Trump impeachment timeline: What happens next?

James Crump
<p>President Donald Trump waves as he walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on 12 January 2021 in Washington, DC</p> ((Getty Images))

President Donald Trump waves as he walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on 12 January 2021 in Washington, DC

((Getty Images))

The House is scheduled to vote on the impeachment of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, in reaction to his incitement of the Capitol riots last week.

A mob of pro-Trump supporters breached the US Capitol on Wednesday 6 January during the confirmation of electoral college votes, putting a hold to the process to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory for several hours.

The rioters attacked the Capitol after attending a rally led by Mr Trump, who urged supporters to “walk down to the Capitol” and told them: “You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

In a tweet as the riots were taking place, Mr Trump called the mob “patriots” and said: “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”, instead of condemning the rioters and their actions.

The House was evacuated as numerous politicians and staff members were forced to barricade themselves in offices to hide from the rioters, some of whom were carrying guns and other weapons. Five people died and numerous others were injured in the riots.

Several politicians have blamed President Trump for the insurrection that took place directly after his rally, and Democratic officials quickly drew up plans for impeachment.

The Officials’ first attempt was to get vice president Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr Trump from office, but he confirmed that he would not take that action, despite House members voting for it on Tuesday night.

In response, House members will gather at 9am on Wednesday to vote on impeachment, with several Republican lawmakers, including Liz Cheney, signalling that they will support the effort.

House Democrats have charged the president with “incitement of insurrection” for his speech prior to the riots last Wednesday, and the article of impeachment has at least 218 co-sponsors.

Speaking about the plans for impeachment on Tuesday before departing on a trip to Alamo, Texas, President Trump claimed “It's ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous” and said the move is causing anger.

If the article is passed on Wednesday, Mr Trump will become the first president to be impeached twice, after the House voted in favour of it in 2019 relating to his dealings with Ukraine. The motion did not make it past the Senate in early 2020.

What is the timeline of impeachment proceedings?

What takes place on Wednesday?

Following Mr Pence’s refusal to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office, House members will convene at 9am on Wednesday 13 January to begin debate on an impeachment resolution.

A vote on impeachment will then take place later that day, which is almost certain to pass as more than 200 House Democrats have signed on to support the bill.

Several House Republicans have also signalled that they will support the impeachment effort, which will give it a greater chance of succeeding.

Ms Cheney, the House Republican Conference chair and the daughter of former Republican vice president Dick Cheney, has said that she will vote for impeachment, alongside GOP members, John Katko and Adam Kinzinger.

In a statement about her decision to support impeachment, Ms Cheney wrote: “The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.”

Ms Cheney added: “The president could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States.”

Despite the support from several Republicans, a majority of GOP members are not expected to vote for impeachment on Wednesday. This should not affect proceedings however, as the Democrats have the majority in the House.

The House voting for impeachment is effectively an indictment of the President. No US president has ever been impeached twice by the House.

If the House votes to impeach Mr Trump, then the process will move to the Senate for an impeachment trial overseen by John Roberts, the US Supreme Court chief justice.

What is the process with the Senate?

Senate majority leader Mittch McConnell has suggested that the trial could take place as early as 19 January, which is just one day before Mr Trump is replaced as president by Mr Biden.

The president being convicted by the Senate would normally mean their immediate removal from office, but the trial could stretch into the first days or months of Mr Biden’s presidency.

Unlike the House, which requires a majority of votes to pass impeachment, the Senate needs two-thirds of its 100 members to vote in favour of conviction for it to be successful.

It is currently unclear whether a motion would pass in the Senate, but a report in The New York Times on Tuesday claimed that Mr McConnell believes Mr Trump has committed impeachable offences.

It is also still unclear when a trial in the Senate would take place, as House members are divided on its timeline.

Some members have called for the process to be delayed for months, in order to free up the Senate to confirm members of Mr Biden’s cabinet, which require confirmation hearings, and to implement Covid-19 measures.

Mr Biden has stayed away from the process, and has made it clear that it is up to Congress to decide when impeachment proceedings should take place.

Impeachment is generally a months-long process, meaning that it is unlikely that a decision will be reached before a few months into Mr Biden’s presidency.

The White House has criticised the proposed impeachment, writing in a statement that “a politically motivated impeachment against a president with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country.”

What could happen if President Trump is impeached?

If the House and the Senate both vote to impeach Mr Trump, then senators will have the option of barring him from ever running for president again, amid rumours that he will campaign in 2024.

In order for that motion to pass, the Senate only needs a majority of its members to vote for it, instead of the two-thirds required for the initial impeachment.

That motion could attract support from Republican senators, who feel that a Trump campaign in 2024 could derail their chances of defeating the Democrats.

If he is impeached by the Senate, Mr Trump could also lose his rights to receive a pension, a yearly travel allowance and a security detail, which are normally afforded to former presidents.

We will know more about the process on Wednesday, if the House votes to impeach the president.

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