Despite Donald Trump’s departure from the Presidency of the United States, the Senate will continue with the impeachment process that seeks to convict the former president for the violent assault on the Capitol by his followers.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, announced that she will deliver next Monday the impeachment article that was approved in the House; which means that the trial would begin next week.
In America, impeachment is a process to remove an official from office to enforce accountability.
The Senate would be constitutionally obliged to begin Trump’s impeachment trial at 1 pm the day after the broadcast of the article; however there are doubts about its legitimacy due to the fact that the former president is no longer in the White House.
Senators will now be able to vote to bar Trump from ever holding public office again. Some constitutional scholars have argued that the Senate could with a simple majority vote to ban Trump from holding the office of president in the future.
The former president is charged with inciting insurrection on January 6th on Capitol Hill.
McConnell asks for impeachment delay
On Thursday, January 21st, Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, proposed delaying the impeachment trial until mid-February to give Trump’s legal team time to prepare his defense.
With this impeachment trial, the former president will become the only former president to be indicted twice. It remains to be seen whether he will meet the same fate as in January 2020.
McConnell criticized that this is a kind of express trial that denies Trump due process.
“At this time of heightened political passions, Senate Republicans believe it is absolutely imperative that we do not allow a half-baked process to disrupt the due process that former President Trump deserves or harm the Senate or the presidency,” he wrote.
“Senate Republicans are strongly united behind the principle that the institution of the Senate, the office of the presidency, and former President Trump himself deserve a full and fair process that respects their rights and the serious factual, legal, and constitutional issues at stake,” McConnell said.
Many Democrats have wanted to delay the trial to avoid distracting from Biden’s initial legislative agenda; indeed Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close Biden ally, said Democrats would be happy to delay Trump’s impeachment if it meant confirming Biden’s secretaries.
“I think Democrats will be open to considering a delay that gives former President Trump time to assemble his legal team and his impeachment defense if we are moving forward on confirming the very talented, experienced and diverse team that President Joe Biden has nominated to serve in his Cabinet,” Coons said.
Although Democrats now tightly control the Senate, they would need the support of at least 17 Republicans to convict Trump. A handful of Republicans have indicated they are open to conviction, but most have questioned the legality of the process saying it would be too divisive.
“Congress does not have the power to conduct an impeachment trial for any official after he or she has left office,” argued Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz.