THE NEW POLITICAL TRIAL AGAINST TRUMP How impeachment will work to disable Trump BY carlos matÍAS
Impeachment is a political trial conducted by the House of Representatives against the president of the United States. The Constitution provides that a president must be impeached if he’s “charged with” and “convicted of” treason, bribery, or other serious crimes or offenses.
For the first time in history, the House of Representatives will subject the same politician to impeachment twice while serving as President of the United States: Donald Trump. It will also be the first time an impeachment process is carried out against a president when he has left the Oval Office for crimes allegedly committed during his presidency.
Trump was subjected to a first impeachment process in February 2020. He was accused of conspiring with the Ukrainian government to obtain electoral benefit and obstructing Justice, charges that were dismissed in the Senate, which had a Republican majority. In this second impeachment, the trial will be for “inciting insurrection”, after the Capitol riot.
THE PROCESS There are two ways to initiate an impeachment. The first if a congressman formally accuses the president and presents a resolution asking for his removal. The second, if the vice president, in this case, Mike Pence, promotes it. But Pence would have had to bring together the US Cabinet (of Secretaries), and they would have had to pronounce themselves in favor. And at least five of the Secretaries have not been ratified in Congress, which would raise doubts about the decision’s legality.
The House of Representatives approved on January 13 to promote the impeachment against Trump with 232 votes in favor (all Democrats, plus ten Republicans) and 197 votes against.
In the trial that will take place, members of the House of Representatives will act as prosecutors and the one hundred senators as jurors. The process is presided over by the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, and Donald Trump may appear with defense attorneys.
THE VERDICT Once the trial is over, the 100 senators will vote as a jury. First, two important details will take place that the Senate will have gone from a Republican majority to a tie of fifty between Republican and Democrat senators. And second, in two years, there will be a partial renewal of the Senate, so we will have to see how the Republicans act, thinking that their office continuity may depend on their vote.
The Constitution says that a guilty verdict needs at least a two-thirds vote. That is, those of the fifty Democrat senators and those of 17 Republicans. If guilty, the president must be removed from office. But since Trump will no longer be president, he cannot be recalled, and senators must vote again, this time by a simple majority (51 votes), to disqualify him as a candidate for a second presidential election. In the event of a tie at 50, Vice President Kamala Harris will cast the deciding vote.
Only three U.S. presidents have been subjected to impeachment: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky case, and Trump.
The objective of this impeachment will be to prevent Trump from running again in the elections, as he intends to do in 2024. Another way to disqualify him would be the third section of the 14th Amendment, which would prohibit Trump from running for federal office if “he is found to have participated in an insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution,” which is possible with a simple majority in both Houses.
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