Trump impeachment: When will he go on trial in the Senate?


Donald Trump has been impeached – again. So what now?

The president has become the first in US history to twice suffer such ignominy – impeachment means to be charged with misconduct by the lower house of US Congress.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives accused Mr Trump of encouraging violence with his false claims of election fraud and egging on a mob to storm the Capitol on 6 January.

Some Republicans also backed impeachment in Wednesday’s vote.

What happens next?

Mr Trump, a Republican, now faces trial in the upper chamber, the Senate.

A two-thirds majority in the Senate means a conviction and removal from office.

But the president is due to leave office anyway next Wednesday, when Democrat Joe Biden will be sworn in.

So it’s uncharted territory.

OK, when is the trial?

That’s still up in the air.

The next stage of this process is for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to send the article of impeachment – the charge of incitement laid out and approved by the lower chamber – to the Senate.

The earliest the upper chamber could receive it would be Tuesday because that’s when they are next in session.

But that’s just a day before President Trump leaves office.

Can he be tried after he leaves?

It’s never happened before so it’s untested and the US Constitution doesn’t say.

Impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon were ended when he quit in 1974.

So Mr Trump could take his case to the Supreme Court, claiming his trial was unconstitutional.

Some lower ranked officials have been impeached after leaving office.

The current leader in the Senate, a Republican, and his successor, a Democrat, are both preparing for a trial.

Would Mr Trump be convicted in the Senate?

Democrats only hold half the 100 seats so they would require 17 Republicans to vote against their own president.

That’s a tall order from a party that has largely remained publicly loyal to Mr Trump.

But 10 Republicans in the House supported impeachment and a couple of senators have indicated they are open to it.

Even Mitch McConnell, who leads the Republican Party in the upper chamber, says he has not yet made up his mind how he will vote.

Could Trump run for president again if convicted?

If he is convicted by the Senate, lawmakers could hold another vote to block him from running for elected office again – which he had indicated he planned to do in 2024.

This could be the biggest consequence of this impeachment.

If he is convicted, a simple majority of senators would be needed to block Mr Trump from holding “any office of honour, trust or profit under the United States”.

So 50 senators plus a casting vote from Vice-President Kamala Harris would be enough to damn Mr Trump’s hopes of political power.

This could be appealing to Republicans hoping to run for president in the future and those who want Mr Trump out of the party.

What about other benefits?

There has been talk of Mr Trump losing benefits granted to his predecessors under the 1958 Former Presidents Act, which include a pension and health insurance, and potentially a lifetime security detail at taxpayers’ expense.

However, Mr Trump is likely to keep these benefits if he is convicted after leaving office.

Could the trial be delayed for weeks?

One senior House Democrat had suggested that the party may choose not to send any articles of impeachment to the Senate until after Mr Biden’s first 100 days in office.

That would allow Mr Biden to use the Senate to confirm his new cabinet and kick-start key policies including tackling coronavirus.

But Mrs Pelosi has indicated she would like a speedy trial.

And Mr Biden says he would be open to the Senate operating half and half on impeachment and other business like approving his team.

With the Democrats taking control of the Senate on Wednesday, that would appear to be a certainty.

Could Trump pardon himself?

Media reports, quoting unnamed sources, say Mr Trump has suggested to aides he is considering granting a pardon to himself in the final days of his presidency.

If he did, it would not help him out of this particular spot.

It would absolve him from any federal crimes he may have committed in office, but would not cover a conviction in the Senate in what is a political process.

The president already faces numerous criminal investigations, including New York State inquiries into whether he misled tax authorities, banks or business partners.

There is no precedent for a US leader issuing such a pardon.

Some legal experts have previously said no, citing an opinion issued by the Justice Department days before Richard Nixon’s resignation that he could not pardon himself “under the fundamental rule that no-one may be a judge in his own case”.

Others though say the constitution does not preclude a self-pardon.

What was his first impeachment for again?

That was over his dealings with Ukraine, although he denied any wrongdoing.

He was accused of pressing the country’s leader to open an investigation into Mr Biden, then his emerging rival for the White House, and his son Hunter.

Mr Trump appeared to use military aid as leverage. He was impeached by the House and cleared by the Republican-controlled Senate. – BBC


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here