Donald Trump has been impeached for a second time - what happens now?

Thursday, 14th January 2021, 10:35 am
Updated Thursday, 14th January 2021, 10:35 am

Donald Trump’s four year term as president is reaching its climax in dramatic fashion.

Though the president is set to depart the White House in days on January 20, its looking more and more likely that he will be removed before then via impeachment.

The House of Representatives voted to impeach the president for a second time on Wednesday night charging him with inciting insurrection, after his fiery rhetoric led to a deadly riot at the US Capitol building.

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The vote means that Trump is the first president in history to be impeached twice.

And now the Republican-controlled Senate may be in favour of impeaching Donald Trump, which would put us in unprecedented territory with no president ever convicted of impeachment by the upper house of congress.

What is impeachment?

Impeachment is a charge of misconduct brought against someone holding public office.

These charges are brought forward by members of congress and can be used to charge the United States president.

The American Constitution states that a president can be impeached and removed from office for a number of reasons, including "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

Impeachment procedings must pass through the lower and upper houses of congress.

First, a majority of members of the House of Representatives must approve articles of impeachment. The House of Representatives would likely vote through impeachment, as it is made up of a majority of Democrats.

Second, two-thirds of the Senate would be required to vote in favour of impeachment in order to convict the president and have him removed from office.

What happens when a president is impeached by the House of representatives?

The House of Representatives voted for impeachment, making Donald Trump the first president in US history to be impeached on two occasions.

From here the impeachment process passes to the Senate for a trial supervised by the Supreme Court of Justice.

According to the Constitution the Senate "shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present. "

Senators will then vote on whether or not to convict the president of impeachment.

Senate leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that the trial will take place after Joe Biden's inauguration meaning that the Senate would be trialling a former president.

What happens if the Senate votes to convict the president of impeachment?

If the Republican-controlled Senate opts to convict the president then we move into unknown territory.

Three presidents, including Donald Trump have been impeached before, though all three were never convicted by the Senate. Reports from the New York Times suggest that Republican Senate leader is warming to the idea of convicting the president and purging him from the GOP.

If the president is convicted of impeachment before January 20 he will be required to give up the presidency, though a trial before then looks unlikely.

There are still consequences for the president if he is convicted of impeachment after Joe Biden’s inauguration, though there is of course no precedent.

If the president convict, they can then vote to prevent the outgoing president from running for office again, preventing an anticipated campaign from Trump in 2024.

Donald Trump may also be exempt from receiving benefits enjoyed by other former presidents. This includes a $220,000 a year pension, a security detail, paid office space.