On January 13, 2021, President Trump became the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. The House of Representatives impeached the president – that is, they formally accused him of wrongdoing – saying he incited the recent storming of the U.S. Capitol building.
Three presidents – including Trump – have been impeached before. In almost all cases of a public official being impeached, the process began with an investigation. There was no investigation this time, however, and representatives went ahead and voted to pass articles of impeachment against the president. All Democrat representatives voted in favor of impeachment, while most Republicans voted against it.
Just hours after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time, the president released a video message. He asked for calm. “Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for,” he said in the five-minute address. “No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag.”
In a statement released through the White House press office, Trump added:
“That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You.”
Despite the president saying that he will concede his power and transfer the office to President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, Democrats claim the impeachment is needed because Donald Trump or his followers could do damage if he stays in office for even a few more days. Democrats also say that President Trump might pardon the rioters or declassify state secrets out of spite. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even said Trump might start a nuclear war in the next few days!
Republicans, on the other hand, say Trump did not incite violence on the day of the protest and that those rioters acted on their own. Republican representatives also accused Democrats of encouraging violence on other occasions.
This impeachment is unusual since it was performed just about a week before the president was scheduled to leave office, anyway. Since the main goal of impeachment is to remove an official from office, the purpose this time is more symbolic. There is also another factor – Democrats may be attempting to prevent Trump from running for office again in the future. A Senate trial is the second stage of the impeachment process, and the president’s opponents may be hoping that if Trump is convicted in the trial, he may be banned from running for office again in the future.
Will a Senate trial take place, though? Senate leader Mitch McConnell says one can’t start until January 19 – the day before Trump is scheduled to leave the White House. The question people are asking now is whether the Senate has the authority to hold an impeachment trial for a president who has already left office.
Trump was previously impeached in January 2020, for allegedly making an improper phone call to Ukraine that would give him an advantage over his opponent Joe Biden. However, he was found not guilty in the Senate.
Currently, Trump is the first president to be impeached twice, but without a Senate trial to remove him from office, he is still scheduled to leave the White House on January 20, when Joe Biden will take over as president. After that, no one knows what will happen.