The House is poised on Monday to introduce an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump for incitement of insurrection, according to Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu, for Trump’s role in on Wednesday, when a mob breached the building while seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election results confirming .
If the House of Representatives initiates the proceedings on Monday, it’ll mark the second time Trump will face an impeachment process during his term as president — and make him the first president to be impeached twice.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday sent a memo to Senate Republicans outlining how a second Trump trial in the Senate would proceed, saying the Senate would most likely not start till Jan. 19, when the upper chamber goes back in session.
Hours after the deadly riot, Trump tweeted “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!” Twitter blocked the tweet and on Friday . In the tweet, Trump made false claims about the presidential election and suggested that those who stormed the Capitol were “patriots.”
On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Trump to step down or face removal.
“It is the hope of Members that the President will immediately resign. But if he does not, I have instructed the Rules Committee to be prepared to move forward with Congressman Jamie Raskin’s 25th Amendment legislation and a motion for impeachment,” Pelosi said in a statement, referring to a constitutional amendment that establishes a complex process for removing a president from office. “Accordingly, the House will preserve every option — , a motion to impeach or a privileged resolution for impeachment.”
More than 200 members of Congress are calling to remove Trump from office, including Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News late Friday. “If the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me.” (Murkowski says she won’t become a Democrat.)
But if Trump doesn’t resign and if Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s cabinet don’t invoke the— neither of which seems likely — the impeachment proceedings could begin before but likely wouldn’t conclude until after, since the Senate won’t return to session until Jan. 19, the day before Trump’s presidency ends. The Senate could return early, but only if all sitting Senators agree. If one objects, the Senate wouldn’t reconvene early.
We’ll explain what could happen to Trump if impeached, what the timeline could look like now and where the situation stands.
What happens to Trump if he’s impeached and convicted?
If the House votes to impeach, it’s essentially indicting the president. The process then moves to the Senate for a trial that’s supervised by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Normally, the conviction of a sitting president at such a trial would result in the president being immediately removed from office and disqualified from the benefits given to former presidents in the Post Presidents Act, including a pension and security detail. The Senate can also vote to remove the right to run for a second presidential term or for “any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States,” according to the Constitution (Article 1, Section 3).
With just days left in office, Trump would likely finish out his term (more below) but could still be barred from perks afforded to preceding presidents and prohibited from running for public office, including seeking a second presidential term in 2024 or beyond.
Is it too late to impeach Trump before Biden takes office?
Yes and no. The impeachment process is likely to begin Monday, which would trigger a process that’s defined by the Constitution. However, the rarity of impeachment in US history (only two other presidents have been impeached), the extraordinary circumstances of the article against Trump, and the timing so close to Biden’s inauguration raise some questions as to what could happen next, including a potential Senate impeachment trial that would define the first days of Biden’s presidency.
Biden has said it’s up to Congress to decide whether Trump should be impeached.
Impeaching a president is typically a lengthy process involving months of inquiries and investigations, but House Democrats intend to speed up proceedings and bring the articles of Impeachment to a floor vote.
Here’s the short version of the general procedure:
- The House of Representatives votes on levying impeachment charges against Trump.
- If the the article of impeachment is passed by the House, it presents the article to the Senate, which must hold a trial.
- The House prosecutes, and the Senate sits as jury. The Supreme Court’s chief justice presides.
- Trump has an opportunity to present a defense.
Here are some unknowns:
- Would the Senate agree to reconvene before Jan. 19 for an impeachment trial? (Unlikely, since this can be scuttled by the objection of a single Senator; the vote must be unanimous.)
- Would the impeachment process, if begun before inauguration, continue after Trump is no longer president?
- Could Trump attempt to pardon himself from all crimes prior to inauguration?
What does it take to impeach a sitting president?
A president, along with other officers, can be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” according to Section 4 of Article 2 of the US Constitution.
To impeach, a total of 216 votes are required from the House of Representatives — a simple majority plus one. A trial is then heard in the Senate, where the US chief justice presides. A full two-thirds of the 100 senators must vote to convict.
If the Senate were to convict Trump, this would not only remove him from the White House as soon as the vote occurred but also prevent him from ever being able to run for a second presidential term.
Trump’s White House criticized the move toward impeachment, saying in a statement Friday that this should be “a time for healing and unity.” The White House said, “A politically motivated impeachment against a president with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country.”
What’s the difference between impeachment and the 25th Amendment?
Congress, including Republican Representatives, have also been pushing Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the . Unlike impeachment, which is voted on by Congress, the 25th Amendment would require Pence and a majority of Cabinet secretaries to invoke the power. Alternatively, it could also be invoked by the vice president and another body that’s designated by Congress.
To invoke the power, Pence and a majority of sitting Cabinet secretaries must decide that the sitting president is unfit for office. Several cabinet members have resigned in the wake of the attack on the Capitol. Pence, however, has reportedly said he won’t invoke the 25th Amendment, despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s request that he do so.
“The president of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America,” Pelosi said during a press conference Thursday. “In calling for this seditious act, the president has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation and our people. I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment.”
Wasn’t Trump impeached once already?
Yes. Trump was impeached in December 2019 by the House. However, the Republican-majority, with the process marked by from Trump disparaging the impeachment effort.
His previous impeachment involved articles accusing Trump of abusing power and obstructing Congress. On that occasion, the issue was Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, including a July 2019 phone call in which he appeared to be using US military aid as a bargaining chip to pressure Ukraine into investigating alleged ties between his political opponent Biden, Biden’s son Hunter, and a Ukrainian gas company. The articles also charged Trump with interfering with a House inquiry into the Ukraine matter.
CNET’s Clifford Colby and Rae Hodge contributed to this report.