousing opposing views. While the Democrats insisted on getting the President punished for the assault on the Capitol, their Republican counterparts argued that there was no evidence to buttress such allegation. Republicans argued further that impeaching the President, one week to the expiration of his tenure, could widen the division in the country.
With all arguments taken, the impeachment resolution was put to vote. Those in favour had 232 votes while those against had 196 votes. It is instructive, however, that 10 Republicans voted along the Democrats for the impeachment of the President. It was a way of holding the President to account and quite significantly, this is the most bi-partisan impeachment resolution in America’s history.
The president was accused by the House of inciting the storming of the Capitol – the seat of the US Congress – with a speech on 6 January to supporters outside the White House where he urged them to “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard, but also to “fight like hell” against an election that he falsely told them had been stolen.
The article of impeachment stated that Mr Trump “repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the presidential election results were fraudulent and should not be accepted”.
It further states that he then repeated these claims and “wilfully made statements to the crowd that encouraged and foreseeably resulted in lawless action at the Capitol”, leading to the violence and loss of life.
“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government, threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government.”
To impeach means to bring charges in Congress that will form the basis for a trial. It’s important to note this is a political process, rather than a criminal one.
The US constitution states a president “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanours”.
The impeachment resolution after its passage was signed and transmitted to the Senate, where the President is expected to face trial in the upper chamber. But it is unclear if this may happen before President Trump leaves office next Wednesday.
The Senate is billed to reconvene January 19, 2021; a day before the inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021. Whenever the Senate reconvenes, the Senators will determine and undertake their own trial and if found culpable, Senators can vote to bar Donald Trump from ever holding public office again.
At the Senate, two-thirds vote is necessary to convict the president and remove him from office. It is unclear if Democrats would get those numbers in the Senate, where they only hold half of the seats.
If convicted, Mr Trump would lose benefits granted to his predecessors under the 1958 Former Presidents Act, which include a pension and health insurance. He could also lose a lifetime security detail at taxpayers’ expense although experts say it is unclear if this would happen.