Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Monday that they planned to hold an impeachment vote on Wednesday on the allegation that Trump incited supporters to storm the Capitol.
This is the second time Trump has been impeached in his term. Will this impeachment succeed? What’s more unusual this time is that Trump has little time left in the White House. Does the American system allow a president to be dismissed after leaving office?
How will the agenda go? This is an issue that has rarely been considered before in American politics, society and law.
According to the design of the American system, impeachment of the president is a two-part process. First, it requires a House vote to decide whether to impeach it or not – equivalent to indicting a criminal case.
The charges will be organized into articles of impeachment, requiring a simple majority of votes in the House of Representatives.
Mrs. Sun, an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Christopher Newport University, said to the Global Times that because Democrats have a simple majority in the House of Representatives, the impeachment decision is expected to be voted on in the House as early as Wednesday.
However, the next process is not so simple: after the House of Representatives agrees to impeachment, the House of Representatives needs to submit impeachment charges to the Senate for trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court oversees the trial, and the President is traditionally allowed to defend.
However, in the Senate, the threshold for conviction is much higher, requiring two-thirds of the senators present to agree to the conviction. In this link, the situation is a little subtle.
On the one hand, after the “shock on Congress” on the 6th, although Trump was “blocked” by public opinion and a large amount of social media, some Republicans have also voiced condemning the violence of the day, or criticized Trump for encouraging his supporters to march in front of the Capitol when Congress holds election votes, this and Does not mean that these Republicans support the recall of Trump through impeachment or other means.
But on the other hand, if impeachment succeeds, the Senate can vote to ban Trump from running for public office, including the president, which will be attractive to both Democrats and Republicans who want to run for the 2024 election.
Yuan Zheng, deputy director of the United States Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believes that it is unlikely that two-thirds of the senators will agree to convict Trump. While many people within the Republican Party think that Trump’s words and deeds after the election are “f*t”, the Republican Party needs to consider the long-term impact of this matter on the party.” Perhaps a small number will agree to the conviction, but most people expect to consider the issue from the partisan battle with the Democratic Party. “In a context of such a severe political polarization in the United States, ‘partisan lines’ is the way to deal with almost all domestic events,” he told the Global Times.
The U.S. Senate has 100 senators. If 100 people are all present at the trial, it means that at least 17 Republicans must join the ranks of Democrats to convict Trump – a high threshold.
Yuan Zheng analyzed that as things stand, Republicans such as Vice President Pence and Senate Majority Leader McConnell have not made a clear statement, but they are likely not to support Trump’s removal, “and only a few Republicans who want to run for the 2024 election after all”. He said that Wednesday’s House vote would become a “vane”, and if impeachment is supported by more Republican representatives, more Republican senators may also “devolt” in the Senate trial, otherwise indicating that there is no consensus.
“For Republicans, considering that Trump’s supporters remain an important part of the Republican fundamentals, it may affect their official careers to publicly and publicly say that Trump will be removed too early.” Taiyi Sun believes that there are not enough Republicans to openly “deferred”, so it is very likely that Trump will not be tried in the Senate, just like the first impeachment.
Another more vague and subtle question is: How should the impeachment schedule be arranged in just eight days? Can a president be impeached after leaving office? Unfortunately, neither the law nor history of the United States has given clear regulations or guidelines on this.
Past presidential impeachments, including the House’s 2019 impeachment of Trump, are usually lengthy events that have been investigated, heard, and weeks of public debate.
According to the calendar, the U.S. Senate will adjourn until January 19, and the adjournment will only be completed until 100 senators agree to change the schedule, which is almost impossible.
This means that if the House of Representatives votes to pass the terms of impeach Trump and sends them to the Senate before January 19, the Senate can only hear the House representative at the earliest on the 19th, and the vote may have to be held after Biden’s inauguration as early as the afternoon of the 20th.
Is this legal under the American system? Yuan Zheng believes that now that the House of Representatives has opened the impeachment process before the end of Trump’s term, the Senate should go through at least the corresponding process and give an end to the matter.
However, he does not think that the Senate trial and conviction process will be as long as before, because for Republicans, they hope that the negative impact of this matter will end as soon as possible.
For Democrats, Biden has many important agendas to advance after taking office. According to historical experience, before the end of the presidential impeachment trial, The House has little time to deal with other agendas.
While Taiyi Sun argues, the U.S. law does not specify whether impeachment can continue after the presidential term, but now Washington’s default rule is that impeachment can continue as long as it is initiated before the end of the term.” So, in theory, impeachment proceedings can be initiated before Trump steps down and then complete after he steps down.”
Although there is no precedent for continuing to impeach the president after leaving office, other senior government officials are impeached after leaving office.
In 1876, the House impeached William Belknapp, the Secretary of War of President Ulysses S. Grant, on bribes grounds, although he had resigned. At that time, the Senate considered whether there was still jurisdiction to try the cases of pre-officials, and finally decided that it still had this jurisdiction. However, the former minister was finally acquitted.
However, Sun Taiyi said that the length of the Senate trial will be difficult to judge. If McConnell clearly knows that the votes in support are not enough, he will not rule out voting against it on the 19th.
However, he may also deliberately delay the trial and vote to take up the time for Democrats to push forward their own issues after 20 days, which may lead to delays in the approval agenda for Biden’s nomination of senior officials.
In an analysis article on the 12th, the BBC believes that if Trump is successfully convicted by the Senate after leaving office, his political career will leave a stain, and his way to run for president again or hold office may be blocked – which only requires the consent of a simple majority of the Senate.
In addition, he will lose the privileges of the outgoing president, including security and pensions.
But the Democratic Party also has to pay for the impeachment at this time, which is the deepening of the political tear.” The Senate impeachment deliberations are likely to be delayed until Biden takes office, and the Biden administration, which had hoped to focus on controlling the coronavirus epidemic, will have to be distracted by it.
The BBC commented, “Not only will Trump’s departure fail to end the political dispute surrounding him, but the impeachment of Congress will further stimulate differences, and Biden’s vision of ‘healing the country’ may only become an idealistic slogan.”