Just seven days before Joe Biden takes office, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives will vote for a second impeachment against President Donald Trump after Vice-President Mike Pence refused to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president.
“Last week, I did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election,” Pence said.
“And I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our nation,” said the Vice-President, who after not invoking the 25th Amendment also disassociated himself from the impeachment.
The House will begin debating the parameters of impeachment, then hold two procedural votes; and only later there will be two hours of actual debate; the final vote will need only a simple majority. The Senate will then have to define when the session that could remove President Trump would occur.
But the situation is confusing; while some Republican leaders have turned to impeachment, others feel it is unnecessary, considering that there are only eight days left for Trump to leave the White House. The time now plays in favor of the president because the Senate must give him a reasonable amount of time to prepare his defense.
The current president will become the only president to be indicted twice. It remains to be seen whether he will meet the same fate and succeed in not being removed from office before it is his turn to hand over the presidency to Joe Biden.
With the impeachment, Democrats are seeking to hold Trump accountable for the violent assault on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters in a march against Biden’s nomination as president-elect.
Those Republicans against Trump
According to Fox News, at least five Republican members of the House have said they would vote to indict Trump.
Representative Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, chair of the House Republican conference, who is the third ranking Republican in the House, said nothing that happened on Capitol Hill would have happened without the speaker.
“The President of the United States called this mob together and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the president,” she said.
He added: “The president could have intervened immediately and forcefully to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a U.S. president of his office and his oath to the Constitution. I will vote to impeach the president,” she reiterated.
The four other Republicans who have so far said they support impeachment are Reps. Fred Upton, R-Michigan; Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill); Jaime Herrera Beutler, (R-Wash); and John Katko, (R-NY).
However, most Republicans are expected to vote against the indictment, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California. In a letter to his Republican colleagues this week, McCarthy said that indicting the president would further divide the country.
“Personally, I continue to believe that an impeachment at this time would have the opposite effect of uniting our country when we need America to get back on track toward unity and civility,” he said before raising a handful of other options for the House to denounce Trump.
Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Maryland) on Monday called the Democrats’ impeachment effort a “shameful episode of political theater” that would “damage the political fabric of our republic.”
Rep Warren Davidson, (R-Ohio,), said he will oppose the impeachment and the previous Democratic resolution calling for Pence to eliminate Trump through the 25th Amendment. He said that “the president is in a position to serve out his remaining eight days in office.”
But the picture in the Senate is also complex; in fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to favor impeachment. According to The New York Times, McConnell said he believes Trump committed crimes that can be prosecuted.
It is unclear when the Senate can begin the trial that is expected to pass this Wednesday afternoon, January 13.
“The trial will most likely not begin until after President-elect Joe Biden takes office, although it could begin as early as this week if McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., call the Senators back to town,” Fox News said.
The Senate would only need about one-third of Republican senators to vote against the president to condemn him. Some constitutional scholars have argued that the Senate could with a simple majority vote bar Trump from holding the office of president in the future. It is unclear, at this point, whether the Senate will pursue that idea.
A battle against the clock?
A New York Post article explains that “if the House instantly convicts [Trump], without conducting any investigation or allowing any defense, the possibility of a conviction is cut off because the Republican-led Senate will not act before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in at noon on January 20th.”
In addition, “you can’t charge public officials who are not in office,” former NYU law professor Peter Rajsingh told the media.
“Any post-exit Senate trial would be a sham trial for political purposes, not a legitimate constitutional trial,” said William Jacobson, a law professor at NYP.
“Congress does not have the power to impeach any official after he or she has left office,” added Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz.