Democrats in Congress have declared an indictment against Donald Trump for his role in the assault on Capitol Hill on January 6. What exactly is impeachment, why isn’t it the same as impeachment, and what’s in store for Trump in the near future?
Historic times in the United States!
Can you say that. Since Wednesday evening, Trump has become the first president in American history to be indicted twice: impeachment proceedings. In other words: political pursuit with the aim of expelling the president.
Presidents who do this once are very rare. There were only two until Trump’s presidency: Bill Clinton (1998) and Andrew Jackson (1868). They were eventually acquitted by the Senate, as was Trump in his first run in early 2020. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before the House of Representatives could indict him.
When can such an impeachment procedure be opened?
The US Constitution states that a president can be removed from office if he is guilty of “treason, corruption or other serious crimes and misdemeanors.”
This last provision is not very clear – because what are “ serious crimes ” (serious crimes) exactly? – but in principle this amounts to an abuse of power.
What are Democrats accusing Trump of?
There is a load this time (indictment article). He is accused of “inciting rebellion”. According to Democrats, the president incited his supporters in a speech just before the storming of Capitol Hill.
He also allegedly created the right climate for this event by claiming – without any evidence – for months that his electoral defeat was the result of large-scale fraud by his opponents, which he still maintains.
“With all this, President Trump has seriously endangered the security of the United States and its democratic institutions. He has threatened the integrity of the democratic system, halted the peaceful transfer of power and endangered another branch of government “, according to the indictment.
Well, an impeachment attempt. Quickly explain how this process works.
You can compare the arraignment with a criminal trial. The House of Representatives is the prosecution: the House decides whether to prosecute (already agreed on Wednesday evening), sets the charges and acts as prosecutor during the trial.
The Senate is the place of the trial. The President of the Supreme Court of the United States acts as the presiding judge, but it is largely a ceremonial role.
The 100 senators are in fact both judges and jurors: they hear the prosecutors and the defense, question them and finally vote on the conviction and the sentence. Two thirds of the votes are needed for a conviction.
The main difference from a criminal case is that impeachment is a purely political process. The question is not whether he can be proven guilty, but whether enough senators can be persuaded to vote for a conviction.
Democrat Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
The first movement was therefore for the House of Representatives.
Exactly. This considered whether the president should be indicted. Witnesses can be heard and documents can be requested (such as in the lengthy hearings that led to Trump’s first indictment).
However, such a thorough preliminary investigation, which is normally carried out by the judicial commission, is not necessary. This time, Democrats walked away: They felt the accusations against Trump were crystal clear and his impeachment was almost involved. That is why it was put to the vote immediately after the debate on Wednesday.
In the House, a “simple” majority (50% of the votes +1) was sufficient for this. It was more than achieved: the result was 232 votes in favor and 197 against. Result: the indictment could be sent to the Senate.
The Speaker of the House (in this case Democrat Nancy Pelosi) has already had nine so-called impeachment managers appointed, who will act as prosecutors in the political trial in the Senate.
When can we expect this trial in the Senate?
This is still the question. Republicans have a majority in this house of Congress until the end of January, so current majority chairman Mitch McConnell still has a lot of influence on the start of the process. He announced that as far as he is concerned, it can start at the earliest when the Senate is back from recess. So January 19, a day before Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Democrats would prefer to start earlier, but McConnell doesn’t seem to be too keen on it just yet. Negotiations on this matter are continuing.
If Trump is found guilty and indicted, he will probably not be president anymore! Does it all still make sense?
If two-thirds of the senators convict Trump, he could face additional sentences. For example, his presidential pension (about $ 200,000 per year) can be cut. But more importantly for Democrats, he could also be banned from taking up political office again.
To impose these additional sanctions after a conviction in the Senate, a simple majority of senators is sufficient.
Democrats (and some Republicans) also argue that it is also of great symbolic importance to show that Congress will never tolerate an attack on the rule of law, so that future presidents are not given any ideas. by Trump’s actions.