What Will Really Happen If Trump Is Impeached
The United States is not a monarchy. While the Founding Fathers couldn’t have prepared for everything and they certainly made some big mistakes, one area they were especially clear on was limiting the power of the presidency. Though certain presidents might talk big and authoritarian, the presidential position is supposed to be one of servitude to the people: the U.S. put you in there, and the U.S. can kick you out.
To ensure that any possible tyrants could be bumped to the curb, the Constitution enshrined a process called impeachment. Not many former presidents have been impeached, but whatever your political stance might be, you probably always knew there was a chance that President Donald Trump could be put in the hot seat. After Robert Mueller wrapped up his exhaustive investigation, some Democrats began calling for impeachment even more loudly than before. And a certain phone call to Ukraine has finally set the impeachment ball rolling. So what happens next? How does the whole process work? Here’s the deal.
Donald Trump Acquitted In Second Impeachment Trial
- Senate fails to achieve two-thirds majority needed to convict
- Trump thanks supporters and complaints about witch-hunt
Donald Trump has been acquitted by the Senate in his second impeachment trial for his role in the 6 January attack on the US Capitol a verdict that underscores the sway Americas 45th president still holds over the Republican party even after leaving office.
After just five days of debate in the chamber that was the scene of last months invasion, a divided Senate fell 10 votes short of the two-thirds majority required to convict high crimes and misdemeanors. A conviction would have allowed the Senate to vote to disqualify him from holding future office.
Seven Republicans joined every Democrat to declare Trump guilty on the charge of incitement of insurrection after his months-long quest to overturn his defeat by Joe Biden and its deadly conclusion on 6 January, when Congress met to formalize the election results.
The 57-43 vote was most bipartisan support for conviction ever in a presidential impeachment trial. The outcome, which was never in doubt, reflected both the still raw anger of senators over Trumps conduct as his supporters stormed the Capitol last month and the vice-like grip the defeated president still holds over his party.
Trumps acquittal came after grave warnings from the nine Democratic House impeachment managers, serving as prosecutors, that Trump continued to pose a threat to the nation and democracy itself.
Democrats Argue Trump Must Be Held Accountable
House Democratic impeachment managers sought to counter the arguments laid out by Trump’s lawyers regarding the constitutionality of an impeachment trial for a former president who is not currently in office.
Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., one of the lawmakers leading the prosecution against Trump, responded to the argument that the trial was invalid because the chief justice was not presiding. The Constitution stipulates the chief justice presides over impeachment trials of presidents, but otherwise the Senates presiding officer the vice president or its president pro tempore oversees the trial.
Cicilline noted, “Right now, Joseph R. Biden Jr. is 46th president of the United States. As a result, the requirement that the chief justice preside isn’t triggered.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is presiding over the trial in his role as president pro tempore of the Senate.
Cicilline also said the Trump teams arguments about the validity of the trials process are not only wrong on their own terms, but theyre also completely irrelevant to the question of whether you should hold this trial.”
Democratic impeachment manager Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., looked to the case of War Secretary William Belknap in 1876 for precedent of holding an impeachment trial process for someone who has already left office.
Don’t Miss: What’s Donald Trump’s Credit Score
A Preview Of Trump’s Defense
While arguing against the House managers’ motions to subpoena documents and witnesses on Tuesday, Trump’s legal team largely stuck to the legal arguments they outlined in their defense filings with the Senate that the president didn’t abuse his power, and the allegations in the House articles of impeachment don’t reach the level of impeachable conduct.
But speaking to reporters on Friday, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow suggested they would go farther when they begin their presentation at 10 a.m. ET Saturday complaining that Trump was the victim of a conspiracy and the real foreign interference in the 2016 election came from the Democrats and the FBI.
What’s Next In The Impeachment Trial
At the beginning of the Senate process Tuesday, senators voted to approve guidelines that outline the rest of the trial’s schedule this week after Tuesday’s vote on constitutionality.
Wednesday and Thursday: House impeachment managers will have 16 hours over two days to make their case.
Friday and Saturday: Trumps lawyers will have 16 hours over two days to argue their case.
Senators will then have the opportunity to ask both sides questions, and either side could request to call witnesses, which could extend the trial. If no witnesses are called, the trial could conclude early next week after closing arguments from both sides and a vote to convict or acquit.
Contributing: Nicholas Wu, Bart Jansen, Ledyard King, Savannah Behrmann, Christal Hayes
You May Like: Who Can Beat Trump Poll
Nrcc Chair Cautions Trump Against Backing Primary Challenges For Republicans Who Voted To Impeach
He can do whatever he wants, Tom Emmer said. But I would tell him that its probably better for us that we keep these people and we make sure that we have a majority that can be sustained going forward.
03/03/2021 11:03 AM EST
National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Emmer said Wednesday that former President Donald Trump should back down on attempting to primary GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach him.
He can do whatever he wants, Emmer said. But I would tell him that its probably better for us that we keep these people and we make sure that we have a majority that can be sustained going forward.
02/23/2021 03:45 PM EST
The officials in charge of securing the Capitol on Jan. 6 largely deflected blame on Tuesday for the lapses that enabled a violent mob of Donald Trumps supporters to storm the building.
The quartet of top officials responsible for security during last month’s insurrection instead blamed intelligence failures and senior Pentagon officials for leaving them unprepared for the coordinated, military-style attack on Congress. Their Senate testimony revealed a tangled mess of conflicting orders, missed calls and bureaucratic delays. But they all agreed on two critical points that the Pentagon slow-walked National Guard backup and federal intelligence authorities did not provide sufficient warnings of the attack.
House Intel Committee Votes To Send Impeachment Report To Judiciary Committee
The House committees investigating Trump uncovered a months-long effort “to use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election,” according to their report released Tuesday.
The House Intelligence Committee then voted 13-9, along party lines, Tuesday night to adopt the impeachment report.
It will now go to the House Judiciary Committee, clearing the way for that committee to consider whether to draft articles of impeachment. The Judiciary Committee is expected to hold its first hearing in the formal impeachment inquiry on Wednesday to explore how the Constitution applies to the allegations of misconduct.
The witnesses who gave sworn testimony in both private and public settings described Trump withholding a White House meeting and then military aid from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky unless he announced investigations of Trump’s political rival, Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter.
“President Trump and his senior officials may see nothing wrong with using the power of the Office of the President to pressure a foreign country to help the Presidents reelection campaign,” said the report from the Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight and Reform committees.
Read Also: What Is President Trump’s Iq
Trump’s Lawyer Suggests Pelosi Harris Be Deposed In Philadelphia
Michael van der Veen elicited laughter from senators when he suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris should be among those deposed as part of the impeachment trial, and they should have to appear in-person at his office in Philadelphia.
“None of these depositions should be done by Zoom,” he said. “We didn’t do this hearing by Zoom.”
As laughter rang out in the chamber in response to his suggestion Pelosi and Harris have their depositions taken in Pennsylvania, van der Veen grew more incredulous.
“I don’t know how many civil lawyers are here, but that’s the way it works, folks. When you want somebody’s deposition you send a notice of deposition and they appear at the place where the notice says. That’s civil process,” he said. “I don’t know why you’re laughing.”
WATCH: Laughter breaks out in the Senate Chamber after Trump attorney Michael van der Veen insists that any impeachment trial depositions should be done in person in his office in Philadelphia
“I don’t know why you’re laughing,” he says
What Happened To Rudy Giuliani
Smart, charismatic, ruthless, a little megalomaniacal. Ambitious, righteous, then self-righteous. Personable … for a little while. Decisive, combative, conspiratorial. Pugilistic, erratic, extremely smart, reckless. Forceful, combative, energetic, vindictive, tireless, annoying.
Thats Rudy Giuliani, as described by our reporters who have covered him over the past 35 years. A forthcoming episode of The Weekly traces his path from crime-busting prosecutor to Donald Trumps personal lawyer, now at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
The episode focuses in part on a brutal zinger that Mr. Giuliani needed only a noun and a verb and 9/11 to construct a sentence that was delivered by none other than Joe Biden, which helped sink the former New York City mayors 2008 presidential campaign.
Giuliani did not like that line. I dont think he ever forgot that Biden said it, my colleague Maggie Haberman says on the show.
To better understand how we got to this point, I called Dan Barry, who appears in The Weekly episode and has chronicled Mr. Giuliani for decades.
What do you see in Rudy today that reminds you of the guy youve covered for so many years?
Why, after so many years in the public eye, did he want to work for Mr. Trump?
Watch The Weekly, our new TV show, on FX Sunday at 10/9c.
Recommended Reading: Was Melania Trump Ever A Prostitute
Dershowitz Acknowledges Changing Position On Impeachment Over Criminal
He kicked off his presentation by noting that he would be making the same constitutional argument against impeachment even if the president were Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump before going on to acknowledge that in 1998, he held a very different than the one he espoused Monday night.
Dershowitz argued in 1998 during the Clinton impeachment that a president doesn’t have to commit a “technical crime,” such as abuse of power, in order for it rise to an impeachable offense. However, he has said in Trump’s defense that the framers intended for impeachable conduct to mean “criminal-like conduct.”
Whats Next For The Democrats
Abelson said now that the impeachment process is over, the Democrats will set their sights on the election.
Many Democratic strategists, he said, are now focusing their efforts on the Senate, where one-third of U.S. senators are up for re-election.
If the Democrats cant unseat him in 2020, if they cant topple his presidency, theyre going to have to figure out how to contain him, Abelson said. And taking back the Senate would certainly help a great deal.
He said if the Democrats controlled both of Congress chambers, it would be virtually impossible for Trump to work through his agenda.
Moving forward, the Democratic party should continue to remind the American public of Trumps corruption and criminality, Ettinger said.
Even some of Trumps most ardent supporters concede that he did what he did what he is alleged to have done but they have redefined it out of the realm of impeachable offences, he said.
Don’t Miss: Is Trump The Worst President
After Speaking Out On Impeachment Herrera Beutler Heads Toward Clash With Her Party
“The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president,” he said, “and having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.”
McConnell rebuked Trump for his actions after the insurrection as well.
“He did not do his job. He didn’t take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored,” he continued.
“No. Instead, according to public reports, he watched television happily happily as the chaos unfolded,” he said. “Even after it was clear to any reasonable observer that Vice President Pence was in serious danger.”
But McConnell said that the process of impeachment and conviction is a “limited tool” and that he believes Trump is not “constitutionally eligible for conviction.”
“The Constitution gives us a particular role. This body is not invited to act as the nation’s overarching moral tribunal,” he said.
He said that the text of the question of constitutionality is “legitimately ambiguous” and that he “respects” his colleagues for reaching either the conclusion to acquit or convict.
Seven Republicans broke ranks with their party in voting for a conviction.
Michael van der Veen, defense lawyer for former President Donald Trump, gives closing arguments during Trump’s second impeachment trial on February 13, 2021.hide caption
How Does Impeachment Work In The House
The House majority can run the process however it likes, as the Constitution grants the House the sole Power of Impeachment. Evidentiary standards and even the charges themselves dont necessarily have to be grounded in law its all up to Congress to decide what matters.
In recent decades, the House has only tried to impeach presidents after lengthy investigations, including months of hearings, fact-gathering, and witness testimony. Nixons near-impeachment was the culmination of Justice Department and congressional investigations of the Watergate break-in, Clintons impeachment came after a lengthy independent counsel investigation of various topics, and Trumps first impeachment came after a three-month congressional inquiry.
However, there is one precedent for speedy action. In 1868, the House impeached President Andrew Johnson just three days after he violated the Tenure of Office Act . The House didnt even finalize impeachment articles until after they had already impeached the president.
So the House can move quite quickly on impeachment should its majority and leadership want to, and thats what they are planning to do this week.
Don’t Miss: Why Is Trump So Fucked Up
What Is The House Impeaching Trump For Specifically
The impeachment is a response to the attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters that took place last Wednesday.
Specifically, a resolution authored by Rep. David Cicilline and other key members of Congress would impeach Trump on one count: incitement of insurrection.
The article of impeachment alleges that Trump incited violence against the government of the United States. It recounts how, as members of Congress gathered to count the electoral votes that would make Bidens victory official, Trump spoke to a large crowd, made false claims that he was the true winner, and urged them to fight like hell.
Thus incited by President Trump, the article continues, members of the crowd he had addressed … unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.
The impeachment article also mentions Trumps prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 Presidential election, including Trumps request that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger find votes for him to change the outcome there.
It concludes by asserting that Trump should be removed from office and disqualified from holding future office.