Late last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly gave Vice President Mike Pence 24 hours to respond to Democratic lawmakers’ push to invoke the 25th Amendment in a bid to remove President Donald Trump from office.
With the clock ticking for the 20 January inauguration of Joe Biden, Democrats’ drive to wrest power from President Donald Trump is gathering pace.
Now that Vice President Mike Pence reportedly has 24 hours to react to a House resolution on invoking the 25th Amendment against POTUS, the question arises of whether Trump will become the first US president to be impeached twice. Here’s a brief insight into the matter.
Mechanism of Impeachment
The process typically begins with members of the US House of Representatives voting on so-called “articles of impeachment”, namely, a spate of charges against a president.
If a simple majority of the House’s 435 members (50% + 1), okays the charges, the process moves to the upper chamber of the US Congress, the Senate, for a trial.
How Might Senate Act if House Says ‘Yes’ to Trump Impeachment?
Earlier this week, The Washington Post cited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s memo sent to fellow Republicans as saying that should the US House of Representatives impeach President Trump, the Senate is unlikely to act on the article until after he is out of office.
According to the memo, the Senate, which is currently in recess, will not reconvene for substantive business until 19 January, meaning that the upper chamber may start impeachment proceedings a day before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated at the earliest.
“The Senate Impeachment Rules provide that at 1 p.m. the day after the Managers exhibit the articles before the Senate, the Senate must proceed to their consideration. The Senate trial would therefore begin after President Trump’s term has expired — either one hour after its expiration on 20 January, or twenty-five hours after its expiration on 21 January”, the memo read.
For the Senate to convene earlier than 19 January would require the consent of all 100 Senators, something that is highly unlikely in the now Republican-controlled chamber.
What is on Democrats’ Table for Trump?
Members of the House of Representatives have reportedly been circulating documents that charge POTUS with “inciting violence against the government of the United States”, even though the exact wording of the articles has yet to be revealed.
The charges pertain to violent events in Washington on 6 January, when thousands of Trump supporters besieged the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the 3 November presidential election.
The charges also include the US president’s recent telephone conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. During the call, Trump reportedly asked Raffensperger to “find” more than 11,000 votes, in an alleged attempt to overturn the election results that saw Democrat Joe Biden’s win in Georgia.
Is a US President Being Impeached Twice an Unprecedented Event?
Yes, but legal experts have reportedly argued that constitutionally, Congress may impeach Trump once again.
In December 2019, the Democratic-led House of Representatives launched impeachment proceedings against POTUS over his allegedly abusing power and obstructing Congress when he was accused of pressuring Kyiv into investigating the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine.
Trump, however, was not removed from office by the Senate, which voted to acquit him 52-48 on charges of abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress over charges arising from his dealings with Ukraine.
What is the 25th Amendment?
The 25th Amendment, which was ratified in 1967, offers a legal mechanism for designating a head of state when the sitting president is incapacitated or dies.
The document allows for a temporary or permanent transfer of power from the US president to the vice president if the majority of Cabinet members certify to Congress that the president is unable to perform his duties.
peaker Nancy Pelosi has, meanwhile, announced that the House of Representatives will consider a resolution later on Monday to urge Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment in order to remove President Trump from office.
The resolution gives Pence a “deadline” of 24 hours to respond, and after that, the House “will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the floor”.
Pence reportedly said that he doesn’t exclude invoking the 25th Amendment as both Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Pelosi earlier called for removing Trump from office.
“I like the 25th Amendment because it gets rid of him. He’s out of office”, Pelosi said, claiming that “there’s strong support in the Congress for impeaching the president a second time”.