If you are interested about why Trump was impeached the first time in early 2020, click here to read an article I previously wrote about it.
Key Questions to consider: (4-min read)
- What impeachable offense did Trump commit?
- What do Republicans and Democrats think?
- Why impeach Trump days before the end of his term?
- How can Trump be impeached?
1: What impeachable offense did Trump commit?
Members of the House of Representatives argue that because Trump prompted his supporters to fight for him to stay in office by storming the Capitol despite his election loss to Joe Biden, he should be charged with ‘incitement of insurrection.’
Like the previous trial, nearly all Democrats voted in favor of impeaching Donald Trump, but unlike before, some Republicans crossed party lines to vote in favor of impeachment.
2: What do Republicans and Democrats think?
Democrats: Democrats are unanimously in favor of impeachment, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate. However, they differ as to when they should impeach Trump. Some suggest that impeachment proceedings should wait until later in Biden’s presidency (former elected officials can also be impeached, as mentioned later). They want to make sure that the Senate first votes on more pressing issues, such as confirmation of Biden’s Cabinet members, Biden’s vaccination plans, and his proposal for the 3rd stimulus bill.
Republicans: Republicans are more divided than Democrats. Some believe that Trump’s incitement was a direct attack on democracy, and they plan to condemn his actions by impeaching him. Others may agree that his actions were wrong, but they do not think impeachment is the solution. Finally, some stay staunchly loyal to Trump and advocate for his innocence regarding the Capitol riot. However, at the moment, these all of these groups only make up a minority of Republicans. The majority of them have been silent about their opinion regarding Trump’s impeachment.
3: Why impeach Trump days before his term?
By law, an elected official can be impeached even after they have left their position, and this impeachment trial will likely happen days, even weeks, after Trump has left office. So why impeach him?
Put an End to Trump 2024: If Trump is successfully impeached, he is prevented by law from running for any elected position. Lawmakers want to put down the hopes of Trump and his supporters from running for president again in 2024.
Remove Some Post-Presidential Perks: After leaving office, presidents are given many perks, such as Secret Service protection, legal immunity from actions he took as President, an annual $200,000+ pension, health benefits, annual travel costs, etc. If impeached, a president would lose all of these aforementioned perks, except for Secret Service protection and immunity regarding actions related to his presidency. That being said, Trump can still be prosecuted for other actions.
Precedent: Some argue that inciting insurrection should not be tolerated, and that this message should be clear to future presidents.
4: How can Trump be impeached?
Since the Articles of Impeachment have successfully passed through the House of Representatives, their role in removing Trump from office is over. It is now up to the Senate, which was in recess for the past two weeks and will reconvene today, on January 19, to discuss the House’s Articles of Impeachment.
The Senate, which acquitted Trump during the first impeachment trial, currently has 50 Republican Senators and 50 Democratic Senators. In the case of impeachment, the minimum number of required Senators to vote in favor are 67 . Assuming that all 50 Democratic Senators follow their party and vote in favor, there is still a 17-Senator gap. So how many Republican Senators intend to vote in favor of impeachment?
As of now, there are 4 Republican Senators who have publicly indicated they will vote in favor, but most have stayed silent about their vote. However, there is hope for impeachment-eager Democrats. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, the man with the most Republican influence in the Senate, has stated his belief that Trump has committed impeachable offenses.
- On January 13, 2021, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump due his alleged role of ‘incitement of insurrection’ regarding the Capitol riots.
- Democrats are the most vocal proponents of impeachment, directly relating the President’s tweets about the ‘stolen’ election and multiple calls to action to the Capitol riots.
- Republicans are more torn about the impeachment trial – the majority do not think Trump played a role in the riots, but some believe that he should be held responsible. Some House Republicans voted in favor of impeachment.
- Impeachment needs bipartisan support in the Senate, as 17 Republican Senators will be required to join 50 Democratic Senators in voting for impeachment; as of now, 4 have publicly announced their vote, and there may be more leading up to the trial.