How Trump could be Removed from Office
How does an impeachment work under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution?
Only the Vice-President can initiate this procedure. For example, when the president is obviously unable to act, for example, is seriously ill and could not hand over the official business himself beforehand. The vice president would then convene the cabinet, which would determine the incapacity of the president and transfer the work to the vice president. But in a case like now, with a fully conscious President, Amendment 25 has never been applied. That would be new territory. Trump could object to his impeachment. Then it would be up to Congress to confirm the cabinet’s decision.
The House of Representatives gave Vice President Mike Pence a 24-hour period by vote on Tuesday evening to initiate the impeachment under Amendment 25. However, Pence anticipated the vote and stated in a letter to the House of Representatives that he would not take part.
How does the impeachment procedure, which was passed by Congress on January 13th, work?
Impeachment proceedings are vaguely reminiscent of legal proceedings. The House of Representatives is acting as the indictment. The Senate as a court.
Only the House of Representatives can set it in motion. It has the sole right to bring charges against an incumbent president. All that is needed is a resolution that must be passed by an absolute majority of the MPs. This must include the charges and a reason. The President is formally charged with the decision.
In a second step, the Senate must then check whether the indictment is upheld. So, on the one hand, whether things happened as described in the indictment. And secondly, whether these actions are sufficient to remove the president from office. The lawsuit is represented in the Senate by a delegation from the House of Representatives. His lawyers speak for the president.
What role do the senators play?
Each of the 100 senators is a judge in the trial. The current presiding judge of the Supreme Court, in this case John Roberts, will preside over an impeachment case. He leads the procedure, but has no decision-making power. If in the end two-thirds of the senators approve, Trump is convicted and removed from office.
There is another special feature: the senators have no right to speak in the proceedings. However, you can submit your questions to any witnesses in writing to the presiding judge. Roberts then has to read it out.
Why has Trump been charged?
For “inciting an uprising”. Last week, in a seditious speech to tens of thousands of supporters in front of the White House, he urged his fans to march to the Capitol. In the run-up to his rally, Trump had advertised the event on Twitter by saying that it would be “wild”. All of this led to the storming of the Capitol, say the Democrats and some Republicans too.
In addition, Trump has urged electoral supervisors in Georgia to redeclare the election result in Biden’s favor as a victory for Trump. In a recorded phone call, for example, he asked Interior Secretary Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,779 votes for him that would make him a winner. This could be considered an abuse of office and is listed in the indictment.
How long does an impeachment procedure take?
It can be very different. So far, the proceedings have taken weeks to months. In 2019, for example, it took almost three months from the announcement that the process would start in the House of Representatives to the impeachment decision on December 18. This time it was only a few days.
When does the Senate take over the proceedings?
Probably not before January 19th. The incumbent Republican majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has already made it clear that he is unwilling to call the Senate out of its winter break beforehand.
What happens then is open for now. The question is whether the Democrats also have an interest in letting the Senate calmly start its work under the new presidency. With Joe Biden’s inauguration, Vice President Kamala Harris will take over the presidency of the Senate. In addition, shortly thereafter, the two Democratic Senators, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, newly elected in Georgia on January 5, will take their seats in the Senate.
Only then will the Democrats, along with the vote of Harris, have a slim majority. And only then can they determine the procedural rules for the impeachment negotiation. So whether and which witnesses heard, what evidence is admitted.
There are hardly any fixed rules for all of this. These are adjusted for each impeachment procedure, mostly based on previous procedures.
However, the Senate must begin the process as soon as the House of Representatives has sent the Senate the impeachment decision, which is to be made on Wednesday, in writing. That should be done by the Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. There should be talks with her, but please delay this formal notification significantly. Perhaps until after Biden took office, the first major projects in the Senate are through. Another corona aid package is pending. Biden also wants to fill key positions in his government as quickly as possible.
Whether foreign, defense or deputy building minister, almost every important government position has to be confirmed by the Senate. And each candidate is first heard by the Senate. That costs time, which the Senate does not have when it first has to go through a complex impeachment procedure.
What sense does it make to want to remove a president who will soon no longer be in office?
There are various reasons for this. For one thing, it would be a symbolic drawing of boundaries.
A president has never been removed from office. Trump would be the first. It would be tantamount to a subsequent dishonorable discharge. The very fact that Trump is the first president to be indicted twice in one term is a significant historical flaw.
One solid reason, however, is that the Senators can forbid Trump to accept public office in the future. The danger of Trump running for the 2024 presidential election would be averted.
This is only possible after a two-thirds majority has decided to impeach. 17 Republican senators would have to vote with them to make that possible. The Democrats hope the argument can win a number of Republicans on their side. So far the chances of this are slim. But there are rumors that the current majority leader of the Republicans in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, is seriously considering supporting the impeachment against Trump. His calculation: He wants to curtail Trump’s influence on the Republican Party. If he were to explain this publicly, it would be a sensation.
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