The United States House on Monday sent the article of impeachment of former President Donald Trump to the Senate, which will give the final say on the process.
The Republican is accused of having encouraged the invasion of Congress on January 6 by his supporters in an attempt to forcibly overturn the outcome of the election he lost. Although he has already resigned, the process may take away his political rights and prevent him from running for president again.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Leader of the Democratic Senators, has received the articles – but not yet officially. This is expected to happen on Tuesday (26), when MPs have to vote and read the impeachment article aloud.
The trial will be led by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, 80, the dean of the House. Trump’s first indictment was presided over in the Senate by John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. However, since the accused is not the current US president, a senator can guide the trial.
The trial will not start immediately. There has been an agreement between the parties and the analysis of the case is expected to begin on February 9, giving President Joe Biden two weeks to move forward with his Senate agendas, particularly the appointment of his government team and a stimulus plan for the economy.
At the same time, the delay will allow Trump to better frame his defense. It also gives Republicans more time to try to understand each other – impeachment will only pass if a section of the party’s senators votes against the former president.
On Sunday (24), interviews broadcast on American television showed new echoes of a divided party. Utah Senator Mitt Romney has said he plans to vote in favor of impeachment. “What we’ve seen, a stimulus to the insurgency, is an impeachment offense. If not, what would it be?” Romney said on CNN.
He is a longtime critic of Trump and was the only Republican senator to vote against the then president in the first impeachment process, early last year.
On the other hand, other Republicans loyal to Trump argue that continuing the process does not make sense because the accused has already resigned, and that punishing him would increase tensions in American society. Marco Rubio, a senator from Florida, likened the process to “throwing gasoline on the fire” and said on Fox News that the initiative was stupid and counterproductive.
Rubio compared Trump’s case to that of Richard Nixon, the president who resigned amid an impeachment process in 1974, and was later pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford, who was his deputy.
“I think everyone would agree that President Ford’s forgiveness was important for the country to move forward, and history has held Nixon accountable for his actions,” Rubio said.
Senator Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, argued on NBC that after the impeachment process against a former president, he was not in Congress. However, the Constitution does not set a deadline for the holding of the trial, which leaves room for maneuver for it to take place after the president’s departure.
One of the biggest doubts is Trump’s political clout for the future of the party. He secured 74 million votes in the November election, a record for a Republican candidate, and has proven capable of convincing thousands to keep fighting for him, even after the defeat.
However, the former president lost one of his main political weapons, his Twitter profile, which sent several messages a day to millions of followers, sparked controversy and attracted attention.
Since his departure on Wednesday, Trump has not made any public statements. After leaving the White House, he traveled to Florida, where he owns a resort.
Democratic senators have already made it clear that they intend to pursue the case against Trump, hold him accountable for the acts of the 6th that left five dead and prevent a similar situation from happening again to the to come up.
“I think we’ll have more and more evidence in the weeks to come, as if it wasn’t enough for an angry mob to invade the Capitol, so he didn’t try to stop them and a policeman was killed, “said Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator.
“We need accountability, for Donald Trump and for all those who have participated in this uprising,” said Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
This is the second impeachment process Trump faces. In the first, he was acquitted by the Senate 21 days after the case was sent by the House. This time the Senate trial could go a little faster: it should last about two weeks.
One of the things that speeds things up is that the process is based mostly on actions taken in public, like Trump’s statements at a rally, just hours before the invasion, and not on information obtained from surveys. In the House, the process was approved two days after its presentation.
The Senate will have to hear the arguments of the prosecution – represented by Democratic deputies – and of the defense before proceeding to the vote. Senators act as if they were the jury. The prosecution and defense may request the summons of witnesses and the inclusion of new evidence, which may delay the end of the trial.
Approval of impeachment requires the vote of 67 senators. Currently, there are 50 Democratic parliamentarians – including two independents who vote with the party – and 50 Republicans in the House.
In other words, for Trump to be impeached, it will be necessary to vote at least 17 Republicans, in addition to all Democrats.
If impeachment is approved, there will be a second vote to remove Trump’s political rights. This veto can only be approved by a simple majority (51 senators). Under US law, it is not possible to revoke the political rights of the former president if he is acquitted of his indictment.
To date, no US president has been impeached, either during his tenure or after leaving the White House.
According to the removal request, the former president “has deliberately made statements which encouraged illegal actions” and “will continue to constitute a threat to national security, democracy and the constitution”. “At the request of the president, the members of the crowd to whom he addressed […] they raped and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed security teams, threatened members of Congress and the vice-president and engaged in violent, murderous, destructive and seditious acts.
The letter also quotes Trump’s lines, such as “if you don’t fight for real you will have no country,” and mentions his efforts to subvert the election, such as the phone call to the secretary of Georgian state, which he demanded that “find votes” to change the outcome, in addition to repeated and baseless claims that Biden’s victory was the result of widespread fraud.
“In all of this, President Trump has seriously endangered the security of the United States and its government institutions. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power and endangered an arm of government. He therefore betrayed his reliability as president, to the obvious detriment of the American people, ”the text indicates.